Posted in Blogging, Junk Shop Finds, TV and Films, Videos

Ghostly Babble

I recently watched a video by Russell Brand on the subject of ghosting. He said sometimes people really don’t mean to do itĀ but if they do, it’s telling you something about that relationship. You don’t have to give that person up, but need to change your expectations. That is true, but I’ve realized that sometimes the ghoster is genuinely tired or depressed, but is still glad to hear from you. So Russell is right to say we should change our expectations — but sometimes it’s less about how valued we are and more about how the other person thinks, communicates or operates. Probably he meant that too, as it’s about managing ourselves and not others, accepting that others can’t always keep up.

So, is it possible to ghost one’s own blog? I accept it’s disappointing when a blogger writes posts you like but only twice a year! The best bloggers are the reliable ones who post frequently. There are YouTubers I’m always in the mood to listen to, and if they disappeared (which some unfortunately have), I’d feel at a loose end. Some have longish gaps between videos, for whatever reason, and I start casting around fractiously for recent signs of their existence. It’s worse these days because of frightening current events. I need ingormstion, reassurance and the sense of agreeable company.

That should have been ‘information’, not ‘ingormstion’  but it’s what happens when you type on the phone.

We are in my sister’s car in the town centre, drinking Costa coffee. I took it into my head to ask for espresso, and the small paper cup that came back felt strangely light.

“Awww,” I said. “A baby coffee!” and felt senselessly maternal. Drawing back the plastic lid, I found a tiny splash of dark coffee inside. It barely covered the bottom, and had a light fringe of pale bubbles.

It was certainly strong — tasted like hot Guinness. I don’t like Guinness. I’m more of a sweet stout person.

I started this post because a text said I was 80% through my data allowance. Having turned my connection off, I wondered what I could do that didn’t need the internet, and remembered my blog. Perhaps there’s a lesson in that. We are more likely to get on with pet projects if our option to go online and pootle about is curtailed.

The only thing I bought in town was a Red Dwarf boxset. TV is very dull, so every night at supper time we watch an episode from my collection of DVDs. We’re currently part of the way through the Upstart Crow boxset. I asked my mother which was her favourite actor in it, and she said Kate. Mine is Kempe. He gets a brief monologue in each episode and always makes me grin. He said real comedy isn’t what you say, it’s what you don’t say. I think that’s quite often true! When minds meet without a word being said, it’s funny.

Back to the topic of online videos and podcasts; I both love and detest them. They are where the real conversation is, but too often there are no captions and I can’t follow. More and more, when scrolling through Facebook, I find videos from platforms other than YouTube. The likelihood of them having captions is thus decreased by 99.7%. If there are captions, it’s because somebody burned them into the video, which I’m always grateful for. šŸ„° I used to wish people didn’t do videos when they could write an article instead, but I don’t now. I just wish I could follow many more.

To finish, here is a video I found on YouTube a while ago, less than 5 minutes long:

Posted in Cooking, Junk Shop Finds, Life and Family

Pretending to Follow a Pasta Recipe

This morning I found a pasta and peas recipe before I even got out of bed. On a whim I shared it to the family chat thread, and was stunned when my mother instantly replied that we could try it. I had thought she would object to the peas. She asked if it had sauce, and I said vegetable broth, though I could imagine using a stock cube. Would she prefer a white sauce? A mildly cheesy one, she said.

She adores cheese! You would not be able to part her from a nice sharp cheddar for all of the tea in China, though I don’t think parting people from their cheese is a good idea anyway, not in most cases.

“Is that ham in it?” she asked next, and I said pancetta… but we could use bacon or chicken if she prefers. You know, we can kid ourselves we’re making this dish, but it’s really going to be macaroni cheese with peas and a sprinkling of meat.

My sister arrived in time for coffee, carting a coat stand that I won at auction. It’s nice, if slightly rocky on its feet. It stood rather meaningfully on my toes when I was disinfecting it, so I guessed it was in a foul mood. I told it it was lucky to get a lift in my sister’s car because it would have been in an even worse mood if it had had to catch a bus by itself then walk to our house from the bus stop.

When I was dragging it upstairs, I discovered the entire top lifts off the pole. This discovery almost cost us the hall mirror, but fortunately the pole didn’t quite whack it… just flailed frighteningly about before steadying.

In the late afternoon, I ordered from the local supermarket. I said to my sister, “You’ll notice the only fruit I bought this time were bananas! They picked out terrible, languishing satsumas last time.” They don’t usually send bad fruit, but having been bitten once, it seems rational for me to be shy of being caught out a second time.

I ordered ingredients for the (hem hem) pasta and peas dish, including spring onions and the cheese in the recipe, Grana Padano. I’m ashamed to admit I’ve never heard of it, but now I want to know what it’s like. What’s the point of having a life if we don’t try new things? The recipe includes extra virgin oil — Mum hates olive oil and I’m not all that keen myself. Nevertheless I got a small bottle of olive oil that claims to be mild. We’ll see!

There were other things I bought out of curiosity, just like you might browse the supermarket shelves and pick up stuff you’ve never seen before. I couldn’t leave the bag of gnocci where I found it. “What IS this stuff??” (Adds it to trolley). Jalapeno pretzels? Want!

In recent blog posts I was writing about cold feet when blogging, and today another blogger said it’s natural — we all feel that way. It takes courage, but it’s nice that the world keeps turning and we keep hitting the ‘publish’ button.

Oh, I still think we’re crazy, especially in these hair-trigger times, but I love that thought anyway.

Earlier I’d put my beautiful new coat stand at the back of the computer room upstairs, so naturally went to say goodnight before retiring. It sneered about the untidiness of the room and said it wasn’t terribly homely. I told it it will feel better when theĀ morning sunĀ is pouring through the windows. It might even have the odd pigeon peering in to say hello.

I know… but a little friendly humour in life goes a long way. šŸ™‚

Posted in Life and Family, My Cats

Experiment: Boring a Friend

When I was in Facebook yesterday, I came across an article by Michael Thompson (linked to by Gretchen Rubin) about deepening your connections with friends or family. The suggestion was to write ‘2-minute boring emails’ every day to each other about what you’ve been doing. You start to feel you know each other better and can have better conversations. I expect this is a particularly good idea in the middle of a lockdown! I don’t think it works so well if it’s just one person plugging away — probably better if two or more people like this idea and write to each other. Maybe it’s a case of starting somewhere and seeing what happens! I’m giving it a go.

Monday 19 October 2020

Dear Honey

Hope you enjoyed your weekend. I didn’t realize yesterday it was the weekend; I thought it was the middle of the week!

I keep meaning to change the alarm on my watch because it wakes me too early. If I hadn’t been writing this email, I would have forgotten yet again. Of all the alarms I’ve ever tried, this watch is the best because it buzzes on my wrist. It’s quite a gentle way of waking up.

I nearly forgot to put the bin out the front, but remembered when Mum put her wastepaper basket outside her bedroom door when she went for a snooze. I always see it when I’m in the middle of doing other things because of passing the door at the time… vexing. Every week I check which colour of bin the neighbours put on the street, but they are getting later and later (probably waiting to see what *we* put out) and I’ve forgotten to put ANY bin out a couple of times because I waited so long that I forgot. Today I just looked it up on the council site.

Nothing interesting on TV. Supper was chicken pie with mash, Brussels sprouts and chicken gravy. I ran out of potatoes so used frozen mash. I’ve never made it before so didn’t use enough, and told Mum just to eat the lot, as I had roasted a couple of parsnip sticks for myself. I asked if the mash tasted all right, and she said yes.

I got meat balls out of the freezer then put them back in again when I realized we were out of cheddar cheese. I don’t think I’ve been shopping wisely, lately…

The Little Witness isn’t speaking to the old cat. Mum asked why, and I said it’s because he was over there talking to her last night, and she sneezed in his face. Mum laughed heartily, but I don’t think he will forget in a hurry. Old cat was sleeping till I mentioned her name. She lifted her head and blinked blearily at me, as though to say, “What what?” I don’t think she understands that sneezing all over people isn’t quite the thing. Tonight she abruptly rose out of her sleep and sneezed when I was having supper.

It was raining heavily when we went to bed, but I didn’t realize that till I was closing the curtains in my room. It poured down the windows and gleamed on the black tarmac in the lamplight. I love heavy rain, especially at night, but if I’m going somewhere I don’t want to go, heavy rain is a lot less welcome. Fortunately that’s not the case right now.

Mum knows when it’s raining because she can hear it even with the curtains closed, but I never know till I look outside and see it. I usually feel surprised, happy and disgruntled, as though I missed the start of a film I like that I didn’t know was going to be on. I even feel annoyed with Mum for not telling me, though I know that’s ridiculous.

I stopped using so many exclamation marks because of Mineral grumbling about them when we were at university. I never got over it, and now I have Exclamation Mark Phobia. Sometimes I think it makes my writing a bit hard or morose when I don’t mean it that way. He has a lot to answer for.

Time to sleep now.

Love, Delilah xxx

Posted in Lost in Thought

Those Who Are Still With Us

Weather is suddenly cold… cold in the ‘I don’t want to leave this cosy room and go out into the rest of the less cosy house’ kind of way. The empire-building game I play has a Halloween event running, though I don’t feel ready for Halloween yet.

Mum found out today that one of the locals died violently. We didn’t know him as a friend but have spoken to him a few times. Normally Mum does all the talking but I spoke with him myself some time before the lockdown.

When a bad thing happens, it leaves you with a horrible feeling. There’s a heaviness at the pit of your stomach and you feel terrible for everybody involved. This is something none will ever forget or recover from.

Life is like that for all of us to a degree. At times we meet with deep, cold darkness and have to live with it. One of the worst things is that the people you want to save, speak to or comfort are beyond your reach, and will never be seen again in this world. You always want to go back and pay more attention to the people you’re about to lose, but it’s never possible. We could pay more attention to everybody all the time, but it’s not possible. There’s a reason why we live normally and pass from one thing to the next thing as quickly as we can, as though things will be the same from one day to the next, which they usually are.

I could go off my rocker a bit and say actually there are always losses and the next day is never quite the same as this, because even if there have been no human deaths, some birds will have fallen out of the sky unseen, and a spider that was crawling across your carpet tonight could be a lifeless ball of legs by morning. Weeds die, flowers die, leaves flutter off the trees and shrivel, houseplants given to you by someone you lost most regrettably die… you won’t get them back even while you guiltily wonder if you could have looked after them better. You eat your chocolate bunny and it doesn’t exist any more — there’s another in the drawer but it’s not the same bunny even if it looks like it. The world has never been the same since I ate that marzipan frog in 1986. I always felt I shouldn’t have eaten it, but it would have fallen to dust eventually anyway!

Then there are micro-losses, if you know what I mean… songs are always disappearing because you listen to one for three minutes till it ends, and the next one begins, then that too is gone. Maybe they play over again in your head — they do in mine, but there’s something oddly haunting and non-existent about them, as though they are the lamentations of the dead. You might spend all year listening to The Pachelbel Canon repeatedly, then next year you hardly think about it because you’ve switched to playing something else. Then suddenly you come across it again and wonder why you wasted so much time not listening to it — it’s the most wonderful tune in the world.

Nothing is ever quite the same, which is how things change so imperceptibly that one day we sit up with a shock, realizing we’ve moved so far away from a particular time that we can never get back to it. You feel it as a pain that’s all your own, but we are all going through it all the time, regretting the loss of people, places and things — of eras, seasons and states of being.

Mindfulness advises we should try to stay in the present. That does help bring back a sense of normality and comfort, and stops us brooding, or tries to. I would always come back to a feeling of discomfort, however — wondering what or who I’ve forgotten to pay attention to in my memory. I suppose if we are fully present in the here and now we won’t overwhelm ourselves with a limitless multitude of things we can’t do anything about — instead we can give lots of attention and love to those who are still with us and in our space.

Posted in Life and Family, Political and Social Issues, Rants

Soapy Satsumas

I wash groceries ordered from the local supermarket but don’t know why I bothered soaping these satsumas. These are the type everyone would leave on the shelf if they were in the store and saw them. Green, yellow, bruised and yet not old. I don’t blame the supermarket itself for sending us these, but the individuals who picked them out showed serious lack of judgement. I tried one and it tasted as pale as it looked — had to be discarded. Mum shrugged and said it’s the risk we take.

Another thing that annoys me is the charge for the plastic bags used by the supermarket for our deliveries. There’s no option other than to find another outlet that doesn’t use plastic bags when delivering to us. I thought the main point of this type of tax was to put people off obtaining plastic bags, not to gouge those who aren’t given another option… a captive clientele.

I sound in a worse mood than I actually am but when I got into writing this my irritation resurfaced! Actually, it’s a bit worse than irritation, more like fury.

Today was very rainy but we had coffee in the garden… in the new gazebo Mum bought. One of the cats sat in there with us while the clouds burst all around. A neighbour dripped up his driveway and didn’t see us, though I waved through the gazebo window. He had no idea we were there.

The whole thing is surreal. In normal times we wouldn’t have thought of buying a tent and sitting in our garden in the rain, but the cat seemed to think it was a fine idea, if a bit weird.

Haven’t been in a shop since early March, with the single exception of a garden centre. Am starting to remember certain places very close to us as though they were in my distant past. I look at the cash in my bag and worry that it might be out of date and unusable now. I don’t like paying by card as I can never remember the code, and I don’t like shopping online in case of fraud… if this becomes a cashless society, that will be a nightmare.

I don’t know, is there anything else to talk about other than the current situation? Even the peely-wally satsumas are connected.

Another blogger was recently writing about being unable to focus on anything, even his books. In the comments someone said many people are feeling this ‘malaise’, and I thought “that’s exactly the right word! Malaise!”

It’s more than cabin fever; it’s frustration with everything that’s wrong while impacting us a lot. You start to wonder if anything is worth doing any more.

Posted in Lost in Thought

The Mistakes of Tomorrow

I was scrolling through Pinterest just now and came across this meme: “It’s OK if you messed up today. Tomorrow is waiting for you with no mistakes in it.”

“Oh no no,” I thought, “I’ve already got all my mistakes lined up for tomorrow, thank you very much.”

There’s no avoiding them. I cannot see the future as an expanse of snow with no footprints in it… it would just mean I wasn’t there yet. I do indeed make mistakes every day, largely because I underestimate the impact I have on others, both good and bad, and I overestimate people’s capacity to understand where I’m really coming from or what I was thinking about, but that’s a difficulty we all share. Misunderstandings are rife. For instance, you might think if you laugh at a cat they won’t understand that they are being mocked… but they do. They understand mockery, annoyance, withdrawal… why wouldn’t they? We need to be as kind and polite to a cat as to a human, though they have a great sense of humour and don’t mind a bit of fooling around and play-acting.

Constant daily mistakes, then, can be due to autopilot, misunderstandings, underestimating others, underestimating your own influence, overestimating your skill (or not caring enough about quality), working too quickly, working when distracted, working or communicating when angry, etc. Mistakes are also caused by limits — limits to energy, time, patience, knowledge and understanding. We are wrong all the time; it’s a fluke if we get things right (or more right than wrong), just as we don’t always get the balance the same in a home-cooked recipe. Sometimes we put more onion and less salt in than last time, and it might be better, worse or just a bit different. It isn’t always something we can judge absolutely perfectly every time, though perhaps there are professional chefs and bakers who would disagree.

Sometimes people judge us by one mistake without knowing about all the times we get things right, and perhaps that is their mistake — or maybe it isn’t a mistake for them in their lives, as they only have limited time and energy and can’t possibly take the time to get to know every person they meet. While judging, though, we should remember not to underestimate our impact on others, as that could lead us into further errors. Perfecting our best poker face is not a bad idea.

When I was younger, I thought it would be a betrayal of ideals,  morals, one’s own beliefs etc if you weren’t honest about disagreeing or disliking something, but that was before I learned how very wrong we can be every day and how very quickly we can adjust our own stance when learning all the new information we weren’t privy to before. Nothing is in completely sharp relief — there’s no such thing as ‘good and bad with nothing in between’. Also, sometimes you think everything is going to be a total mess and it won’t work out, and at the very last minute it all falls into place and is wonderful. You just never know.

Posted in Life and Family, My Cats, Teddy Bears

The Little Witness Has a Bad Night

The trouble with the Little Witness is that everyone believes in him. I know that isn’t a bad thing when it comes to witnesses, but I really meant ‘believe in’ rather than ‘believe’, like you might ‘believe in’ ghosts. You don’t have to believe every word that issues through a ghost’s pale lips, or the Little Witness’s either, though he’s a decent soul who would only tell the kind of lies that spare people’s feelings, such as “Delilah, you look as fresh as a daisy in that face covering.”

The thing is, you can’t help believing there’s really somebody there and he’s not just a fake stuffed pig staring blankly at the ceiling. It’s not just me… everybody talks to him, and not just humans. All our cats hug him or stare into his eyes and, if nervous or in a bad mood, might hiss, fluff up, and give him a slap upside the head. My mother’s ancient cat loves him. She loves teddy bears of all descriptions anyway, including a massive ‘wolf’ we had for a while, but whenever she sees the Little Witness, she smiles and purrs, and jumps up to give him a smeary kiss on his nose.

Most of the time he’s a calming influence to everybody whether human or feline, but tonight he had a traumatic experience with a bluebottle. It came and sat on his head and wouldn’t fly away. I’m not sure I can blame it, but it thoroughly spooked him. Mum came and killed the fly because I wouldn’t, then at bedtime gave him a polar bear she had got from somewhere. She didn’t want to retire to her slumbers thinking he was upset with her.

There are plenty of things in the world to stress over and get upset about but we have made ourselves a little extra one.

Posted in Books, Life and Family

Of Books, Brachets and Friendships Gone Bad

30 Sept 2020

Finished Howl’s Moving Castle (Diana Wynne Jones) and began The Once and Future King (T.H. White).

I like Diana Wynne Jones books. I haven’t read Howl’s Moving Castle before, but loved the Studio Ghibli animation when it came on TV some years ago. The book was entertaining too, and cozy. I liked the idea of hiding away in that castle, but wondered if the different doorways made it easier to assault than if it had only been accessible from one town.

I read The Once and Future King when still at school. It was enjoyable at first, then I started to struggle, so I don’t remember much about it. I bought it for Kindle when it came up as an Amazon deal, and now I’m reading it again, feeling amazingly happy. It reminds me of the old days when life was simple, by which I mean as a teenager I could sit and read while Mum slaved away in the kitchen — now it’s the other way around, heh. Anyway, I always had a special affection for The Sword in the Stone.

I’m just a few pages in, and already I’ve run into a shower of words I don’t know, most connected with falconry, though I doubt if it will stop there. The Wart is lost in a scary medieval forest at night, but has met a beautiful knight and his brachet. I knew what the brachet was before the Wart went behind a tree to look at it, but I’m not sure where I read the word before. In this same book, maybe, but there are other suspects such as the Dorothy Dunnett books.

I should be sleeping but am wide awake because at teatime I dropped off when the Coronavirus Update was in full swing. Woke and found myself firmly gripping a full mug of tea with one hand clamped over the top. Was enjoying the heat of it tucked against my ribs, but now it was cold. Just lucky I didn’t spill it everywhere while dozing!

Looked at the reporters who were asking questions of the Prime Minister and his advisers and wondered if they ever smiled. Mum turns the sound off when they come on… she used to listen, but quickly tired of them. In fact, they send her blood pressure up so she has to turn them off to calm down.

As I was saying, I should be sleeping now but instead am writing a diary entry cum blog post on my phone using a bluetooth keyboard. I love the keyboard because it makes me feel more in control. I can type at the speed of thought (!) and can go the extra mile. Dabbing things in via the phone’s virtual keyboard is so slow and difficult that I wilt at the idea of writing more than I have to.

My reading lamp’s bright LED lightbulb went phut a few nights ago so the room is pretty dim. There’s a funny little lamp that changes colour from pink through orange, green, blue, pink. It’s soothing, and last night I left it on when I went to sleep.

The phone app confuses me… I accidentally scribbled over my text and don’t know how to erase the marks. Shouldn’t have been possible! Why should anyone want or need to do that? Good grief.

I picked up my iPad a few minutes ago and found an email from a friend. She says she’s in a book club and they talk to each other in a chat app of some description. I wonder what books they have been reading? Maybe I could join one too, though it could be annoying if I’m in the mood to read The Once and Future King when they want me to read something else. I was in an informal book club years ago but it fell apart before we ever discussed anything because the leader began hissing like a steam kettle at another member for recommending light novels and romances. I read a couple anyway, as I reckoned if the other ladies liked them enough to recommend them, they could be worth trying. I can’t remember — don’t think they were my cup of tea but they weren’t awful.

I recommended Beverley Nichols’ garden books, especially Merry Hall. One of the members said she tried to get them at their library and they didn’t have them but they ordered them for her. The books were a success with her, so there was *that* positive outcome at least, before our wee book club drew its last gasping breath.

I was wondering why people fall out with each other. My family might get annoyed with each other at times, but we don’t start hating each other or trying to end relations. I wonder what are the factors that cause things to go bad when they don’t have to?

Perhaps someone starts bearing grudges and keeps putting the boot in, using a nasty tone while pretending it’s just humour, and in the end it’s more than flesh and blood can stand. Once I asked Mum if there were good reasons for ending friendships… I was still friends with A at the time so you can see my thoughts were already trending that way several years ago. She said the only reason you could possibly have for ending a friendship is boredom! Much later, A said something hurtful when I was trying to cheer her in a dark moment. Mum advised me not to object because I’d only sound huffy — but I think now that I should have stopped right there. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

Posted in Blogging, Lost in Thought

The Online Diary Quandary

Diaries are a good thing to have. Not only are they an informal record of the past, they help us to order our thoughts. Personal blogs are supposed to be online diaries, and I suspect this is where some of us get in a tangle. We would prefer to express our unedited thoughts since that is the main value of diaries for us, but at the same time realize we shouldn’t tell everything to the whole world. We crash repeatedly into the wall of our inner editor, hence the cold feet and long silences.

If we want to keep our blogs running, one idea is to draw up a list of safe topics such as hobbies and interests. Anything else could be posted privately or written up in a home diary.

I was about to suggest food and cooking as examples of safe topics, but it was a disagreement about food that broke one increasingly fragile friendship I had! I realized when viewing food sites and videos that the whole area of food and health is combustible right now. You may well be perfectly happy reading around and trying to discuss new ideas (or very old ideas long forgotten), but even family members and the oldest of friends can be too wedded to their views to be tolerant.

In any case, when it comes to diaries or any kind of commentary, it could be that keeping our more sensitive experiences offline is good practice.

I was going to link to a video I found that said we get comfortable online and feel we are writing to friends when that’s not the case. There are friends and acquaintances, and there are others. Unfortunately I can’t identify which video it was… a shame, as it was interesting.

This is the first blog post written entirely from my phone. I feel it distances me from what I write, as the screen is small and it’s not easy to type. I don’t ‘own’ my post the way I usually do. Technology gets better but also worse!

Posted in Health Issues, Life and Family, Political and Social Issues

Coffee in a Social Bubble

Was thinking about the Scottish Government’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis. I wondered if I was imagining things that we were closely shadowing the UK government’s moves but then going further in every instanceā€¦ tighter regulations for longer. Just after I was thinking this, the UK Government brought in a new rule that pubs (in England) should close at 10 p.m. Meanwhile in Scotland we have that new rule too, but in addition there is to be no further mingling of private households, though there is a ‘rule of six’ which means we can meet friends from only one other household outdoors or in indoors public spaces (like restaurants). Extended households can continue to mingle indoors, but I have a feeling there are going to be arguments on the ground about what counts as an extended household.

People living alone (or alone with children) or who need care can be part of an extended household with another person or group — their ‘social bubble’. As far as I’m aware, that doesn’t change.

We watched the speeches on TV.

“And though it doesn’t feel like it now,” said Nicola Sturgeon (Scotland’s First Minister), “this virrrus will pass. It won’t last furrever, and one day, hopefully soon, we will be looking back on it, not living through it.”

I’m pretty sure that’s what she said in the speech as I had a fit of the giggles, so when I went to check it just now, was confused to find a slightly different version in other sources. “This pandemic will pass,” they quoted. No, I’m sure she said ‘virus’. The TV captioning said ‘virus’. I’m not sure what happened there.

In the summer it wasn’t hard to have coffee in the garden, but this is a cold country now heading towards winter. The weather is often grey and rainy. Sunny blue-sky days are becoming rarer, though with brisk, soaring autumnal breezes. The whole town has been contemplating coffee in the garden while dark gold leaves fall around and aroma of mushroom rises from the dewy grass. Later still we could have coffee (and muttered conversations about the worse-than-useless local council) in rain and snow. I said I wondered if we could set up a shelter of some kind, though not a tent, as I figured that would defeat the purpose of sitting outside in the slightly-too-fresh air. It turned out that Mum and my sister had already been discussing it — maybe tarpaulin or something draped over a trellis as a makeshift roof? Apparently the local ladies have all had the same idea and are snapping up gazebos, garden tents and chimineas. Doubtless when we shuffle up looking for ours, the shelves will be bare.

“Toady town ladies,” I grumbled. “Oh wait! We’re town ladies too.”

I said lots of us will be wishing we had verandahs in this country, and Mum said verandahs are cold places. At least a verandah would be shelter from the rain, I said. We would need duvets to keep us warm, said Mum, and my sister said she had old duvets we could use.

In the cold weather coming up we could be sitting outdoors wrapped in these duvets, possibly under some kind of trellis roof (if we’re lucky). The cats will absolutely love that. I suggested history books of the future will say, “ā€¦and it was then that people started spending a lot more time outdoors.” All for the sake of continued chat and coffee.