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Sleep late. We walk D to orchard & encounter Coton morris men dancing in the street by the shop. How appropriate to the day. Buy a victoria plum (err, tree) & plant it with D's help in the center of the front garden, bedded in with my well-rotted compost. Also put in years first dahlia & cut both lawns. Am I not brave?
Tues 2nd [photo: My/Peters watch]
Quiet morning. Just about to go off & allot. Finished "mme. Swann at home" which in its last few pages provides some hint of why proust is so well regarded. Also the last few lines explain the volume title.
Buy new shoes for D. £33 at Smiths on Milton Rd.
Try w/stones new cafe with D. Coffee: not as good as s/b but then D had put pepper in it. Croissant somewhat stale but p.au.c good says D. And they do org apple juice.
The Times: "correction: although Kent Council tax has inc by 8.4%, only 0.66% of that (avg 6p/week) is to pay for costs of asylum seekers".
Soir: cut path from 'field' via hazelnut to eucalyptus to bees. Put in 2nd dahlia. Cook (from allot) spinach, rhubarb & (good grief) chardon. Spinach good. R a little sharp. C had pleasant foretaste but bitter aftertaste - uneatable. Must try blanching. Ps: saw it on sale in Nice.
At school: M is taking D round the back to playgroup. Rain. Back to work today after what feels like a long gap.
Work: general stuff. References. Travel claim. Vacs meeting. Seaice trends.
Pick up D. Play at home awhile then to s'pool for more than an hour. D plays with an elephant watering can a lot. Arjuna, cb1 (briefly; they shut at 6 for a (much-needed) floor polish), gm for compost. But am tempted to some 1x8 screws, a new hoe & some flower seeds. Costs: Peat free grow bag: 33l, £0.99. Compost, 40l £2.49 or 80l £3.49. Makes no sense to me. D disgraces himself by weeing in the ride-on helicopter. Oops.
Soir: M finally persuades me to let her wash my hair.
Can't find watch a.m. worried.
Lunch with M in fr cafe. She has had a not-very-satisfactory meeting with pw & I am not very kind which I regret. To rs & validate existence by buying clic drive. Nowhere on it does it say type II slot which is silly. Then to w/stones cafe again. Coffee no better without D's pepper - perhaps worse. Home - M still out so to allot for good 2 1/2 hour dig. When back D is just going to bed & not too happy about it. M out soir: work pub evening. I tidy in effort to find watch & fail :-( but then just as going to bed check again in spare room & find it on a bookshelf where I had taken it off while potting.
JT off to the dome: good grief.
At last the sun.
Pond. Turn on fountain & D can fill his w/can from the pipe. Pull out yet more pond weed. See first d/fly of year, just hatched & clinging to a grass stem.
Bad news re Carol: M+J will fly off to states tomorrow.
Livingstone elected mayor. Good.
Garden: pull up last of old leeks & fry in butter. Finally eat some chardon: the inner core raw. Pleasant. Now trying to cook some 'self blanched' inner leaves. It works - they taste faintly of artichokes.
I get my april photos into order. M phones Jon, Si.
M will fly to ny tomorrow: some frantic rearrangements.
All to pool. Swim: 4x10 in 29, 30x3
Cb1: Doesn't look good for Sarah: council now ld from noc: lab down 4 & ld up 4. Arjuna: finally has stilton. Buy M some biccies for her trip. W/stones: coffee better. Not quite out on 3rd strike.
Home. Lovely evening - calm & warm. Bluebells glow in light. At pond with M. See 1, 2, ... eventually *five* newts swimming in the deeps. M cooks rice & spinach soup. Dig bed around new plum intending for lettuce. Bonfire. Crescent moon in pure sky.
Jon phones: C is dead.
In a fit of work-ethic M to work to sort stuff before her trip. I stay home & play with frames.
Sun 7th [photo: battle of the titans: Dragonfly Larva vs the Tadpole]
Written at 8pm. Peace. Sitting outside with some just-baked bread. Sun has left the garden but not the big apple tree. D sleeps; M is hopefully heading towards the mid atlantic. D & I walked around the big field around us, splashing in the stream as he crossed it & in puddles en route but he walked all the way. Earlier:
Up with D then to yoga with Janet for 2 hours. A good stretch. Quick cb1: have a hot choc for a change (you devil you) & browse absurd book proving atlantis was in the andes, which resorted to outrageous map projection to show that s. am. is opposite pillars of herc. Back by 2: M packs & her car whisks her off at 2.30. Just D & me until wed. D never seems sad (or even to much notice) when one of us goes off. Perhaps he is just well balanced.
My bread was nice (& had interesting crust due to 1 1/2 hour rise out side while D & I walked) but did the 'falling souffle' trick that it does so often.
D is starting to be self aware, in the following sense: in the garden 3 days ago he saw a small girl 2 gardens away at the top of a slide. What that girl say? He asked, and answered himself: she say Daniel is digging (as he was, at the time). Of course, we could not hear what she said. On the physical side, he can now run.
At D's request, I write the word 'ducks'.
Discover that the reason that the hot water does not work is software not hardware: or rather wetware: ie D, who must have turned off the switch near the boiler.
Work distracted by endless stuff but finally do some seaice after pm tea.
Soir: phone Ernie.
At Old Hunstanton at about 1. Took 1 1/2 hour to drive (sorry) here including a stop by the river (note for future: when you cross the big river about 1/2 way there, there is no lay-by for some time, then a little one that is not good (no river path) then a little later a better one). Old H appears to have no public parking (good in principle) when the Strangeways hotel park is shut so end up just on the street.
In sand dunes: D wants to dig. Sun struggling through morning o'cast: feels like a promising a'noon. D takes shoes off & feels sand on feet: fun. Wriggles toes. D wanders off - I'd better watch him though the sea is a long way out. Is the tide coming in I wonder? [no: it goes out]
D keeps weeing on the sand to see the holes it makes.
Play in 'stream' & make dam, splash in water, chase crab... lunch. Party of german 12 year olds loom out of the mist (it was a sea-fog day: clear inland when we left but sun through mist by the sea) & play nearby. They develope a 'jump' & D has a go & its fun although the seagrass scratches his bum. Play amongst the beach huts.
Drive back. Stop about 1/2 way at Cross Keys at ?hislay? & have tea on river terrace (good) & watch local youth steel themselves up to jumping in the river from a bridge.
Soir: water plum. Plant lettuce in 1/8th of its base. Bonfire. Set up waterbutt at front. Scythe path to river keeping watch for bees. M phones.
Soir: M collapses at home & I to pub with C+A & later Dinan - learn all about C's new job with ipaccess..
In all the vast expanse of thursday, my free a'noon, I found no time to write diary.
pm: D sent up to his room for 1/2 hour for deliberately spilling his milk (its a tough school we run here) & for a wonder he stays there.
Warm/muggy/rain: to town to get me a new passport which will hopefully turn up before we go to France in june. D now behaves well esp after I let him sit in photo booth to get his own piccys done: learns to stick tongue out to camera. W'stones cafe (I really can't decide about this place but it is convenient with D) & then browse a little.
On way back we look at various shops. D notices that the Orange shop counter is a fishtank - I've been in the shop & never noticed.
Most of eve is taken up with a 'quick' game of civ as far as theology/democracy but I fail to expand fast enough.
Then pack: manage with just macpac, D's purple bag & a 'personal' sac for each of us.
Finish off packing. Put plants in shed for Dot to water - I have timed their emergence very badly.
On our way, to catch the 10.17. Costs £85 adult return: cheaper to go to Paris from london.
Train is full & I am late drinking up my coffee so we sit on floor. D can (does) sit quite naturally in dandasana which M & I & perhaps all adults find uncomfortable.
Marcel has carried us to Balbec. We discover (for the first time? Or am I forgetful?) that his father is perm sec at x. The chief mystery is: why does he get entre into so much society?
Old slam-door train (which I rather like) down to p'mouth harbour & walk on to ferry 'fast cat' which leaves in a few mins. Look at sail-steam-warship & a grey ship. Crossing less fun than it might be since they have that petty attitude to h+s which is the curse of the age: on must sit down 'in case we cross a ships wake' in the unlikely event of one appearing from nowhere on a calm sea.
Then get on train like an underground car (except painted with dinosaurs) which runs onto pier & takes us to Shanklin in perhaps 20 mins. Then a taxi to Low Ventnor & we are the first to arrive, 4 1/2 hour after leaving home. RNL turn up 5 mins later & ma an hour after - she took a country detour. Housekeeper spends 10 mins telling us how hard it is to get a gardener & shows us the house.
Lazy awakening - D sleeps upstairs & goes down & wakes ma: I offer to get up but she is happy so sleep in till 8, shower & shave. Sun up here & mist below - we are about ?50m? above sea level but it makes quite a difference to the sea fog. Leisurely b'fast on patio 'cos grass is damp with dew & M comes down late - she has done an hours slow yoga. About 10ish Nina says time for beach & it is so gather ourselves & descend.
Find place on beach & deckchairs - attendant comes along later to collect fees but is sadly not an old man in a cap but a rather less prepossessing woman, & here I shall risk remarking once only what I may regret saying publicly: that in general the folks (visitors & perhaps locals) are not those with who(m?, don't you hate petty grammar, especially when it ruins pretensions to pretension) one would choose to associate.
But anyway: D & L love the beach & we take turns to relax & play with them, though D in particular is mostly happy digging by himself. I go in to sea for a brief - about 30 stroke crawl, its cold - swim.
Lunch in Spyglass Inn is quite acceptable & indeed inside the place is rather good - in winter one could be quite happy inside watching the weather out. & they have 4 real ales: we have the local brew.
Then back to house & just relax all pm. I civ soir.
We have a refusal: D won't go up to get dressed. So we are on the landing. My weapon in the who-breaks-first contest is having something else to do: writing this.
To Alum bay/needles: a surprisingly long drive. Arrive & have to walk through fun-fair & things look bad. Take chair lift down (officially at least 'cos D & L would enjoy it; they did) to little strip of beach & no clear sign that the boat intends to sail. But it does & is good & we get a nice view of the needles (hazy & light bright but not good for piccies). D has a good time but, in the way of these things, is almost as interested in the boatmans dog.
Afterwards: tea & some funfair: a go on the 'cliffhanger' for me but I fail to find the knack & fall straight off. For D & L there is a traditional carousel - N & I go on with them.
N, M, D & L go home & Ma, R & I get a walk. Out to the point to see the old battery, the needles from above & the tea rooms. Then up & along the back of the wide grassy downs. After a mile or so Ma takes the path back & we continue up to Tennysons monument & then along to Freshwater: a splendid walk over springy turf.
Ma has just arrived. We have a quick look at the beach (looks ok: maybe we should return) & back. L has slept (so R is ok...) but D only briefly.
Soir: M cooks kedgeree. I delete some of the 40+ photos I took today, civ a bit, mobile login fail but land suceed.
Outside the Royal Hotel awaiting m+d. Looks like a good place for a pot of tea - perhaps we should stop here before going on to the beach. Of course I am not dressed for it. About 11.30: Don & Barbie arrived 10.30 ish for the day. They have gone out with ma; rnl are off to some house. We are now on the terrace of said Royal awaiting tea & sandwiches. Service is leisurely. But when it arrives the brie & apricot chutney sandwiches (no crusts, naturally: we are the youngest here by 30 years) are delicately presented. [from M: Just brought D back from an extended trip to the loo. Now he is eating sugar, in large quantities. Old buffers at the bar go on about bank managers and about how many funerals they've been to since Christmas]. OB's magically whisk themselves & their blazers off to lunch & we are alone again.
This place must be a little like the Grand at Balbec was: but now has lost its grand clientele.
Windy day so not beach. Walk along 'cliffs' to bot gdns - a pleasant mile. Past Steephill Cove which has a cafe & a beach covered at high tide.
Nina reports that the toilets in the Botanic gardens tea rooms are clean, odour free & queueless. Cafe is gleaming & elegant but the contents are not quite up to it.
Gardens are good to stroll through - only when you look closely there is the odd nettle.
At the playground. A work party of oldies is out renovating a further section - we guess that only volunteer labour could keep this place under control. All is peace & D & L slide & swing until a group of boisterous school kids turn up & remind us to move on.
M has gone off with D & when she returns D has stung himself on a nettle & M has seen a weasel! Lithe & with characteristic white throat.
L sleepy so rnl off home.
Advert (during dev of undercliff in about 1850): 'the salubrity of the climate is too proverbial to need comment' & 'opens a fine field for speculation TO CAPITALISTS & BUILDERS'.
Stop at S'hill on way back: their rock cakes are better than at Bas. M has (local) crab sandwich. D watches waves. Cafe better than bot gdns (yes thats the sort of thing this diary is full of).
Bot gdns has some stuff about flora of the undercliff - which is this whole section of island (ins web ref here) - & piccies of it before it was tamed. Occaisionally I see a fragment of view that calls this to mind.
Home: D v tired & to bed for 3h sleep. M & (more) I sleep on couch, then I put till now into web for N to see.
Make pizza for dinner. The fridge in this place is vast but not the oven - the dish will not fit in & several inversions are required to xfer.
D bedtime, but first the Wild Things. D is v sweet sheltering under M's arm to read a story.
And here is what mother would like to say: "".
It becomes clearer in a different house how architecture affects behaviour. Here, the room layout makes it hard to sit by the fire so we lie on the couch.
Nina asserts that lifting up one cheek to fart is characteristic of people in old folks homes.
M up early (6.20) with D (who comes & gives me a kiss while I pretend to be asleep) & then she sleeps again when I come down. Ma+rnl to b'fly world but we stay here so they take D. Warm sun but wind: read ns on chomsky in conservatory (argues that as language is innate but developes, so to may be morals). Sun warms so try the balcony: pleasant despite wind. My sellotape is wearing out on the palm writing area.
Persevere on balcony despite wind through cloud back to sun. M joins me & brings croissants (how this account simplifies things: in fact she had a shower, came out, went down to get the c + p'au choc that I bouqht y'day).
Finish ns on c.
Last day :-(
Pack & ready to go by 10 which is the appointed hour. Others to Carisbrook castle but we shall beach for a while. D throws a no-walk tantrum & eventually has to be carried. Weather has returned to start: sun, hot, still.
Write down times: Cat - 20 & 50, train-13 & 53.
Beach for an hour & build last version of fort stoat, which is o'whelmed by waves. M gets ice creams & books taxi. We wave b'bye to beach.
Shanklin station: brush sand of Ventnor off my feet.
At Ryde Pier we manage to miss the boat which leaves with undue promptness. This is initially irritating but gives us time for tea & D&I look around the pier. Rest of journey home uneventful hence good (in Chinese sense) & we even manage to undo my mistake of getting on the slow train.
[Ahem. Palm has just crashed & wiped its memory. Silly it. Perhaps it didn't like having its sellotape changed. Rather fortunately I'd backed it up y'day when I got home. Restore, & discover that 'backup' folder contains things I'd deleted & forgotted. This means restore ran out of mem... wonder what was omitted?]
So: anyway: at home. D+A can't come after all so to pool: 28, 2x29, 28.5 interleaved with M. To cb1 before & after (pool was full(!) when we got there).
Pond: a terrible cautionary tale: left pump on o'night & it became clogged. When examined, this proved to be because of a dense mat of very sad tadpoles.
Mail at half ten: J+K have a new baby: Rosemary.
Home early because M'a on hols. D sleeps.
Jo delivers sw. Brings baby, called Ewan. D wakes later crying 'I want my mummy'.
Tues 23rd [Which Great Author is D showing his respect for? The photo, of course, is posed, but only recreates what he did anyway but I was too slow to catch]
To pool but I've forgotten my stuff :-( ho hum. Rain so no gardening, though it cries out. Cb1, rs to look at breadmakers, w'stones, home. D&M are out at Grafton so I relax with thd & review zs.
Pm: rain continues so we stay at home, quite happily. I spend more than an hour trying to fix the PC speakers whose on/off switch is broken.
Sun. Birds in roof. We take D to playgroup. M'a takes him swimming & brings him back here at half two: I am drinking a pot of coffee. D is tired: plays quietly then sleeps for an hour. I cut the lawn & am interrupted by rain.
D says that velvet rabbit has a tummyache & needs to sleep. Then bigfoot-the-rabbit confesses to playing with the 'little light' (immersion heater switch) & D tells him that this is naughty.
Soir: beer fest: good, but see tomorrow.
Feel awful at work & do little. Lunch F cafe with M & feel worse. Zombie to w'stones to buy vol 3 but when I get home I shit like I was pissing & throw up. Collapse into bed feeling better but v tired: watch sun & rain alternate in the garden in intervals between sleep. Soir downstairs & eat a little. M v kind, but then has to go out to beer fest to meet Rayleighans.
On way back from picking up D I meet young McLoughlin who reminds me of the motorbike. Since I have done nothing to it in the few months since he last asked, and have guiltily realised that I will not, I give it to him.
Pm: M comes home similarly sick, but not so badly. So take D to swimming pool - by car, its pouring with rain. Come back & M is downstairs by fire but not looking to bad.
D wakes at 8.30 & so do we. One day we will get up *before* him. Sun.
Swim 28, 29, 29.5, 30.5. Less than a second off & some index of health/fitness (yes I do use it as a rule).
Get through 2 levels of graviton in w'stones queue.
Continues v wet. D paints with new ones M bought y'day. I get him to do a botty-print.
Am I not contemptible? Rather than challenge D in hand-to-hand combat I have stolen 4 of his twiglets while he goes to the toilet. Years later he will read this & demand their return. I should start a twiglet-pension. But sadly I have not invested them wisely: no, I have consumed them.
Pool: 27 plus a smidgen, 29.5, 2x28.5. Dive! once. M & D are wildly impressed.
To J+K to see new R. Sit in car outsite for a few mins to let yet another rainstorm pass over. M talks mostly with K & L wants to go outside so J & D & I do. Their hosepipe is better than ours. J gives me an unnamed green pumpkin which I plant in first bed.
On way back: stop to photo clouds.
New newt: possibly smooth. Pond is newt heaven: see at least 5. Photos, inc one close enough to make just its head a backdrop.
Mon 29th [D runs from the waves]
Have decided to go to seaside if weather is ok, & it is. Leave 9.30 (early) & there by 11. Tea at beach cafe then I get an hours sleep in the sun while M chases D amongst the dunes. Then my turn. D does some leaping, then we dig a deep dark hole (with a slope) then he runs away to the sea & doesn't stop till he is knee deep. Beach is of the v long shelving type & water rather brown.
But then it starts to rain & indeed to pour & indeed to hail & we crouch beneath our umbrellas & D in his indoors tent. A loud close thunderclap scares & unsettles him. On a slight easing we run to a beach hut porch then the car. I return & get our stuff.
Decide on a'noon tea in LeStrange Arms Hotel, which turns out to be good (except for the flora not butter with the scones: careless). D's icecream has real strawberries in it. £8, sensible, revised up from a disturbingly low £5.60.
Afterwards: looks grey (indeed we wait inside for 5 mins for a squall to pass) but we go to beach for a last play. M buys a metal-blade spade & we dam the rainwater streaming down the path. Clears up & we go to the sea which is retreating from high tide. Build Fort Stoat several times. Light is special & we stay till 5.
Back via Cross Keys in Hilgay again. A good place for a quiet end-of-day sit. Home: M bathes D & I plant some r beans.
Today is a bas/nerc priv day but for me its just a tues off as ever. To arjuna, then cb1 fails me - not open by 10.20 - so w'stones then home. M&D are off in car so to allotment as plan & mow for 1 hour, dig a bit for light relief & plant a few runners. All the recent rain has been splendid for the grass which is 2 foot high. Argh. Of my 4 squashes so lovingly grown, 2 have been slugged without trace, one is just visible & one might live.
Home. Swap with M - they have been to grafton c, or 'to the escalators' as says. Start off some bread. D goes to sleep at 3 - its now 5.45. Play with printing photos to xfer paper & iron on. Works.
D has nits, according to M'a. But not acc boots, where I go to get nit lotion. So M washes his hair & combs it carefully in the evening. Pm to s'pool & spend so long there have no time for cafe to D's disappointment.
Soir: pub. D sleeps.
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