23 October 2016

Oh, it’s been a busy but fun week. The weather’s been pretty decent although the crispness of Autumn is beginning to give way to the “chilliness” of Autumn. Still, not much gets in between Penelope and her garden.

One thing that did get in the way was Annabelle’s birthday tea on Tuesday – Bubble is five years old and in her first year of “proper” school! How is that possible?

Her “proper” birthday party with all her friends is today and we were delighted to receive our invitation some weeks ago. However, we have a prior commitment and so had to go across and help her celebrate on the actual day itself.

The tea had an Alice in Wonderland theme so Ms Playchute decided that we should scout around and acquire some costumes in which to attend. A quick trawl of the internet and a phone call later and we were all set – Pen located a very nice young lady who runs a costume hire business out of her home and “yes”, she could transform us into the White Rabbit and the Mad Hatter. Annabelle was Alice, of course, and Nick and Lucy were the King and Queen of hearts. We had a treasure hunt, a variety of games and a magnificent birthday tea all of which was great fun. Those of you who are unlucky enough not to be “friends” with Lucy on Facebook will have missed the following.

On Thursday we were off out again, this time to the Grand Designs exhibition at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. We’ve been a couple of times in previous years; sometimes it’s held in Birmingham and sometimes in London and it’s generally very interesting and, at times, thought-provoking as you wander through looking at all sorts of bits and pieces for the home and garden.

This year we had a particular interest in mind so were quite looking forward to scouting around for ideas – we’re hopeful that one day we might be able to replace the small conservatory at the back of the house with an enlarged version, an Orangery if you will, which would provide a larger and brighter kitchen (the Orangery would be south facing) as well as a sitting area, small table, etc. So, we were hoping to meet with and discuss some ideas with orangery manufacturers. In previous years there have been several; this year there appeared to be none! So, while we had a splendid time and a fun and interesting day out, we didn’t really get to address our main objective.

Friday we waved good-bye to a large builder’s sack of compost which we had been trying to get rid of for several days. Pen wanted some farmyard manure with which to enrich and feed her garden. She scoured the internet and found a firm advertising manure, placed her order and we took delivery of a 900 Kg bag last week. This arrived in an 18 tonne lorry which, because of the nature of our driveway, was unable to back up the drive to deposit the bag closer to where we wanted it.

Our neighbour Roger appeared and suggested that the neighbouring farmer might be persuaded to use his tractor and lift the bag off the lorry and deliver it at the top of our driveway, which he very kindly did. We thanked him profusely, waved good-bye to the lorry driver and then Penelope looked closely at the contents. “This is not manure,” she exclaimed. “This is compost!”

While it was very nice compost indeed, this was not what Ms Playchute had ordered so she phoned the firm to complain. They explained that what they had supplied was what they call their “manure” but it was pretty obvious that this had not passed through the gut of any animal on this earth. As we were “dissatisfied” they offered to collect the bag and refund our money.

The only problem was that we had a 900 Kg bag of compost at the top of our drive which the courier’s lorry could not reach.

Lengthy discussions with the firm who supplied the “manure” and with the courier who delivered it ensued as we tried to work through all the logistics. We had to scour around and find a pallet – found one in the cellar which was a bit of luck. We then had to plead with the farmer (he was very willing) to bring his tractor around and lift the bag back out to the front of the house and place it on the pallet so that the driver could load it. In spite of our instructions to the couriers not to come until we had confirmed that the bag was back out front, they sent two lorries on fruitless expeditions. But, eventually, on Thursday afternoon the farmer arrived and hoisted the bag back to the front of the house, we phoned the courier to confirm it was ready for collection and on Friday afternoon the courier successfully removed the offending bag. That calls for a drink, I think.

I ran across the following somewhere – I suspect it was on Facebook. It just about sums up the idiocy of the Brexiteers.


We’re off to Naples for a few days this afternoon. Actually, by the time many of you in time zones behind ours read this, we shall probably be well on our way. It’s an area we’ve always wanted to visit and when our friends Sue & Stuart suggested a quick getaway, we leapt at the opportunity. Looking forward to Pompeii, Vesuvius, Herculaneum, etc. Hopefully, we’ll have a few photos to share next time.

In the meantime, have a look at some of the winners from what I think is probably my favourite annual photography exhibition, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year.


Much love to you all,




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