shewhomust: (bibendum)
We were thwarted in our plan to visit Washington Old Hall on Christmas Eve, and see the gardens illuminated. Had we gone then, I suppose it would have been J.'s birthday treat; but when we discussed when we might visit instead, the day that suited us all best was Wednesday, which just happened to be my birthday. So instead of a winter wonderland, we saw the Hall framed by spring flowers:


Christmas outing deferred )

Souter lighthouse

Birthday outing prolonged )
shewhomust: (Default)
I am writing at the kitchen table, using my little notebook, because I had to turn it on to find my recipe for spiced buns: Lent is coming to an end and tomorrow there will be hot cross buns for breakfast. Not, as I said when I wrote up that recipe, that I observe Lent, or indeed Easter, but there is a pleasure in cooking traditional foods at the traditional time, and for once I have hit that target.

A less happy coming to an end is afflicting my little notebook: switching it on is no longer a trivial matter. Not only does its battery run flat between uses, it runs so flat that it requires a period plugged in before it is willing even to work on mains electricity. I suspect that one of its two batteries is not charging at all. I must have bought it some time in 2015, which I suppose makes it a respectable age for an electronic device, and it has done its job well in that time - all the more reason why I don't look forward to replacing it.

Thinking these thoughts, I notice that the cracks in my bread bowl grow more sinister with every batch of bread. At least it will be no problem finding a replacement in this case; I can just go back to using the bowl I used before I was given this one (which, unlike the current bowl, actually is a traditional bread bowl). Perhaps I should do that, and not wait until the bowl splits asunder, I thought, as I emptied the last of the bere meal into the dough. (Did I actually buy it at the Barony Mill? In that case, we have probably reached its Best Before date...)

And now, while the dough is proving, I should go to my desk, and to the unfinished post that awaits on the computer there. Maybe that, too, can be brought to an end?
shewhomust: (Default)
Colpitts Poetry, a long established Durham institution, emerged from a period of dormancy (which I shall be optimistic and call "hibernation") on Friday evening, for a reading by two local poets, both members of the Vane Women collective. S.J. Litherland is much respected, but I don't usually find her poetry very approachable. On this occasion she was aided and abetted by traditional musician Ian McKone - that is, there had clearly been collusion about the choice, and the timing, of his tunes and songs, and the combination worked well for me. It was pleasant to sit in the darkening room, as the candles became more visible in the dusk - a Colpitts tradition, that only the reader has electric light - and listen to the words and music.

What had drawn me to the reading, though, was the support act, Diane Cockburn, of whom - of whose work, but also in fact of whom - I am very fond. Here's Electric Mermaid, the title poem of her first and to date only collection. I could have sworn I'd posted this before, but I've spent longer than I should have poking around the internet, and found no evidence of it. I did, on the other hand, find one of the poems she read on Friday, Hocus Pocus, a cautionary tale of a sénce gone wrong. But the poem that stays with me is the one with which she ended her set, written for a project to write in the voice of a woman from an exhibition of portraits of unidentified subjects. Diane had chosen a woman in severe costume, wearing a gauntlet on which she carried a bird: but instead of producing some historically plausible monologue, she had come up with a fever dream of a poem about a dystopia beset each morning by noxious vapours, which could only be warded off by a gathering of bearers of birds and beasts. The speaker, with a linnet on her gloved fist (the part of the linnet played by an RSPB fluffy songthrush, linnets being unavailable, attached to a furry mitten) and curses the person who arrived before her and grabbed her favourite axolotl. This sounds comic - and it was funny, and we laughed - but there was something eerie about it too, especially in the final song of the false linnet.

On Saturday we went to Bishop Auckland, for the Food Fair; I had picked up a leaflet and then forgotten all about it, but J. telephoned and we agreed to meet her there. We have done this before, more than once (the first time seems to have been ten years ago) and part of the attraction has always been that the fair extends out of the Market Place into the grounds of the castle, and there's usually a chance to nose around the castle as well. Not this year, as there are extensive renovations going on at the castle. So there were fewer photo opportunities than usual:


But the nice man from Riverford gave me an apple, and I stocked up on Lacey's cheese, and J. introduced us to the free bookshop, and it was bright and warm enough - just! - to buy our lunch from the street food stalls... We took J. home, and she gave us tea and showed off the progress of her home improvements, and then we stopped at Lidl on the way home. Which is like going to another food festival, so many strange and wonderful things to tempt us: [personal profile] durham_rambler considered a bargain hedge trimmer from the centre aisle (not that we have a hedge, but it was a bargain!) while I resisted the siren song of the freezer full of Polish dumplings: should I buy plum, or sour cream? No, I should not. But I did buy a jar of stuffed cabbage, and some pickled herring.
shewhomust: (bibendum)
This is another post composed incrementally. It was already overdue, and taking shape in my mind if not on the page, when a feature in last Saturday's Guardian provided the perfect opening. In the week's piece about unlikely house-shares; the teacher and the student (not currently in a teacher / student relationship):
He once said, "You've made my life so different. I'm learning so much." I thought, "What's he talking about, quantitative analysis?"

"No," he said. "Now I know what shiraz is."

Which is as good a way as any into a post about how the last third of March (yes, as I said, overdue) seems to have been awash with good wine.

Dinner at Finbarr's )

Gate-crashing the wine club )

Sunday lunch with claret )
shewhomust: (ayesha)
Thanks to LJ / DW, I know that other people dream in coherent, if surreal, narrative. I don't often remember dreaming, and when I do, I wake up with a handful of fragments which fall apart when I try to grasp them. Last night, for no obvious reason, I seem to have had a busy time...

I dreamed that the unidentified other person in the bed got up, and returned bearing the cat and three kittens (she had had six kittens, but now there were three). I reached out to pet a black, fluffy kitten, and it bit me with its sharp little teeth. I was more pleased than not. Later, somewhere outdoors, [personal profile] boybear told me the cat's name, which unfortunately I don't remember. Her second name was a people name (it might have been Michael) but the first was some sort of abstraction: something like 'Parity'? Not 'Singularity', because I remember thinking, in the dream, that 'Singularity' would be a good name for a cat.

Later I was in a supermarket, looking at a display of fruit set out on a market barrow. There were mangoes, and something the shape of a kiwi fruit, but a little larger, with a smooth skin, green and blushing to red: the skin of a mango, in fact, though I didn't recognise this at the time, because I knew they were limes. I picked up a mango and three limes, and then realised that I didn't know the price of any of these things, so I put one of the limes back.

None of this makes any sense to me, or has any connection with anything I have consciously been thinking.
shewhomust: (Default)
  • Today is / would have been my father's 99th birthday, and we marked the occasion with a visit to Finchale Priory, where he spent holidays as a boy:

    High water at Finchale>

    After all the recent snow, the river was rushing by a great speed; two ducks, sitting sideways to the current, were carried downstream and out of sight in no time.

  • It's yellow flower season. The daffodils are almost past, and fields of rape are coming into bloom. The riverbanks are studded with stars of celandine:


    Also dandelions and I'm pretty sure I saw coltsfoot high up on the rock face. There are white windflowers, too, but the wild garlic is barely showing the first spears (the scent of garlic is pungent, though). And a scattering of violets.

  • On our way to Finchale we went to the Arnison Centre to buy a new iron, as ours has died. Luckily the choice was simplified by the fact that of our two possible shops, one had precisely one iron with the feature we wanted (can be detached from the cord) and the other - had closed. Consumerism does not overwhelm me with choice, and I'm fine with that.

  • After the morning's excitements, [personal profile] durham_rambler decided he wanted fish and chips for lunch, at the new Bell's chippy. I found this disappointing: my haddock was very nice, but the chips were flaccid. [personal profile] durham_rambler had mussels, so all is well.

  • The upholsterers have returned our sofa, and it looks very smart. But it wobbles. The odd thing is that the castor whose absence causes the wobble came off some time ago, and we never got round to fixing it, because it didn't seem to make any difference. Now, however, it does, so tomorrow we'll have to see if we can get some little screws at the market, to fix it back on. Even with the wobble, I'm enjoying having the sofa back: the wing chairs are surprisingly comfortable, but it's not the same.
shewhomust: (Default)
...and to complete the set (I hope!), as we were returning from the pub quiz last night we were bombarded by small but fierce hailstones. Luckily the shower didn't last long.

What next?
shewhomust: (Default)
It is snowing. Over breakfast we went though a sequence of: it's raining; wait, is that sleet? you know, I think that's snow... to big white flakes that were definitely, unmistakably snow, tumbling down like feathers and settling on the roofs of May Street.

I know they say a white Easter comes more often than a white Christmas: but Easter is late this year.
shewhomust: (ayesha)
[personal profile] poliphilo got me thinking about the 1950s. He was talking about his father's love of gardening, and said:
I suppose that - like most of his generation - he came out of the war thinking, "That's enough excitement for one lifetime." It helps explains why the 1950s were so dull and drab - and why when the postwar generations started thinking, "Hey a little excitement would actually be rather nice," he and his lot opposed us so resolutely.

Which makes all sorts of sense, and may well explain why some people felt and behave as they did. But, as I commented in his post, were the 50s really so dull and drab? I know it's become the received view, as a prelude to talking about how exciting the 60s were: I heard it again last night, watching Made in Liverpool, a documentary about the Beatles, which went on to explain the formative influence of the records brought back from America by Liverpool seamen, the excitement of the rock and blues of the 50s... I suspect (and this is only half a joke) that the idea comes from people who grew up with colour TV, never mind colour film, and can't imagine life in black and white.

Only it wasn't actually in black and white, of course. At least, I don't remember it that way, and I don't think that's just because I was born in 1951, so this is my childhood I'm talking about. Like everyone else, I remember the perfect summers of childhood, but I also remember the London smog. The other side of the generation returning from the war looking for a little peace and quiet, is that this was the generation that set up the Welfare State and the National Health Service. By 1951 a nation still rebuilding after the war deliberately set out to create a sense of optimism and new things happening with the Festival of Britain - and it may be naïve to treat a government iniative as a valid sign of how people felt, but if it comes to a choice between the arts quarter on the South Bank and the Millennium Dome, I know which one I'd choose.

My parents were not royalists (on the contrary), so despite the photographs placing me at a street party for the coronation, I don't remember any excitement about the new young queen. But it did exist, that sense of a second Elizabethan Age (I've read A.S. Byatt on the subject).

"I'm thinking how class-conscious we were," says [personal profile] poliphilo, "and how conformist, and how dreadful the food was and how boring the clothes were and how tame the popular music was..." Up to a point, Lord Copper. When it comes to class-consciousness, what's remarkable is not how much we have changed, but how little, with our cabinet of Old Etonians, and our films and televisions dominated by public-school educated actors. How conformist we were in the 1950s? Some of us, no doubt; others spent Easter marching from Aldermaston against the bomb. The Wolfenden Report was published in 1957: a long way from gay equality, but a first step.

Was the food so dreadful? It was more limited than what we have now, certainly, and continued to be so into the 60s and beyond: when I came to Durham in 1969, olive oil was something you bought in Boots, for pharmaceutical use. But Elizabeth David was encouraging us to try new things (A Book of Mediterranean Food, 1950, French Country Cooking, 1951, Italian Food, 1954...). More home cooking, less convenience foods, there's an upside and a downside to everything.

As for the music: I don't really know about the popular music of the 1950s, my listening was restricted to Children's Favourites (with Uncle Mac). But I've already mentioned the beginnings of rock & roll making their way across the Atlantic, which led to the birth of skiffle and livened things up a bit. Personally, I'm more interested in the folk revival which was going on at the same time.

A decade is a long time, and the world is a big place: you can find evidence to support either side of an argument. I realise, too, that I am talking, repeatedly, about things beginning, the first signs appearing of things which would be more visible, more important, later. That's not a counter-argument: beginnings are exciting times. I'm surprised how much I have to say on this subject, and I'm gratful to [personal profile] poliphilo for spurring me on to saying it.
shewhomust: (puffin)
I begin to think of this as the blog past that never grew up. I have been working on it for over a week, nibbling away at it a paragraph at a time. I never set out to binge-read Peter Pan. I was looking through the To Be Read pile for my next book, and pulled out Geraldine McCaughrean's Peter Pan in Scarlet, the authorised sequel. I don't think this had anything to do with the Michael Jackson documentary Leaving Neverland, which I have not seen; it has been heavily trailed, so I might have made a subconscious connection, but I'd have thought that was more likely to put me off the subject than to attract me. I'd bought the book in a charity shop out of 90% admiration for McCaughrean's The White Darkness, 10% curiosity: how do you write a sequel to Peter Pan, and what's more, one which will please Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital, who commissioned the competition by which McCaughrean was chosen for the task?

Rambling (at inordinate length) )

I stumbled into this exploration of Neverland inadvertently, thinking that I wasn't particularly interested in Peter Pan himself. I wondered whether his continuing presence in literary culture owed as much to the bequest which makes him synonymous with helping sick children (and you couldn't not want to do that, could you)? And no doubt that's part of his power. Perhaps the development of the myth through the book, the play, the another book, (maybe even the film), not, like King Arthur, through the many hands of the ages but always in the words of one man, adds to its strength. There's something about the way Barrie tells his story (and I'm thinking particularly of the Peter and Wendy novel, here), narrating a story about children rather than a story for children, in the voice of an adult entranced but also amused by his subject. He sees the charm of Neverland, but he knows that only Peter can live there for ever, and that Peter is neither entirely admirable nor entirely happy. Is it Barrie's fault if careless readers do not notice this?

While I have been wandering in Neverland, the story has started following me around. It started with an album of bandes dessinées, bought I forget when, in a secondhand shop I forget where, coming to the surface now and demanding to be read: A la recherche de Pater Pan by Cosey (otherwise unknown to me). It is set in the Alps of the Valais, in the late 1920s, and it devotes its efforts to a gorgeous and well-documented depiction of the way of life of that place and time. The central figure is a tourist from England, a (blocked) novelist who claims to be obsessed with Peter Pan, having been given the book as a child, by his brother. 'The book', according to its cover, is both Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens and Peter Pan and Wendy. I'm not going to quibble about this: Cosey thinks that Barrie was an "auteur anglais", this isn't about factual accuracy. Quite late in the book, the title is explained: it's the novelist's reply to the question, what will your next book be called? And he reflects that he associates his brother, at some level, with Peter Pan. There doesn't seem to be any actual basis for this, in what I read, but this is only volume one of two: perhaps all will become clear in the second half of the story. I'd buy it, anyway, if I ever sw a copy.

Next, thinking I had left Peter Pan behind me, I read The Lost: the Dark Ground by Gillian Cross, the first book of a trilogy which J. had loaned to me. I'm saying as little as possible about this one, because it's a terrific book and one of the great things about it is the way the story gradually unfolds and keeps you guessing. Also, book one of a trilogy, so I could say things on the basis of what I know now that were completely wrong. But, quite a long way through the book, it occurred to me that 'the Lost' echoes (in my head, if nowhere else) with the Lost Boys in their home under the ground in Neverland. So I hadn't entirely got away from Peter Pan yet.

Finally, putting together my comics order for the next month, I came across The Wendy Project, and was delighted that someone had decided to put Wendy at the centre of the story. (Not to mention Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie's The Lost Girls - no, let's not mention that.) Edited, 24.4.19, to add that Melissa Jane Osborne and Veronica Fish's The Wendy Project turns out to be completely charming: 16 year-old Wendy (Davies, not Darling) crashes her car into a lake, causing the death of her backseat passenger, her younger brother Michael (this being the USA, there is no suggestion that this is in any way illegal or abnormal). With the help of her counsellor / therapist, the belatedly named Dr Barrie, who askes her to make a sketch book of her feelings, she works her way through denial and grief (and Neverland) to acceptance and moving on. That's a SPOILER! but you never doubt she will: the question is how, and at what cost. The surprise is how close a reading of Peter Pan this entails, with generous use of quotations, and textual allusions (Tinker Bell / Jenny Wren causes Tootles to shoot down the Wendy Bird, for example, and I was delighted to note a flamingo by the shore of Michael's lagoon...) Lovely art by Veronoca Fish, with day to day life in monochrome, but Neverland breaking through in glorious colour.
shewhomust: (durham)
[personal profile] lamentables sent me to Peterlee. I would have heard eventually from other sources - did, indeed, receive an e-mail about the event from arts organiser Artichoke, a whole day before it started. But it was [personal profile] lamentables who tipped me off well in advance, so that we could make plans to visit, that there was to be a mini-Lumiere event, illuminating Apollo Pavilion, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of this masterpiece of brutalist architecture / huge concrete monstrosity (delete where not applicable). I admit to a fondness for the thing, just because it is so extreme and unreasonable. We visited it during the Heritage Open Days in 2007, when we were allowed to climb up and walk through it, which was intended in the original plan, but you know how these things go. I seem to have been ambushed by some urgent form-filling in, and not posted about it at the time. Sorry. But we went back on Saturday and took pictures to prove it. )
shewhomust: (ayesha)
...but I have signed the petition to Parliament to revoke Article 50.

I didn't sign it because I thought that it would actually cause a change of plan. I signed it because I was so angry at the Prime Minister trying to blame Parliament for a mess which is of her own making. Mrs May says that she is on the side of the 17 million people who voted leave; I want to remind her that as Prime Minister she is supposed to represent the entire country, the 48% who voted remain as well as the 52% who voted leave.

My signature is a vote of confidence in my MP, who would much rather be working for her constituents on all the other issues which are being shelved (I know this because she has said so) while Parliament tries to extricate the country from this shambles.

It's a plea for the right of the minority to be heard.

2,866,811 and counting.
shewhomust: (Default)
There may be Brexit ahead,
But while there's moonlight and music and love and romance,
Let's face the music and dance...

Hope you are celebrating your day appropriately - if not with dancing, then with music and cake!
shewhomust: (Default)
The upholsterers have arrived and collected the sofa. This is not Nicola, who upholstered our armchairs, but the people we were already talking to when I met Nicola at the Christmas Fair. They told us they couldn't start until March, whereas Nicola was able to do the armchairs over Christmas - but her price for the sofa was higher than theirs, and there was the complication that it would not fit in her car (the armchairs did, just, one at a time). So we went back to Plan A. I was not looking forward to getting the sofa out of the house, but it went surprisingly easily, once we had moved a few boxes...

The morning's next task is to change out of furniture-moving clothes, and into something appropriate for the funeral of an old but not particularly close friend. What to wear? Something smart and dark enough to be appropriate, robust enough to walk to the far side of town on a blustery March day... I fear the red coat is unavoidable.
shewhomust: (mamoulian)
I had expected that after spending last Tuesday afternoon at County Hall, watching the Planning Committee decide in favour of the County Council's own (very unpopular) plan to build itself a new headquarters down by the river, that I would be writing long, angry posts on the subject. Apparently not.

Instead, I feel moved to report that I have finally used the last of the little pot of Laphroaig Honey lip balm I bought in Bowmore - I was about to write 'a couple of years ago', and no, actually it was in 2015. Not an everlasting pot of lip balm, but because lip balm is one of the things I buy when an interesting one is offered to me, knowing I will use it eventually. Laphroaig itself is too idiosyncratic to make a good lip balm (it would be like smearing your lips with creosote, quite apart from the alcohol burn) but this was excellent, soothing but light and very reasonably priced. File under: would buy again.

Meanwhile, I have moved on to the next pot in my stash, which is in the shape of a duck. This duck, in fact, but tiny, barely an inch long, and less pie-eyed. The label tells me it was made in Taiwan, and comes from someone called 'Opal London' ("Website coming soon"), none of which is promising. THe price label explains all: it says 'W.I. Rendall', which means that I bought it on Westray (and again, not expensive). The lip balm inside (there's a tiny pot sunk into the base) is bright pink, very sticky with a powerful scent of strawberry. It isn't horrible, but I'm not likely to buy any more. After all, how many ducks does one woman need?

I haven't spent the whole week brooding about Durham's democratic deficit: D. has been visiting and distracting me with such pleasures as wine and crosswords. We also went to a lecture at Redhills, about plans to preserve and make use of the old Miners' Hall. Also, the weather has been very strange: we walked home in Sunshine from Sunday lunch at the Stonebridge, noticing a blackthorn hedge coming into bloom - and within an hour we had a heavy shower of - wait, that's not rain, it's sleet! No, snow... (not settling, but definitely snow).
shewhomust: (Default)
Our car is currently at the garage, who are repairing the dent made in it by someone taking the hill too fast one frosty morning. It isn't a very large dent, not as substantial as the damage done in the same incident to our next door neighbour's car, which was parked on the other side of the road, but the car is at the garage for ten days, and in the interim we have a courtesy car. It's a Peugeot 2008, which is apparently some sort of SUV crossover, and it's very fancy. The lights come on automatically when it gets dark, and the windscreen wipers start automatically when it rains. On the other hand, there are things we would have expected it to adjust automatically, which we can work out how to correct: it expresses speeds in kilometres per hour, and thinks it is an hour later than it is.

We drove it to Sunderland last night, to dine with my cousins, who were up for the match (its satnav doesn't know about the new Northern Spire bridge). We met them at Gabriele's, which has become our regular Italian restaurant on Seaburn sea front, for a very happy evening. Sunderland had won 2 - 0, and we are not accustomed to winning: there is an upside to being demoted (twice). Also discussed: family, books, music, holiday plans, the superiority of the first bottle of wine - the last in stock - to those which followed...
shewhomust: (puffin)
If you were only going to read one memoir of childhood reading, it wouldn't be this one, it would be Francis Spufford's The Child that Books Built. But if you are someone who reads memoirs of childhood reading, you probably aren't going to stop at one, so why not enjoy Bookworm as well? It isn't as well constructed as The Child that Books Built (which is quite suspiciously neat in its construction). But it is overflowing with good stuff, enthusiasm and humour and warmth. Also with occasionally extraneous matter (I didn't feel I needed Lucy Mangan's overviews of the history of children's books, and if I had needed them, I would probably have needed more than she gave).

Bookworm is the portrait of a happy family. From a very early age, Lucy reads, and is encouraged by her father, who brings her books: her mother and sister do not share this passion, but work round it. The adult Lucy reads to her own small son the books that she owned and loved in childhood - often the very copies she owned, which is impressive - and experiences the feelings of her child self as she does so. This is irresistible.

The internet is full of reviews in which the reviewer cries: "I love this book, it describes me exactly!" But what I find fascinating about the book is how much I recognise in her description of herself as an infant bookworm, and yet how exactly it does not describe me. Yes, like every other reader of the book I am delighted by its enthusiasm for overlooked treasures, things I thought no-one but me had read (in my case it was Antonia Forest's books about the Marlow family). But I am intrigued by the absences, the books she doesn't mention. I can't help suspecting that somewhere on the internet, there is a conversation about the books that Lucy Mangan didn't read.

Maybe this is the place... )

To be fair to Bookworm, this is less a criticism, more the conversation I would like to have had with its author. There's an alternative post, in which I read you some of my favourite passages, but a better idea would be to read it yourself.
shewhomust: (mamoulian)
The entertainment of the weekend was a mini-festival of crime fiction, organised by the Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts: it was described variously as 'an exciting weekend' and 'a two-day festival', either of which I would think generous for one full day and the evening which precedes it. That said, it was a length that suited us very nicely, and the overall quality of the guests was impressive.

Random details )

So that was fun, and I'd do it again. If I were asked for feedback, I'd say that the KIng's Hall was very splendid, but unless you can fill that space, I'd trade it for somewhere you could lay on coffee. And next time, could we have some workshops for readers, please?
shewhomust: (Default)
The mixer tap on the kitchen sink has been growing steadily more eccentric for some time now.

It was eccentric enough to begin with: I described it as 'steampunk' - with a picture to prove it. Here's the picture again:

- and that's the first time I've worked out how to upload a picture to DW, so there's something gained (niceties like controlling display size may or may not follow).

Anyway, it was selected and fitted in our absence by our builder, and while I probably wouldn't have chosen it myself, it amused me, so that was no problem. What was a problem was that it began to wobble. This was presumably because it wasn't properly fitted, but it didn't manifest until long enough after the original work that we couldn't decide whether to call back our original builder, or find a maybe more reliable plumber...

Yes, I know. Either would be good. But this is us. And it wasn't a huge problem, you just had to steady the whole thing with one hand while turning the tap with the other.

Then the cold tap began to drip. That was more of a problem, because now you had to grip the unit quite hard to counter the extra force required to turn off the tap. And over a period of time, it got worse. And worse.

Finally, last Friday morning, I managed to turn the tap with so much force that it went right past turning off, and carried on turning, and the drip became a steady trickle. [personal profile] durham_rambler dragged himself away from his committee papers, turned off the stopcock, and took advice from the neighbours about a handyman they had employed. And after a little emergency plumbing on Friday afternoon (consisting mostly of said handyman showing me how to turn off the water supply to the cold tap and only the cold tap), we went to B & Q on Saturday and bought a tap.

I assumed that after the decorative excess of the previous tap, we would choose something severely plain. It turns out that I am hard to please in the matter of taps - not the unit as a whole, but the bit you grip to turn the water on and off. Many of these are variations on a plain barrel shape, which can be hard to grip with soapy hands even if you don't suffer from arthritis - which I don't, yet. Others were very sharply rectangular, and I didn't like those, either. So we ended up choosing something called 'Apsley'. This might refer to any of a number of things, according to Wikipedia, including a suburb of Hemel Hempstead and an Antarctic explorer (Apsley Cherry-Garrard). I don't know which, if any, of these B & Q had in mind, but I thought at once of the Duke of Wellington's London house. Which is pretty grand for a piece of kitchen plumbing.

Nonetheless, our handyman came back on Monday morning and fitted it. What luxury to be able to run hot or cold water, just by pushing a lever. One-handed, even. Plus an unexpected benefit, that the design leaves plenty of room under the water outlet: I can fill the kettle easily, even if the sink is full of water.

No doubt in due course there will be an unexpected disadvantage, too, but I haven't discovered that yet.

At last!

Feb. 15th, 2019 09:47 pm
shewhomust: (bibendum)
I know a bank

Where did I read recently that snowdrops are not the first flower of spring but the last flower of winter? I don't really believe that this is the end of winter, not yet, but the snowdrops were a cheering sight...

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