28 July 2016

Till hell freezes over

When we moved into our house nearly 29 years ago, one of our neighbours told us they were on the verge of moving, as they wanted to get their son into the right catchment area for one of the best schools this side of London. Come moving day, they rang our doorbell and asked if we would like their old upright freezer. It was ancient, they explained. It was still working, but they doubted it would make the haul into the removal van and the long move across London without expiring. We already had a fridge/freezer in our kitchen which was more than enough at the time for Greg and me living on our own, but we graciously accepted the ancient freezer, standing over 6 feet tall, and plonked it in our integral garage, where it has remained ever since.

Plonked in the garage
Defrosting is a pain
Over the years, it has become very useful, particularly at Christmas. One drawer stores about 6 loaves of bread and another the frozen turkey (I have always much preferred frozen to fresh turkey as it is much juicier) with another 5 drawers left for anything else. I have always cooked and frozen my own meals so that there is always something for an unexpected guest. When people have given me apples from their tree or vegetables from their allotment, I have always prepared them, then frozen them to use when I need them.

The freezer has done me sterling service.  I have now had it nearly 29 years and, as I say, it was ancient before that, so I reckon it is at least 40 years old. Every time I defrost it, I clean it out and watch with bated breath as I switch it on again. It always clicks on with a hum and it's away again for another 6 months. I kept wondering whether to replace it, just because, but was loathe to part with this friend that we adopted. Did I mention it was German - an AEG?  They clearly don't make them like that any more. Even the modern AEGs don't hold a candle to this one.

Large wire baskets
It has wire baskets and not the awful modern plastic ones which tend to hold less , as well as break if you overfill them and then try to force them back into their place.

I was about to publish this post last week, when something awful happened. On the hottest day of the year so far, it finally gave up the ghost. I had to find room for 7 drawers' worth of frozen goods.  I managed to get a smidgeon into my fridge/freezer in the kitchen, take a smidgen over to my mum's and the rest was either eaten up by me over a few days or a lot thrown away ( the latter for me being something akin to having both arms chopped off, as I abhor any waste). I ordered another AEG which arrived this morning. If it's anything like the last one, this should see me out to the end of my days!

Expires 2056?


11 July 2016

Ruby Wedding and The Tree

Yesterday would have been my Ruby (40th) wedding anniversary. Greg and I were married for 34 years when he died (and in addition we had known one another for 5 years before we married). We were married on 10th July 1976 in that exceptional heatwave that people still go on about even these days. It was so hot and arid that the walls of my parents house started to crack with the subsidence. The insurance company paid out a lot of money to them that year. Anyway, I digress.

I must confess I did not fancy spending the day on my own, wallowing in thoughts of why Greg was no longer here with me and why we couldn't have celebrated the day with a party or a nice holiday or whatever.  Then about a month ago, Kay suggested we take a weekend break to visit Greg's home town and visit his resting place and so that it what we did this weekend. 

Greg grew up in a  beautiful market town in the Midlands steeped in history and still frequented by many tourists. When he was a teenager, he yearned so much to get away from this quiet country town where not much happened and so was never more delighted when he got a job first in Germany and then back here at the BBC newsroom in London. But in later  life, he began to appreciate the quiet, lazy, beautiful elegance of his  home town and even considered moving back there. It therefore seemed fitting when he died to scatter his ashes there, so he could return to his roots. 

It struck me this weekend, as Kay and I stayed in a beautiful Georgian hotel and wandered around the town with the many other tourists, how little I had appreciated the town myself. I kept seeing  historic buildings and other things that I had barely noticed before. We had visited it so often to see his mother, sister and friends, but hardly spent any time wandering around the town, as the main purpose of the visit was to see people. This time it was to see places.... the houses Greg grew up in, his school, his younger life. It was partly to show Kay, as she was too young to remember some of it. I wanted to her to see it and remember it, but also partly to immerse myself and be close to Greg.

His ashes were scattered in the Meadows- a huge open space comprising many fields right in the heart of the town. People walk their dogs there or picnic there and it is literally over a footbridge by the town centre.  

From where his ashes are scattered you can still see the town's famous towers and steeples, yet be at peace near a river and in the open countryside which extends beyond. We visited the tree beneath where he lies and spent a good twenty minutes telling him all our news - about Kay's graduation, her medical career, her boyfriend, my operation, even about the referendum result (as a journalist this would have been the first thing he wanted to know about!).  I also wished him a happy ruby wedding anniversary.

Of course the occasion reduced us 
both to tears and Kay and I spent a 
good while clinging on to each other, much to the concern of passing dog-walkers some twenty yards away or more, but somehow it was cathartic, as I have found it hard to cry all those years following his death. The weather held out until we had moved on back to the town centre and then it bucketed down with rain. I am not sure whether they were climatic tears of joy or sorrow. But whatever they were, it was after all a very pleasant weekend and just what we needed.

04 July 2016

Interesting times

Well, was the referendum result what you wanted or completely the opposite?  No matter what side you were on, there's no doubt last week was a rocky week. It'll probably get a whole lot worse before it gets better, but then that's the world of politics and finance for you. It does that. It'd be a boring old life if everything stayed the same. Of course, it goes without saying that the financial markets were going to go into meltdown - they are sensitive souls who would panic if Waitrose sold out of taramasalata - so no surprises there and thankfully the pound seems to have picked up again.  There will doubtless be dozens of times when it will fall and rise, as it is wont to do, even when things are running smoothly.

What was more surprising was Cameron's resignation. At first glance it seemed a noble thing to do, falling on his sword.  After all, how could he be expected to negotiate Brexit, when he had been an ardent promoter of REMAIN? But the more I think about it, he has well and truly abandoned ship at a  time when we needed a captain to steer us through choppy waters, considering they are going to get a whole lot choppier after September when he jumps. It's almost as if he did it out of spite with two fingers at the other side. It makes Theresa May's application even more dubious, as she too was on the REMAIN side, so why would she honourably be able to justify becoming PM, if Cameron couldn't justify it?  You can't help feeling sorry for Boris.  Whilst I did not see him filling the role of PM  - the image of him zip-wiring across the Thames, hanging by his scrotum and waving a  Union Jack, is an image too many in my mind - nevertheless, I do not sleep easy at his political assassination by Gove (call me Brutus).  Scotland's Nicola The Fish (aka Jimmy Krankie) has about as much hope of securing an EU deal on her own as I have of running a marathon. What on earth does she think 5.3 million Scots have to offer the EU (apart from diminishing oil reserves, bagpipes and shortbread)? It's not as if they have the monopoly on whisky either. Moreover, how would the Scots (once out of the UK) be able to afford the EU membership? Even more ludicrous is the Labour fiasco. If Labour MPs did not find Corbyn The Clown at all funny, why pick the worst timing possible to air their views? Could they not blatantly see this when he was first appointed? I could.  And now,  what is Corbyn thinking, hanging on by his fingernails to his tenuous chair, when it is clear he's as welcome as a hedgehog in a balloon factory?

May you live in interesting times, as the Chinese say.  (Or did they say that in Brussels last week?)