The Smokehouse

Yesterday I met some friends for brunch.  Except two of them didn’t come – one because her baby kept her awake half the night (fair enough) and the other because someone had pranged her new car.  I got mildly ratty by the time the second person cancelled, partly because I was off to go for a run and every time I thought I was ready to head off, there was a PING! from my phone.

Plus, I’d messaged them all the night before to say “RIGHT, YOU ARE ALL COMING, AREN’T YOU?!?!?!?”   Also, I ended up changing the booking at the restaurant three times (which was embarrassing) – the first time was to increase the number of people and to make it a time that would suit one of the group better, the second was to reduce the number of people from six to four and the third was to say that, actually, there were now only going to be three people.  The lady on the phone was kind and said that it’s only a problem if I wanted to increase the number in the party – they get so busy on Sundays that having fewer people is no problem.

Thankfully, the other two people still came and we had a lovely time.  We ended up drinking two bottle of English sparking wine, had roast beef / lamb and we all had pudding.

This was so delicious

Project X Alien Adventures Series 3

Earlier this year, I bought the Project X Alien Adventures (series 1 and 2) books, which my son LOVES.  His teacher has also told me that she is thrilled with his progress in reading so, frankly, it was one of the best £30 I’ve ever spent.

Recently, he has been fretting that, at some point, he will finish series 2 and have no more books to read.  Now, he does have plenty to read but all the same I’ve been looking for series 3.  Which doesn’t exist.  The Book People have told me that they have no plans to stock series 3 and the kind man from the Oxford University Press said that the easiest thing to do is to order the three sets of level 15/16, 17/18 and 19/20 books (8 books in each set so 24 in total) – if I order the three sets in one go, he will give me 20% off.  However, even with the discount, it will still be about £160 which does seem a bit heartbreaking.

Perhaps I’ll wait until he actually finishes series 2 before I start thinking of getting series 3.

Things to consider

My son announced yesterday that he wanted to make a model alien from this Project X Alien Adventures book.

Here are the things we need to make the model – I don’t have them all

Obviously, I don’t have pipe cleaners.  Or sticky eyes.  I’ll buy some the next time I am in Cass Art.

There are a couple of things that I need to add to my shopping list – pretty much all plants.  The slugs have now eaten all my petunias, most of the pelargoniums (bit of a surprise, that), the flowers (but not the plants themselves) of some alpine plant I’d put in there and all the bugle.  The Greek oregano that I’d planted elsewhere is much reduced.  However, they have also started eating the bastard creeping yellow buttercup.  Which is a hideous weed – it is super invasive and is basically my nemesis.  On balance, I think I prefer slugs to the buttercup weed.

The question is, what can I put in the flowerbed, given that the slugs have eaten everything but thyme?  I absolutely love heather but my husband really wants small plants in that bed so they don’t clash with the box hedge.  I’ve seen heather up Headon Warren that comes up to my waist so that’s out (I have no idea how you would prune heather).  I would just bung some more lavender in there but my husband has got a bit sick of the endless lavender (to be fair, it is one of the only things the slugs won’t eat, apart from winter flowering heliotrope).

Perhaps sedum?  More sea holly?

Argh! It’s a hot potato

It isn’t really, it is an old fiver.  I was given one in change on Friday (the last day that these remained legal tender) so had a real need to spend it.

I remember when these were new. I am old

In the end, I bought a gin & tonic on the train down to the Isle of Wight ferry terminal.  The man didn’t want to take it but then changed his mind.  Unfortunately, this meant that when I got to the IoW, I had to decline my husband’s offer to let me drive home as by then I’d had two gin & tonics (I always have one on the ferry while my son has a chocolate milk).  In fact, the ferry was so rocky that my son and I both felt rather nauseous (his due to chocolate milk) and had to go up on the windy upper deck.

I don’t really have a conclusion to this post.  Except that my Mum has now told me that I could always take the fiver to the bank, even after Friday.  I hadn’t realised this.

London planting

The other day, my husband pointed out that we have a couple of gaps in our back garden / yard in London and that I could plant something there.  This is quite exciting – although I have done loads of planting in the IoW, the garden in London tends to get ignored a bit.  However, other people around us are far more diligent.  I ended up taking some photos as there are quite a few plants that are looking amazing.

I love these poppies (Liverpool Road)
I didn’t realise that rhododendrons would grow in London as we have alkaline soil (Liverpool Road)
I can’t remember what this plant is. The flowers remind me of gorse and broom (Liverpool Road)
A really light Californian lilac (Liverpool Road)
A darker Californian Lilac (Almeida Street)

At present, we have a lilac tree which is beautiful when it flowers but the flowers are short lived (we completely missed them when we were away).  I’d always thought that I’d like another lilac, either darker or lighter (so like the lilac trees in St Petersburg) but maybe a Californian Lilac would also be very pretty (and perhaps the flowers would last a bit longer).

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

I’ve just read this book.  I’d been put off it by the title but actually it was very good.  It is a pretty easy read – I started it on Monday and finished it on Tuesday.  I did find one review of it which said “This is the most disassociating book I’ve ever read. Try to read it all in one sitting — it will totally fuck with your head and make you forget how to be normal.”  And I did rather see their point.