Thursday, 9 August 2018

Delight In Unexpected Things

Hedgerow and home harvests continue apace here. I've made the first batch of blackberry jam and am eating it on my morning toast. It tastes of the hedgerows. Tomatoes are ripening; courgettes are (for once) not going berserk, presumably a result of the hot weather; hordes of white caterpillars have denuded our lettuce/ rocket rows, leaving us the sorrel which they, apparently, do not like; the apples are ripe; raspberries are coming along and we also have cucamelons, a cross between cucumbers and melons. The fruits are very fresh tasting but I have to fight the mice for them. The Vicky Plum was doing so well this year, absolutely festooned with plums, then last week all her leaves turned brown and began to drop and all her plums shrivelled. I tried one just in case it was edible and found that the wrinkly skin is misleading, they taste delicious, so I picked them all yesterday and last night we ate some cooked in butter and sugar with toasted breadcrumbs and hazelnuts on top and cream poured over. Yum. I'm going to freeze the rest. 

Pop and I have been getting out for some lovely runs together lately. I did a rather grim 22 miler three weeks ago in 27 degree heat that took nearly four hours and really wiped me out. I pulled back the mileage for a bit after that (in any event, that was the final long run for what would have been this batch of marathon training) and now I am feeling fresh and ready to go again, so we did ten miles together on Sunday and then yesterday's 4.5 miler turned into eight and half. Thankfully, it has cooled down here which makes distance running much easier. 

I've got a half marathon this Sunday in Salisbury. I will not be picking up anything that I haven't personally dropped and I have told M not to either. Poor Salisbury- it did not deserve to be at the centre of Horrid Russian Spy Stuff. It's the most unlikely place on earth to play host to such a thing. My blood boils when I think about the poor lady who died. 

In happier news, my 5-10k group are doing really well, they're now up to 6.5k so running a mile more than they were three weeks ago, over hills and off road too, which is more challenging than road running. I'm so proud of them all. Poppy comes along to each of the runs and sits in the pub afterwards looking like a Proper Pub Dog and getting cuddles from everyone :o)

L turns 17 next week. How did that happen? He's mostly asked for computer games but I have one or two things up my sleeve that he hasn't asked for. He and I share a strange enjoyment of Things You Wouldn't Expect To Make Us Happy. Last week, I bought him a new fan. It's a Tower Fan, one of those tall, slender things that pumps out cool air in a chic elegant fashion without waving its arms hysterically round and round and whirring loudly as his old fan does. It has a myriad of different settings for every possible permutation of mood, and a remote control. You wouldn't believe his excitement when I gave it to him. He spent hours experimenting with all the different settings and then insisted I sat down for a demonstration. He takes it with him from room to room. Honestly, I could have just got him the fan for his birthday and he would have been happy.

My own delight in unexpected things takes this form.....

A new mop and bucket!!!! I can't tell you how excited I've been about it's arrival. L ordered it for me (he has free next day delivery on his account) and yesterday kept updating me on its progress: it's been loaded on the lorry; it's on its way; it's three deliveries from here!). In the end I was out when it arrived but L, knowing how excited I was about it getting here, brought it indoors for me so it was waiting in the hall when I got home.

I was actually too excited to open it yesterday, so it sat in it's box waiting for me to calm down and to have the proper amount of time to devote to it. M, when I pointed it out to him, was less than enthusiastic. His over-exicted thing is steam engines. He dragged me along to a local steam fair a fortnight ago and we spent hours admiring the rollers, the ironwork, the put-put steam that was being ejected and talking to the (mostly) men in caps sitting on deck chairs by their engines with dusters handy ready to whisk away the teeniest speck of dust that dared to settle on the paintwork. We then found an old combine exactly like the one his dad had on their farm and I thought he was going to explode.

Back to my mop. 

Look! It's even got a fancy foot-twirler thingy for getting rid of excess water! My floors will never be revolting again! In fact, unless that's false advertising, they should sparkle afterwards as the picture shows :o) 

Bit miffed about the blatant '1950's housewife' advertising on the box. I feel she's standing in an overly provocative, chest-thrust-forward, ankles-crossed type pose for someone doing the mopping too.... 

Anyway, I unwrapped it this morning while everyone was out and I had the house to myself and could devote the time it deserved properly without distraction. I mopped the kitchen floor while Poppy sat on the strip that delineates kitchen from breakfast room (the hounds aren't supposed to go in the kitchen) watching me.

I think this is possibly the best definition of Middle Age I have yet come up with, being excited about the arrival of a new mop and bucket. It surely goes one better than looking forward to the tea and cake bit that comes after looking round a National Trust House. 

How are all of you, anyway? Anything new in your lives that has caused over-excitement beyond what it should have done?

I'm off to tackle the breakfast room floor now, just as soon as I can persuade the dogs to wake up and get off their beds....



  1. Brilliant post, living all the fruit about, most of it much earlier than other years, we have blackberries in our back garden, later raspberries are almost here. Love the mop.

  2. First top tip don’t admit to middle age until you are at least 60. I have only just arrived at this stage in my life although the boys do point out that I must be living until at least 120. Don’t see a problem there! As for excitement over a mop. Hmmmmm. You do have me worried. My floor only got a clean the other day because a jam jar broke all over it and I had to do my health and safety bit. Admittedly it did have the clean of its life on hands and knees. So that should see it through for at least a year or two.
    Glad the running group is faring well. The cooler weather has made a big difference here. Will be able to get back to running properly. B x

  3. You have such a cute pup! Those plums also look so delicious and tasty. Thanks for the share, have a fantastic rest of your week. Keep up the posts. Love this.

    World of Animals

  4. I can almost smell the blackberry jam. Your garden sounds like a paradise, full of fruits etc.

    Good luck with the half marathon.
    I do not know how you managed a run in 27 degrees. Total respect. Glad the weather has cooled down for you, it makes running that much easier.

    You are entitled to get excited over a map.
    I got overly excited when my garden bins arrived and a new pair of secateurs. :)

    Good read, thank you.

  5. We saw a big crop pf blackberries on the dog walk this morning and we just had to stop and pick them after seeing your photos the other day - not quite enough for blackberry jam though! Your mop does look exciting we really need a new one, it does seem to have excellent reviews! Sarah x

  6. Just lost a whole big comment thanks to annoying children messing with the profile settings on my laptop, oh I'm cross. Poppy is adorable, sitting there so nicely. We tried to train Bertie to Sit Nicely at cricket at the weekend. He hasn't mastered it yet and ended up digging a series of holes. Very envious of those plums. I have annoying pears that I don't like and quite frankly everything in the garden is making me cross at the moment. I'm very impressed with Poppy's watching of the ceremonial First Mopping. Bertie assumes that anything resembling a mop or brush is about to launch an attack on his entire pack and reacts accordingly. I can only wash the floor when he's out of the house. Good luck at the weekend, I think it's going to be nice and cool for you. 17 is a very fine age to have achieved, I hope he has a lovely week and a very good birthday. CJ xx

  7. So many lovely things here - mop included! I'm so envious of your plums - we have a big fat zero this year. I feel we need a new plum tree. Happy birthday to L - I bet that fan has been worth its weight in gold recently. You'll have to buy M one of those experience days where he can drive a steam train. As for your mop - it is a thing of beauty. We have one of those steam jobbies but, like Barbara's, it makes a rare appearance! Happy mopping. xx

  8. We're off out for a walk this morning so I'll be checking as to how the blackberries are coming along. I think I'll make a few more jars of jam after all.
    I can fully understand your excitement over the mop. My joy was a few weeks ago in the form of an extendable duster! Any delivery from Lakeland makes me very happy indeed. Middle age is a riot! X

  9. Well This post made me laugh. a fan and a mop and bucket got you excited!!! Perhaps it is a middle age thing well I am well past that time and I need more imteresting things now to excite me!! love Ted watching and your plums are gorgeous.

  10. Mm that jam sounds good. I attempted strawberry and mint jam yesterday but it didn't set (even though the bit I tested on the saucer went wrinkly) so I need to re do that today what fun.

  11. I think I have mop envy! I bought a new microfibre one which I forgot to squeeze out when I finished mopping, just left it on the bucket somewhere in a dark corner. It stank so bad I nearly threw it out. I washed it at 90 degrees and now it is half the size.... Our plum tree is looking a bit sad this year, not much fruit at all. I shall pick our neighbours, they usually don't so it is ok. Glad your training is going to plan. I might be able to start a beginner programme again, my foots seems to be mostly pain free. Quite excited actually. x

  12. The jam looks so wonderful. Oh to live in a place where you can pick fruit from a Hedgerow.
    Is that the mop that Joy Mangano designed, The Miracle Mop ? I can't wait to hear if you like it.

    cheers, parsnip and badger

  13. Happy birthday to L - 17 - congratulations. W turned 17 in July, but alas no fan, instead parts for his dirt bike and cash.
    Laughing a mop advert. Yes very 1950's with a modern twist on the design. Perhaps she is an overly happy 'house person' because all the things that mop can do, she clearly has time for posed photographs. I'm hoping you will have more time for this sort of thing now.
    As for Salisbury..terrible business, people being poisoned- Its all very bizarre.
    Enjoy running and enjoy all your lovely weather.
    Its raining here and its a total joy. So need it and we will have a bumper spring.
    Cheers me dears. Sally xxx


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