Having spent far too long last night grappling with the WordPress theme issue, and, waking up this morning to find my e-mail password rejected although I was still receiving them, I had not the heart to continue my interrupted chat with yesterday’s Happiness Engineer, so I carried on regardless.

Much of the morning was spent on the BT problem. I began by trying to reset my password on line. I won’t go into the glitches that occurred. I don’t receive paper bills any more and of course phone numbers are not given on the website, so I dug out an old invoice to find one. I was informed that there was a 20 minute queue, I therefore settled down to the usual concert of thrilling muzak. Eventually I spoke to a person. In Halifax. In England.

She was very helpful and patient but met exactly the same glitches as I had done. Finally she fed me more musical mush while she disappeared to consult a senior colleague. The advice was that the problem was at their end and would be resolved within 72 hours. Seven hours later I am now not even receiving mails.

Have I mentioned the irritating pop-up which keeps appearing and stops me closing down the computer until I kick it into touch?

Jackie, meanwhile, kept to her gardening where it was comparatively safe. Before lunch I joined her, swept the Brick Path, transported some garden refuse to the compost, and dead-headed swathes of diurnal Welsh poppies.

Later this afternoon, via Undershore,

where the majestic dogwood on the corner of Hundred Lane is at its prime,

we dropped in on Elizabeth and disturbed her washing her car. Keeping a rather generous two metres distance we yelled at each other for a while.

The heat was too much for a young thrush which sank into a neighbours cypress and sat coolly gasping.

Moon daisies line the verges of Pilley Street

where the village sign bears pendant hearts in tribute to carers,

and graffiti on a barrier fence promotes gratitude to the N.H.S.

Back home Jackie undertook more gardening and garnered photographs of pleasing views from beside the greenhouse and along the Brick Path, with a close-up of a pale blue iris.

This evening’s dinner consisted of Jackie’s succulent ratatouille moistening roast gammon; creamy mashed potato; caramelised sweet potato; firm carrots and cauliflower, with which she drank Hoegaarden and I finished the Shiraz.

A Retirement Project

Don and I spent another pleasant morning in the garden, finishing off the weeding and continuing to reminisce.  I could speak of my friendship with Ann before she met and married Don.  We established that the Essex Show mentioned yesterday took place soon after he had come on the scene.  The stuffed hearts caused considerable amusement.  All three of us had been partial to this delicacy which is, sadly no longer available in England.  We think it is probably another EU ruling which has affected UK life, preventing animal hearts from being sold in the butchers.  Knowing that it was one of Ann’s favourite meals, I decided to cook her some.  I used Paxo sage and onion stuffing.  Bravely crunching her way through her dinner, Ann eventually, tentatively, asked: ‘How much water did you put in the stuffing?’  ‘Water?’ I said.

During the ‘mad cow disease’ scare in the early years of the Blair government, which resulted in large-scale slaughter of cattle which may or may not have been infected, and the horrific pyres of burning corpses which consequently littered the countryside, one of our local Newark butchers stood firm.  Against emergency regulations he continued to sell exquisite beef on the bone.  He even went on television to defend his stance.  He had no shortage of customers and was not prosecuted.

Don’s story of a recent visit to the theatre in Bungay where the audience consisted of eight people reminded me of Charlie Chaplin.  Just after the film ‘Chaplin’ came out it reached Lincolnshire.  This was a biopic, starring Robert Downey Jr., brilliantly playing the acrobatic comic.  Jessica and I drove out to the small town of Sleaford to see the performance.  It was showing at the Odeon.  Not one that has been split into several cinemas with multiple screens.  One of the huge, possibly earlier music hall, establishments, which were adapted in the brief heyday of the local cinema.  There was a staff of two.  A very tall gentleman, who must have been in his eighties, ushered us to the ticket desk in the vast foyer, which was serviced by an equally elderly woman we presumed to be his wife.  We bought our tickets and entered the auditorium.  Our usher was waiting inside where he tore our tickets in half, gravely presenting us with our respective sections, whilst retaining the others.  Before the show began we established that we were an audience of twelve.  There was plenty of room and it was very cold.  At the interval a beam lit up the ice cream girl.  As you’ve probably guessed, this was our ticket seller.  The ice creams were a bit hard, and, for a while, beyond the capabilities of the wooden spoons.  Perhaps the vendor had mentioned the temperature to her colleague, for he came round and asked us if we would like the heating on.  Naturally we all would.  He disappeared, and returned with a two-bar electric fire which he placed in the centre of one of the side aisles.  It was an excellent film and and a most entertaining experience.  Probably a retirement project.

Watching ‘The General’, starring Jon Voigt, a black and white film about the Irish troubles, in a modern multiplex cinema in Nottingham, was actually a more difficult prospect.  Throughout, we could hear an interfering, much more explosive soundtrack from the screen next door.  I had to leave the cinema to ask for that to be turned down.  Our watching was thereafter more pleasurable. I hoped the viewers next door appreciated their reduction in volume.  This was another excellent film but, I didn’t think they’d be willing to rewind it for me, so I missed a few minutes.

Having been unable to connect to Le Code Bar Wi-Fi from No. 6, Don suggested that I may perhaps be able to do so from the attic.  Up I trotted to investigate.  Actually there was one full signal, but, of course, it was a private one and I did not have the code.  Undeterred, Don, tongue in cheek, suggested I might be able to get a signal from an unidentified attachment on the back wall of the house.  There are two on the wall of the chateau next door.  Does anyone know what it is?

This evening a group of eight of us dined at Le Code Bar.  There was too much material here for me to post this evening, and in any case I was busy eating duck fillet and chips followed by creme brulee, accompanied by  red wine.  Watch this space tomorrow.