Friday, 11th August, 2023

[Day 1243]

Today has been quite a full day even for a Friday. It is the day when our domestic help calls around and there seemed to be lots of things that we wanted to share with her. Firstly, last week she left in my care a rather nicely shaped but rather abandoned cane chair which she was inclined to throw away but which I felt was probably rescuable. I happened to have a spare bottle of Rustin’s stain for light woods and I have given it repeated applications of this to the chair over the last week – until the little bottle was used up in fact. Then I gave it a final polish with furniture polish and decorated it with a little round gold cushion I had located in an old tin trunk we reserve for bedding, pillows cushions and the like. This finishes it off beatutifully and our domestic help was very pleased with it. But it will remain with me for one more week and I will try to enhance the polish a little until such time as she has room in her little car to pick it up. I then showed our domestic help the little group of three ceramic owls I had purchased in the charity shop during the week and again we were commended on our purchase. Then we came to show her the vintage German ‘stein’ mugs we had bought at perhaps one seventh of their actual value and where they have pride of place on a window sill in which the light reflects the colours beautifully. Then when she was sitting down with a cup of tea, I gave her the written version of the blog detailing the passing of Jo and which explains why she was such a significant friend to us. As you can imagine, all of this took a certain amount of time before she could make a start on her cleaning round. In the meantime, I have been assembling together, from my old and current iPad as well as my phone, whatever photos I have of Jo and I will then make them into a little tribute website and, of course, offer them to her son should he wish to use any of them in a photo collage for any ‘celebration of life’ activities which lie ahead of us.

After we had had a minimal breakfast, we made a trip to the Morrison’s superstore in Redditch where our son was getting an irritating little fault fixed on his car before the end of the warranty period. Then he treated us to a breakfast in their cafeteria and this was much appreciated by both of us – me in particular as I normally do not breakfast these days but did not want to turn down the opportunity when it arose. We then returned home and made ourselves a flask of coffee and put together some comestibles before we set off for the park where we were due to meet our University of Birmingham friend by prior arrangement on one of our favourite benches. The weather was beautifully warm and we enjoyed our customary chat in what we must now regard as somewhat transient summer sunshine. I had previously written to our friend explaining what an emotionally troubling week we had had so he was well prepared for all of this. Then we returned home and cooked our traditional fish pie in the oven with some broccoli and tomatoes accompaniment, this being a dinner that we always enjoy. In the afternoon, we spent some time in our music room listening to some quiet but evocative music before in the late afternoon our daughter-in-law called around. We played her one or two pieces that I had learnt on each of the two organs with which the music room (their ex-lounge) was endowed and she thought I made some progress, albeit with one hand. Quite surprisingly, I thought, she had never heard ‘Shenandoah’ before whereas the ‘Barcarolle’ was of course immediately familiar. After the departure of my son and daughter-on-law, I turned my attention to the cane and wicker magazine rack that had been offered to me by our domestic help. I gave this the beeswax treatment and was pleasantly surprised that even on this cane furniture, it gave it a subdued but satisfying lustre. The trick is, I believe, to leave the polish on for a period of som 20-30 minutes so that the bottom layers of the beeswax gradually harden before the very topmost layers are buffed to a sheen.

We have made some social arrangements for the weekend. To complement the Tuesday ‘glee’ club in Waitrose each Tuesday, most of us have a meet up on Saturday wilst we can. I have promised on of our number Michelle Obama’s biography to read as she enjoyed reading that of her husband. Later on in the morning , there will be the England vs. Colombia football match in which I fully expect that we shall finally be beaten – it seems to be the year of the underdogs this year. On Sunday, we are going to meet with our University of Birmingham friend in a local craft centre where no doubt we may find things of interest as well as enjoying our Sunday morning coffee.