Day 126

Level 2 Chi Kung.

Sherlock can’t come on the school run on Thursday mornings. Dogs aren’t allowed on the school grounds and, in preparation for film club on Thursday afternoon, I am required to drop Katie’s iPhone (Nick’s old one with the SIM card removed – we make trickle-down economics work in this house!) at the office to be stored securely for the day. Katie isn’t allowed to take it to the office herself and, while I would normally be happy to leave Katie to look after the dog while I nipped into a shop for example, this isn’t feasible in the chaos of milling mummies and screaming kids. Unfortunately poor Sherlock is inclined to take this personally. From his point of view, Katie and I must come across as total teases – we do all the rushing about, locating of bags and coats etc that normally precedes clipping his lead on to his collar and embarking on the morning’s wonderful adventure, and then we sneak off without him. Even though I had given him some human food (toast) as we left – a rare treat – he whined piteously and threw his little furry body repeatedly against the gate as we walked down the drive. 🙁

Taking advantage of the fact that I didn’t have the dog with me, I decided to go shopping immediately after I had dropped Katie, mainly to stock up on fruit and veg. Nick has expressed an interest in trying out more flavours of pate de fruits (he has previously made apple – from our own apples – and plum), so I got a huge bowl of limes (20 or 30) for £1. Fortunately I don’t have mint in the garden, otherwise I might have been tempted to turn them into mojitos instead! I got various fruit and veg – though no courgettes sadly – and also found some useful stacking wire boxes which I hope to use to re-organise the very old-fashioned chest freezer the neighbours passed down to us when our much more modern freezer (with drawers) stopped working. I am looking forward to having the freezer organised, but I’m not looking forward to doing the organising! In Smokey House (my favourite children’s book of all time), the character Jessamine never has to do any housework because ‘the good people’ (like elves) come and do it in the night. Well, I’m still waiting and if they are ever going to put in an appearance, sorting the freezer would be a very good place to start! Of course Jessamine also has two sons and two daughters (who, much to the consternation of her new husband, arrive all at once, a couple of weeks after the wedding!) so, by my reckoning, in addition to the absence of elves, I am still one daughter down.

Having bought too much for the shopping trolley, and carrying the overflow, I was about to pick up some blackberries and start for home when I got a message to say that Jack was feverish and lethargic and needed to be collected from school again. I was unimpressed – the last time they sent him home he was barely warm and, since he hit his teens, lethargic is pretty much his natural state. I abandoned the blackberries and arranged for a taxi to collect him – another £45 but there is little choice when he won’t go on underground or overground trains.

By the time I got home, a miracle had occurred and the sun had come out. This was too good an opportunity to miss so, after I had put the shopping away and cuddled the aggrieved Sherlock, I got into gardening clothes and got to work moving the remainder of the pile of prunings. This was hard work as, unlike the first pile I moved, which was mostly ivy, the remaining pile consisted of several small holly trees Nick had grubbed out. As well as being sharp, they made for an unwieldy, springy load to keep on the wheelbarrow, particularly going down the narrow path between the house and the garage. As I tried to manoeuvre the wheelbarrow through the gate, Sherlock shot past into the front garden. I was nervous as he has very little road sense, but I just called ‘Sherlock – come and help Mummy with the sticks’ and he immediately returned and, trotting alongside the wheelbarrow, grasped one of the holly branches in his mouth and ‘helped’ me get it down the back. Very cute! After I had removed the hollies, I swept all the leaves off the drive and got them into black bags ready for the slow journey to leaf mould. All this took nearly 4 hours (big driveway, lots of very wet leaves), so, by the time I finished, I had just enough time for a hot shower before I had to go and collect Katie from film club.

Thursday night is the night we go out but we didn’t have any theatre booked and couldn’t find a film we both wanted to see, so we agreed to just have dinner at a local restaurant (Cau – very disappointing). I was relieved as I was starting to stiffen up. Given all the bending and stretching I do every day in Chi Kung, I wouldn’t have expected gardening to give me any problems but I was wrong and, by the end of dinner, my back was killing me. I said to Nick that we should get the bill and go, but he was keen to sit for a while. I reflected on how far I’ve come in the 27 years we have been together – in the past I would have just sat there in agony and felt resentful, too polite to express my own needs – but now I just said ‘My back hurts, this chair is really uncomfortable and I want to get home so you can rub tiger balm on my back’. At which point he agreed immediately and we paid and left.

When Katie was younger, I had a lot of back problems and she must have heard tiger balm mentioned many times. She has always pronounced it ‘tiger bum’ but I didn’t think anything of it until, a few months ago, she expressed revulsion at the idea of it being either made from, or coming out of, tigers’ bums. She was quite relieved when I told her that it is just made from cloves and such!

Finally got all the stuff from the en suite vanity sorted and put away – great to have it done and also to have my room looking civilised again. I loath mess.

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