The Little Old Man has been looking at 18 Century London houses just lately. Typically, they are tall and thin and have cellars. The front door is often up a short stairway so that the cellar is not quite so far underground and gets light from windows just below ground level. For security, these windows are protected by an iron grid.
A modest little modification makes these grids an ideal place to park a bicycle.
The Little Old Man is just back from a week on the cut with Terry and Jim. The cut always supplies a good crop of examples of the activities of little old men and this trip was no exception.
The Little Old Man has been busy this autumn season bottling tomato sauce and apples. For this he sterilises the full jars in a large pan he bought, rather cheaply, in East Ham market. Unfortunately, this pan has now developed long splits in its side through which boiling water emerges. Luckily, the Little Old Man is skilled in the ancient art of the itinerent pan mender so bottling has been able to continue un-interrupted by the leaking of a pan.
Just occasionally, the Little Old Man gets a little confused living in this modern world. Usually, someone passes him by, pats him on the head and says 'There there dear' and all is well. Despite this, the Little Old Man still thinks that there are lots of things to get confused about, witness:
The Little Old Man is often asked how he goes about up-dating the website. [Well ok, someone could ask him]. Well part of the answer is that he sits down with his laptop, a large espresso and sometimes a cream cracker water biscuit.
Well there is a bit more to it than just that, for instance sometimes he has to upload images off one of the cameras. Usually, these come straight off the camera's memory card and just sometimes camera card and bit of cracker are by the side of the computer. So what could be more natural than that the Little old Man would have a sip of coffee, reach for his cracker and take a bite from a memory card?
I am just back from a few days on the LLangollen canal and as usual on the cut there are lots of opportunities to observe true Little Old Man thinking. To start us off, a notable landmark on the canal, "Little Old Man bridge", and it has been mended with a sticking plaster. A polythene sheet covering a piece of water soaked hessian to stop the lime mortar from drying out too quickly.
Here is a clever mod to a ladder that makes it much easier climb to the next level. The top rungs have been removed, leaving the sides to hold onto.
I was intrigued by the name of the boat as I remembered a dance of this name by Ballet Rambert I had seen Theatre Clwyd years ago when tw was at primary school. He had enjoyed the dance very much so wrote about it in his 'weekend news' account for the school. His script duly came back with his writing corrected: "No Thomas, BEAUTIFUL ducks NOT dutiful". Sure enough it turned out that that very dance had provided the inspiration for the boat's name.
The boat also had a real, and very clever, Little Old Man windlass. A universal socket on the end of a long and a short arm. Just the tool for these locks with the upstream ground paddles easy to use and the mitre gate paddles stiff and under lubricated.
Some time ago, Rosemary decided that she wanted to buy a new set of pine drawers for her bedroom. She had bought a set a few years ago and wanted the same this time. The trouble was that she couldn't remember the name of the shop but thought it was Cotswold Pine. I was tasked with getting us there and off we set. After much meandering we finally found the place BUT it wasn't where Rosemary had bought the original drawers but was in fact, an antiques centre. Rosemary hasn't got a lot of patience for antiques, but the Little Old Man always a good poke round a good junk shop. Much to Rosemary's horror, he emerged triumphant and dusty with a cast iron money box for tw's birthday.
Then she remembered that the name of the place was 'A touch of pine' so home we set, drawer less.
On the way we encountered a wonderful homemade, fake, traffic speed camera. The Little Old Man much regretted that he had not got the camera with him. He has not forgotten this though and so yesterday as we drove with Margaret and Terry to Rousham House, he thought the roads looked familiar and then there it was, still surveying its bit of road.
Our bedroom at Catslide has a Velux window which The Little Old Man likes very much, it gives lots of light and ventilation.
Rosemary likes the window too but not the light and this has been a constant source of friction between us as The Little Old Man rather likes the light. These summer nights, she claims she cannot sleep because it is too light. There are lots of reasons why she can not sleep and this is blamed on them all. Matthew, knowing about his mother's insomnia, investigated buying her a window blind for her birthday. He even had The Little Old Man stand on a rickety chair to measure the size and serial number of the window. In the event, Rosemary was very pleased with the rampant clematis plant she got for her birthday. The Little Old Man was a bit puzzled by this so enquired as to why Matthew had not ordered the window blind he had sourced on the internet. Then all was revealed, apparently, he had decided that its cost was beyond the standard Smith birthday present criterion.
This presented The Little Old Man with a slight problem as he had decided that maybe getting a proper blind for the window wasn't such a bad idea after all. It wasn't going to be too good for him but clearly the present situation couldn't continue. This consists of an expertly crafted piece of old cardboard taken from the box that one of The Little Old Man's thoughtful and generous birthday gifts of a few years ago was contained in.
This was a power washer [Rosemary's favourite tool] accessory for patio [surface] cleaning. This was presented to her with much love and aplomb on her birthday and she appeared to be very pleased with it. Then she said 'You know we don't have a patio, don't you?'. Well of course The Little Old Man knows that we don't have a patio but the attachment would work just as well on paving slabs [of which we have a lot] and vertical surfaces as well.
Now, though expertly crafted, the piece of cardboard had some trouble staying trapped in the window, even when stuck there with at least two rolls of gaffer tape. So it's apt to fall randomly through the night whereupon Rosemary rises noisily from her bed, switches on all the lights and amidst much unladylike altercation pushes it back into place.
The Little Old Man likes the light because it sets his biological clock and enables him to wake consistently at 0736 year round without problem. Without it he wakes randomly and is just as likely to get up at 0600 as 0800.
Miss Fowles had a very useful expression for any lunchtime that went beyond 12 noon which was that 'Its a long morning and a short afternoon', The Little Old Man doesn't know what she might have said about time of getting up though he knows that Mrs. Beeton was obsessed with the virtue of early rising and says that 'an hour lost in the morning, will keep her toiling, absolutely toiling, all day, to overtake that which might otherwise have been achieved with ease.' and that 'In large establishments, six is a good hour to rise in the summer, and seven in the winter.' I note that she makes no mention of what is appropriate for superannuated household. My friend Sam Pepys would just have said that he was 'Up betimes'.
Having given this some thought, The Little Old Man decided that if Matthew regarded the blind as being too expensive for him,then the chances were that it would be MUCH too expensive for The Little Old Man so a home made option would be necessary.
The Little Old Man likes to trim produce from the allotment before taking it home. For this, he uses a handy machete and a bit of old wood on the compost heap. The trouble is that the compost heap structures are suffering from the ministrations of the machete.
The machete was part of the inventory on Cribbit when I bought her. One day, moored near Knowle, I was using it on the tow path, to split logs. A dog walker passed by and commented that she 'could just use one of those' for her log pile at home. After she had gone I mused that actually it was the bit weilding the machete that would be of more use to her as the machete blade is not wedge shaped enough to split logs easily.
So now the machete has a new destiny at the allotment although the observant, philosphical, pedants among you may have noticed that i have made a new handle for it.
The little old man was feeling quite pleased with himself as he thought he had a solution to the new policy up at the allotment which is that we may no longer bring stuff from home to burn up there. He decided to make sides for his trailer so that the hedge trimmings would not blow all over the road in the 15 mile trip to the local 'household disposal site'.
Now this time he came armed with his 'Permission to dump household waste in a trailer' permit so what could possily go wrong? Well what could possibly go wrong was that his crafty flexible side walls were construed as being over 60cm high and were therefore deemed to be contra to the regulations and the little old man, and trailer, were turned away.
Is the amount of fly tipping on the roads around Oakley small wonder? I wonder.
So to-day, the same load made the 15 mile trip to the tip. Now there is environmentally friendly.
Last summer, the Little Old Man lost a bit of weight and found that his belt was too long. After a while, this extra bit of belt flapping around began to annoy him so he resolved to cut it off. A sensible move as you will agree, BUT when it came to doing the job, LIttle Old Man thinking stepped in. If he cut off an extra couple of centimetres, the bit he cut off would be long enough to be useful for 'something' else he thought.
Now the summer is over, the period of christmas excess has come and gone though not the waistline, the Little Old Man is wearing thick winter clothes and NOW the belt is only just long enough.
However, he did have a good use for it, to hold the spindle on the mother of all of his spinning wheel.
I do have another belt, this one I bought when Thomas was born, in 1981. One day when I was working in North Wales, Mark said to me 'Chris, you can see the whole of your life in that belt'. So you could, with buckle marks around lots of the holes plus extras inserted when I had ME and was in danger of evaporating completely.
The Little Old man is always wondering just where his money goes so was very pleased to find this explanation on Stratford Broadway the other day.
So where does it go??
It goes to the banks...and that is official
A candle which has burned too low to remain in the candlestick can be used to the very end if removed from the stick and placed on a penny or other small, flat piece of metal.
One of the games we played with The Smiths at new year was charades. Rosemay had bought a children's version of the game for the girls. The Little Old man couldn't help thinking that it was rather a large box for just three small packs of cards, an egg timer and a die. He was sure that he could have packed it into a much smaller volume.
To play, you draw a card and perform the action written on it. One set of cards had pictures instead of words so non-readers could still play.
One of my actions was 'ice skating' but before I was even able to take to the ice to execute a perfect triple salco, calls of 'old man! old man!' rang out around the room. Indeed they had detected me doing a perfect impression of a Little Old Man.
Strips of emery board, about one inch wide and eight inches or so long, will be found useful to loosen obstinate fruit jar tops. Just place the strip around the edge of the top, and give it a twist.