Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Cocktails On Ice

One of our last jobs of the week was to make our first visit to one of the new properties. The owners weren't happy with their present gardeners, and on arrival we understood why. Usually, when a contracted gardener has to leave a property, one months notice must be served, and we were assured by the agents that the existing guys were to make visits up to a week before we were due. As it turns out, they hadn't been for six weeks, and during the main leaf fall period in an area of deciduous trees. 
Expecting to only have to give a brief initial tidy up, it took four times as long, very frustrating, as this costs much more in man hours than expected, and also, given the amount of accumulated rubbish, much more in dumping fees. Add to this additional fuel used for four hours on the leaf blowers, and you can understand why we get a little frustrated when this happens. Still, it's one of those properties from the days gone by, when the owners were distinguished gentry, and had a live in staff. The imagination tends to hark back to who may have walked through this now neglected garden. It's not a great place, but there is scope to improve it within budget. We have also met the elderly pair who live here, and they are delightful, with the lady of the house now committed to making us morning coffee on every visit. It could turn out to be quite nice.

There are still a few hedges to get through before the year comes to an end. With only a little 'fuzz' on most of them, it's frustrating not to be allowed to use the hedge trimmers and ladders, but thankfully, son-in-law Dom is still able to lend a hand in that department. Once finished, we shouldn't have to touch them again until next May.

It's been a long year, and we have had enough of leaves now. On December 19th we close down for three glorious weeks, and will make time to take walks in the forest, and on the beach. Collect wood, holly, bits of wood with moss for displaying. 

For now though, we needed something a little 'buzzier' than bagging up wet leaves by the ton, and so set off to London for a couple of days over the weekend.

Arriving at Waterloo station just after lunchtime, we people watched at one of it's overhead cafes before going to the hotel to drop our things off. A favourite of ours, the place is slap bang in the heart of Covent Garden, and is a wonderful and homely base to use.

By now eager to get back out into the thick of things, we freshened up, and then headed straight to the main square for a glass of wine.

It's an amazing place, something always going on to intrigue and entertain. We found a good spot above, and the time just flew by as we chatted, watched, and sipped our wine. It's difficult to take 'selfies' with gardeners hands, as over the years they have stiffened up, thickened up, and generally can't grip things with much dexterity, but I haven't dropped the phone down a drain yet. We saw a number of people using a rather natty extending rod, to which a phone can be attached, and may be worth a hunt for.

We spent the whole afternoon here, with only a brief walk to the nearby Jo Malone outlet for some more perfume for Amanda. So much to absorb. I did notice a sad reflection on our modern life though. An outlet of a major computer retailer fronted the square, and while there was live music, entertainers, jugglers and mime artists performing here, there were still those that seemed content to just stare, and tap away at little bits of flat white plastic, as though they are things of value, never to be found anywhere else. I had to ask myself why on earth would anybody choose something so numbing, when all this is going on around.

Normally you would expect to pay good money to hear music such as this, but here it can be found for free.

One thing on our list for this trip was to go ice skating at Somerset House, and so as it was dark by the time we walked away from the square, we made the short walk down to the river to check it out.

We had Martinis, and got a little squiffy. Some may say not a good idea on ice, but not having skated for quite a few years, it did kind of loosen the nerves. I even returned the earlier kiss in another selfie!
Whilst here, I thought about this, and other similar places around London and the world, and how a site such as this, with such a history, is now once again a place for strangers to come together, and share each others company in fun. The atmosphere was magical, happy, good.

We were hungry by now, having only had a sandwich on the train, and a cake with one of our many coffees, and so strolled through the streets looking for somewhere to eat, and stumbled across this little place. Never been?......then you MUST try it. Food fantastic....service brilliant......and the cost doesn't have to break the bank.

We slept well that night, and had tickets to an exhibition of Turner's work at Tate Britain for 10am. We set off for the stroll along the Thames, towards Westminster, and the museum, but unfortunately Amanda occasionally suffers from a migraine, and we had to immediately park ourselves on an iron bench by the side of the river, in the freezing cold wind. I once had a close family member describe his 'migraines' as bad headaches, that take only a couple of paracetamol tablets and a stiff upper lip to clear. This would be a headache, migraines are completely different. With Amanda, and myself on a couple of rare occasions, they take the form of eyesight going altogether. Not in a total darkness kind of way, but try to imagine one of those multi-faceted crystal decanter stoppers pushed into each eye, and THEN add a depressing headache, a very strange experience. And so we waited a little while for the 'special tablet' to take effect, and for her vision to clear a little, before grabbing a passing taxi to return us to the hotel, whereupon we found a lovely and quiet corner in the coffee lounge, and instead of the Turner exhibition, we (well I) enjoyed a couple of hours of being fed fresh coffee and morning newspapers, while my lovely wife slowly recovered. It's happened on many occasions, and the way forward is always to simply adjust the day to accommodate, rather than call an end to it.

Before we knew it, the time had come to return home to normality, and we strolled back through Covent Garden, and headed to the river, and Waterloo Station. There was a Christmas market there, with more food, music and entertainers. I stood back to film a little, and wondered what Amanda was thinking, as she looked miles away.

I know there are probably too many film clips in this one, but it kind of puts across the atmosphere better I think.

 The following day, and it was back down to earth with a bang, with me dressed once again in my gardening bad rags, with the first job having me on my hands and knees, grovelling about weeding and scraping up rubbish in a shrub border. Contrasts of life eh?

Have a good one.


  1. Good strong contrasts make things much better.

    1. They do indeed Red. I wish we had snow like you by the way.

  2. So glad that you could leave the leaves for a while and have a lovely break - the selfies are great! Is that a lovely Victorian conservatory that I see attached to your new clients' house? A great place to bring on plants for their garden!
    What a shame that Amanda's migraine came on when it did - too many coffees the day before? There is no use fighting a migraine attack and I'm glad you didn't let it spoil your weekend away. I was in Covent Garden last winter when there were lovely Christmas lights and wonderful singing, what a happy atmosphere it is!

    1. Good morning Rosemary,
      It is indeed an old conservatory, but sadly hasn't been used for anything other that storing old stuff for many years by the looks of it. There isn't a great deal of money available for the garden, and so unfortunately it will probably stay the same. Covent Garden is wonderful isn't it? Nice to see you.

  3. I love the squiffy photo
    I suspect I would enjoy getting squiffy with you

    1. Haha....I think you might John!

  4. How great that you two took some time away together.

    I've only had a headache that bad once--I couldn't see out of one of my eyes briefly, so scary and such pain. I'm glad Amanda got to enjoy most of the trip.

    The music is beautiful.

    Oh, London! It's on my must-visit list. The flight alone from the U.S. is so expensive, though, I will have to enjoy it via your pictures for now. Someday! :)

    1. Good morning Val,
      I hope you get a chance to come over in the near future. London is a great place, and we could hook up for coffee.

  5. That is one adorable selfie! Those rods are showing up around here now. Also, check your phone. Some of the upgrades now give it a timer so you can hold the phone out but not need to try and touch the button to take the shot. Just be ready when the timer goes.
    So enjoyed seeing the sights with you. Street performers are amazing. To catch all that attention while people go about their day is talent.
    My hubby gets similar migraines. Numb hands and funny vision. Each person seems to have to find the best way to deal with them. We've noted they hit him not during times of high stress (big important project at work), but afterward when all is complete and the boss is happy and we're looking to do other things. Amanda is blessed to have you take good care of her.
    Into the Christmas season we go as well.
    Be well and enjoy!

  6. Hi Sherlock,
    When it comes to these phones, I am like a monkey with a spoon. I got fed up with my Iphone and now have a much sleeker Galaxy, and am still clueless. I will have a look though.