Far too warm!

The front room has been unusually warm for the last couple of days. Having taken the thermostat in there to check, it was over 80F (27C).  An investigation of the radiator showed that the head of the TRV had pinged off! On closer examination, the bits of the head supposed to grip the valve body had got embrittled, and clearly shattered.

shattered grip on TRV head

Not a good start, really. However, I discovered replacement valve heads at Toolstation for £9.99 – frustratingly just under the £10 minimum order for free delivery. I bulked it out with a couple of steel straps, to hold back the clematis over the porch at my Mum’s house.

To my astonishment, I had a phone call from the pre-diabetes people early afternoon! They’ve offered me an initial appointment next Tuesday – a really rapid response, considering their website warns of potential delays of up to four weeks! I had already decided to start keeping a food-and-activity log again, like the one I kept for several months last spring – precipitated by the scales hitting 74kg yesterday morning! I’d really like to keep around 70, though somehow 71 seems to be more realistic.

frustration and floods

I went to collect new glasses yesterday afternoon. Distance ones were great – but the “reading” ones were seriously fucked up (they actually were worse than no glasses at all). The assistant couldn’t actually work the terminal at the desk properly, so a) moved me to another desk then b) kicked the problem upstairs to her boss. Some 20 minutes later, we managed to establish that the glasses were for a reading distance of 30-40cm, when I had quite specifically stated that for use on the laptop (where I do most of my reading) it needed to be a distance of 50-60cm. So, assorted different lenses tried, and we reached agreement … but then a ten-minute wait to catch a passing optician to actually sign off on altering the prescription. Not happy, I’ll have to wait another week for them to be done.

Then a stroll down to the river, to see how the floods compare with previous years. I think this year is the highest I’ve seen – I reckon that if I were sitting at the Cafe tables outside Browns on the quay, the top of my head would be about 18 inches under water. And looking through the back door of Browns, the door seals and pumps did seem to be doing a reasonable job – there was only a few inches of water on the floor of the bar. Photo gallery below.

I caught the bus home. The bus could not turn right out of the bus station as the road was flooded, and had to crawl all round the far side of the City centre in roads jammed with other diverted traffic. A 45-minute journey instead of the usual less-than-ten.

And when I got home, there was a letter from my GP surgery, relating to a blood test last September. When I originally rang for results from that, they said everything was fine, although I discovered by accident at my last GP appointment (for something completely unconnected) that I have now crossed the line and am “pre-diabetic”. An hbA1c level of 44, in fact. The letter enclosed a form referring me to a “Healthier You – Pre-diabetes programme”. It was a paper form, with the instructions “Email completed forms to …“! After some ferreting about on the net, I did eventually discover an online version of the form. It may take a month or more for them to get back to me, apparently.

more sowing

I sowed the luffa seeds a week ago, as some books/sites say they can take two or three weeks to germinate. It took less than three days – they’ve already reached the point of needing transplanted !

Today being Valentine’s Day, as usual I sowed tomatoes. Despite having said I wouldn’t grow “Latah” again, I’ve sown some! There just isn’t anything else I can see that’s that early (60 days after planting out, which I do around 21st April) – although Real Seeds Co is entirely justified in describing it as “Absurdly early red tomato. Untidy sprawling bush.

I also sowed “Urbikany“, which last year proved to have a surprisingly long season after an initial glut, and of course “Black Russian“. All the tomato seeds are home saved – fingers crossed, though it worked well enough last year.

Still very soggy outside, so I’ll put off sowing Broad Beans for another week or so. As last year’s trial of “Aquadulce” was disappointing, I’m reverting to “Sutton” this year – dwarfish, productive, but a little prone to rotting if the soil is waterlogged.

Daffodils in full bloom outside the front door, which is cheerful.

sowing indoors

Yesterday was a session of cleaning and sterilising the heated propagator tray. I did eventually track down seven of the eight pots and covers it uses … no idea where the errant one has got to!

The open bag of multi-purpose compost is thoroughly dried out, and it took a lot of effort to re-wet it. However, I managed to do enough yesterday to sow seeds of the “peter pepper” chilli, which I’ll grow indoors.

Today I sowed loofah plant seeds – which is one of this year’s experiments, to be grown in the deep pot outside the back door. It will probably have lots of Morning Glory “Grandpa Ott” come up, as well, as that’s what the pot contained last year, but no harm done as loofahs are not particularly decorative and I’m sure can stand a bit of competition.

Next items to sow will be tomatoes in ten days time – I traditionally sow them on Valentine’s Day.


Marmalade finally made!

The Seville oranges have been here for a fortnight, but an emergency trip to my Mum’s, and arthritic thumbs, have mean it kept being put off. I finally decided that I simply couldn’t chop 18 oranges into fine matchsticks,and used the box grater to shred off the skin, so it’s a bit like the Robertson’s “Golden Shred” marmalade my grandparents used to have. Still, it seems to have worked OK and tastes fine.

sven assorted jars of marmalade


The amaryllis on the bathroom windowsill gets taller each year – this being the 5th one. It’s now reached the point of being seriously unstable! Once flowering finishes, I think it will have to re-potted in a heavyweight clay or stoneware pot (which, sadly, may man it doesn’t flower next year – they don’t like root disturbance).

Still, there’s this year’s flower to enjoy at the moment.


The daffodils in the front garden are getting close to opening, (though this time last year they were already in full bloom). The ones in pots by the French windows, and the ones further up the garden, will be a couple of weeks yet. Snowdrops sadly not yet in bloom, either …

daffodil buds

back at Mum’s

Well, I managed 24 hours at home, having got back rather after 6pm on Monday, and leaving rather before 7pm on Tuesday. Mum had had another “event” – this time, while her hairdresser was there, fortunately. She got very confused, and didn’t even recognise my sister Jane on the phone. Ambulance called, taken to JR2, and a scan showed no TIA or stroke, so they decided not to keep her in overnight.

Mum wasn’t best pleased about this, but the excessive blood pressure events (240 upwards) so far haven’t actually produced any bleeds to the brain, and it just takes a while for the swelling of the blood vessels to go down and allow a return to normalcy (or as close as she gets).

Fortunately, local friends Sue and Pippa had noticed the ambulance, and kept family informed. They went to visit Mum early evening in hospital, and were there when she was discharged so were able to bring her home, which was massively helpful. I arrived around 8.30 (train to Hanborough, then cab) about ten minutes after they all got back.

Later on, Mum was worrying about the electrode stickers that had still been left on, and I noticed that they’d actually still left a cannula in! A quick call to my sister (‘cos she’s up to speed on local medical services), then a long call to NHS111. “A doctor will call back within the hour“, which duly happened. “A paramedic will come and remove the cannula in the next hour or so“. They turned up at about half past midnight, having had a spot of difficulty in finding the house (why do they never ring for directions, as we always tells them to – the place is a bugger to find in the dark if you don’t know it!). Anyway, I was much relieved once the cannula had been taken out.

Exhausted, I slept from 1am until the alarm went off just after 8 – the first uninterrupted sleep I’ve had since the New Year, as the cold / nasty chest and sinuses I’ve had has been waking me a couple of times a night.  This morning, my sister had managed to re-instate the morning carer who has been cancelled when Mum went into hospital, which was good news (though a bit of a shock, as she arrived unexpectedly when I was in my dressing gown making my first coffee of the day – not my best time!).

I expect Mum will spend most of the day in bed, dozing. I’ve done most of the routine chores, and will try to get out for a walk – it’s a glorious sunny and rather frosty morning.


Over at my Mum’s, and a stroll on the Common this morning. Exceedingly soggy underfoot! Snowdrops in abundance, and the hazel catkins are out, though it’s all a bit swamp-like to go looking for signs of other plants emerging.


OUT wake

Last night was the “OUT Wake” – a meet-up of various member of the OUT gay social networking website, of which I’ve been a member since March 2005. Sadly, the site is now about to close. It was great to chat to several old friends and acquaintances, though the venue (The Yard in Rupert Street) was, of course, very noisy. Still, being sort-of-outside, I got to smoke my e-cig, which I suppose was a bonus.

Here’s a pic of some of us – I’m sitting.

OUT wake

Leaving the Yard, I realised that I’d got extremely cold, and my back was playing hob. In fact, I started shivering uncontrollably, and even the heat of the tube didn’t really help. A brief stop off at Liverpool Street station for a hot chicken and bacon “megaslice” helped a bit. Back to the hotel – in Bethnal Green, the same one as I stayed in for Phoebe’s graduation. That had been the hottest day of last year, so I suppose it kind of makes sense that this time was the coldest night of the winter so far!

There was a glittering frost on the fields on my train journey home this morning (and a thick mist on the Cotswolds scarp between Moreton-in-Marsh and Evesham).

There are still frost patches in the parts of the garden that the sun doesn’t reach. The first flower (ever) is now fully out on my 2-year-old camellia – hopefully, the frost isn’t heavy enough to kill the rest of the buds.

camellia flower