Thursday 30 November 2023

Different colours


Different colours



Hena Tayeb’s blog post on Monday presented interesting synopses of ten books, one of which introduced me to people I’d never heard of. The central fictional character of ‘The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek’, has blue skin and the story relates her life as a librarian, taking books by mule to isolated communities. It is a novel, which Hena says she found quite clichéd but which led her to investigate the phenomenon of the Blue People. I followed her example.

The ‘Blue Fugates’ also known as the ‘Blue People of Kentucky’ were founded in 1820. A Frenchman named Martin Fugate moved to Kentucky and met and married a woman called Elizabeth Smith. They both carried a very rare recessive gene for methaemoglobinaemia, though it is said that Martin Fugate had a blue tinge to his skin.

This gene results in reduced ability of red blood cells to carry oxygen. People affected exhibit blue skin and their blood appears brown.

  The Fugate family had seven children, of whom four had blue skin. Living in a rural community with little contact with other communities and no good transport links, the gene pool was limited. Thus, intermarriage ensured that many descendants of the Fugates were born with congenital methaemoglobinaemia.

Although the condition can cause heart abnormalities and seizures if the rate of methaemoglobin is high, that is, more than 20%, most of those affected with a level between 10% and 20%, displayed the characteristic blue skin without other effects. Most of the Fugates lived healthily, marrying and having children with varying degrees of blue colouration or none.

As transport links developed and contact with unrelated communities increased, the gene pool was widened and the condition was seen less frequently. The condition has been seen in the Yakutsk people in Siberia, the Navajo and the Athabaskan Alaskans.

If the condition causes medical problems it can be treated.

Blue skin can be acquired through the injudicious ingestion of unregulated alternative medicines. In the case of Paul Karason, known as ‘the Blue Man’ or ‘Papa Smurf’, his purple-blue skin was caused by him taking colloidal silver to combat dermatitis, sinus problems and acid reflux.


Wednesday 29 November 2023

Strange fruit

Strange fruit

At the top of our fruit basket sits a little bird, overseeing three tiers. The top two carry tangerines and clementines. 

The bottom tier has been taken over invaded by remote controls. Believe it or not, these are all related to the television.

We have one that is supposed to be the all-in-one control, which I thought was a really good idea.  

It is the Logitech Harmony Elite and was bought in 2019. It worked very well. However, the company that developed it stopped making it and withdrew its support. Some of the functions ceased working and the device cannot be updated now, so it has become an ornament a dust collector a collector’s item.

Fully charged, with nowhere to go. It reminds me of 'I took my harp to a party, but no-body asked me to play.'

Tuesday 28 November 2023

The cockles of my heart


'It warms the cockles of my heart'

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

What a strange expression that is and yet I’d never really thought about its origins until today but it has been in use since the late 17th century.  

Cockles are a type of shellfish, specifically marine bivalve molluscs supposedly associated with the heart because they have a similar shape when viewed from certain aspects. The German name for the cockle is Herzmuschel, meaning heart shell. One theory is that the heart’s ventricular fibres resembled the ridges on a cockle shell.

Richard Lower (1631-1691) was an English physician who studied the heart and experimented with blood transfusions. In 1667 he and Sir Edmund King transfused sheep’s blood into a man.  This followed a series of transfusions in France by Jean-Baptiste Denis in 1667. He treated a sick young man with a transfusion of lamb’s blood and the man survived, as did the second man. His third and fourth patients died. Subsequently, in France and elsewhere, blood transfusions were not used until the middle of the 19th century.  The first successful blood transfusion of human blood was conducted by James Blundell in 1818.

 In 1669 Richard Lower produced a paper, Tractatus de Corde  (A Treatise on the Heart) in which he wrote about the ventricles of the heart, the cochleae cordis. From this was derived ‘cockles of the heart’, when the heart was considered the seat of emotions.

Thus, the cockles of your heart are the deepest reserves of pleasurable warm emotion.



Monday 27 November 2023

27th November 2023


27th November 2023

November full moon, 2009

Every full moon has a special name, and many have more than one. Full moons always rise at sunset while new moons rise at sunrise.

November’s full moon rises on Monday 27th November. This moon is known as the Hunter’s Moon, as is October’s full moon. It is also called the Freezing Moon or the Frosty Moon, fittingly for a month in which toe and nose-nipping frosts can be expected.

Another name for it is the Beaver Moon, less appropriately in UK. The Beaver Moon is named for the time of year when beavers start sheltering in their lodges, having stocked their larders to feed themselves through the winter. They do not hibernate.

 Although beavers have been reintroduced to areas of the country after 400 years of extinction, they are only free-ranging in a few localities, the rest being kept in large fenced and protected areas. It is possible to see beavers in guided tours in the Scottish Highlands and other areas of Scotland or Cornwall, usually as part of a guided tour.

Full Moon  

One night as Dick lay fast asleep,

Into his drowsy eyes

A great still light began to creep

From out the silent skies.

It was the lovely moon’s, for when

He raised his drowsy head,

Her surge of silver filled the pane

And streamed across his bed.

So, for a while, each gazed at each –

Dick and the solemn moon –

Till, climbing slowly on her way,

She vanished, and was gone.

                                                                 Walter de la Mare 1873 - 1956

Walter de la Mare is best remembered for writing children's poems, though the majority of his work consisted of psychological horror stories.

He wrote another poem about the moon, ‘Silver’. I remember learning this one at school.


Slowly, silently, now the moon

Walks the night in her silver shoon;

This way, and that, she peers, and sees

Silver fruit upon silver trees;

One by one the casements catch

Her beams beneath the silvery thatch;

Couched in his kennel, like a log,

With paws of silver sleeps the dog;

From their shadowy cote the white breasts peep

Of doves in a silver-feathered sleep;

A harvest mouse goes scampering by,

With silver claws and a silver eye;

And moveless fish in the water gleam,

By silver reeds in a silver stream,.


Today is also my son’s birthday. He was blessed – or cursed – with three sisters, one older, two younger, and learnt early how to deal with feminine wiles and inconsistencies. He grew into a patient and empathetic man to whom children are drawn. He is fun but firm - children always listen to him, respect him and do not cross the invisible line.

Gareth, left, with big sister Gillian, 1972

 Now he has two sons and a daughter of his own. 

(It is also my niece's birthday and she likes to remind me that Jimi Hendrix was born on this day.)

Sunday 26 November 2023

Golden afternoon


Golden afternoon

On a cold, clear November afternoon the sun blesses the leaves of the oak trees, burnishing them with gold. Many leaves have already drifted to the ground. Soon the rest will join them and the trees will stand stark against the sky.

The further tree is the one on which the red kite rests after it has tired of wheeling across the sky. The magpies make their harsh complaints, the squirrels skitter and chase each other up and down the tree trunk or leap from branch to branch, tails frisking, but the oak stands, impassive, majestic, a haven for so many creatures.

Saturday 25 November 2023

Chains and furlongs


Chains and furlongs

Images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The broken links mentioned in my recent post led me to thinking about chains and furlongs. I knew chains were a form of measuring length, and anyone who has ever watched a horse race or heard a racing commentary will have heard of furlongs. All well and good, but what exactly are chains and furlongs?

In 1620 an English mathematician called Edmund Gunter devised a measuring gadget called a chain, which was used to survey land accurately. It replaced earlier chains and was standardized.

It was 66 feet long and comprised 100 thick wire links with a loop at each end. The loops were joined by a ring, giving the appearance of three rings. At each end of the chain were brass handles.

There are 4 rods in a chain, each rod being 16.5 feet. The rod was also known as a perch or pole and was an old English measure of distance. Before it was standardized to become exactly one quarter of a chain, it could measure anything from 9 to 28 feet. Since 1965 it has no longer been used as a legal unit of measurement.

Chains are still used in agriculture in the form of measuring wheels.

 A furlong was used originally to define the length of a furrow in a ploughed field and was the distance a team of oxen could work without resting. That was standardised to be 40 rods or 10 chains or 660 feet, the equivalent of one-eighth of a mile.

There are 80 chains to the mile. Until the nineteenth century Scottish and Irish miles were longer because their chains differed in length. A Scottish chain was 74 feet and an Irish one was 84 feet. In 1824 they had to conform to English standards when imperial units were adopted.

 A country mile is a different beast altogether . . .


Friday 24 November 2023

Gilbert the Good – free at last!


Gilbert the Good – free at last!

Free at last,

Free at last,

Thank the vets

I’m free at last.

I went see my friends the vets again this week. They said it was so they could check my tummy to make sure it was all properly healed. I think they just wanted an excuse to see me again.

Anyway, I don’t have to wear my puppygro any more – oh, the relief! Now, when I want to go out I don’t have to stand and wait to be released from my suit and then be snapped back into it when I come back in. Better yet, I can play and run and race and jump to my heart’s content.

On our way out of the vets’ surgery, Barry said he didn’t have any more biscuits in his pocket. I don’t know why he said that but immediately, I took him to the desk where the pet treats are kept and everybody was amazed and said what a clever boy I was. Not that clever, really, we dogs have an excellent sense of smell and extremely good memories. That’s particularly true of Labradors.

I’m a happy boy.



Thursday 23 November 2023

Broken links


Broken links

 Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons 

Looking back at old posts I discovered that some of the links to information no longer work. This made me consider the broken links that occur in life. Sometimes, they break because someone has died. The deceased live on in memory – in many people’s memories – and perhaps that is the only immortality most of us will achieve.

At other times, links break because circumstances change – a house move, a new job, a diminishing interest in a hobby or group. Other broken links occur in jewellery and fences.

Below is the November 2009 post that brought about these random thoughts.


The Jains

Sleepy Gus - 8 weeks old

 As I have tripped over Gus or trodden on his paws or tail I have begun to slow my pace, adopting a sort of shuffling gait around the house. This is essential when small, fast moving animals are in the vicinity. I was shambling from cupboard to work top yesterday when I flippantly remarked that I should join the Poor Jains.

I have always referred to them as Poor Jains – maybe I was mixing them up with the Franciscan order of Poor Clares.

The Jains have always impressed me with their respect for all forms of life. I understood that they walked slowly and carefully in order not to harm any living creature, however small or insignificant. I thought they would not scratch an itch for fear of destroying life. Beyond that I knew very little so I researched . . .

Traditionally Jains are vegetarian and the strictest adherents will not eat root vegetables because pulling the root from the earth kills the plant and they believe that all living things have a soul.

Jains believe in reincarnation, aspiring to a release from the cycle of birth and death into a perpetual state of bliss for the soul. This is achieved by ridding the soul of all karma – in effect denying or resisting influences which affect purity of thought, word and deed.

Jainism is a living, thriving religion with followers in many countries though the greater majority are to be seen in India. Information about Jains in the UK can be found here.

Wednesday 22 November 2023

Stir-up Sunday


Traditional pursuits in November - part 4

Stir-up Sunday

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Stir-up Sunday takes place on the last Sunday of the Christian church year, preceding the first Sunday of Advent. It is an informal name for the last Sunday before Advent when the collect for the day, from the Book of Common Prayer, begins with ‘Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people . . . ‘  In Victorian times it became a reminder to make the Christmas puddings. It remains the traditional day for families to make their Christmas puddings.

Although Prince Albert, the consort of Queen Victoria, is credited with introducing the Christmas pudding to Britain, it was actually George I who brought the pudding to public attention in 1714. In similar vein, it was widely believed that Prince Albert introduced the custom of bringing a tree into the house at Christmas. It was actually Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, who was responsible for this in 1800. Albert simply popularised it.

Convention dictates that the pudding should contain thirteen ingredients, representing Jesus and the disciples. Each member of the family takes a turn to stir the pudding, from east to west, that is, clockwise, in honour of the three wise men who travelled from the east to see the baby Jesus.  

It is stirred with a wooden spoon, which represents the manger, and each person makes a wish while stirring. The pudding mixture is quite stiff and before the advent of kitchen aids, would have required much effort to stir.

Once mixed, the pudding is steamed and stored, ready to be reheated on Christmas Day. Some families add a silver sixpence  - nowadays a 5p piece – to the mix, which is meant to bring good luck to the person who finds it, so long as they don‘t break a tooth on it.                                                             

This year Stir-up Sunday will be on November 26th.


Tuesday 21 November 2023

Decorating the tree


Decorating the tree

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

It is almost time, I feel, to decorate the Christmas tree. We used to have a real tree every year. Then I bought a smallish one with the intention of putting it in the garden to grow after its indoor stint and bringing it into the house every year thereafter. It grew lopsided and didn’t look at all right, with some lovely green needles and some less than lovely brown ones.

I love the smell of real trees but find the needles quite sharp and irritating, making tree decoration more of a challenge than it should be. They drop all over the floor and secrete themselves in strange places to reappear months later. So, I abandoned real trees a few years ago and eventually found a very pleasing artificial one that looks quite like the real thing.

Tree decoration is like a Damocles’ sword – it’s a task that hangs over my head, creating anxiety. How silly! Actually, the anxiety is caused by my uncertainty about where the tree went after the previous Christmas. It always used to go in one of the lofts and if I had been particularly organised after Twelfth Night, the decorations would be nearby. For some reason, or none, that habit died and storage became a moveable feast.

Having located the tree, I turn my attention to the lights. Before putting them away I wind the lengths of little lamps round rolled-up paper, to avoid them tangling. It doesn’t always work. Inevitably, after untangling them and having the annual argument about why I didn’t store them more carefully, to which my reply should be, ‘Do it yourself then!’ we have the festive ‘Testing Of The Lights’. This is another trial of patience and language control. Naturally, some of the lights don’t work and the replacement bulbs we have don’t fit because they are remnants from long-lost sets.

At last, everything is in place and the careful placing of ornaments can begin. Unfortunately, some of the hangers have parted company with their partners and must be repaired or replaced.

I used to leave the dressing of the tree until just before Christmas Eve, but when Susannah and Frankie came to live with us when Frankie was 16 months old, I changed my routine. This was largely because Frankie’s birthday is December 1st (the same as my late brother) and I wanted to make it more special for him.

They lived with us for five and a half years and it felt very strange, but perfectly right, when they moved into their own home.

It will be interesting to see Gilbert’s reaction to the tree. I suspect he will take pleasure in removing ornaments and taking them to his bed(s). I used to hang chocolate decorations on the tree until one year I discovered the wrappers were empty. One of the dogs had carefully sucked all the chocolate out. That was the prerogative of the children until they grew too old to indulge in such pursuits. We don’t have any glass ornaments, either. Although they’re very pretty, they break easily and are dangerous for small children and pets.

It’s all a very long way from my childhood when the tree was festooned with glass baubles and real lighted candles in clip-on holders. Simpler times, simpler pleasures, but somehow the magic remains even in these less innocent times.



Monday 20 November 2023

Roman numerals


Roman numerals

4 is rendered as IIII rather than  IV on this clock face

Our children are still taught Roman numerals and it’s sometimes difficult to explain why they have to learn them. I was trying to explain why to Frankie the other day. They are not used extensively – clocks, pagination and chapter numbering, major sporting events, publications, films and differentiation in hierarchies like Elizabeth II, Dalai Lama XIV, Pope Gregory XIII. Some clocks use IIII rather than IV.

I went through a phase in my teens of using Roman numerals to define the month in a date. I thought it looked nice but I didn’t use the lower case version which I think looks even better. So, today is 20.11.2023 or 20.XI.2023 or 20.xi.2023.

I suppose the American date form, which always foxes me, would be 11.20.2023 or XI.20.2023 but that just looks weird!

The basic numerals are I = 1, V = 5, X = 10, L = 50, C = 100, D = 500 and M = 1000, so we are in the year MMXXIII. To avoid writing long strings of numerals, subtraction is used. That is, a smaller numeral precedes a larger number to reduce it. So 14 is represented by XIV rather than XIIII and 19 is shown as XIX.

 This site  and this one give more detailed explanations. The origins of I, V, X, C and M are interesting,

Sunday 19 November 2023


Housing in the UK

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons 

In UK houses are defined largely by the number of bedrooms, which can be very misleading. A 5-bedroomed house might sound impressive but the bedrooms may be barely large enough to take a single bed. In this country we have the smallest average square footage of houses in Europe. According to this site UK houses average 818 sq. ft. compared with the Netherlands at 1261 sq. ft. and Belgium with 1293 sq. ft. (Information varies according to different sites.)

 Some new houses boast en suites to master bedrooms, downstairs ‘cloakrooms’, a study,  a conservatory and all the ‘latest’ mod cons, including an electric car charging point. Such houses leave little scope for individuality, apart from the furnishings, and no room for extension. Indeed, some new houses have already extended into the roof space. There is a penchant in this country to build as much as possible in the smallest available space, suitability notwithstanding. Thus, houses are built on known flood plains. One small business may be sold and the plot ‘redeveloped’ to allow the building of six housing units.

It is cheaper to extend an older house than to move. The trouble with that is that very few original ‘average’ houses exist for younger people to buy. In my area of Southern England, it seems that almost every other house has been extended to the nth degree. Some houses are bought and demolished and bigger and not necessarily better houses built in their stead.

Current fashion dictates that bi-fold doors and Crittall windows are desirable. The first I understand, but Crittall frames are made of black steel and look industrial and unwelcoming.  Few modern houses have anything more than a handkerchief-sized garden.

The cost of land is very high and houses are categorised as freehold or leasehold. A purchaser buying a freehold house owns the house and the land it stands on and can make any changes desired, subject to planning and building regulations. A leaseholder owns the right to live in a property for a fixed period but does not own the land. The freeholder, who owns the land, has a contract with the leaseholder specifying the length of the lease and the responsibilities of the leaseholder. These include paying ground rent and service charges to the freeholder. Before any alterations can be made to a leasehold house, permission must be obtained from the freeholder. Leasehold is common for flats, though leaseholders can apply to buy the lease. This only works if at least half of the leaseholders in a building opt to buy the lease.

New houses in this area are being sold with 999-year leases, quite a common period. The problem comes when a property nearing the end of its lease is put up for sale. People don’t want the uncertainty of buying a house with only 15 years or so left on the lease.

House building is big business in our area. Acres of woodland have been surrendered to housing, with the promise of bright, modern homes close to countryside and with excellent local facilities. The builders pledge to provide schools, medical, shopping and leisure amenities. The houses go up, in phases, and the other provisions lag behind, sometimes for years. More people move into the area, but find that schools, doctors’ and dentists’ surgeries are oversubscribed. The new houses seem to be put up for resale within a couple of years.

The problem is far worse for those who have to rent accommodation. Rentals are in short supply and are very expensive the closer they are to London or, in other areas, large cities. Now, many landlords are trying to sell their properties because of rising mortgage rates.

Housing in the UK is in a mess!

Saturday 18 November 2023





Is there a sleepy bug? If so, I’ve caught it. I have become of late a drifter into drowsiness, a slider into slumbrousness, a toppler into torpor. Am I entering hibernation?

I believed, erroneously, that badgers hibernate, but have just discovered that they enter a state of lethargy for several weeks when it is very cold. The only mammals to hibernate in UK are bats, hedgehogs and dormice. They may wake briefly to relieve themselves or if there is unusually warm weather, or because it is so cold that ice crystals may begin forming in their blood.

 What really is the difference between torpor and hibernation? Hibernation is a condition entered into voluntarily, a bit like marriage, and lasts for several months, while torpor is involuntary and lasts for a shorter period, like imprisonment.

My snoozes are mostly involuntary and I miss the ends of programmes, or the end of a sentence I am reading. What a waste of time! 

Friday 17 November 2023

The Garage Door


The Garage Door!

Internal view. There is a thin opaque strip at the top that allows daylight into the interior.

This post is in response to those commenters who requested pictures of the new garage door! (You’ll be so glad you asked!)

Some people may have been misled by ‘We’ve been together now for forty years’ – that was actually a reference to the house and garage having been conjoined for (more than) 40 years, not the joining together of himself and me. My apologies!

Anyway, back to the door since I’m sure you’re gasping for the details.

 It’s a Hörmann sectional door and we decided on white. There was a long waiting list for coloured doors as they have to be ordered ‘specially’. In any case, we would have taken forever to decide, for example, which shade of green or tone of yellow we required. Colours fade, too, or so we were informed, and white doors are always in stock. Even so, we had to wait a few months before ours could be installed.

The installers arrived at the allotted time and set to work cheerfully. Some of the work had to be done outside as a new frame had to be constructed. They worked so hard throughout thunder, lightning and torrential rain. They discovered there was a minute chip on one of the panels and took photographs of it to relay to the manufacturer. Honestly, we wouldn’t have noticed it. They will return in a couple of weeks’ time to replace the damaged (!) panel.

The door mechanism, though not silent, is a great improvement on the clanking, grinding efforts of the old door. The video did not upload successfully!

It is so nice to go into the garage now. The door fits beautifully, meaning howling gales and homeless mice are not allowed in, making the space pleasant to work in. We may even put a car in there! The cats will be disappointed, though. They used to enjoy prowling round the garage, seeking small rodents to play with.

Hörmann make external house doors, too, but they are incredibly expensive, so we shan’t be looking to them for our front door!

                                            Exterior view

Gilbert has acquired a new name - Gilbert the Geek. He was discovered in his bed savouring the remote control fob for the garage door. 



Thursday 16 November 2023

Gilbert the good – update


Gilbert the Good – update

Well, good morning my faithful readers. I said I’d let you know what happened at the vets. I went back to see them on Monday and I know they really, really like me ‘cos they wanted to see me again yesterday. They said that although I was heeling healing really well they wanted me to carry on wearing the puppygro for another week. Then they would see me again and after that I could go out on a lead. I ask you, where’s the fun in that?  So I’m a bit fed up. The good news is that I won’t have my stitches taken out. They will dissolve because they’re magic!

Janice has hauled the puppygro off me again, twice. She washed it yesterday but then it got wet this morning when I went out. There are lots of puddles in the garden and I think it came untucked and dragged in one of them . . . or else I peed on it . . . so she heaved it off me. She said it might smell, otherwise.  I thought that wouldn’t matter too much – it would only smell of me and that’s alright in my book, Honestly, the woman’s got a positive fetish about washing things as you can read here.

The humans have got to ‘keep an eye’ on Roxy’s lumps. I wonder how they’re going to do that? Whose eye will they use? We all need all our eyes and anyway how would they make it stay in place? It sounds daft to me but I’m only a dog, so what do I know?

Did I tell you that Roxy’s got kennel cough? I don’t know where she found it as she only sees me and Arthur and Lottie. It’s not very bad and the vets have dealt with it. Roxy told me she had something sprayed up her nose – no wonder she’s coughing.

Jellicoe’s coughing too, but Janice thinks it might be ‘reverse sneezing’. That cat can’t do anything the simple way.



Wednesday 15 November 2023

We’ve been together now for forty years . . .


We’ve been together now for forty years . . .

It’s not just the door that needs to be replaced, The trellis above, which is meant to be festooned with honeysuckle, is in dire need of repair. The honeysuckle chose to climb the drainpipe instead, despite my best efforts.

Actually, it’s rather longer than forty years that the garage door was first installed. It was already in place when we moved into the house.

It’s an ‘up—and-over’ electrically operated double door that has done good service through the years. I remember, with a shudder, the day the children and I were in the garage and about to get into my very small car to travel the 12 miles to school. As the door began to rise, my son’s fingers were caught in the mechanism. He suffered no lasting damage and I wonder if he recalls the incident. Certainly, though a little crushed, there were no broken bones or blood and he went to school as usual. I don’t even remember any bruises.

Eventually, the door began to complain about being opened and would stop before completing the exercise. Sometimes, the gap it left was sufficient for someone to slip through, but at other times, limbo dancing would have been a useful skill. We no longer kept a car in the garage as mice had taken up residence and we didn’t want them chewing important wires under the bonnet.

The writing was on the wall. Repairing the door, now rather bent and battered, was out of the question. The gaps around the door, at every extremity, were now large enough to enable huge rats to enter – well, perhaps not – but they definitely allowed ‘cool gales’ to ‘fan the glade’ providing arctic conditions in the garage.

There is a whole subculture dedicated to doors. We already knew that since we had been researching front doors for several years, our existing door showing signs of deterioration. We became au fait with door furniture, mortice deadlocks, escutcheons, door frames and the rest, coming to no conclusions and leaving it all ‘for another day.’

The garage door had to be replaced. The garage is integral and has an interior door to the house. There was a very real danger that it might become inextricably stuck at some inconvenient point between open and closed. Thus the search began for a replacement garage door. It was an easy enough exercise, we thought, despite our wrangles with the front door. It’s just a garage door. Simple!

We didn’t anticipate spending much time reaching a decision. How wrong we were! Given the extraordinarily wide range of doors in every material and colour known to man and my husband’s nitpicking painstaking analysis of everything, I feared we would never reach a decision. I mean, analysis is good, commendable, even, but I have a low boredom threshold and a high inclination to headaches so usually drift off. I am awoken startled into awareness only when I realise I am being asked my opinion.

Anyway, we made a decision. Success! The next part of the exercise was finding a company to supply and fit the door. Several were contacted and gave wildly differing estimates. More analysis ensued. Finally, we he settled on one and today’s the day the teddy bears have their picnic the defunct door is being replaced.

 It’s taking five hours!