Hello. Hello hello hello. Sorry. I know. Been a while. I have no excuses to offer other than the usual "I was far too easily distracted to focus on writing a blog post" which I know is lame and weak and terrible.
Anyway. We're all here now.
In a nutshell:
1) Job news. I had a job interview a while ago, following an unexpected email. I thought the interview went well, and they told me at the end of it that I could expect to hear back from them in a "few days." Almost two weeks went by, then I finally got the long-awaited email. In it, they told me that they had decided to go with Agency staff rather than taking on someone for the short term. Fair enough, but what annoyed me was their statement that their Agency staff had started work "this Monday." I got the email on the Thursday. So, they must have known they were going to hire Agency staff at the end of the previous week, and could have emailed me a week before they did. Which would have saved me a week of anxious (borderline obsessive) email-checking.
However, on a more positive note, I have actually got myself a different job. It's part-time, only a few hours a week, but it is within walking distance, doing something I like. I shall be a supper cook at a large residential care home, which is something I have become quite interested in since poor old Father-in-Law WithaY went to live in a nursing home. It makes such a huge difference to his day when his food is prepared just how he likes it. I like to think I could make that sort of positive contribution to peoples' days too.
I'm waiting for them to get the relevant references and security clearances sorted out, and then hopefully I can start work shortly. The best thing is that it will allow me to get on with other catering work-related stuff during the day, AND do social stuff in the evening, as the hours are so handy.
2) Home improvements. We've had the garage transformed from a fetid, cobwebby filth pit into two smart rooms, one to be a workshop for Mr WithaY, and the other to be a storage space for the planned catering business. We need to get the wiring done, and new lights fitted, but after that I can get a decent freezer and a blast chiller/fridge in there, and we're good to go. I'm still waiting for the local environmental health people to come and inspect the kitchen, but once they've done that I think we can start with all the "making and selling tasty treats" activities we have in mind.
Mr WithaY spent most of Thursday painting both rooms a smart shade of magnolia. There was a second coat on Friday, and then he painted the floors with some special floor paint. I think it reduces slip hazards, or increases traction, or keeps the dust down. You get a plus-6 buff on your Stamina stats when you walk on it. It kills ants. Something.
The only downside is that the back garden is stacked high with all the fetid cobwebby shite that was in the garage. In the rain. We have to sort it out and decide what we'll keep, and where we'll put it.
On that note, we put some things by the front gate with a "FREE! Take me home!" sign on them. An old wooden kitchen chair. A cassette/radio player. Some assorted oddments. But by far and away the most popular were the Kilner jars. Father-in-Law WithaY was an avid bottler of fruit, and when we cleared out his house there were about 70 Kilner jars, many with fruit still bottled up inside them. We put the jars in the garage. Come reckoning day, out they came again. The fruit - whatever it was - had turned brown and fragmented, lurking in thick viscous jelly. I made an executive decision that there was no way on Earth that we were going to eat any of it, so spent a jolly afternoon prising the lids off, dumping the contents into many, many big plastic sacks, and putting the empty jars through the dishwasher.
As an interesting aside, the addition of 9 year old sauerkraut to a giant bag of mixed mystery bottled fruits creates a pungent and powerful aroma that stays with you for days. Days.
The clean jars and lids were put into boxes and placed outside, where they were rapidly snapped up by incredulous passers-by. One lady said to me "If you come home one day and find a jar of marmalade on your front doorstep, it will be from me, as a thank you." Nice.
One chap was less pleased. He stood looking at the jars for some time, humming and hawing. I happened to wander out into the front garden and he said "Are these Kilner jars?
I said they were.
"Aren't they supposed to have rubber seals?" he demanded.
Mr WithaY wandered over and told him that rubber seals could be bought via the Internet very easily.
"Hmph. Well. I don't think I'll bother," he grumbled, and drove off into the sunset, disgruntled and jar-less.
3) Grand days out. We went to the Chalke Valley history festival last weekend. Well, Mr WithaY was actually taking part, as a dashing swordsman. He and our mate from Gloucester went along on Friday (in the posh and comfy motorhome) and I went with some friends on Saturday for a day out. We took a monumentally excellent picnic, the sun shone and there was a flypast from a Spitfire.
I'm rather proud of that photo, given that it was flying a looooong way off.
See? There are some of the crowds, watching it going back and forth over the showground. See it? Almost directly over the apex of the big white tent.
I took an even better photo than that, if you can believe it:
I went to one of the talks - a discussion on the life and work of Elizabeth David, supposedly - but it was a bit disappointing. Of the three panellists, one was a biographer, one was a food writer and the other was the chairman of the Guild of Fine Food (I think) but they managed to make the hour feel like an awkward dinner party conversation between people who disliked each other and only socialised because they were forced to through work. A shame.
Other than that, an excellent day.
I like the juxtaposition here of the Roman gladiator, the Medieval knight and the two seconds for an Eighteenth Century gentleman's duel. Apparently the chaps being gladiators were picked for that role because (and I quote the knight there) "They're the only skinny bastards in the group."
I particularly liked the chillout tent, fitted out with squashy sofas and a couple of classical musicians, filled with people of a certain age* reading the papers and drinking tea. Civilised. Now that's what I call a history festival.
We're definitely going again next year.
4) Family addition. This is the most recent, and the most significant, event of note to take place in the WithaY household. We are about to hear the patter of tiny paws. No, I'm not having a baby. With paws. That would be freaky and wrong. No, we're getting a dog. I feel the need to shriek like Daisy Steiner when I say that, but I will try to refrain for the sake of Mr WithaY's sanity. She's black Labrador, a breed which I think is actually compulsory in this village, and she arrives next week. She's 4 months old, is already called Hester, and is absurdly cute.
Her current owner brought her (and her brother Henry) round last night. They both peed on the kitchen floor - something I suspect I will have to deal with more than once in the next few weeks - and then spent some considerable time finding onions in the vegetable rack, carrying them carefully to their owner, and dropping them at his feet.
This activity exhausted them, and they both fell asleep on the kitchen floor, waking only to come with us into the sitting room where they both fell asleep on the new dog bed. Awwwh.
So. Expect numerous and probably dreadful posts about how cute/clever/obedient the new dog is. They are likely to be a tissue of lies. LIES.
*About my age, probably