Sunday, 25 November 2012

Floods, Friends, The Messiah and Christmas

Before the storms set in

It's been a long while since my last blog post, but no news is good news in my world. I've been busy working and fitting in two driving lessons a week, and I've simply not experienced anything worth writing home about. Until now, I guess.

The unrelenting deluge down here in Devon has resulted in a lot of flooding. A LOT. The hill I live on has frequently been turned into an island, and I expect the same will happen again tonight. I have named my island Neensland (it is not a democracy, so I don't care what the other residents think of the name, lol!). Luckily, the hill I live on is rather big, and there are no streams nearby. It got really scary a few nights ago when the glass in the bay window started moving inwards and outwards during the 60 knot gusts (it already has a puncture and I got so worried I ended up moving into the back bedroom), but apart from planks of wood flying off the garage roof (why the ex stores leftover fencing up there is anyone's guess) and a piece of plastic coming off the bay window, nothing of note has occurred here during the storms. I really hope it will stay that way, but I have stocked up on candles and filled two water tanks I found in the garage just to be on the safe side. I've heard of people losing both water and electricity, so I figured I'd rather blow things a bit out of proportion than not risk not taking things seriously enough.

As I am writing this, it has just started raining again and the wind is picking up. One of our resident pigeons, Bernard or Margaret (I can't tell them apart) is perched on the arbour outside the bay window looking rather forlorn. I've only seen one all morning, and I really hope the other is safe and sound somewhere. I really love those pigeons. I wish there were stricter rulings for animal husbandry in the UK - if all horses and sheep had shelter in their fields, birds would also be able to shelter there in times like these. I watched a helicopter video of the flooding in Devon earlier, and saw a whole flock of sheep stranded in the middle of the new river that has formed. There was no sound and no information, so I hope they have all been rescued. The alternative doesn't bear thinking about.

In other news, I have a friend from Norway coming to visit next Sunday and staying for a week! So it's just a week to go till she gets here, and I'm so excited already. I hope the county has time to dry up properly before she gets here. At the moment there are no trains to London, but apparently they should start running again tomorrow. I'm sure all services will be back to normal by the weekend.

Yes!!! The pigeon spouses are reunited! The missing one flew off again right away, though. Not sure what they're up to, but I'm thrilled that they're both ok!

The day before my friend arrives, I will be participating in a performance of Händel's Messiah for charity. It is only performed every other year here, and as I fell ill two years ago I haven't sung it in 4 years. I can't wait - I love singing but the lack of a driving licence and a car has made it impossible for me to join any of the choirs down here, so this will be great fun. I think I still know it by heart, but I really ought to start rehearsing a little on my own just to make sure!

My driving lessons are going well. My last lesson was on multi-lane roundabouts, and I was feeling really nervous about it but it went really well! My instructor is really dedicated to teaching people to drive, it is so lovely to see. He has created lots of handouts on different topics, and he has even made three separate handouts detailing all the different lanes and positions to choose in the most complicated roundabout in the area, depending on which exit you're taking. I usually start my lesson by driving away from where we meet up and towards the area I will be practising in. Then I pull over somewhere safe so my instructor can go through all the rules and regulations and make sure my understanding is up to scratch before I tackle new stuff. I have been struggling a bit with roundabouts because my brain takes a while to register all the information - basically, I see a car coming and just stop, I don't notice that the car is indicating to leave the roundabout and so I miss my chance to go. I am doing better perception-wise now, so for my next lesson the instructor is taking me down to the test centre so I can familiarise myself with the beginning of the test route. We will also start working on reversing, manoeuvring and parking soon. I'm not sure I have a knack for that, but it's nice to move on from those roundabouts!

I will be spending Christmas on my own in the UK this year, as my ex is working over the holiday. There is no one else I trust to look after the dogs (well, Albert is the problem really, Chester is quite obedient but Albert has a thing for running out into the road as soon as a door opens), so it will just be the three of us. My ex mentioned that his parents might invite me and the dogs over for Christmas Day, which is nice. It will be awkward, but much better than being on my own. Even so, I will probably have a lot of spare time in December when my friend's visit is over, so I have decided to join no less than three group reads on Goodreads in December! I will be reading Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov and Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, and rereading Dickens' A Christmas Carol. The Brothers Karamazov will probably be a 2-month group read, so I should be able to fit them all in! I think I have mentioned before that the TV died a while ago - it has been taken to the recycling centre and I have no intention of replacing it as I can watch the few programmes I really like online. When I had the TV, I would watch something that was just ok in between the shows I liked just to pass the time, instead of switching the "electronic soup" (as Stephen Fry calls it) off for half an hour. So not having the box on non-stop frees up a lot of time for reading as well. I only joined Goodreads in July, but as far as I can remember, I have read 36 books so far this year. I'm hoping to make that 40 by finishing the two books I'm still reading (Stephen Fry's The Hippopotamus and Susie Kelly's Travels With Tinkerbelle - 6,000 Miles Around France In A Mechanical Wreck) plus the abovementioned Hemingway and Dickens. Wish me luck!

Right, I am off now to make my favourite recipe at the moment, Kitchen-Sink Quesadillas - well worth the efffort for the salad alone, yummm (who knew coriander and lime would work that well together?). Then I've got a bit of work to do before I can settle down with The Hippopotamus with a clear conscience... ;o)

Stay safe, no matter what the weather is doing where you are!

Love Neens xx