I’m sure you’ve been looking forward to this update so let me waste no time in telling you that we’ve nearly finished unpacking – only a couple more cardboard boxes to go!
§ This week in wildlife… On Tuesday morning we saw three deer in the garden, pottering around looking for things to eat, the second time we’ve seen them this year. Lovely to see.
And on Friday, at dusk, from another room, we noticed a bat flapping around in the conservatory. It could have been in there for a couple of days, hiding somewhere during daylight while we sorted through boxes, only emerging at night when we weren’t there.
I crouched in and opened the conservatory’s external door and the bat soon found its way outside. Even when a bat is circling around, alarmingly close, it’s hard to see. It flaps so fast, a flat shadow flicking in out and of vision.
§ The second most satisfying activity I’ve done in a while was today, chopping up branches on a still and sunny autumn afternoon.
Earlier in the year a guy came from the electricity company to check for any trees that were growing close to the power line that crosses our garden. Part of the garden is a steep slope, covered by several dozen trees, and the power line crosses it from top to bottom like the wires of a ski-lift. The trees needed some work.
This week two guys came and spent most of the day climbing and chainsawing away. By the time they’d finished there was plenty of room beneath the cable, as if a route had been cut for chairs and skiers to swing up across the garden.
The men left behind several very large piles of branches and we’ve so far cut and lopped one of them into stackable large, medium and small pieces. It was very satisfying to work through a massive heap of tangled pick-up sticks transforming it into something more organised and purposeful.
§ This week we put up our bookshelves. We had previously recognised a problem however: the bookshelves are 218cm tall but the ceilings here are only 217cm high. Oh no!
So I spent an afternoon this week pretending the kitchen was a workshop, clamping, measuring, screwing and sawing the shelves’ uprights. It was probably just as well that they’re not exactly precision engineered to start with and so were pretty forgiving. Even so it was very satisfying to not screw it up and to end up with working bookshelves that fit in the room.
I think I’ve said before how my experience of PE at school put me off doing any real exercise for years. Similarly, the wood-/metal-work and “Technology” lessons put me off ever thinking I could do anything useful in a workshop. If I’d had confidence about being in such places I could probably have done better work at university – I was too nervous about using the workshops so I made everything out of mounting board, wire, cardboard… anything that I could handle in my own room without having to look like an idiot in a workshop.
Decades later I still assumed I’d screw this up. But it turns out that carefully measuring and sawing wood, and ending up with what I expected, is the most satisfying thing I’ve done in a long time.
School screws you up, and that’s coming from someone who “did OK” at school academically.
§ In the past ten days I’ve cracked my head on door frames twice, thankfully neither time as bad as the worst occasion so far. But the second time was bad enough to put me on the floor and knock off the scab from the first time.
If an estate agent, showing you round a house, said, “The only downside with this place is that every few weeks someone will surprise you by whacking you over the head with a piece of wood,” you’d probably have second thoughts about moving in. And yet.
Watching a film made me realise how much I miss going to the cinema. And then I realised, again, how much I miss sitting in coffee shops. And the hot crowds and sounds of gigs. And sitting round a table with friends, laughing. And going, unconcerned, to galleries, theatres, pubs, restaurants, shops, all those places I took for granted. I’m tearing up just thinking about all of that. Sad about it all, angry about the handling of it all. And I’ve had all this easy – no illness, no deaths, no financial loss, no immediate hardships.
§ Over the past fortnight we’ve watched seasons two and three of The Tunnel which was still good. Well, season two was excellent – I think I enjoyed it more than the first – but three was a little messy. The focus flitted between too many things and I wasn’t convinced by the antagonist or their ability to successfully pull off the many things that they did.
But it was still a pleasure to watch the (professional) relationship between the detectives played by Clémence Poésy and Stephen Dillane. I particularly enjoyed watching Dillane; there was something that seemed effortless about his performance, able to go from a laid-back jokey calmness to more heightened states without it seeming at all forced.
The only downside is that to enjoy watching these performances one must also watch a show focusing on crimes like mass murder, torture, human trafficking, etc. I’d have enjoyed watching Elise Wassermann and Karl Roebuck in a less unpleasant environment, maybe running an Anglo-French restaurant together. Or a garden centre.
§ I hope you do something satisfying this week.