July 26th, 2004

catching up is hard to do...

Roll the time back to a couple of weeks ago, and you'd find rotwang and me helping one of our friends from Oxford (not on LJ, but hence to be called DL for reasons which will become apparent later on) move his stuff into storage. chrestomancy, angry_marmot and zandev were also present and helping with sofa-shuffling; there were a couple of decidedly Dirk Gently moments when furniture that we knew had once fitted into the flat without the help of Vaseline, removing windows or pocket space warps seemed strangely reluctant to leave. I'll spare the collective blushes by refraining from posting the photos.

My main function was throwing stuff into boxes and acquiring random lunch-type foods from the local Tescos, rather than lifting and shifting heavy stuff. Suited me fine, I must say, even if the reason was largely because the hired van only seated three and there were at least three people burlier than I am present at any one time. Actually, I'm not sure either DL himself or angry_marmot fit that bill entirely accurately, but he had to drive the van and she seems uncannily able to lift furniture without seeming to exert effort. It's quite possible she scares it into levitating.

That Sunday, DL arrived on our doorstep with a couple of boxes and a suitcase or two. DL actually stands for Dodgy Lodger, since the chap behind the pseudonym is staying with us for a few weeks while he sorts out the purchase of a new palatial mansion in London to replace the former palatial mansion in Oxford (relocation for job purposes). This is attempt #3 of his to buy somewhere, #1 having fallen through when his buyer pulled out (after revealing his desire to be a slum landlord and convert a perfectly nice flat into two bedsits; the management company of the flats, and the lease, had other ideas), and #2 having partially collapsed when the vendors of the place he was attempting to buy decided they didn't want to move after all. Or something like that. Rather than lose another set of buyers for his existing place, he went ahead with the sale and is now a footloose-and-fancy flat free buyer, which should make things easier further down the line. (Come to think of it, should we now be calling him Virtually Flat-Free? Maybe not.)

Neither rotwang nor I have shared living space with others, not on any long-term basis at least, for about fifteen years at this point. Still, it seems to have been working okay so far; none of us has killed any of the others, nor have we driven one another mad (or, at least, more mad than we were to start with). It does remind you how much you take for granted that people living in the house will know about its contents, even more so than briefing a new cleaner; spare toilet rolls live here, cleaning products are over there, your space for items X, Y and Z is over here, the day the bin men come is such-and-such, if you're putting stuff away from the dishwasher you'll find the rest of item A in cupboard B... that sort of thing.

Mum's birthday lunch

Skipping forward a couple of weeks from the last entry (don't expect all this catching up to be in any kind of logical order), today is my mother's birthday, which meant that rotwang, drown_not_wave's controlling entity, and I descended into the depths of darkest Somerset to ply her with food, drink and presents. The bottles of champagne I took along seemed to be well-received, to start with; then we had a very pleasant dinner at the nearby hotel on Saturday evening (it is within walking distance which meant that none of us had to fuss about driving; this also meant that we didn't have to try to swap the ordering of cars around in their driveway, given that the latest arrival was probably the least likely to drive the whole family anywhere).

I had volunteered to cook Sunday lunch for the assembled hordes rather than make Mum do so; it seemed somehow unfair to force her to slave over a hot stove on what was supposed to be her special weekend. I'd sent Dad a shopping list of stuff to acquire (that I was reasonably sure they'd be able to get locally), I took down a couple of large pans in case Mum didn't have any large enough to roast a couple of ducks in, and off we went.

The finished product wound up as:

  • Smoked salmon and rye bread to start;
  • Roasted duck with port and jasmine tea sauce, with tea-infused sultanas, sweet potato casserole, spiced red cabbage, and fine green beans steamed with sea salt and lime;
  • Chocolate cake (from Waitrose) for dessert

It seemed to go down well with all concerned; apart from a couple of minor bobbles with a pan not fitting in the oven (solution: find a smaller pan), a saucepan not having sufficient capacity (solution: find the bigger saucepan which was being used as an oil storage container), and a fair-sized helping of "Mum? Where do you keep the...", everything wound up cooked at the same time, not overdone, not underdone, not sprayed all over the kitchen... result.