The Bilberry Cottage Chronicles

Tuesday 2nd February

A very satisfactory après CAB Charity Shop haul. For a shade more than a tenner I have: a pretty pink floral china cup and saucer (bedside table in Cookies n’cream), a dainty sugar bowl and milk jug set with birdbath motif (dining room display shelves), a green glass bud vase (anywhere), two fringed, Regency-striped cushions (living room sofa), two lovely decorative plates (dining room wall) and one recycled glass wine goblet to replace the casualty of the January 17th doorbell debacle. And the real beauty of this all retail indulgence is that Brian has nothing negative to say as it is:
a) Cheap
b) Green
c) Charitable
d) BINGO!!

Wednesday 3rd February

Brian has the day to do JOBS. Today it is the Battle of the Blinds: one to be installed in Bluebonnet (plain blue roller) and one in the Dressing Room (white Venetian). I have a prior engagement so will not be around to offer my usual valuable assistance (“Are you sure you’re lifting your lifting your end?”) but Brian says he will soldier on alone. When I return some five hours later, Brian is not a happy bunny. The dressing room window still showcases an unwanted strip show for the neighbours but the blind is up in Bluebonnet. I express grateful appreciation which dims ever so slightly when Brian demonstrates said window covering to the accompaniment of the most appalling screeching which has Sir W (and half the neighbourhood moggies) diving for cover. Only partial success then but perhaps if we leave it strategically poised at half mast, no guests will feel the need to haul it up or down – we’ll certainly know about it if they do.

Saturday 6th February

While I rake up enough leaves to fill the Green re-cycling bin, Brian tackles the dressing room Venetian. This one will need cutting to fit – much agonising, measuring and re-measuring. By tea time it is up and very nice it looks too. Later that evening, while we are enjoying supper at a friends’ house, I notice them trying not to stare at some rather alarming and obviously fresh scarring across Brian’s inner wrists. While I guess it was the tussle with the blind which accidently (I hope) caused these distressing injuries, I have the horrible feeling they think it might have something to do with life at Bilberry Cottage in the company of Yours Truly....

Tuesday 9th February

Brian has pointed out that I have not given any explanation for the name of our new/old house. It was not inherited but borrowed from a relation who, upon being given, verbally, the address of our new abode, has consistently if erroneously referred to it henceforth as “Bilberry” Road. This eccentric slip rather tickled our fancies (and it’s not often that happens these days, to be honest) and as our house is built in the 1920’s “cottage vernacular” it was but a tiny step to “Bilberry Cottage”. The fact that we have no bilberries is immaterial and not irremediable but (with apologies to Bob, George et al) Brian’s much repeated declaration that we are now the “Stationary Bilberries” is most definitely regrettable.

Friday 12th February

I am feeling very sorry for our poor feathered friends in this bleak winter and take great satisfaction in brightening their day with hearty sustenance. We have peanuts and fat balls, Bill Oddies’s Gourmet wild bird seed mix, apples, bread and stale cake – a veritable birdie feast. Of course it is the Big Guns – woodies, magpies, crows and a rather handsome pair of jays who get the lion’s share but blackbirds, tits and the ubiquitous cheeky little robin get a look in too. Unfortunately a rather portly, white whiskered, grey suited gentleman has also been spotted helping himself to the odd alfresco snackeroo to the consternation of the twittering classes.

Sunday 14th February

No hearts and flowers here at Bilberry but an auction shop fix, resulting in the purchase of a Frank Usher peachy pink beaded 1920’s style evening dress for £20, nicely fills the void. And for once size 16 hips proved a positive advantage as my diminutive size 8-10 friend went home empty handed to the faint but unmistakeable sound of gnashing teeth.

Wednesday 17th February

Brian has the day off to ”do jobs”. What particular jobs, of course, we cannot agree. As far as I am concerned, he should complete the painting in the new dressingroom/bathroom and then the upstairs will be finished. However, for Brian, as the rooms are now perfectly functional, this is not a priority. Instead he will plane the kitchen door to the accompaniment of excruciating squealing noises while I try to make breakfast and listen to Radio 4. Then he will require me to accompany him to Wickes where we will spend an interminable amount of time trying to decide on light fittings for inside and outside the porch. Inevitably I do not like Brian’s choices (too plain and modern) and he has innumerable reasons why my choices are impractical (fancy and expensive). So we compromise and when we get home both of us can now see that the compromise is rubbish and Brian agrees to take the light fitting back to Wickes the next day and swop it for my choice after all. By now it is almost dark but Brian goes ahead with fitting the rescued stained glass from the original front door into the replica door we have had specially made at not inconsiderable expense. As the light quality is very poor – and we have no electric light fitting of any description – despite my objections he installs clear glass IN FRONT of the stained glass (for protection) and then proclaims it a triumph which I am unable to dispute owing to the fact it is now so dark I can hardly see the door let alone the glass.

Thursday 18th February

In daylight still not convinced about the glass. The acid test will be when electric light is installed – some time at the beginning of the next decade.

Saturday 20th February

Brian goes to visit his Mum leaving the way clear for me to give a little dinner party for Good Friend’s birthday. I am determined to make, in lieu of a traditional birthday cake, a fresh flower bedecked cheesecake in homage to Bill’s of Brighton. For once my favourite Germanic supermarket chain lets me down as all it can offer is one bunch of wilted roses in the wrong colour thus enforcing a visit to a private florist where at rather greater expense I purchase a single perfect saffron rose plus some yellow gerberas and pale green carnations with which to embellish my lemon confection. Finished off with white candles in rather less than the correct number, it is a triumph and of sufficient size to ensure there is some left for Brian after his travails “oop North”.

Thursday 25th February

Warmer temperatures and lighter afternoons have me itching to get going in the garden. I have been stock piling perennials and fruit trees in the greenhouse plus top soil, compost, fertiliser and bark chippings. The crocci are through and just about in bloom, there are shoots in all my tubs but it’s slow progress, there are gorgeously fat buds on the magnolias and stirring of life in the wisteria; Mrs tabby is asleep on my Philadelphus in its plastic bag on the greenhouse table - a bit of heat can’t do it any harm. Oh horrid long-drawn out Winter go away! I am hungry for colour and warmth and Brian still won’t let me book a beach holiday – Thailand, too far, Canaries , too expensive, Greece, too unstable – at this rate I’ll be adding a couple of bags of sand to the store and resurrecting the children’s paddling pool which is sure to be carefully stashed in the back of the garage.

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