Friday 15 November

Today I awoke really early and among other things (read on) I realised that I have not posted a blog for two months! Sorry readers.

Annual return to UK

For two weeks in October I returned to UK to visit friends and family. On arrival at the airport I went to collect a Peugeot 308 rental car but was informed that a Mercedes would be only one pound more per day. I’d never even dreamed of driving a Mercedes but jumped at the chance. A few hours later I parked the car in order to buy mum some flowers and ‘kerbed’ the alloy wheels. Later when in Sheffield I took the car to a dealer to have the wheels repaired at a far lesser cost than returning a damaged car to the rental agency!

Armed with flowers I discovered that mum was not so well so I spent much time with her. By coincidence the day after my arrival my niece Bethan was giving an Emfest Concert, an event in memory of her sister Emily who had died about 5 years earlier. It was a wonderful night with great entertainment. I marvelled as Bethan even sung a poignant song about Emily.

I did manage to visit friends in Leicester and then spent two days in Sheffield checking out my house. A friend reminded me that this was supposed to be a holiday so rather than stay with a friend on the outskirts of the city I decided to investigate Airbnb. I found an apartment in the centre of the city right next to the Anglican Cathedral. When I enquired one evening the cost was 130 pounds per night. By next morning it was only 61 pounds. Bargain! The house was fine but the gardens had been let go and were very overgrown. This worried me so I visited the agents to see what was going on. On a further visit to the house I decided to extract all my organ music from the cabinet in which all my music is stored. Later I arranged to send 4 boxes of music to Tampa at a cost of 440 pounds!

My visit was so last minute that I was unable to visit many of my closest friends but was able to catch up with Helen and Gary and bump into a few familiar faces from the cathedral where I used to work.

On my return to my mum’s I was able to take her to Southampton and Guildford to visit brothers and spent the last night with Chris, Sue and Bethan in a gastro pub.

Re-discovering the organist within me

On Sunday 3 November having arranged cover for the 7pm Mass I went instead to support the parish outreach to students at Tampa University. Our parochial vicar presided at Mass and I was asked to provide the music. The university’s Sykes Chapel has an amazing organ so I was asked to play a prelude, offertoire and sortie of Bach, Marchand and Dupre. I got there early so that I could enjoy the instrument which I certainly did!

Flooding in UK

On Thursday 7 November I received a video clip from England. Later I discovered it was from the tenant in my house in Sheffield. UK had been experiencing torrential rainfall which was being described as biblical and Sheffield was the worst hit area. The lights had gone out briefly in the house so the tenant had gone to the basement to check the fuse cabinet only to discover the it was flooded. In the basement as well as a washing machine and fridge freezer there are also many of my kitchen belongings and clothes neatly stored in cardboard boxes placed on pallets. This provision was not enough to counter over two foot of water. I called the insurance but they would not be able to send anyone out until Monday 11 November. The tenant knew someone with a water pump and began pumping out water the following morning.

A new bed?

I have noticed in the past that when I felt down or had a massive hangover I used to make rash purchases. I now see this habit continuing to this day. I had responded to an advert offering a 6-week old $8000 king size tempurapedic bed for $3500. This wet my appetite so I visited Haverty’s, a high end store, to investigate further. The saleswoman also explained how much cheaper the purchase could be if I were to purchase the mattress from the main brand and buy the base from another supplier. I love a bargain and told her so. She then introduced me to what she claimed was the bargain of the store. To be fair I had for a while been musing about replacing a sofa which a friend had given me, but when she showed me a very high end sofa reduced by over $1000 I was hooked. It was then taken away to be spray protected and delivered on Wednesday 6 November.

By Saturday I returned to the store to purchase the remaining two items of the set, an armchair and a chaise long also at greatly reduced prices. Why were they reduced? Because the manufacturers had brought out a different colour! This is America at its most stupid.

I then decided that I would advertise two other high end sofas which I had bought from a neighbor two years earlier but had found to be uncomfortable and placed them in the bedroom instead. Perhaps I had advertised them at too high a price as they did not sell immediately. After four days I decided to contact an amazing business called ‘Missing Piece’. They would value the items themselves and find a buyer.

Musical Challenges

On Tuesday afternoon I went to teach my Zipoli organ scholars at Jesuit. The High School had decided to hold a mini-organ recital at which both scholars would play two pieces. Between them they selected Couperin, Bach, Clerambault and Zipoli (the Jesuit composer after whom the scholarship is named). I would also be expected to add a piece of my own … probably Vierne’s Carillon de Westminster or the opening movement from Vierne’s 2nd Symphony. The recital would take place on 10 December.

Garden plans

I had Thursday off work and awoke early enough to do some work around the house. At coffee time Kathi from the choir arrived. She had been a Trojan gardener when I moved in and completely redesigned my gardens. She was here to see how things were progressing and left me with plenty of ideas. This meant a trip to Home Depot for various gardening products. I dropped into the bar on the way home and spoke with my handyman, Dennis about building a deck to accommodate my garden table and chairs. As the discussion continued we got onto Airbnb and the idea struck me to move my office into one end of my huge bedroom and to offer a further bedroom as Airbnb. Exciting stuff.

Things going bump in the night

I went to bed early but did not sleep well so by 4.30am I was moving furniture, computers and digital piano from the office and as I type now at 7am I am established in the new location! I had a funeral at midday so feeling like death warmed up would probably be a bonus!

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