Old Oaks of Sherwood Forest

A Good Result

This was written yesterday, I seem to have drifted off into catching up with reading other posts and forgotten to publish. So here you are, yesterday’s post . . .

I have been in communication with the surgery three times today. Once they rang me but I couldn’t talk because I was driving. Then I rang them back when I stopped – they gave me my blood test result for the Warfarin – I am in the correct range and have another two weeks until my next test. Hurrah! he said ironically. In the early afternoon the original caller rang back to give me the same news – they hadn’t told her I’d called back. This confirms my suspicions about communications within the practice. Finally, in the evening, a doctor rang. I’m never keen on doctors ringing a it is seldom good news . . .

For the first time in my life they were ringing to congratulate me. They are, it seems, very happy with the way I am losing weight and, according to my blood tests, becoming healthier. This is unusual, and not entirely welcome. It’s a little like being smiled at when you meet an undertaker, as if they know something I don’t. However, they did remind me there was still more to do, and told me to stop eating bananas. That was my fault, I shouldn’t have admitted to it in the first place. I already knew they were bad for my diet. That’s why I try to say as little as possible when I talk to medical people.

Another unusual occurrence was me forgetting a submission deadline, and even more strange, not being concerned about it. I’m not sure if this is good or not. On one hand, it’s good to have ambition and discipline. On the other, I’m doing it for enjoyment o why should I make it hard work?

Blood, Soup and Tears

Today we had Cauliflower and Stilton soup. It’s like the soup we had yesterday but I added garlic and the remains of a packet of  Stilton. It was much better for the added flavour, though I think the lower calorie version (without cheese) is better for us, and means I don’t have to struggle with my conscience about putting Stilton in soup. It doesn’t seem a good use of  what Orwell called  “the best cheese of its type in the world”.

I had a blood test before that. She tried the left arm, then the right, then the left again. After that she went for another nurse, who tried both arms again. No blood. So they brought a third nurse in. She went further up the right arm and hit the vein straight away. Four plasters on the right arm, two on the left. It’s a new record!

Some days are like that.

And that, apart from some TV, is all I have done today. It’s 4.30pm and I am having a short break from TV.

No, there is one other thing, I weighed myself while I was at the surgery. Good news is that I haven’t put any weight on. Bad news, of course, is that I haven’t actually lost any.  It could be worse, I might have gained, but it’s obviously time to start getting serious about weight loss again. I probably need to become ill again as nothing helps a diet along like feeling too rough to eat. However, it’s a high price to pay for losing weight.

Today’s soup picture is a poor attempt, but I’m not in the mood for a long photo hunt.

2,501

If I’d realised I’d have written this post yesterday, and titled it “2,500”, which would have been neater. Like so much of my life it was a missed opportunity.

We had Cauliflower and Leek Soup tonight. It was not my finest soup, but not my worst either.

It featured all the white bits that were fit to eat (and a few greyish bits if I’m honest) and a couple of failing leeks. It was a definite rescue soup, using bits that had slipped through stock control. Roast the veg, boil it up with a stock cube. Reduce it to a velvety consistency by skilful application of a hand blender, add pepper, allspice and lime juice and it’s done. Allspice and lime juice, I hear you cry . . . The truth is that I wanted nutmeg or cumin and lemon juice, but sometimes you just don’t have the right stuff to hand.

Tomorrow I am going to use the last of the Stilton to make Cauliflower and Stilton soup. I may add kale too. It’s good for you. Later in the week I will produce a green soup using cauliflower leaves and the massive stalk that came with this week’s shopping. If I’d been packing my own shopping I would never have selected one with such a big stem.

Apart from that, I got  my copies of the Haibun Journal today, after lengthy postal delays. Yes, I have one in there, that why I’m mentioning it. IT’s nice to be seen in good company and I always feel better for seeing myself rub shoulders with some of the big names in haibun writing. It’s not on-line so I can’t add  a link. I also have a haiku in Wales Haiku Journal, which is good, but I always feel three lines isn’t as good as a haibun, despite being harder. It is online but I am about 104 poems down, so it’s a bit of a slog.

So, 2,501 posts written, cauliflower soup made and two more pieces published. What more could a man want? Apart from cake, but I’m not allowed cake . . .

I’m fairly sure that’s nettle soup in the picture, but it was the first soup picture I came to.

Volunteer’s Medal 1992 Barcelona Olympics

The final picture is a medal I put on eBay today – as far as I can tell it’s a medal for the volunteers who helped at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. It’s quite big, as you can see and weighs in at 217g (or near enough 7 ounces for those of you who still work the old way. It’s quite impressive. The design is a stylised athlete vaulting the Olympic logo.

An Interesting Day

Tonight, I beat an Oxford College on University Challenge. I can’t remember which one it was, but it was one of the proper old ones. They had a shocker tonight and managed to get down to zero after interrupting with wrong answers several times. I, on the other hand, hit a good run of questions and my one aging brain defeated the four fresh young brains. It was a moment to treasure. Pardon my glee, but some nights I watch it I don’t even understand the questions. I didn’t actually understand them all tonight, to be honest.

We had a good day in the shop and bought in a nice modern collection. It has some very rare coins in it. This is unusual, because despite what you may read in the papers or on the internet, there are not many rare modern coins. The seller walked out with slightly surprised expression. It’s always nice when you can surprise someone with more money than they were expecting.

I continued my research on the silver prize medallion we found in one of the trays. It had been there for years – a prize for the Mediterranean Fleet Water Polo Championships in 1934. IT is named on the edge and I have been able to put together an interesting, though sad, story. The officer in question was decorated with the DSC for his part in the Battle of Narvik, serving aboard HMS Havock. The battle took place in the middle of a snow storm and the leader, Captain Warburton-Lee, was awarded the first VC of the war. Lieutenant Bruce, the recipient of the water polo medal, would go on to gain three Mentions in Despatches, the final one being posthumous when HMS Somali broke up whilst under tow after a torpedo attack whilst escorting a convoy to Murmansk. According to a newspaper report he refused rescue until his men had been taken off the life raft he was on, and died when his raft capsized.

In a world where the word “hero” is often used rather loosely it is good to see it used properly

I love my job, and I do enjoy the research, but there are some terribly sad stories out there.

Notable Events of the Week

Notable things that have happened this week include two appointments being made for me by the Anti-coagulant service without consulting me. They arrived via a text message and included me having to sign into a website I’ve never seen before. It’s bright green and it’s called DrDoctor, which didn’t fill me with confidence. However, it didn’t ask for sensitive information so I entered it and found it seems to  be OK, though I’m not sure what the appointments are all about. I have emailed to check.

I checked the website online and it seems it is a “Patient Engagement Platform” used by 30 NHS Trusts covering 10 million patients. (I will let you use your imagination on my views about jargon and patient engagement platforms.)

I think it’s a new toy and they are just getting used to it. If it is a serious attempt to make an appointment they are out of luck because I already have a blood test on Wednesday and that is more than enough time given over the the NHS. They will also be unlucky on Friday – I’m driving and won’t be answering the phone.

Then Julia’s trains were delayed. One had trouble because the lines were “slippery” and the other because a passenger, despite feeling unwell and being advised to leave the train, vomited copiously all over a carriage and it was easier to change trains than mop it up. That must have been a sight to see. Fortunately Julia was in another carriage, so was spared the sight.

I’m sure there must have been other things, but I can’t remember them. I should make notes.

Not being one to repeat scare stories about vaccination, I am not sure whether to tell you this, but my arm ached so much this morning that I wasn’t able to use it for anything strenuous. This includes using a stick or levering myself out of a chair.

The vaccination site is still sore even though everything else has worn off. This is the worst reaction I’ve had to a vaccination since some of the ones I had for foreign travel thirty years ago, so it’s not a reaction unique to covid vaccinations and it’s not a reason to go unvaccinated. In fact, if I had to do it all again tomorrow, I would. That’s how confident I am that vaccination is a good thing.

Darmstadt Friendship Medallion – twinned with Chesterfield, Derbyshire

Same Medal, different side. Real size about 39mm.

The top photo shows a Robert Burns commemoration medal, part of the collection of low grade medallions we bought last week. I’ve been putting them on steadily and sold plenty already. The Burns one, though deride by my colleagues, sold after just two days. The Darmstadt/Chesterfield medallion was one of several that sold in their first day.

The current record though, is 28 minutes. Yes, 28 minutes. I doubt if I will ever sell anything quicker than that on eBay.

 

 

 

 

Fully Boostered and Thinking of Adventure

Today, I am going to start with booster vaccinations. I had my covid booster this morning and managed to get to work on time, so that was a good start.

I arrived ten minutes early, was vaccinated by 9.30, which was actually my appointment time, and after waiting fifteen minutes I was released. It took me 12 minutes to get to work and I actually found a parking space in front of the shop.

My arm ached for a minute or two when I first used it to change gear but that went away. It is still a bit sore to touch, so I’m just not touching it. Despite the temptation.

Julia is on her way back from visiting Number One Son, the groceries are ready to pick up from TESCO and there is a full day of untouched washing up to do. Time to start moving.

It’ frightening how quickly a married man can revert to bachelor habits. I had a takeaway curry last night, turned the fire up full, put Outback Opal Hunters on, and fell asleep for nearly three hours. Luxury.

I’d rather prospect for gold in Australia than opals, simply because a lot of opals are found in mines and I’m a bit claustrophobic. They also seem just to carve away without anything to hold the roof up. I’d like to see a lot more pit props. I like opals, but I don’t want to die a lonely underground death with several tons of Australia stacked on top of me. Much better to die from heatstroke or snake bite with my metal detector in hand. However, I can’t see any of those scenarios coming to pass, I’m too old for adventurous careers – shop work suits me just fine at the moment.

 

Christmas Stamps

Modern Life and the Cost of Postage

Another day, another post to write.

My sister recently told me about a visit to the bank where they now expect you to establish your place in the queue by use of a QR Code. Modern phones have them, as do modern phone owners. I haven’t bothered to connect my five-year-old phone to the internet and still think that the late 19th century had a lot going for it, It’s almost superfluous to add that I have never used a QR Code and intend, if at all possible, never to use one. I have reached 63 without them and don’t see why they are suddenly so popular. I feel the same way about bungee jumping, incense and colonic irrigation too.

We went on the Ashmolean Museum website a couple of nights ago. Not for any intellectual reason – Julia had seen something she liked in the shop. I ordered it and pressed the button for postage. – nearly £9. I swallowed hard, but it was a Christmas present . . .

Then Julia came to life.

“Nine pounds, you’re not paying that. I’ll look for something else.”

It is a bit high for P&P, but having just paid a London Auction £12 for postage and packing I am toughened to this sort of thing.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I searched the internet and found the same item £2 cheaper and with P&P £6 cheaper. Not only have I secured her Christmas present, but I have saved £8 –  a true win-win situation.

Sorry about this turning into a post of postage and packing but we’ve just been told off by an eBay customer for our high postage costs. It’s been a burning topic since I first did mail order, in a time well before eBay. People don’t like paying for it, and they certainly don’t like paying for the materials and time that goes into packing things properly. However, they don’t like it when things get lost or broken either.

And with that thought, I will go and have my tea.

 

Attempts at Photography

A few days ago I did about 160 words then couldn’t get the next paragraph going. It kept petering out, or wandering off the point. I tried half a dozen times but eventually gave up.

It’s time to grasp myself firmly by the scruff of the metaphorical neck and give myself a good talking to. That sort of nonsense leads to writer’s block, and, as we all know that’s a non-existent condition, it cannot be allowed to take root.

It’s bad enough that I turned out to be a poet rather than a writer of lucrative thrillers, so I really can’t give in to imaginary conditions as well. If I have to be a poet I will at least try to be an industrious one.

Rear View Mirror Shot 1

Rear View Mirror Shot 2

Tonight, the sky was pink and cloudy when we left the shop so I unloaded my camera from my bag and took a couple of shots. The camera filtered most of the colour from the sky and as soon as I tried to take photos people appeared and got in my way. This was to be a theme of my picture taking for the rest of the evening. I tried with the sunset filter on, but that takes so long that everything was blurred. I missed some great moon shots to. Eventually I tried some sunset shots of teasel as the neighbours all decided to move their cars and shine lights everywhere.

The accompanying photos are a selection I took on the way home, including light pollution from cars, “abstract” shots and shots taken in my door mirror (whilst stopped in traffic, not whilst moving).

 

Communion Tokens and Family History

The top picture is of a Communion Token issued by the Relief Church in Annan.

There are about 6,000 types of Scottish Communion Tokens known. Their history stretches back to the early days of Protestantism, when many churches held closed communions and  only admitted those they felt were worthy of the sacrament. They are generally simple, with a basic design, cast from lead.

The Relief Church was not, as I assumed, a Church to accommodate people who couldn’t get into a crowded main church, it was a Church formed by people looking for relief from the patronage that was common in the Church of Scotland at the time. I assume that they equated patronage with corruption.

Communion Token – Annan

The second one is another from Annan. It’s very worn but you can just make out the name.

The tokens are mostly from the early 19th century and it is possible that my great-great-grandfather, or possibly another relative may have handled it. I know they were churchgoers because my great-great Grandfather supposedly left Scotland after a falling out with the church. However, having just checked Ancestry, I see that at least one great-great-great- grandfather and two great-great-great- grandmothers all died in Blackburn, so they may all have left together. Family stories are like that.

Why, I hear some of you wonder, leave the beauty of Scotland for the dark satanic mills of Lancashire? Well, I’ve only visited Annan twice and didn’t stop either time. It appears to be very grey,uninviting and drizzly, though that might not be a fair test of its charms. Blackburn, on the other hand, though it is undoubtedly a blot on the landscape, was a boom town at the time, and offered the promise of jobs, even if they did involve unsafe working practices, child labour and lung disease.

Newington Communion Token –  in better condition than the other two

This is the other side of the Annan token

I just realised the tokens have no size reference – they arn’t as big as they look on the screen – about an inch to an inch and a half long.

 

Me Being Grumpy About Modern Life

We had three phone calls on the landline. We know they are going to be nuisance calls but there;s always the possibility it might be a call I want to take. It never is.

Number One was a call from a man telling us that the roof insulation we had installed ten years ago was dangerous and needed replacing. His company, it seemed, would replace it for us and help us institute legal action against the original installers.  Julia asked where he was calling from and he said “London”. When she said, “No, what company are you calling from?” he hung up. To the best of my knowledge fibreglass isn’t dangerous, lasts forever (though it does go and get less efficient) and shouldn’t be replaced by strangers who ring at random.

Number Two hung up before I could get to it.

Number Three was a lady who delivered the alarming news that my Sky TV equipment was out of guarantee and needed me to take out a new warranty. I’m not sure what was most alarming – the prospect of spending money or the fact I’d got a Sky TV and hadn’t noticed.Was it possible, I asked her, that she was lying to me and was in fact a criminal trying to defraud a vulnerable, though admittedly cantankerous, old man? The phone line must be faulty as it cut us off before I finished my question.

And that, dear readers, is just one of the reasons that I hate modern life and am thinking of having the landline taken out.

On the other hand, by adept use of Amazon and Tesco delivery services I think I have managed to organise presents and chocolates for Julia’s birthday without setting foot in a shop, so there are some good modern things, just not many.

I wrote this a couple of days ago and seem to have forgotten to post it . . .

I have added “senior moment” to the tags. Julia suggested “idiot”.