The Scone Chronicles XXVI

When I started this series I honestly thought we could do one a week. Even with duplicates it’s been about half that. Still, not everything goes to plan. Next year I will do better.

This morning we went to McDonald’s, did some errands then, as I said, went to the garden centre. The centre in question is Brookfields, our local centre. When we first started going it was a modest gravel car park and some large greenhouses. Now it’s a monster of a place with car parks and overspill car parks and fish and pets and a massive gift section. There are still plants and there’s a small seed and tool section, but it’s mostly a gargantuan gift emporium with lots of glitz and very little soul.

The vastly expanded cafe section is now known as Arthur’s Eatery, because stupid twee names seem to be the in thing, though it’s still recognisably the same old shoddy cafe, just with more seats.

Cheese scone Brookfields Garden Centre

Cheese scone Brookfields Garden Centre

I went to find a table while Julia went for tea and cake. I found one, cleared it myself, as the staff weren’t keeping up, sat down and looked at a dirty, creased and faded label on the table, wondering why any reputable food establishment with pretentions of cleanliness would allow such a thing on the table. Turns out it was a sticker saying the table was reserved for dogs owners, so I moved. I suppose that when you think of the number of germs spread by the average dog, a species known for its indiscriminate licking habits, the dirt on the sticker is insignificant.

The next table needed clearing too, and was covered in crumbs, brown lumps and cup rings. I decided to move to a cleaner table. Cleaner, but not clean. It was sticky, which always makes me think they are being wiped down badly. This, in turn, always makes me wonder what else is being done badly.


When Julia found me she had a cheese scone for herself and a plate of mini scones for me. The three mini scones were cheese, which was nice, mince pie flavour, which tasted of Christmas spice, and Chocolate and Orange, which explained the brown sticky lumps on the previous table.


Three mini-scones Brookfields Garden Centre

It was pleasant enough and at £8 was more reasonably priced than it used to be – price being one of the reasons we stopped using it. However, there was nothing there to justify a return visit any time soon.

I thought the cup of tea provided was a bit small, and didn’t really need the free biscuit.

Cheese scones were full of flavour, the others were less successful, particularly the orange and chocolate one. I don’t honestly see the need for novelty scones.



Three mini-scones Brookfields Garden Centre

Staff and cleanliness could both be improved.


The Scone Chronicles XXV

The one with McDonald’s…

Yes, we’re back at the budget end. With a day full of errands stretching to eternity (the whimpering about seals having produced no effect on my hard-hearted wife) I decided on the easy option to give us a solid foundation.

There’s not much I can add. We had sausage and egg McMuffins, hash browns and coffee. It’s what we always have, because we’re predictable. As usual, it was very good. There’s not much else to say.

The most interesting thing was the coffee cup, which has changed over the years from a receptacle for coffee to a medium for messages – more like a billboard than a cup.

Apart from two robins chasing each other round a tree there isn’t much more to report. That’s why you have a picture of Julia’s feet for a header – I was looking for a photo, they seemed bright, so I took the picture. This evening I used it because there was nothing better.

Moving from food review to diary, I can then report that we went to drop clothes and books off at a recycling point before going to look for a gas heater. Despite what the Homebase website says they don’t sell them.

Recycling - Sainsbury's, Arnold, Notts

Recycling – Sainsbury’s, Arnold, Notts

We then went to Currys. They don’t sell gas heaters, but they do sell tablets. That’s in the sense of small computer type things (which I don’t really understand) rather than a bottle of pills. We had to hunt down a sales assistant because nobody seemed interested in making a sale, and when we got one we needn’t have bothered.

It seems the tablet we wanted was out of stock and they clearly weren’t interested as they advised us to try on-line.

So today’s hint is that if you’re looking for a useless, apathetic excuse for a salesman, try Currys. If you’re looking for a tablet, don’t bother.

And if you try to order on-line, prepare for a long and frustrating experience. I ordered three items – it took nearly an hour as it repeatedly refused to accept the order details, delivery details and filled the screen with useless pop-ups.

I’m going back to Amazon next time.

We stopped off at the park next, as Julia went looking for a municipal employee to browbeat into helping her garden group. One was on holiday and the other was in hiding. I sat in the car park and photographed damp leaves.


Not my finest moment as a photographer, but I was bored

We eventually bought the gas heater from B&Q. They had a choice of one model, but it was in the right price bracket and the staff were all cheerful and helpful.

After that it was the garden centre. But that is another story…



An hour to waste…

As I said yesterday, I should calm down and be nicer and more patient so I’m writing this while I’m practising waiting. This is different  to merely waiting because there is an element of choice about it. I’m waiting patiently and trying to be positive.

And they say men can’t multi-task.

I saw one on Sunday who could push a shopping trolley, look at his phone, give a bad example to his children and breathe through his mouth, all at the same time.

I’m currently waiting for a gas company surveyor to check our new earthing arrangements ready for the renewal of the heating system.

They gave us a four hour time slot and I have had to take a morning off work. Fortunately they just rang to say they would be here just before 9.00, so I will actually be able to get to work on time. If this wasn’t the case I’m sure this post would have been a lot less positive.

It’s not that I really want to go to work, but I have little to commend me as an employee other than reliability and I don’t want to lose that.

Today, in addition to attempting to be more positive, I’m pondering the nature of diaries. I kept one sporadically when I was about ten, then another when I was about sixteen and in my poetic phase. Neither of them gave any hint that one day I would be a blogger with five years of blogging behind me, though it’s fair to say that they did give evidence to suggest that my spelling, grammar and punctuation would  need work. Looking back on old posts this is a theme which continues. I cannot believe how bad some of my old posts are in terms of typos, proof reading and poor writing.

This is about the time of year I normally start thinking of good intentions, New Year Resolutions and writing projects.

I have just about cured myself of the curse of New Year Resolutions and now know that good intentions butter no parsnips. However, what would life be without something to look forward to?

And so, it looks like I may become a diarist.

This, in my mind, means writing words on paper with a pen, rather than blogging, which is about cluttering cyberspace with links and pixels and all sorts of stuff I don’t understand.

Which all comes back to patience. I can knock out a blog post with a computer, some random overspill from a cluttered mind and a few spare minutes. But a diary, in my imagination at least, requires time and space and the gathering of thoughts at the end of the day. Possibly a leather topped desk, a log fire and a smoking jacket…

Sounds good.




A Day of Minor Annoyances

I turned over for a few more minutes in the warm this morning and my second alarm didn’t go off, so a “few” minutes ended up as nine minutes.

I couldn’t find the cover for my windscreen last night as we cleared the car out a few weeks ago. I can’t believe I was stupid enough to lose it as winter approached. It took several minutes to scrape the screen and my fingers froze as I cursed the cold and my stupidity.

I arrived at Phlebotomy at 7.30, when I’d been aiming for 7.10ish. I was ticket number 20 and they were only on number 8 when all the staff seemed to disappear. They do that sometimes.

Three staff members, fortunately not phlebotomists, argued in a corner about lost keys.

I forgot my book but it didn’t matter as I also forgot my glasses.

When ticket 17 went in for testing (eventually) the man with ticket number 18 stood up and started to twitch like a longdog with a rabbit in view. He was very thin. I could probably have put my hands around his thighs, assuming we were formally introduced at some stage, and had bags with him so he was either in for an overnight stay or he was homeless.

Number 18 seemed to take a long time. Number 19 went in. Number 18 came out. I thought I was going to be punctured soon, but he kept the phlebotomist engaged in giving him directions to his next stop. Then in asking her to repeat the directions. And a third time just for luck.

Moments later she was trying to find him because he had left his coat behind.

My blood test went well. Too well, because it took a lot of pressure to stop the bleeding. I’m hoping that is a good sign.

Then number 18 came back to ask about his coat and blocked the doorway as I was trying to get out.

Bear in mind I am trying to get out before 8.00 to get Julia to work.  And to avoid car parking charges by being less than 300 minutes.

I may have sounded a bit irritable. He said: “I’m sorry, I’ve been getting in everybody’s way this morning.”

I thought of his words as I walked to the car, and I decided that I should be a nicer person.

Even as I paid £2 into the car park machine I held that thought.

On the way home I flashed a car to let it move out into traffic. It didn’t move. So I flashed my lights again. It didn’t move. I was holding people up. So I started to move forward. Then they moved and nearly took the front off my car.

Some people don’t deserve niceness.

So I reverted to my normal self.

I could probably do four more pages of this, but you deserve a rest. However, I have to say that it was a very irritating day.

I bought Julia some chocolate yesterday. It might be a good time to go and remind her that sharing is a good thing to do. I’ll make a cup of tea and look wistful in a way that implies chocolate might be the answer. She doesn’t like white chocolate so I should be able to pry that from her vice-like grip.

The gull picture is from earlier in the year – the day I broke my windscreen.It is, however,


Cold grey heron on a cold grey day


Diaries, Doctors and Dinner

I’ve been thinking about diaries today.

If I kept a proper diary I’d be able to argue my case with the doctor more convincingly. I’m able to put most of the story together, but it lacks a little precision. With a diary I could supply more precise details and make a stronger case.

As it is, I’m left with a nagging fear that it really is me who has forgotten something important.

We used to have a local criminal in this area known as the Flat Cap Robber. As the report says, he was so ordinary they ended up investigating 1,600 suspects reported by the public. One of the people who was named as a suspect was a local market trader.

He wasn’t the most popular man on the market, and the general opinion was that someone had reported him to get their own back for a bad deal.

He was able to prove his innocence by reference to his diary, which was news to everyone as we didn’t know he could write, much less that he had an inner life of any sort.

This gave me two lessons – one that people, no matter how they appear, are more than just the surface that they show. The other is that there are benefits to keeping a diary. Despite that I still haven’t started one. Diaries may be good, but procrastination is easier. And, as we have seen over the years, I am a world class procrastinator but only a moderate diarist.

I just looked up diaries, out of interest. I’m surprised there aren’t more from earlier times, as it’s the sort of thing you’s expect Greeks and Romans and Egyptians to get involved with. The first known work which looks like a diary is by Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius who wrote in the late 2nd Century AD. There’s a gap from there until the 9th or 10th centuries when the Japanese and some Arabic writers wrote diary-like books.

Eventually, of course, we come to Samuel Pepys, the king of the diarists. Despite his fame I don’t know much about him apart from him being something to do with the Navy, being inappropriate with his servants and burying his Parmesan to save it from the Great Fire of London. This strikes me as an excellent idea for Parmesan though I’m not actually sure that burning would harm Parmesan. It’s dreadful stuff and it can’t just be me who thinks it smells of vomit.

This is all I’ve written today as Julia made me move books this morning, then I shopped as she did laundry. After this we had a late lunch of crumpets, watched Murder She Wrote and ate tea as we watched Strictly Come Dancing, His Dark Materials and, as I write, The War of the Worlds.

Tea was potato wedges with garlic seasoning, roasted carrots with cumin, broccoli and pies from the freezer section – mushroom and Camembert. It’s fish pie tomorrow, because I didn’t feel like standing in a freezing kitchen making a fish pie today.

The pies were quite tasty, though the filling was ungenerous and they both stuck in the foil trays, which didn’t help with presentation. The garlic seasoning worked well, the carrots were good but the broccoli charred a bit. I really should have put it in later than I did, but that would have meant missing the dance-off.

Today, December 1st, is the first day of meteorological winter. One down, ninety to go. Number Two Son says it’s snowing where he is. As he’s in Toronto I’m not surprised. I just hope he has a good coat and waterproof boots.


Cannon for a Human Cannon Ball

The pictures show an interesting building in Lincolnshire last week and a cannon for a Human Cannon Ball. We stopped for a photo but I didn’t enquire about the cannon because we have nowhere to park it.

An Absence of Activity and a Surfeit of Fish

I was on my own in the shop this afternoon because the other two went off to a banknote meeting. It was very quiet – just one customer in three hours. Fortunately we had two eBay sales so we did take enough to cover my wages.

We had tuna for tea. It was line-caught, though I’m not sure the tuna would appreciate the significance of this, or its part in my new healthy lifestyle. If the fish had thought more about what it was eating I may well have had a vegetarian meal tonight.

We had brown rice and vegetables with it. Last night we had fish fingers, mushy peas (from a tin) and potato wedges. I also had tartare sauce. Tartare sauce is a lot more palatable than virtue, but it doesn’t go well with rice.

Tomorrow I’m planning on fish pie, though I’m still not sure what I’m going to use for a topping. We’ve tried cauliflower mash a few times but it doesn’t settle well. Potatoes are always good, particularly with cheese, but they aren’t necessarily the healthiest option. I’m thinking of sweet potato, but the colour always seems too bright.

I really should try to become more adventurous with my food, though I’m not sure that changing the topping on a fish pie constitutes adventure. I fear that old age may have caught up with me (a) unexpectedly and (b) while I am too young to be old.

And yes, I am hoping that fish’s reputation as a brain food will restore my brain to near Jeevesian levels of intelligence.

Murder, Muttering and Medical Malpractice

There was, to be honest, only one point in the day when I was in danger of becoming over-excited. This was during the phone call from the surgery which told me that the doctor had returned my prescription request as I’d only had a prescription issued on the 7th of this month and it was therefore January before I could have a renewal.

This was a surprise for a number of reasons and I didn’t really do myself justice in arguing my case.

It wasn’t actually the doctor who rang me, and in fact no doctor will be able to speak to me until next Thursday. I pointed out that this would be inconvenient as I only had medication to last until Tuesday, but that was all they could do. I know this because that was the answer they kept repeating to me.

I am therefore officially displeased with being treated like an idiot. Constantly repeating something does not make it either an adequate answer or good customer service.

I am also unhappy because this is the fourth error in three months.

And finally, because of an error on their part I can’t have tablets which I have been prescribed, and which are supposedly necessary for my health.

We have three possibilities here.

One, Julia is part of a complex plot to murder me by messing about with my prescriptions when she takes them to the surgery for me.

Two, my memory problems are more grave than I feared.

Three, the surgery has made an error.

Let’s examine that in more detail.

Means, motive, opportunity. Julia keeps feeding me bacon, sausage, pork pies and chips. No, not as one meal. This isn’t working so she is trying to deprive me of my medication. It’s still an unlikely scenario, though it might make a plot for an American crime drama.

The main problem is motive. After 30 years of marriage I suspect she is either used to me or suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.

All in all, I think we can rule out the complex murder plot theory.

The mental decline theory probably has more legs, though even I might struggle to forget that I’d ordered tablets. I really can’t say one way or the other. Anything, no matter how improbable, is possible.

Finally, the doctor making a mistake. Traditionally, doctors don’t make mistakes. This is partly because they don’t admit it, and partly because, as the old saying goes, they bury their mistakes.

This, unfortunately, leaves only one logical explanation – that I have experienced the biggest senior moment of my life.

Watch this space…