Monthly Archives: Apr 2018

An eBay Sort of Day

We ended up sending 14 parcels this morning, which took a bit of application. We posted one to Canada, one to France, one to Italy and one to Portugal. Who would have thought I’d end up as a packer of International Parcels?

The tests I did at school indicated outdoor jobs like farming and being a gamekeeper. Now I work in the windowless backroom of a shop.

The twists and turns of my life have been mighty strange.

I’m thinking about becoming a writer next, with a book about a man who is haunted by the ghosts of his youthful dreams. At the moment I’m trying to work out a way of introducing an Egyptian mummy into the plot. You can’t sell human remains on eBay so that’s a non-starter. I’ll have to check the rules on Amazon…

In the afternoon I took Julia to Beeston – the one on the edge of Nottingham rather than the one in Cheshire – to buy a copy of Medal News. The shop has been mentioned, with picture. I bought the last copy in W H Smiths, took it home triumphantly and found I’ve bought the old issue. It seems that although the subscribers have had their copies, and have been getting in touch with us (mainly to tell me I’ve put weight on) the newsagents are still flogging the April issue. Ah well.

Today’s picture is a rather battered Staffordshire County Ambulance Service Badge. That sort of non-numismatic item gets passed on to me. It made £20 on eBay, which was a surprise – I knew it was a good badge but I thought the damage would hold it back, and we posted it off this morning. That’s the magic of eBay – you don’t need to know much to make money.

A New Week, But Old Weather

After a night of strong wind the low temperature and the cold weather are back. It’s hard to remember such a depressing Spring. In fact I’m not sure there has ever been such a depressing Spring.

This week I’m going to try for daily posting again. I’m going to make a start by posting this simple complaint about the weather.

The year is now one third of the way through and we’ve had about a week of decent weather.

I’ve made very little progress on decluttering and the well-regarded decluttering book I bought has been absorbed into a pile of books and can no longer be seen. It lacked pace and plot and was generally a bit dull, to be honest, which is why I’d rather read detective fiction and let the house fill with clutter.

I may start decluttering again if I can find a book about a woman who kills her husband because of his untidy habits. Or vice versa.

Breakfast was two sausages that I cooked last night and put to one side. The paprika was an unexpected extra. I was too lazy to fry eggs and mushrooms.

After breakfast, washing up and answering overnight comments on the blog it is now time to set off for the shop.

We have 15 items to pack and send off, including three which were only put up for sale on Saturday. The Budgerigar society badge sold for £6.50. This gives me an excuse to use the photograph again.

 

 

Third Post of the Day

Well, I wrote one post, then I wrote another. At that point I decided I needed a third post to link to the previous two. Really I ought to write a sequel to parts one and two of the burger story, but that can wait until tomorrow. My life is so crammed with trivia that it’s hard to fit it all in.

I notice that the clock is nearing midnight, and if I don’t post soon the title will be incorrect.

We were going to have fish pie and roasted ratatouille tonight but it was so cold I changed that to sausages and roasted root veg with cumin and paprika. We put the heating back on on Friday night, which is something we don’t normally do. I also don’t normally need to use successive “ons” in a sentence. It’s always good to do something new.

Whilst seasoning the veg I made two discoveries.

One, the new pot of smoked Spanish paprika is considerably hotter than the old one.

Two, in a kitchen, in the twilight, with aging eyes, cinnamon and cumin don’t look all that different when you are reading spice jar labels. I will put the light on next time.

For desert we had fig rolls and Battenberg cake. Must do better with planning my menus.

The lack of photos may show you how little progress I am making towards my targets in food photography.

 

Catching Up

I got home last night to find two letters. One was from South Yorkshire Constabulary telling me that I am to have penalty points and a fine for my speeding offence, so I don’t know why they even bothered to mention the safe driving course in their original letter.

I’m extremely annoyed with myself, as I’ve been up and down that stretch of road hundreds of times with no problem. I’ve travelled hundreds of thousands of miles for business and, except for a bit of bother in 1977, I’ve had a clean driving record. A moment’s lack of attention and it’s cost me £100, three points and, no doubt, hassle with the insurance company.

I may well have to write to the Chief Constable and express my disappointment at not being allowed to go on the course.

After opening that letter I opened one from my bank. They say they haven’t heard from me and will start to restrict my access to my money if I don’t contact them to renew my contact details.

So, I rang, and it’s possible I was a little brusque. The original person who took my call palmed me off on somebody else who clearly didn’t want to hear from me, didn’t know what was going on and was happy to confirm that after a telephone call I’d made last month had provided all the information currently being demanded. I may have to issue a sharp rebuke to head office.

Of course, I never actually get round to writing any of these letters…

Finally, we went to visit Julia’s niece in hospital. She has just had a baby and I am now a great-uncle. This is a description of our relationship, not the quality of my uncleship, as I’m a very mediocre uncle at best.

At least the day ended on a high. Babies are very uplifting, particularly when you can give them back and go home.

Today’s photograph is from our Wednesday visit to Carsington Water, which I still need to write about, so the title of his post might be a trifle optimistic.

Two Hours

I returned home after dropping Julia off at work and noted the time – 6.09. As I type this line it is 8.02 and I have just finished part of my catching up with WP. I have read and replied to all the people who posted comments over the last few days and made reciprocal visits to the first few on the list. I’m hoping to visit more by the end of the day but I thought I’d post now as “Two Hours” seemed a reasonable title, I’m also finding that if I leave it until the end of the day I find more work to do, or fall asleep in front of the TV, and end up not posting.

It’s 8.06 now. Am I really only writing a line a minute?

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Budgerigar Society badge

The photograph is a Budgerigar Society badge. It dates from 1930 – 1950s. In 1930 they changed from the Budgerigar Club to Budgerigar Society. On the back it has a fitting to go through the buttonhole in the lapel of a man’s jacket. This sort of fitting died out in the 50s as clothing became more casual and pins became the norm. It’s currently on our eBay site with a bid of 99 pence.

When I was 16 I dreamed of working for Spinks. In my 20s I wanted to be rich and successful.

Today I’m happy to have a job that pays me to write about Budgerigar Society badges.

Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair! as Mr Shelley said.

It’s 8.20 now – where does the day go?

 

A Tale of Two Burgers (2)

On Wednesday, we took a tour of Derbyshire and, needing toilets, we stopped at the Brierlow Bar bookshop. The car park was more crowded than usual, so we deduced that the plan of converting from bookshop to cafe was working.

You can’t begrudge someone maximising their earnings, but it’s depressing to think of all this being done at the expense of the book stock.

The cake was good (we had a very nice, moist blueberry and lemon sponge), the tea was excellent but, and I am trying to suppress a smile here, standards are slipping.

Despite several members of staff bustling about, they were so slow serving that we had to eat very slowly to avoid finishing the cake before the tea arrived. As we ate and drank tea the staff then decided to talk of their urgent need for the toilet (it seems too many customers were using it). This isn’t going to spoil my appetite, but it may be upsetting for the less hardy type of customer.

The real killer moment came when a staff member with a paint pot walked behind the counter and added water to the paint from the kitchen sink. I know they like you to have one sink for hand washing and one for washing up, and, if possible, a third for vegetable preparation, but I’m not sure about paint dilution. It doesn’t contain pathogens so environmental health may not have an issue with it. On the other hand it doesn’t look very professional.

Use the outside tap, use the tap in the toilets or ask one of the kitchen staff to pass you a jug of water. Do not, if you value your reputation, walk behind the counter with a paint pot.

Even worse, in my eyes, was the fact that the tea strainer they gave us had not been washed properly. A couple of left-over tea leaves won’t kill you, but it does make you wonder what other hygiene corners are being cut.

At least I can report that the book stock seems not to have been pruned since our last visit and though some sections are still struggling the crime novels, cookery books and aviation sections seem to be improving.

I’ll leave it there, as I’m starting to remember the book stock we lost.

It looks like Part 3 will contain news of my second burger of the week.

 

Roasted Ratatouille

I’ll carry on the burger post later. I thought I’d better do something that involves a photograph for the moment.

The photograph is Sausages with Roasted Ratatouille. It’s not quite the same as the recipe photograph that I had. My vegetables never seem to cook as attractively as the ones in recipe pictures. It also didn’t help that I forgot to buy peppers and couldn’t get the right sausages. And they said red onions but I could only get the small size in brown. That probably made a difference too.

Despite this it didn’t turn out too badly in the end, and with a bit of rearrangement three floppy mini peppers from the back of the salad drawer put up quite a decent show.

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Roasted Ratatouille

I was quite pleased with the way it worked out and it had a good flavour thanks to three cloves of wrinkly garlic (you could probably use ordinary garlic but I always leave mine hanging round for a few weeks to mature) and a couple of sprigs of rosemary from the garden.

As long as I can use my own rosemary I can pretend I’m a proper cook.

The other good thing about this dish is that I’m never in a hurry to eat vegetables so I remembered to take the photograph. I’m also not embarrassed about taking pictures of my food like I am when I’m in public. (See comments from beatingthebounds in the previous post about this.)

 

 

 

A Tale of Two Burgers

On Monday, after working half a day, I took Julia to lunch at Harvester. That’s the sort of man I am – tight, unromantic and practical. You get free salad at Harvester, which appeals to my frugal side, and allows me to pretend I’m being healthy.

Julia had the Spicy Sea Bass with Prawns, which looked as good as it sounded. Unfortunately it’s fish and as such it’s just nicely presented cotton wool with overtones of slime and bones. As you may guess, I’m not a fish fan, unless it’s in a nice crispy batter or neatly sliced into finger-sized pieces.

Despite my views, she enjoyed it and tells me it was delicious, well-cooked and full of flavour.

I had the classic burger. They refer to it as a “craft” burger. I’m not sure why, because it’s just a burger. It looks like “craft” has migrated from craftsmen, to craft beers to relatively ordinary food. What next, craft sandwiches? To add to the weight of marketing verbiage, the “craft” burger is served in a toasted brioche bun.

I’m not greatly in favour of toasted brioche buns. I don’t really like the shiny brown look of them and though they are better than the normal flaccid “burger bun” with quick release sesame seeds I don’t think they’re much to brag about.

Add a dryish burger and though it was good it wasn’t quite as good as the hype and I was reminded of my old school reports – “could do better”.

Part 2 follows later.

(And yes, it would be good to have a photo, but I forgot. Sorry.)

The Bits in Between

I’ve often wondered what happens to people in between the bits they write about in their blogs.

I’m assuming, like me, that people only write about the best, most interesting and positive bits of their lives. So today I’m going to write about all the bits in between – the bits that make me appear lazy, small-minded and xenophobic. This might be news to those of you who already see me as lazy, small-minded and xenophobic, but there are, I promise, further depths to explore.

This morning, for instance, whilst eating a piece of toast and marmalade Julia had made me I pondered the question of whether or not she does it on purpose. She knows I’m trying to cut down on carbs and sugar, and that I’m life-threateningly obese. I’m not sure whether she’s merely absent-minded or whether the toast and marmalade is part of a cunning long-term plan to kill me.

That’s why I watch a lot of crime dramas, it’s research for foolproof ways to murder your spouse. I’m not sure why Julia watches them, but I have my suspicions.

There is an alternative, but that involves getting up earlier and making my own breakfast.

While I was eating the potentially fatal dose of calories I watched TV and muttered about European politics. Just before the EU referendum I was broadly in favour of Europe, but since the vote, with all the posturing of the negotiators, I’ve moved to a position where I’m not.

This mirrors the experience of two of my uncles who had trouble getting out of Europe in the summer of 1940.

Anyway, enough of my growing anti-European bigotry.

After dropping Julia off at work I shouted abuse at a couple of drivers and went back to sleep. I woke up and went back to sleep again. And again. Finally, feeling sluggish, and having wasted an entire morning, I got up.

The launderette was deserted. I’ve stopped going early in the morning as it always seems to be crammed with people trying to avoid the rush. The machine was faulty again and I disobeyed the instruction taped to it by changing programmes mid-wash. This seemed to work and it started washing again.

When I went to the supermarket it all went well until it came time to pay. I had my cards out ready to claim my points and pay when the till operator was asked to help with a problem at the till next door. I don’t know about you, but if it had been me I’d have completed my own sale before doing something else.

I smiled through it, despite being late for picking Julia up from work, even when the machine messed up my contactless payment three times. I find that smiling and being pleasant is character forming, and is good practice for dealing with customers in the shop.

This evening, armed with a list of jobs I’d written in the launderette, I made a start on turning my life round with efficiency.

I’ve done one of them, which was to load eight items onto eBay. I prepared them yesterday at work but put them on tonight as Sunday night is supposedly the night where people pay the most.

Sadly, that’s the only one of eleven items that I’ve done. The fault is obviously with the list, rather than me. If I’d listed Go to the chip shop, Watch crap TV and Potter about on the internet I’d have been able to tick four jobs off instead of just one.

Part of my pottering involved looking at the site 32 Inspirational Sunday Quotes, but by the time I’d reached Number 19 the forced jollity was inspiring me to kick a puppy. This was probably not what they were meaning to do.

With that thought, I will leave you.

 

Struggling for Words

Oh dear, what should I talk about?

Julia has put an end to talk of funerals for the moment. She thinks it’s morbid.

She’s also put an end to posts about how she bosses me around. That is tricky, because if I do what she tells me I sort of prove my point. And if I don’t do what she says I might have to develop early-rising habits and cook my own breakfast.

I also don’t want to talk about work too much, as I admit that many people will find it less than fascinating. Not everyone is blessed with my capacity for loving ancient rubbish.

Nor will everyone be fascinated to hear how we reset the credit card machine after it stopped working.

Nor will the news that we’ve increased the stock of our on-line shop by 10% this week be greeted with much more than the thought of raising an eyebrow.

We have been shown some interesting things this week – including a George Medal that required a new ribbon, a medieval lead token someone found whilst digging the garden and a box of World War Two medals which included King Haakon VII’s Freedom Medal. I would have liked to have known the story behind the last one, but they didn’t even know which member of the family they had belonged to. Needless to say, as soon as I showed interest they decided to keep them.

The big news is that the shillings are all done. On Monday they will be delivered and, hopefully, out of my life forever. The same goes for the 1,000 crowns we’re also sending. However, don’t worry, we’ve already bought more. It seems like everyone who comes in has cupro-nickel crowns.

Shillings of Elizabeth II - English and Scottish varieties

Shillings of Elizabeth II – English and Scottish varieties

I have some. I bought them in 1968 after reading about how they would be a good investment. My Mum got them from the bank for me – four at face value of five shillings each. (This was before we went decimal and they became worth 25 pence). They are still worth that. Allowing for inflation this is a bit of a disaster.

Things could be, as I often say, worse. There’s a website you can use for selling things and they offer 19 pence each. I won’t send you a link as I don’t want to encourage them.

There would be more photographs but for the last few days I’ve been having trouble with my media contents – scroll down a few weeks looking for a suitable library shot and the whole thing freezes, making me shut down to get going again.

Looks like I may have to email WordPress.

It rained this afternoon. I’m hoping this isn’t a sign that summer is over.

We also had to evict another wasp queen. That is two in the last three days. Opinion in the shop is divided between gently showing them the door and killing them. At the moment I’m with Eddie on gently showing them the door. However, I’m wondering if I might change my mind shortly as the suspicion of a wasp invasion builds up.

As lives go, this is not cutting edge…