Monthly Archives: August 2018

An Expensive Mistake

This is probably the best example you could have of how out of step I feel with modern life. Apologies is you are becoming tired of my view on this subject, but I have to blog or burst.

On Monday afternoon we went to the new East Bridgford Garden Centre. A perfectly good local garden centre has been taken over, new buildings erected, a massive car park built and a slice of retail Hell has been grafted onto the Nottinghamshire countryside.

I’m sure, from the crowd of people, that it will be popular, and that it fills a need in the lives of many people. This need isn’t necessarily for plants as most people seem to have left without visible purchases. It is also providing a lot of jobs, though they are mainly, it seems, for teenagers. Older people, as in people in their thirties, don’t seem to have much of a place here.

We didn’t see any of the staff who used to work at he old centre and Max the Parrot has gone too. It appears that he went to live elsewhere during the building work and liked it so much that he decided to stay.

A likely story. I think he was handed his P45 as part of the move from Garden Centre to slick corporate retail outlet.

Anyway, back to the fish and chips. They were a familiar and, we thought, safe, choice in a rather confusing cafe.

They gave us a “locator” for the table – a high tech version of a number on a stick. The tea arrived, just ahead of the meal. My thoughts were that the tea could have been a bit quicker and the main meal was available quicker than I was expecting.

The staff were quick, efficient and cheerful and the locator seemed to work well.

And that was as good as it got.

The fish portion was small. The chips were large, though not numerous. The tartare sauce came in a cheap paper cup, the watercress garnish was a bit of an afterthought. And the peas…

For £10.95 you expect a goodly dollop. What we got was a smear. Julia’s photograph exaggerates the size of the portion. I wasn’t sure whether it was the promised pea and mint puree or just a leftover from a poor attempt at washing up.

Fish and Chips East Bridgford

Undoubtedly the worst fish I’ve had for years

The good news was that the sauce was tangy, the caramelised lemon was juicy, the chips were well cooked and the pea and mint puree was delicious, even if it was brief.

Bad news – the fish was the worst I’d had in thirty years.

It was small, thin and had a pasty consistency with only a few discernible flakes. Mainly it was tasteless, and in parts was so bland as to be unpleasant, which probably explained why there was salt on the plate when the meal arrived – an attempt to introduce flavour.

It took me back to market day in Uttoxeter thirty years ago. I had fish and chips in a cafe – the fish was thin, bland and, as I got to the centre, still frozen.

I really don’t know what to say. It wasn’t good value from the quantity point of view, and it was inexcusably poor from the quality point of view.

Surroundings were clean and bright, staff were great but the food is the important bit, and it was dreadful.

It’s very unlikely we’ll be going back.

 

M32 – a longer journey than I intended

I’ve just added some extra information to the Bolton post, as Derrick Knight provided some insight into his Bolton Marathon experiences. I knew, from reading his posts, that he’d done a lot of running, but hadn’t realised it took him so far north.

I’m now moving on to M32, KT18, BR6 and ME8. I’m going to have to get a move on as we’ve had a busy few days and am accumulating postcodes faster than I’m finding facts.

M32 is part of the Manchester postcode area, one of the few that have a single letter.

A lazy search for M32 brings up Messier 32, also known as M32 or NGC 221. It is a dwarf “early-type” galaxy and is around 2.65 million light-years from Earth. It’s in the constellation Andromeda and was discovered in 1749 by Guillaume Le Gentil.

He has an amazing life story and, to be honest, knew more about astronomy than I will ever know, despite me having 269 extra years to learn it.

However, as he didn’t do any of this in Manchester, it isn’t relevant.

The next reference is to a motorway near Bristol – 4.4 miles long, and one of our shortest. It’s also a catamaran and some sort of audio equipment.

M32 Manchester works better as a search. It’s Stretford, a town that has many things to recommend it – a record-breaking art exhibition, a successful football team, a Jacobite skirmish and the first planned industrial estate in the world. My favourite fact isn’t even that it was nicknamed “Porkhampton” in the 19th Century due to it’s production of pork (up to a thousand pigs a week) and black pudding. I’m fond of pork…

Actually, that probably is my favourite fact, though it is run close by the fact that it used to be such a centre of rhubarb production that rhubarb was known locally as “Stretford Beef”. I like rhubarb too.

KT18 is easier. It’s Epsom in the Kingston on Thames postcode area. If you aren’t into horse racing there’s not much of interest round here. We stayed at a hotel on the racecourse a couple of years back. The breakfast was excellent and we saw parakeets over Leatherhead Crematorium.

BR6 is Bromley postcode, and just a couple of areas east of KT. BR6 covers Orpington, which is famous as the town where the Buff Orpington chicken was bred, along with the lesser known Black Orpington and Buff Orpington Ducks. Despite strong opposition from the poultry I’m going to have to nominate the Orpington Car as the interesting fact.

It was built between 1920 and 1925 and nobody has seen one since a, possibly unreliable, sighting in Crossroads during the 1970s. Somewhere in a dusty barn the last of the line may be lurking.

ME8 will be dealt with in due course…

Another Day, Another Parcel…

Subtitle: Postcodes (3)

NE6 is in the area between Newcastle and Wallsend. The former is known for a number of things, and the latter for being the end of Hadrian’s Wall.

The bit in between contains Byker, which is a well-known suburb and titular home of Byker Grove. The programme, in the manner of these things, was not made in Byker, but Benwell,a different suburb of Newcastle, and a different postcode – NE2. Oh, the magic of showbiz!

QLD 4209, being in Australia is, you would hope, a bit more exotic than the north-east of England. Reference to Google shows it to have a dual-carriageway and a cycle lane. They have wheelie bins by the roadside. And bungalows.

To be honest, I’d been hoping for something a bit more exotic – a dirt road maybe, and a shack.

The fact for the area is that it contains a town called Pimpama, which used to be a notable centre for the production of arrowroot. If they had “marketing” and focus groups in the nineteenth century they would, I suspect, have chosen a different name.

It’s next to the city of Gold Coast. You learn something every day, and today I’ve learnt that Gold Coast is a city. I’d always thought it was a description of the coast. To complete this segment, and take us back to Newcastle, Gold Coast became the sixth largest city in Australia in 2007,  overtaking Newcastle, New South Wales.

NR29 is a Norfolk postcode, containing broads, marshes and some coastline. It’s only a couple of miles away from the Travelodge at Acle where we stayed for part of our recent trip.

The village of Rollesby is roughly in the centre of the area and has a rare round-tower church.

It may be my age, but I am more interested in churches with round towers than I am with the history of arrowroot in Australia.

Next: M32, KT18, BR6 and ME8.

 

Postcodes (2)

Carrying on from the last post, BL5 is Bolton. It has a bit of history, including the Civil War massacre, a Chartist riot and a Zeppelin Raid (this, I believe, is the Zeppelin my grandmother saw as a girl). However, it’s the Devil’s Highway that gets my vote. It’s called this because it’s numbered the A666. It’s a dual carriageway linking the M60/M61 motorway to Blackburn, but the A666 sounds more interesting. I have used it, and can reveal that it wasn’t terribly diabolic. No fire, no brimstone and no seals.

Seals, you ask. Yes, according to my reading of the Bible there were seals involved, though I’m told they were probably of the wax variety, rather than cheery circus animals with balls balanced on their noses. My question regarding this, is whether the heat of hell would melt wax. If it would, then maybe my theory on circus animals could be correct, and the Book of Revelation becomes a very different thing.

If, of course, you subscribe to 616 being the Number of the Beast then this speculation becomes pointless. And the road between Newark and Huddersfield becomes a bit more sinister…

Additional Information: I’ve just been told that Bolton is famous for another reason – the Bolton Marathon. I know this because Derrick Knight tells me he ran it three times. The finish, it seems, is uphill and at the end of a thoroughfare known as Plodder Lane. (I checked – it does exist!)

My next set of postcodes are NE6, QLD 4209, NR29, M32, KT18, BR6 and ME8.

However, it’s time to eat now so that will have to wait for next time.

Post Code Posts

I’m currently reading Mail Obsession: A Journey Round Britain by Postcode by Mark Mason. It will be reviewed in due course. First I have to finish it, then it has to come to the front of the queue. I have a copy, so I could have photographed it, but I’ve lifted it off Amazon because I’m lazy.

Mail Obsession: A Journey Round Britain by Postcode

 

This gave me an idea.

I’m already ticking piers off the list, and am committed to writing about it, but I need something else to do in the gaps. Something that helps me practice writing but doesn’t involve me in travel, as I don’t currently have the time or the money.

So, instead of travelling round Britain by postcode, I’m going to write posts based on the parcels I’ve addressed. It will be a bit hit or miss, as  it depends on how many orders we get, who packs them and how fast I go.

It’s not very adventurous, but if I want a life of adventure I’ll buy a bike and cycle to work round the Ring Road.

Today we start with GU 22, BS 20 and BL 5.

The town giving its name to the GU code is Guildford, and GU 22 is Woking. I’m sure I’ve been there in the past but a lot of those Southern places look the same to me. Woking is claimed to be the site of the oldest purpose built mosque in the UK (1879), and the oldest purpose built crematorium .

Apparently 13 holders of the Victoria Cross have been cremated here. And a horse. They burned the horse for practice in 1879 then waited for cremation to be declared legal in 1884. It seems a strange business model – building a specialist facility for something that isn’t legal.

BS 20 is next. BS is Bristol, and number 20 is specifically Portishead, North Somerset. I started to take an interest when I saw a reference to Portishead Pier, but it appears just to have been a working steamer pier. That’s a useful thing, but not as interesting as a pier with chips and amusements.

Time to get No 2 son to work now, so must shoot off.

Football, a Spider and an Educational Parcel

We didn’t have much to do in the way of packing parcels this morning, or much activity from customers, so I was able to continue with the soul-crushing task of compiling a drop-down menu of Topical Times football cards for the eBay shop.

They aren’t like normal cards, which had to fit in a cigarette packet or pack of gum, these were given away with a magazine. The ones I did this morning are the miniature size – as wide as a cigarette card but about twice as high. This makes them difficult to photograph efficiently as they need cropping whichever way you do them. They are also in black and white, which makes them look very similar – I’m used to a world where football shirts come in different colours, not just black, white and grey.

Having said that, they had better names in 1938.

James Argue - Chelsea FC

James Argue – Chelsea FC

 

Sam Barkas - four of his brothers were also professional footballers, as was his cousin Billy Felton

Sam Barkas  – Manchester City

There were five Barkas brothers, all professional footballers. Sam and his cousin Tommy Felton both played for England.

We were lucky during the week when a lady rang up with a few things to sell – I checked if she had anything else and was able to buy some WW2 propaganda leaflets and wartime maps. They had belonged to her late father. but she was (quite rightly) keeping his DFC and other medals. More of this later.

Towards the end of the afternoon we had a number of sales, which we packed ready for Monday morning.

I scanned some of the propaganda leaflets ready for auction next week. This, though tatty, is probably the best of the lot – a magnificently evil Nazi spider with Hitler’s face.

WW2 propaganda leaflet

WW2 propaganda leaflet

My Greek was weak in the 1970s when I actually made a serious effort. It’s worse now.

I’m still good at sticking stamps on envelopes though, as you can see here.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

£3.95 – absolute bargain!

History, nature, Christmas, royalty – it’s not an envelope, it’s an education. The Winston Churchill stamp provides balance to the Nazi spider.

Recycled Milk Containers

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It started off with milk containers, paint and a pallet. To be fair, paint and pallets are at the bottom of most of Julia’s projects.

I went to the Mencap garden with Julia last Friday to photograph her latest project.

Obtain some milk containers, making sure they are the same size, as this makes things easier. Cut the bottoms off, paint them and mount them upside down in a pallet (a batten through the handles helps), fill with potting compost and plant things in them.

Then make sure you keep them watered.We also had tea and biscuits. I like Fig Rolls: they remind me of visiting ancient aunts when I was a youngster. Some of them were fearsome, but the Fig Rolls generally made up for it. Time, as always, lends enchantment to the view, and I remember the biscuits more than the feeling of being found too frivolous.

They were, of course, of the generation that thought I’d look better up a chimney, though to be fair to them they had left school around the age of twelve and, mostly, worked in cotton mills all their lives. They tended not to marry, as the supply of husbands had been seriously depleted in the years between 1914 and 1918.

What with the Great War, the Great Depression, the death of the cotton industry and the Second World War, they didn’t have an easy time of it.

It’s made quite a good planter now it’s finished, though I expect to be asked about automatic watering systems next.