Monthly Archives: Jan 2019

Winter Came

We had a touch of winter this morning. It had been frosty last night so I covered the windscreen and went to bed. It turned out to be a good decision and saved a lot of scraping this morning.

It was about minus 4 degrees Centigrade this morning or minus 7 for Number Two Son when he left work out in the countryside). That’s 25 and 19 for those of you working in Fahrenheit – nippy, but a long way from being a polar vortex. So far, despite the gloomy hysteria of the newspapers, it’s been quite a reasonable winter. It’s often like that – newspapers never like the facts to get in the way of a good story.

It’s the same with our exit from Europe – all all gloom and doom with tales of starvation and shortage. We probably will suffer shortages, but mainly because of panic-buyers, not true shortages. I remember this back in the 1970’s – shortages of bread, sugar and toilet rolls come to mind.

I’m going to buy an extra pack of toilet rolls and some tins of beans and corned beef. That, I expect, will see us through.

Anyway, back to the weather – have a look at the photos. It was a good morning for photographs.

These four show variations in colour as I used the camera to pep up the colour. The enhanced photos aren’t too far from the truth, though the greyer ones are probably closer to the truth.

And here are a couple of birds – one Great Tit flying off as I tried to picture it feeding, and one Blackbird assuming an air of mystery in the frosty grass.

The Scone Chronicles – Number 3

On the way to Peterborough we stopped off at the Barn Garden Centre.

I’ve been there with my sister before, and they are famous for the quality of their scones. They aren’t so famous for the quality of their garden centre, but we’ll ignore that for now.

After a cream tea, and a scone with jam, in previous reviews it was a toss up between a cherry scone or a cheese scone this time, and we decided on cheese. It turned out to be an excellent choice.

Good tea, pots that pour properly and nice light scones with good cheese flavour – a bit of a bite but not overpowering. The only thing that could have made it better was for a robin to hop along the floor picking up crumbs…

Robin in the Garden Centre cafe

Robin in the Garden Centre cafe

Pre-emptive Post

It’s going to be a busy day today so I’m writing a post in the morning to make sure that I get one done today. It’s not quite my Dad’s 90th birthday but we’re having a party today and another one on Saturday. That way we maximise the number of guests without causing any over-excitement. With the average age of the guests, you don’t want anyone getting over-excited. Or having too much sugar.

I won’t be able to go on Saturday but Julia will be going, as will both kids (work permitting).

Snow is forecast, which is worrying my sister as she doesn’t want me driving in dangerous conditions. We don’t handle snow well in general in the UK, but I’ve covered that before. We have an inch or two a year and the country grinds to a halt. We are always caught unprepared and by surprise. Those of you blogging from America, with your eight inches in one day and your own mini snow ploughs, don’t know how lucky you are.

If I win the lottery I’m going to spend the winters somewhere that doesn’t have snow. I’m tempted to spend it somewhere that doesn’t have Christmas either.

Health news is good.

Monday’s blood sample met with approval and my next appointment is now three weeks away. Three whole weeks!

My arthritis has subsided.

Even my face is feeling quite good, though the remaining stitches show no sign of dissolving. This is slightly worrying as I once had stitches that healed into my eyelid. They took some getting out. I’m hoping to avoid a replay of that one.

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Pills. These are bigger and brighter and more photogenic than my normal ones.

I’m off in a minute to collect the balance of my prescriptions. They managed to give me three out of the four items last week and the doctors’ receptionist told me that was because I’d only ordered three.

This clearly isn’t true, but I smiled weakly to indicate that I believed her as there’s no benefit in winning the argument and no point in annoying people by proving them wrong.

I think I’m finally becoming wise…

 

 

Sausage Roll Review and Thoughts on Being a Vegan

On Sunday, Number Two Son emerged from work clutching sausage rolls from Gregg’s. It wasn’t quite the way I’m trying to live my life, but who’s going to look a free sausage roll in the mouth? Or is that a gift horse? I often get the two mixed up. Anyway, my new lifestyle is only a couple of weeks old and you can’t overturn sixty years of dietary abuse just like that.

It was, in the manner of these things, a bit greasy and the meat lacked a bit of texture, but I do like a sausage roll and managed every last crumb without really stretching my capability for absorbing junk food. I’ve had worse.

It turns out they were Gregg’s new vegan sausage rolls.

I hadn’t a clue, and would be happy to give them full marks for snack food.

I now have a list of “accidental” vegan snacks, though I’m not sure that I really want to start eating loads of biscuits and crisps just to save a few animals. If animals don’t want to be eaten, they shouldn’t taste so good.

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Potato & Chickpea Curry

It’s strange to think, though, that in certain respects I’ve been vegan all my life.

Pot Noodles, crisps, Mr Kipling, ginger nuts…

Who’d have thought they could all be vegan.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not going to become a vegan, but I am making changes to my diet, and if I happen to be in Greggs I may well have a vegan sausage roll.

 

A Packed Monday

This morning I dragged myself from bed reluctantly and groaned as I felt the arthritis in my finger. I had, just days before, been wondering if I’d get to spring without more trouble. It seems not. I went down for my blood test. For the second time in three visits I had a learner. She was heavy-handed but accurate and relatively painless.

Because I was late Julia took the bus to work and left me to fill in an hour before going to work. A full breakfast at Sainsbury’s filled the gap.

I then started on parcels. There were fifteen, several of which we had packed on Saturday afternoon and two of which were for collection. Then we had two people in to sell things and things to put on the eBay shop. We also had a lost parcel to deal with. It had been posted by ordinary post and had disappeared. The way eBay works means we have to send the money back and pay 80 pence to PayPal. In the old days we’d have shown the reciept from the post office to prove we’d posted it and told the customer he should have paid the extra for insurance. Experience suggests we’ve been had over, but who can tell?

Finally the lady who wanted two coin sets came in. She was buying them for presents as they represent birth dates. Seeing that we had more, she bought three others and left the shop after we planted the idea of coin collecting in her head.

It was then time for sandwiches, packed by Number Two Son the night before, and a trip to Newark. I caught up with an old friend, which is always good, and treated myself to a Fry’s Peppermint Cream. It’s a long-established chocolate bar – I remember my great-grandmother eating Fry’s.

On the way back I saw a few good sunset pictures, but couldn’t find anywhere safe to park and photograph, so I’ve used adawn shot from last week for this post.

The rooks seem to be gathering at their nest sites, I’ve seen two largish gatherings this week. Looks like spring is coming, though all the weather reports are forecasting cold weather and snow this week.

We had stew for tea. I’d made it last night using up a lot of slightly wrinkled vegetables so we reheated it, Julia made dumplings and I managed to eat my five a day out of the same bowl.

Then Julia produced a bar of Thornton’s dark chocolate with chilli. She didn’t know I’d already had chocolate and I seem to have forgotten to tell her.

That’s about it. On balance it was a good day.

 

 

Skating and Sniggering

I sneaked in a quick post earlier today, pressed the button to publish and went to pick Julia up from work.

We ran a few errands on the way back, did a bit of cookery and sat down to watch a programme featuring overpaid idiots on ice. To my mind it falls between two stools – it’s not elegant enough for me to admire the skating and there aren’t enough falls to make it a comedy.

Those of you with a scatalogical sense of humour can smirk all you want at the use of the word “stools”. I certainly am, because it sums up the quality of the show so well.

When we got back, I checked in with WP and found I hadn’t actually loaded the post.

So this sketchy post will have to stand in for the previous one, and will satisfy my requirement for a post a day.

A Different World (Part 2)

I had one more good medal to put on eBay today, which took some doing, as we had parcels to do and a queue of customers to serve. This is how it should be – we’ve missed the customers over the last few months.

This medal commemorates the life of Frederick, Duke of York, second son of George III, commander-in-chief of the British Army and the subject of the nursery rhyme “The Grand Old Duke of York”.

He wasn’t well regarded as a general, after some early setbacks in his career, but ended up reorganising the army into the force that Wellington used to defeat the French.

Frederick, Duke of York, reverse

Frederick, Duke of York, reverse

If you are interested, you can read the link.

However, you might like to have a look at this picture.

Portrait of Frederick, Duke of York - Lawrence 1816.jpg

Frederick, Duke of York

He’s not going to win any beauty contests, is he?

However, there is another reason for including it – it’s by Sir Thomas Lawrence. You may remember him from yesterday, though it really doesn’t matter if you don’t.

 

He was 63 when he died, which is only three years older than me. I’ve noticed a distressing tendency amongst people to be not much older than me when they die. On Radio 4’s Last Word the average age was 75, which is good, but could be better.

I’m about the age that my Mum was when we had to stop her reading obituaries and making similar calculations. I might have to stop listening to Radio 4 on Fridays.

A Different World

Today I entered the world of Shakesperean actors, literary London and Dracula. The item that took me there was a commemorative medal bearing a portrait of Sir Henry Irving – out first theatrical knight. The medal is dated 1891 – he still had four years to go before his knighthood.

He was famous for The Bells, in addition to his Shakesperean roles, and for reputedly being the model for Count Dracula. When you look at some of his pictures you can see why.

These days he is probably as famous for having Bram Stoker as his assistant, as he is for being a great actor. Stoker worked for him for 27 years and in that time they were both to dine at the White House and rub shoulders with the rich and famous.

 

 

The medal, as you can see, has had a hard life and someone has put a hole through it. They used to do that and wear them from ribbons round their necks.

Next, we have a medal to Sir Thomas Lawrence, a fashionable, somewhat raffish painter who died at the age of 60 in 1830. He had been President of the Royal Academy for 10 years at the time of his death. I have plundered Wikipedia for two of his more famous paintings.

 

 

The medallist is the wonderfully named Scipio Clint. I don’t know why he had such a distinctive name, as his father was George and his brother Alfred. He used designs by two well-known sculptors, one being E H Baily, designer of the Nelson statue that stands on the column in Trafalgar Square.

 

Finally we have Sir Isaac Newton, in the form of a medal by John Croker commemorating the death of Newton in 1727.

Newton is an interesting man – a framer of great scientific principles, alchemist, heretic,  reputed inventor of the cat flap and Master of the Mint. In the last job he was responsible for the Great Recoinage of 1696.

During the recoinage he was greatly helped by John Croker, which suggests that the depiction of Newton on the medal is probably accurate, even if it is not flattering.

All three of the medallions have seen better days, but they are all great pieces of history. There is something very calming about working with things of this age, which is more than you can say about decimal coins.

After the Lord Mayor’s Show…

…comes the dust cart. That is one of the versions, anyway. There are others.

I’ve been having a good time recently, with a good selection of medallions for eBay and some interesting history to learn.

It all came to an end today when we found several hundred coin sets shoved at the back of a cupboard. They are the sort that come in card inserts inside plastic cases. Over the years the cases have been damaged and the coins they contain don’t seem very popular. The answer is to take the coins out and put the empty cards on eBay.

They sell well.

In fact they sell so well that one of the cards I put on today has sold already.

That is some recompense for the boredom of the day, and for the coughing and sneezing as I sorted the dusty cases.

I would add some photos but I seem to have left my camera plugged into the computer at work.

You’ll have to have a few photos from Clumber Park instead.

Walking in Clumber Park

Walking in Clumber Park

 

And finally – more ducks.

More on Scones

This is Number Two in the series about Scone Consumption.

Julia’s brother and sister-in-law were up visiting their grandson. That’s my great-nephew. Obviously it’s a bit too soon to make a judgement but he’s shaping up nicely – decent chunky build and a tendency to eat anything left in range. I’m sixty years older than he is but we clearly share the same attitude to food.

I limited myself to a scone and jam, as we met in John Lewis. It’s convenient, but there is a tendency to need a mortgage if you get too adventurous with the menu. Plus I really don’t need the fat or the calories.

I used to shop there regularly but they aren’t really my sort of shop these days. Too old-fashioned, too drab, wrong size profile and, let’s face it, too expensive. I once asked a question about the lack of large sizes via one of their employees and the General Manager’s (uncensored) reply  was that they didn’t cater for freaks.

What with that and the store detective following me round one day and muttering “watch this one” to a member of the management team, I decided not to bother shopping there again. I’ve not missed it.

However, back to scones and jam. The scones were OK, though nothing special. The jam was OK too, made in Tiptree in Essex – well known for its jam, though still mass produced. Ditto for the coffee. I had an Americano, which is what used to be called “a coffee” in the days before coffee became pretentious. I checked it up on Wiki and they, being Wiki, have quite a bit on the subject. I’d have been happy with a nice instant coffee.

I’ve provided a link to Tiptree as I like Tiptree. I haven’t provided links to John Lewis or Americano as I don’t want to encourage them.

That’s about it – not much about scones but some days are like that.

Scones and Jam - John Lewis

Scones and Jam – John Lewis