Monthly Archives: Jun 2019

Starting with Teeth…

The good news is that I have no more dental work for a while. Having spent the last two weeks with a temporary cap I’m now pleased to record that I’ve just had my new crowns fitted.

I have kept the old ones, because one is gold. I’m thinking, as with the previous one that I kept, that they will be useful if the world banking system collapses. I’m also wondering about the idea of melting them down and using them to make a piece of jewellery for Julia.

Dental gold, I’m told, is about 60% pure, which makes it close to 15 carat gold. This was a standard used by the Victorians and I’ve always liked it. This probably seems strange, but there are some nice items made in 15 carat. It went out of use in 1932. Unfortunately, it’s quite close to 14 carat gold, a tawdry American standard that has been popularised in the UK by TV shopping channels. They have also popularised chocolate diamonds. Brown jewellery, whatever next?

And here is another place where American and English diverge as languages. We have the word carat, which describes the weight of a diamond and the fineness of gold. In America they have carat for the weight of diamonds and karat for the fineness of gold. It is both an example of American logic and the capacity of the English language for absorbing ambiguity.

You only need to think of a metal cleaning solution made in Eastern Europe. That would be Polish polish, and I’m sure most of you instinctively read it as that.

Further to the story of the skip – Julia finally tracked the company down and on being told that they couldn’t do anything, informed them in steely tones that she was sure they could.

They could, she said, either provide us with a skip or refund us for the one they had taken away early.

They are sending us a new skip tomorrow.

Then I left the AA. That for American readers, is like the AAA, but not based in America. My breakdown cover was due to cost me £312. I looked at it and decided I can’t afford it. So I looked at reducing cover, and got it to £171.

At that point I turned to the internet. I could, if I was joining the AA for the first time, get the reduced cover for £25 less. I’ve had this argument with them before and, after 38 years of continuous membership, it finally annoyed me so much I decided to do something about it.

I now have breakdown cover with Green Flag. It has cost me £58 and offers, on paper, the all the important elements of the AA cover.

Of course, I’ll only know if I’ve done the right thing when I’m stranded on a dark road in the middle of a rainy winter night. That’s what always worries me when changing insurance, have I done the right thing or have I sacrificed security for a few quid?

Featured image is a Razorbill. I was just wondering about sticking some lipstick on it and calling it a Puffin.

 

Has It Really Been So Long?

We’ve been back to Bempton Cliffs. It was busy, it was full of people with dogs and there were quite a lot of Puffins about.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Puffins at Bempton Cliffs

I like Puffins.

I’m not so keen on crowds.

And I think that dog owners should have to pass a test before being allowed out in public. I had to wait at the entrance to the visitor centre as two pairs of dogs  faced off. I’ve been forced off paths and tripped several times too.

Anyway, here are some photos.

Sunday…

Apart from the fact that it was Father’s Day, yesterday followed the same format as most Sundays. Started with laundry, then off to the garage to fuel the car and watch a lady hoovering her car. After I watched her hoovering I was able to watch her inflating her tyres, including the spare. After that I was able to do my own tyres.

The design of the bay could do with some improvement, like having the air-line accessible while the hoover is in use.

After being beaten by my Dad and wife at Snakes and Ladders, my sister proceeded to win three of the five games of dominoes. Dad won just one and Julia took the other.

By a process of elimination I’m sure you can see who didn’t win anything. Not that it bothers me, I’m used to be being beaten by an elderly man with dementia, a sister who claims she’s trying to let Dad win, and my wife.  It’s our 30th wedding anniversary this year and I’m fully resigned to life under the thumb.

I did get messages from the kids for Father’s Day, though this was probably due to Julia reminding them, rather than any actual filial feelings.

Number One son has taken up bird watching again, and is enjoying the birding in New Zealand. Number Two son, despite hating the hotel job when doing it in the UK, has taken to hotel work in Canada and is enjoying life in Toronto. This isn’t setting the bar particularly high; he’d enjoy life anywhere that showed sport on TV in a bar.

And that, in brief, was Sunday.

After returning home we had the remains of the vegetable curry from Saturday, watched Gentleman Jack, which has a story line that moves so slowly that glaciers look sprightly by comparison, browsed eBay and fell asleep in the chair.

How different from the evenings of fine food and witty conversation I used to imagine for myself in middle-age…

Fortunately, I have WordPress for that.

Thoughts about Water

It’s been wet for several days and there has been standing water on the roads. It’s been drier today and things are getting back to normal. This is a relief as my joints have been a bit creaky and I’m wondering if this is caused by the damp.

In many ways it is more like November than June. I remember a summer like this before. I must have been about twelve at the time and the mental picture of me staring out of a window at rain for an entire summer holiday is still with me. It has haunted me for years. The sense of loss, and being cheated out of six weeks of holiday, must have been really strong for me still to remember it so clearly.

Apart from that there is little I can think of to write about. Rain is not a terribly interesting subject, though if, due to the magic of WordPress, you are reading this in the middle of a drought, I can only apologise for my insensitivity.

I tend to stay off politics and other contentious subjects, as I don’t want to offend people, but I’ve only just thought of water in this context. It’s obvious really, when you think that the next series of World Wars, if we escape annihilation over religion, is likely to be over water. I have read that the Nile is likely to be a source of problems, and that the Portuguese are concerned with the way the Spanish are using all the water on the Iberian Peninsula.

When you have massive salad crops, as the Spanish do, you need water. Personally, I’d solve that one by banning lettuce, but you know how I feel about salad.

This is what happens when you mess with nature. Spain should stick to growing olives and grapes and we should stick to eating salads only in summer. In summer they are a necessary evil; in winter they are self-indulgent and wrecking the planet.

At last! I have found moral high ground concerning salad!

Normally I try to limit myself to one exclamation mark a day, but I think this discovery merits two.

Open Gardens

Julia visited some local Open Gardens on Saturday. If you are interested in others there is a website here which details all the national ones.

One was clearly the result of spending thousands on hard landscaping and plants straight from the garden centre. I don’t know why you would do that on our street as the house prices don’t justify the cost of expensive garden work, and on our side of the street (as this one was) the gardens slope away from the house and face North.

If I’d been a gardener when I moved to Nottingham I wouldn’t have bought this house. Nor would I have slabbed the front garden to save work. However, plants still manage to grow in the front garden, as you can see from the poppies.

The plants were all planted in buckets because the soil, it seems, is so poor. That is strange because our soil, just a few hundred yards away is quite good. It wasn’t bad when we moved in and with compost and hoed weeds, falling leaves and leafmold it has improved over the years.  It could be a lot better, but we are best described as sporadic gardeners. Having worked as a self-employed jobbing gardener for 10 years I have to confess to neglecting my own garden dreadfully.

The plots were built up using sand when they built the houses eighty years ago, and the underlying geology is sandstone, so the soil tend to be a bit light. However, it is well drained and easy to work, and does respond well to feeding. There were allotments here before they built houses so it was hardly a barren desert.

I did, however, bring back a lot of compostable debris from my work as a gardener, so it all worked out well in the end.

That, I think is where many gardeners go wrong. Spend money on hard landscaping and plants and you will get a garden you can show off. Spend time on the soil and you will get a garden where you can grow things.

Next year I suspect this gardener will have to buy more plants from the Garden Centre to fill her garden again. One thing she won’t have to do is mow the lawn (or compost the cuttings) because the “lawn” is astroturf.

We will, once again, be cutting things back in a desperate attempt to keep ours looking vaguely like a garden. We will also return to planting calabrese and kale in the flower beds. It seems to do well and the pigeons don’t spot it like they do when you plant it in a vegetable bed.

In contrast to the posh garden there was another, where kids were playing. The owner kept apologising for this but Julia told them that was what gardens are for.

They were just doing it to help raise funds for local charities and show what an ordinary garden looks like.

It takes all sorts, and they are both valid uses of a garden, depending on your ambitions and lifestyle.

We had Hummingbird Hawk Moths in the garden a few years ago. We also had a nesting Blackcap. This year we had Painted Ladies.  You don’t get that with a tidy garden.

Red Valerian, like poppies, grows vigorously from cracks in the paving. It is a great food plant for moths and butterflies, though it’s a bit of a weed and not seen in the better sort of garden.

Why I Started Blogging

 I started blogging for two reasons. One was that I thought Quercus Community needed a profile on Social Media. That reason has passed, as there is no group now, and I really should change the name. I did say I was going to do this a year ago but I am famous for my inertia.

The second was that I needed more practice writing. I’d become slack and lazy and unproductive. I’m still slack and lazy, but it has made me more productive. I can, as I found yesterday, knock out a thousand words in an hour. I didn’t mean to time it but I had about an hour to fill and I did two posts in that time (one still to be published) which came to 970 words. In my world that’s near enough a thousand.

The reason I wanted to write more was that I enjoy it. I had also looked at something called “content writing” and thought it offered a way of making money. Not a fortune, but enough to keep us fed. Unfortunately, when I had a serious look at it the sites offering employment they all seemed to be full of American students offering to write for next to nothing.

My plan of writing to keep us supplied with groceries collapsed. That sort of money is only enough to buy biscuits and, to be honest, it’s easier just to give up biscuits and write things I enjoy but don’t get paid for.

At the moment I’m going through a bit of a slump with the blog and failing miserably at my self-inflicted target of a post a day.

It’s partly to do with time, partly to do with inclination and partly to do with equipment. I still haven’t had the laptop repaired and the netbook isn’t very inspiring. In other words, I only have myself to blame.

And that’s it. Just 300 words in twenty minutes today, because there’s not much more to say. However, it is interesting to note, as with poetry writing, that the more you do, the more fluent you get.

I’m avoiding the word “better” as I’m not convinced my writing is better than it was – just that there is more of it.

What I Saw on my Way to Work

This morning’s journey was like a scene from a sci-fi film. It’s the second time it’s happened, but last Monday we put it down to school holidays.

Image result for post apocalypse movies

We found ourselves in the middle of an eerie situation where there were hardly any cars about, and no buses. There weren’t even many cyclists or walkers about, so it isn’t as if everyone has changed from cars to other sorts of transport. It was just like one of those films where everyone has fallen victim to a virus and the streets are empty apart from a little litter (which is the post-apocalyptic version of tumbleweed in a black and white western).

(That’s actually a picture from the web, not an accurate representation of Nottingham this morning. Just in case you were wondering.)

It built up a little as we drove through town but even so it was companionable rather than crowded.

I had the time to observe several strange sights, such as a cyclist dressed in purple and pink. Those seem to be the colours of Nottingham Trent University sports teams these days, but you don’t see many adults wearing it. He’s either an ex-student, a man of low sartorial standards, or an early riser who dressed in the dark.

Despite his dress sense he’s clearly a decent cyclist as we passed him within the first 500 yards of the journey and, ten minutes later, he passed us as we sat at traffic lights in the centre of town.

If I was going to breed a race of supercyclists I’d certainly be happy to include him in the programme, though he’d have to be paired up with a woman of highly developed fashion sense in order to breed out his unfortunate tendency to garishness.

We also saw one of the strangest sights I’ve ever seen.

As we approached the Goose Fair roundabout (a term which may mystify those of you who don’t know about the Goose Fair, or about British traffic systems – I was told, years ago, that they don’t have roundabouts in Canada, though this may not be true) I saw a youngish, though bulky woman, on the pavement. She had thighs that were probably twice the size of mine (and mine are ample) and just as white, though I relieve the whiteness of mine with a filigree effect of varicose veins.

I also keep mine decently covered with trousers.

The woman on the footpath didn’t conceal much at all. She may well have been on her way back from a night working as a burlesque dancer, or she may have been on her way to a superhero convention, but her outfit was definitely on the skimpy side.

I don’t remember much about the costume, because I mostly remember the beaming smile.

She may have been deliriously happy, demented or drugged to the eyeballs, but, whatever the cause, she was definitely smiling.

She cheered my day up. By the end of the day she will, I suspect have done more for the cause of normal women than all the female athletes and supermodels combined. She’s certainly advanced the case for plus-sized women more than any dry, thin academic talking on TV.

And so, I will now start work with a smile on my face and a song in my heart…

No photos for this, apart from the one from the web, but I’ll try harder for the rest of the week.