Monthly Archives: Jul 2019

Wasps!

Julia was stung by a wasp on Tuesday and her leg gradually started to swell, turn red and feel hot.

It became worse overnight and was quite painful when she woke up. So she woke me up to tell me.

I wasn’t, to be honest, as sympathetic as I would have been if she’d waited a bit.

She ignored my advice about going to see the doctor so we went off to explore the breakfast deal at Harvester instead. I dropped her off, did a few errands then went home to find her in even worse shape, so, despite her protests, I made her go to the supermarket for advice from the pharmacy.

They told her to see a doctor.

Impressively, she rang at 2 pm and was given an appointment for 4.10. I rang for one this morning, needing to get my painful hand seen to, but it seems not to be a priority and my appointment is for 8 am next Wednesday.

Next time they ask me why I want an appointment I may invent a life-threatening condition. If I’d told them my chest was playing up I’d have been in before lunch. But tell them you have a hand X-Ray to discuss, and despite the pain being too bad for you to pack parcels or tuck your shirt into your trousers, they don’t seem bothered.

She came out with a prescription for antibiotics, because the sting has turned into an infection. They also recommended drawing along the line of the infection to check it isn’t growing worse. That was fun, as the only suitable pen we could find was a green highlighter, which didn’t improve the look of things.

The moral of this story, if there is one, is avoid wasps, do what your husband says and exaggerate when speaking to receptionists.

 

Coins, coins, coins, coins, coins…

I’ve been putting commemorative coins on eBay today. It’s quite relaxing, and efficient, if you can get into the right rhythm. Unfortunately, it seems to be an unwritten rule that as soon as I get into the swing of things someone has to ring me up to ask a question.

We are currently running at one third queries about gold, one third useful sales leads and one third stupid questions. This isn’t too bad as ratios go, as there have been times when it’s been 90% stupid questions.

The advantage of world unrest and an idiot in Downing Street is that fear is rising and the pound is falling. This means gold is going up (up about £20 an ounce in the last week). It’s steady rather than meteoric but it does mean people want to sell, whilst others are thinking of buying.

Edward VII Sovereign (Obverse)

Edward VII Sovereign (Obverse)

Since my haircut, which will be unveiled once I can find a suitably studious background for a selfie, I have a certain resemblance to Edward VII. The resemblance is that I’m fat, bald and bearded. He was fat, bald and bearded and the wastrel son of Queen Victoria.

For a finale I will leave you with a few photos of today’s coins. They aren’t as interesting as sovereigns, or as expensive, and most of all, they won’t be any use for buying groceries when we have a zombie meltdown.

 

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Hoverflies and Broken Dreams

Subtitle: Poppies, Pollinators and Parcels.

I was torn between the two titles, but went for the bleaker one because I’m a shameless attention seeker.

I walked in to work this morning and found we had sixteen parcels to pack, It doesn’t seem much to do in three hours, though it’s probably fair to say that after seeing a couple of customers and queuing at the Post Office we had two and a half hours of packing. Or five hours, seeing as there were two of us.

That’s about twenty minutes per parcel, which seems OK, though when you have 100 loose coins to pack into a non-rattling parcel it can take a bit of time.

Part of the problem is that we have over two thousand items of stock on eBay and not enough storage space. We can locate 95% of the stock with ease, but we have to pack and repack the cupboards each time, which is time consuming, and the system is starting to creak.

To be fair, the cupboards are starting to creak too and I’m beginning to worry about being crushed to death in a cascade of coins and shattered woodwork. And shattered dreams. It was never meant to end like this…

Despite the somewhat gloomy thoughts, I am cheered by the poppy photos – they were absolutely packed with pollinators this morning, which validates our garden choices. They often have pollinators on them but the light and wind often work against me, and the numbers aren’t normally as impressive.

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Poppy with Pollinators

 

Badgers – My Favourite Brushes

It has taken eleven minutes to get this page open. I really must do something about a better computer. Not only is it slow, but as I type I can’t even self-edit because it’s lagging by around 12 characters. Very disorientating, very annoying.

I’m not going to discuss this further as it will probably lead to an outbreak of regrettable language.

It’s strange to think that ten years ago I thought this netbook was cutting edge. That, I suppose, is the price of technology – we always expect increasing speed and ease of use. And we’re disappointed by things that would have seemed like a miracle twenty years ago.

It’s been a quiet day apart from that. We’ve washed and shopped and I’m going to shave my head again tonight. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing every week.

I bought a proper shaving brush and proper shaving soap today. I really don’t like the foam’gel in cans – partly because they don’t seem sustainable and partly because I don’t like smearing slimy crap on my head. I may have the bald-headed haircut of a thug, but I’m going to shave it like a gentleman.

(Apparently, badgers are an agricultural pest in China, and the meat is eaten, so I don’t feel too bad about using a badger hair shaving brush.)

The picture, as you may have guessed, has nothing to do with the post.

Bangor Pier

I wrote this yesterday but appear not to have pressed the final button. Another senior moment to add to a growing roll of minor memory disasters…

I’ve been to Bangor several times, and never thought much of it. On this trip it seemed like quite a nice place, though small. I’m not sure why it seemed so much nicer, though it could be something to do with the fact it was dry instead of drizzling. That’s the trouble with Wales – it’s very wet – and I’ve never been to Bangor in the dry before.

Julia says we visited the pier before, when we were in Wales with the kids, but I don’t remember. This seems strange as it’s quite a striking pier. However, I think we’ve established that my memory isn’t always great and it’s possible that a traumatic day with the kids has been erased from my memory as part of a healing process. It’s not a very commercial pier, but it is well-restored and and full of Victorian elegance.

The view is one of the best we’ve seen so far on our pier tour, but as most piers just have a view of waves and gulls the competition isn’t that great. The second best view is probably Beaumaris, with Llandudno third. Wales seems to be doing rather well at this.

There was a welcome lack of gulls at Bangor after our experiences in Llandudno. It comes down to the lack of food – no tourists, no fast food outlets and the gulls have no easy pickings and don’t learn bad habits.

As compensation for the lack of gulls there were jelly fish, including some big ones. That, I’m afraid, is the extent of my jellyfish knowledge. I’d like to learn more but I have so many good intentions it’s hard to fit another one in. The eight-pointed star jellyfish pulsates a becomes round – it’s quite strange, and hypnotic. The two photos could well be the same jellyfish in different stages of pulsation.

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Jellyfish at Bangor

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Jellyfish at Bangor – about the size of a dustbin lid

Razors, Lies and Misadventures

Contrary to my gloomy predictions, I didn’t sever an ear, so mentions of van Gogh proved to be premature. However, I did spend several minutes trying to shave my head without producing much result. A moment’s thought revealed the cause for the lack of progress – I’d neglected to remove the clear plastic safety guard. Well, it’s a very small, clear plastic guard, and I was tired.

I’ve had a variety of problems with razors, apart from stupidity. The main one is theft.  Even the most respectable people seem prone to criminality when faced by a bag of razors.

I the early days of our marriage I used to employ a razor once every couple of months to tidy up the edges of my beard. I would return to it periodically and always find it clogged with dark hairs and congealed shaving foam. This was strange, as I always clean my razor after use and have never had dark hair.

Julia, who I will characterise as a dark-haired woman with beautifully smooth legs for the purposes of this story, always denied any knowledge of how this happened.

For the last twenty years I haven’t bothered with tidying the beard, but I have shaved my head from time to time. I would have shaved it more but I never seem to have a razor when I need one.

The normal scenario for that was that I would decide to shave my head and find no trace of my razors, despite buying a bag of razors and using only one or two.

Further enquiries, including interrogating Julia and the boys resulted in no useful information. Either my two smooth-cheeked sons and my smooth-legged wife were part of a web of deceit regarding the theft of my razors or, more likely,  a local cat burglar was targeting my razors.

Obviously this seems unlikely but, as Sherlock Holmes pointed out “When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

As a note for future generations, the car thermometer was reading 38.5 degrees C tonight on the way home. This is 101.3 degrees F. Julia recorded the same temperature in the gardens. This is hot for the UK. I wonder if someone, reading this in twenty years, will laugh ironically at the thought of this being hot.

At least, with no hair and a drastically trimmed beard, I felt more comfortable than I have done on previous days.

In the Park

I went to the park on Sunday morning for a walk round the duck pond. I’m a man of simple tastes and thought I’d have a look in before buying coffee at McDonald’s and taking it back to the launderette. It didn’t quite work out like that as I became so engrossed that Julia rang me to find out where I was.

The young Heron in the header picture was loafing round too, so it wasn’t as if I was the only one loitering round the pond in an aimless manner.The main difference was that I was sitting on a bench and the heron was perching on an artificial island. The idea is that plants will colonise the mesh. It hasn’t quite worked out, but the Heron seemed to like it despite the lack of plants.

There were other birds around, and a selection of dogs and small children, but they weren’t as close as the geese. The pigeons were a bit closer, but they aren’t that interesting.

That was a few days ago. Today’s news is that I’ve chipped a front tooth. It’s been going for a while. I suppose it will get worse until it results in more time at the dentist.

We had a thunderstorm over the house last night, which woke us up and lowered the temperature for a while. It was so humid this morning on the way to work that I started sweating between the house and the car. I’m not very fit but even I don’t generally sweat after walking ten yards.

Tonight I’m shaving my head, as my current look – long thinning hair slicked down by sweat is a very unattractive look. Even Julia has mentioned it, and she’s not that fussy, as you can guess from the fact that she’s been looking at me regularly over the last 30 years.

The way my luck is running, I will probably end up cutting an ear off.

Beaumaris Pier

I’ll say it before anyone else does – this isn’t much of a pier – it’s more like a jetty with seats. However, the council has made a lot of effort over the years, and it’s a great place to sit and relax. Although people talk of Forest Bathing you really can’t beat sitting on a pier, looking at hills and listening to the waves.

Even though it was the evening it was quite busy. A family were crabbing and eating chips, the lifeboat crew were drilling and the yacht club was training junior members.

 

 

I’ll let the photos speak for themselves today.

 

Larcenous Laridae of Llandudno

I refer specifically to the Herring Gull, or Larus Argentatus as its mother calls it. Other gulls are available and most of them have better manners. As you may recall, we had a trip to the seaside last week but couldn’t download the photos. I finally managed.

Part One is the gull special.We had a coffee after arrival, and I took a few photos of gulls as we sat round. I already had a subject in mind, as I’d been the victim of an attempted hit and run mugging five years ago when a gull had combed my hair with its feet as it tried to reach my chips.

Little did I realise, as I took a few general shots, that I was, within the hour, going to be the victim of another, more successful, attempt.

I had a strawberry and chocolate ice cream clutched in my hand when it happened.

There was a flutter, a flash of white and, when everything cleared, a distinct lack of ice cream.

It was lying on the pier, melting. And I was standing over it fencing with my walking stick so that the malefactor would not profit from its crime.

Bloody gulls!

 

The Great Camembert Cheese Debacle

The events described here took place around Christmas 2016 (not 2017 as I previously claimed).

In the lead up to Christmas I did my normal trick of buying enough food to last a family of eight for a fortnight. We are, of course, a family of four and Christmas lasts a day. If you really resist the great outdoors you may manage to make it last three days before close confinement with the family starts to make your thoughts turn to murder.

This included buying an industrial quantity of Stilton from Long Clawson Dairy and a selection of Lesser Cheeses from the supermarket. These included various waxed truckles, Lancashire Cheese with Apricots and a large wheel of Camembert.

Even for a family of cheesophiles this is a lot of cheese.

The proper word for a cheese lover is, it seems, turophile. I’m not keen on that – it’s far too close to turdophile for my liking and any confusion could result in a very regrettable selection of sandwiches.

So, that’s the first stage.

At this point it’s necessary to confess something about the fridge ecosystem. The clue, of course, is in the word ecosystem. I once produced a very acceptable blue cheddar in the fridge by leaving a large chunk of badly wrapped non-blue cheddar concealed behind the top shelf chutney jars.

There are more things in heaven and Earth, Horatio,  Than are dreamt of in your philosophy, as Hamlet said. The same principle would appear to apply to our fridge.

That’s the second stage.

Finally, you overfill the fridge in a chaotic manner, eat stuff, put it back, wrap it badly and have an enjoyable Christmas.

A week or two later there was a suspicion that all was not well in the fridge. This manifested itself as a slight but distinctive smell. We couldn’t see anything obvious, so I moved a few things, produced soup from a selection of mis-matched left-overs and tried to ignore it.

It carried on for a week or so, with Julia suggesting there was something on top shelf that needed attention and me avoiding doing anything about it. (She’s not tall enough to reach the top shelf and I’m very lazy).

From my observations I can state confidently that Camembert, when half used and then stored in a fridge, stays fresh for a while then starts to smell a bit. It’s probably a good idea to do something at that juncture.

If you don’t, the consequences are not good, and the change is both rapid and traumatic.

The slight whiff of ripe Camembert can escalate rapidly while you are out at work, as Julia found when opening the fridge one evening. It had risen in pitch from being a bit whiffy to something that filled the entire ground floor with the smell of week old rugby socks.

Fortunately it tasted a lot better than it smelt.

And that, my friends, is why I am banned from buying, possessing and storing Camembert.