Monthly Archives: Dec 2019

In a rush, I forgot the title…

As usual, Sunday has seen the death of many good intentions. I was going to make vegetable soup for lunch, but we got up late and Julia made brunch, so we didn’t need lunch. We had crumpets instead of lunch, plus a slice of stollen. It was very nice, though in nutritional terms it may not quite have been what the doctor ordered.

She is out for a Christmas dinner with friends from a previous job while I cook myself a lonely meal and cook the soup ready for tomorrow night, when we will eat it with a sandwich and croutons. Oh yes, we are going to be sophisticated. Even more so when I reveal the croutons will be made from a very stale piece of sourdough. I really sound like a foodie rather than a man who can’t manage his pantry properly, don’t I? In an ideal world I wouldn’t have a load of wrinkly root veg and a quarter loaf of inedible bread.

The soup is very like the vegetable stew we had last week, though the ingredients are slightly more wrinkled and I’ve used one stock cube instead of two. We had dumplings with the stew, using freshly ground garlic seasoning. It was tasty, filling and virtuous, though I did get a lecture on my immaturity when I sniggered whilst complimenting her dumplings. It seems it is time I grew up.

That’s one of the nice things about being married to Julia. Despite all the evidence, she still thinks I’m capable of improvement. It’s heart-warming, but improbable. I’m 61, I’m set in my ways and this, I’m afraid, is as good as it’s going to get.

My alarm just went. My lonely meal is ready. It’s potato wedges, cheese and onion pasty and mushy peas – comfort food. I’m going to watch the Strictly Come Dancing results, shout at the judges then make tomorrow’s sandwiches.

This is not the life I envisaged when I was a young man. There were more yachts, steaks and butlers in my vision of my future. Fortunately I’m very fond of mushy peas.

 

Reindeer and Relaxation, and Bananas

I’m going to give you a rest from my general tales of doctors and disasters, though I will mention that it was very quiet in the shop today. That was because, unlike most retail outlets, we don’t have a Christmas rush. Collectors tend to wait until after Christmas and then come to us to spend their Chritmas money. Today, like most men (because 95% of coin collectors are men) they were being dragged round town by their wives (because 95% of women are far too keen of Christmas).

For proof of that last point I offer Julia as evidence. I went to work this morning. She went to a Christmas Craft Fair in our local park, took pictures of reindeer (and their painted backdrop), then went to the gym, returned home and put the Christmas tree up. I’ve managed to cut us down to a small artificial tree over the years, but still can’t persuade her that 24th is early enough to put it up.

We also had three sales on eBay – yes, we have 1,400+ items on eBay and we sold three. And we couldn’t fulfill one of the orders because the customer added an impossible request by email. We had four more plus a telephone order during the day but it’s hardly a sparkling performance.

After work I picked Julia up and we went for tea and toasted teacakes, did some shopping and one of us read the newspaper while the other one looked at Christmas jumpers. As I read (you surely didn’t expect me to be looking at the red, white and green sparkly monstrosities, did you) I found this story.

I agree that the banana is, as pointed out, a symbol of many things, including (which they didn’t mention) the problems of cloning and monoculture.

If you want your very own copy of this artwork, I’m doing a pre-Christmas special offer of just £1,000, giving you a saving of £90,000 on the price of an original. And for that I’ll even come round to any address on mainland Britain and install it for you.

Or, as part of my newly developed franchise idea, send me £500 and I’ll send you a hand of bananas and a roll of gaffer tape.

I don’t know if I’ll make any sales, but I thought it was worth mentioning in case any of you were looking for an emergency present idea.

 

 

Distressing Devilment and Diabolical Deliveries

Where do I start?

Last night I came home to find a card through my door telling me that Royal Mail had tried to deliver a parcel, but as it needed signing for they had taken it back to the depot to await further instructions. This was irritating as I’d instructed the auctioneer who sent it to send it to the shop, and he had confirmed he would. There should have been no need for me to collect it.

There were two books waiting for me, but I’m going to gloss over that as I really don’t need more.

At 5.10,  well inside the planned delivery window, Currys arrived with their delivery. This was good, and one less thing to worry about. It was also a demonstration that Currys do get some things right.

We rose at 6.30 next morning, one of us being quite unhappy with the situation, and the other being grumpy because she had had no breakfast.

When we walked to the car all the windows were down. This has happened before. It has even rained in before, as it had done this morning. Fortunately a quick wipe and the heated seats soon cured the damp. I finally got round to Googling it later in the day. There are two causes – faulty wiring or pressing the unlock button by accident – if you have the keys in your pocket, for instance. Last night I sat down with the keys in my pocket so this is a likely scenario. I’m hoping it won’t happen again.

The parcel was  duly picked up. As I waited I struggled not to strike up a conversation with the next man in the queue. Generally I find this quite easy. But I’m generally not stood next to a man with a head full of metal and mutilations. He had massive earlobes with rings in, a row of studs doen the centre of his head and two “horns” built up under the skin of his head. I was impressed by his dedication to ugliness, but also slightly repelled.

It was disappointing to walk out of the office and watch the spawn of Satan drive away in a Peugeot 208. It’s practical for commuting and great round town, but when you think End of Days you don’t really think Peugeot.

Julia cheered up after we stopped for breakfast. We don’t usually have McDonald’s twice in a week – honestly!

At the surgery I picked up my replacement prescription, and, the “lost” prescription tucked in it, though slightly messy. I suspect they had a good look for the lost one and found it before deciding to irritate me further by giving me both.

Of course, if I now take it into the surgery they will accuse me of having had it all the time.

I dropped Julia off at work, went to work myself, did some parcels, put a few things on eBay and did a bit of admin.

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Silver Eagle, Silver Britannia

An Amazon driver came to drop something off for me but had to ring to find where I was – it seems they aren’t trained to look at shop fronts and spot the numbers.

 

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One tenth of an ounce of 22 carat gold – A £10 Britannia and a $5 Coin – the stated face values have little to do with the gold content and the exchange rate is not accurate either

When I got into the car at 4pm, the quiz show I had been listening to in the morning was being repeated. I had to listen to 15 seconds that I’d heard in the morning, and after that I was able to listen to the parts I’d missed when I’d switched off the car in the morning.

I’m now waiting for the people next door to come home because they have a parcel for me – the Amazon system went wrong somewhere, I was sure I’d asked for a delivery to work, but the system shows I ordered it for delivery to the house. It’s a cheap camera case so I don’t know why they just didn’t leave it in the porch like they usually do.

Today’s coins are from a couple of sets produced by the Royal Mint – gold in 1997 and silver in 2003 – with blurb about friendship between nations. The coins are decent enough – Philip Nathan has done some great Britannia designs and the Walking Liberty by Saint-Gaudensis an all time classic coin design. The branding, on the other hand, could do with some work. Words like Ladies, Freedom and Liberty are usually associated with products other than coins.

 

Doctors, Death and Diaries

I had my phone call from the doctor today and I will be picking up my replacement prescription tomorrow. We had a wide-ranging discussion, with him insisting that I’d had the prescription and me insisting that I hadn’t, and that his own receptionists had sworn blind to Julia it wasn’t on their system and we had never handed it in. After asking me if it was possible that I’d had the prescription and forgotten it (I said no) he conceded it was possible it had been mislaid around the practice.

He then laid into me for not following up on a year-old blood test which shows me have worryingly high levels of something I didn’t quite catch.

“When I rang for those results,” I said, “I was told it was all good and didn’t need any action.”

“Ah, we seem to have coded it wrong.” he said.

I’m definitely going to start keeping a diary of my dealings with the NHS from now on. It’s quite possible that at this rate I’ll end up with a letter telling me I only have 12 months to live, and a second one apologising for the 13 month delay in sending the other letter.

I’ve still not had satisfactory answers to the questions I asked about my two cancelled operations in 2017. I gave up on one of them and the other one promised to get back to me. I’m sure that having taken 30 months to compose her answer, she will have a really good answer when it arrives.

That, I think, will do for the day. Nothing much happened and my brain is slowing down. I probably need chocolate, but that, according to the doctor, would be the same as ingesting poison.

There are some days when, to be honest, a glass of hemlock seems very attractive.

The pictures are from a set of silver Britannia coins we have in stock – they were specially made in 2006 by the Royal Mint and have had an additional coating of matt-finish silver and highlighting in gold. They are handsome coins.

The Scone Chronicles XXVI

When I started this series I honestly thought we could do one a week. Even with duplicates it’s been about half that. Still, not everything goes to plan. Next year I will do better.

This morning we went to McDonald’s, did some errands then, as I said, went to the garden centre. The centre in question is Brookfields, our local centre. When we first started going it was a modest gravel car park and some large greenhouses. Now it’s a monster of a place with car parks and overspill car parks and fish and pets and a massive gift section. There are still plants and there’s a small seed and tool section, but it’s mostly a gargantuan gift emporium with lots of glitz and very little soul.

The vastly expanded cafe section is now known as Arthur’s Eatery, because stupid twee names seem to be the in thing, though it’s still recognisably the same old shoddy cafe, just with more seats.

Cheese scone Brookfields Garden Centre

Cheese scone Brookfields Garden Centre

I went to find a table while Julia went for tea and cake. I found one, cleared it myself, as the staff weren’t keeping up, sat down and looked at a dirty, creased and faded label on the table, wondering why any reputable food establishment with pretentions of cleanliness would allow such a thing on the table. Turns out it was a sticker saying the table was reserved for dogs owners, so I moved. I suppose that when you think of the number of germs spread by the average dog, a species known for its indiscriminate licking habits, the dirt on the sticker is insignificant.

The next table needed clearing too, and was covered in crumbs, brown lumps and cup rings. I decided to move to a cleaner table. Cleaner, but not clean. It was sticky, which always makes me think they are being wiped down badly. This, in turn, always makes me wonder what else is being done badly.

 

When Julia found me she had a cheese scone for herself and a plate of mini scones for me. The three mini scones were cheese, which was nice, mince pie flavour, which tasted of Christmas spice, and Chocolate and Orange, which explained the brown sticky lumps on the previous table.

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Three mini-scones Brookfields Garden Centre

It was pleasant enough and at £8 was more reasonably priced than it used to be – price being one of the reasons we stopped using it. However, there was nothing there to justify a return visit any time soon.

I thought the cup of tea provided was a bit small, and didn’t really need the free biscuit.

Cheese scones were full of flavour, the others were less successful, particularly the orange and chocolate one. I don’t honestly see the need for novelty scones.

 

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Three mini-scones Brookfields Garden Centre

Staff and cleanliness could both be improved.

 

The Scone Chronicles XXV

The one with McDonald’s…

Yes, we’re back at the budget end. With a day full of errands stretching to eternity (the whimpering about seals having produced no effect on my hard-hearted wife) I decided on the easy option to give us a solid foundation.

There’s not much I can add. We had sausage and egg McMuffins, hash browns and coffee. It’s what we always have, because we’re predictable. As usual, it was very good. There’s not much else to say.

The most interesting thing was the coffee cup, which has changed over the years from a receptacle for coffee to a medium for messages – more like a billboard than a cup.

Apart from two robins chasing each other round a tree there isn’t much more to report. That’s why you have a picture of Julia’s feet for a header – I was looking for a photo, they seemed bright, so I took the picture. This evening I used it because there was nothing better.

Moving from food review to diary, I can then report that we went to drop clothes and books off at a recycling point before going to look for a gas heater. Despite what the Homebase website says they don’t sell them.

Recycling - Sainsbury's, Arnold, Notts

Recycling – Sainsbury’s, Arnold, Notts

We then went to Currys. They don’t sell gas heaters, but they do sell tablets. That’s in the sense of small computer type things (which I don’t really understand) rather than a bottle of pills. We had to hunt down a sales assistant because nobody seemed interested in making a sale, and when we got one we needn’t have bothered.

It seems the tablet we wanted was out of stock and they clearly weren’t interested as they advised us to try on-line.

So today’s hint is that if you’re looking for a useless, apathetic excuse for a salesman, try Currys. If you’re looking for a tablet, don’t bother.

And if you try to order on-line, prepare for a long and frustrating experience. I ordered three items – it took nearly an hour as it repeatedly refused to accept the order details, delivery details and filled the screen with useless pop-ups.

I’m going back to Amazon next time.

We stopped off at the park next, as Julia went looking for a municipal employee to browbeat into helping her garden group. One was on holiday and the other was in hiding. I sat in the car park and photographed damp leaves.

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Not my finest moment as a photographer, but I was bored

We eventually bought the gas heater from B&Q. They had a choice of one model, but it was in the right price bracket and the staff were all cheerful and helpful.

After that it was the garden centre. But that is another story…

 

 

An hour to waste…

As I said yesterday, I should calm down and be nicer and more patient so I’m writing this while I’m practising waiting. This is different  to merely waiting because there is an element of choice about it. I’m waiting patiently and trying to be positive.

And they say men can’t multi-task.

I saw one on Sunday who could push a shopping trolley, look at his phone, give a bad example to his children and breathe through his mouth, all at the same time.

I’m currently waiting for a gas company surveyor to check our new earthing arrangements ready for the renewal of the heating system.

They gave us a four hour time slot and I have had to take a morning off work. Fortunately they just rang to say they would be here just before 9.00, so I will actually be able to get to work on time. If this wasn’t the case I’m sure this post would have been a lot less positive.

It’s not that I really want to go to work, but I have little to commend me as an employee other than reliability and I don’t want to lose that.

Today, in addition to attempting to be more positive, I’m pondering the nature of diaries. I kept one sporadically when I was about ten, then another when I was about sixteen and in my poetic phase. Neither of them gave any hint that one day I would be a blogger with five years of blogging behind me, though it’s fair to say that they did give evidence to suggest that my spelling, grammar and punctuation would  need work. Looking back on old posts this is a theme which continues. I cannot believe how bad some of my old posts are in terms of typos, proof reading and poor writing.

This is about the time of year I normally start thinking of good intentions, New Year Resolutions and writing projects.

I have just about cured myself of the curse of New Year Resolutions and now know that good intentions butter no parsnips. However, what would life be without something to look forward to?

And so, it looks like I may become a diarist.

This, in my mind, means writing words on paper with a pen, rather than blogging, which is about cluttering cyberspace with links and pixels and all sorts of stuff I don’t understand.

Which all comes back to patience. I can knock out a blog post with a computer, some random overspill from a cluttered mind and a few spare minutes. But a diary, in my imagination at least, requires time and space and the gathering of thoughts at the end of the day. Possibly a leather topped desk, a log fire and a smoking jacket…

Sounds good.