Monthly Archives: Jan 2020

Scone Chronicles XXIX – Dry, Disappointing and Drizzleless

We saw an interesting sign today whilst shopping. It was outside Wagamamas, and advertises “Vegan Tuna”.

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Vegan Tuna? No chance!

This is slightly confusing from a grammatical point of view. As a lifestyle choice, this is unlikely as I can’t see tuna ever sticking to an ethical vegetarian diet. It is even less likely from a biological point of view as tuna are made of meat.

I’m also tempted to say that there’s something strange about a vegan eating something dressed up to look like meat. Not just vegans, any vegetarian in fact. I’ve never really been a fan of any vegetarian food dressed up as meat.

We had Thai green curry tonight, with mini corn cobs, mangetout peas, broccoli, carrots and cashews. You don’t need quorn or fake tuna to make perfectly good vegetarian food.

Talking of which, and getting back to the point, vegan tuna is made from dried watermelon. It looks like thinly sliced tuna and, it seems, tastes like watermelon. It’s £12.95 a portion. That seems like a comfortable profit margin.

This isn’t actually the thing I was going to write about. We had coffee and lemon drizzle cake at Costa Coffee this afternoon after we bought socks.

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Coffee and Cake

The coffee was good, but it should have been considering the price and the fact that it’s pretty much the only thing they do. On a volume to cost basis it was reasonable value as it came in a cap that is smaller than some of the mixing bowls we use at home.

The cake was very lemony in a nice fresh way. Sadly it was also quite dry and very lacking in drizzle. This would be acceptable in lemon cake, but not in lemon drizzle cake. I won’t labour the point but it doesn’t say much for your professional standards if you can’t get the drizzle right on a lemon drizzle cake.

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Dry, disappointing and drizzleless

I will say no more.

 

 

Birds, Breakfast and Books

We weren’t quite sure what to do this morning, so we turned over and went back to sleep. By the time we awoke, blogged, ate a slice of toast with Frank Cooper’s Oxford Marmalade and stepped outside, the frost had melted from the car and the birds were singing. We appear to have several Great Tits in the garden and I feel that avian romance is in the air.

First call was breakfast at Sainsbury’s, but I’ve covered that before. It was good today. I’ve scored it so that you can compare them, but it would feel like cheating to do a full write up again.

Portion size – good

Sausages – excellent and herby

Hash Browns – crispy and delicious

Beans – average, after all opening a can and heating beans is not a skilled job

Mushroom – excellent

Toast – average, another unskilled job that is difficult to do badly

Eggs – excellent to the point of “almost perfect”. Much better than last time.

Bacon – succulent, thickish and almost perfect.

Service and cleanliness were also better than last time.

After that we went shopping at theEast Midlands Designer Outlet. It wasn’t too crowded, though the shops aren’t that exciting, a bit of a re-run of our recent Springfields visit.

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East Midlands Designer Outlet – though it could be anywhere

We went to a few shops – Julia bought some new slipper socks, some bedsocks and some new socks for me. It was a sock sort of day. These were the only things she could find of interest in M&S. Her slipper socks are pink and white hoops with a gold thread in them. I remarked that they were rather girly and would look good in a disco. This view was received coldly as she pointed out that they were the only pair left.

In The Works I asked if they would be getting more stock in soon as I had yet again failed to find three books for the 3 for £5 deal. The assistant positively looked down her nose at me and informed me they had a good selection that was replenished weekly. I begged to disagree and we left it there. She looked offended and I felt patronised.

I’ve been to five of their outlets recently. In one I failed to buy a book. In one the covers are curling up because of damp. In two I have failed to buy three books for the deal.

It’s getting to a stage where I might as well buy off the internet – there are some really cheap deals out there on books I actually want.

We had coffee too, but that is a different post.

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East Midlands Designer Outlet – though it could be anywhere

 

 

The 51st State

No, not the film, though it is an excellent film. If you like violence and black comedy.

I am, after a recent post, and some associated comments, thinking of starting a serious political movement to integrate the UK into the USA.

Ideally I would incorporate the USA into the UK as “British Empire 2.0” but I can see that there are slightly more problems that way. I’m not sure, for instance, how keen Americans would be on the idea of reintroducing tea as the national drink, and I’m also looking for a way to get rid of the royal family that doesn’t involve the Romanov Solution. All in all, the 51st State solution may be the way forward.

It may be 52nd or even 53rd by the time we get round to it, but the idea will be the same.

Part One is to establish a political career for myself based on one big idea. It worked for Nigel Farage so it can definitely be done. Let’s face it, many recent politicians have functioned perfectly well without even one idea.

The quickest option would probably be to find a gullible American tourist and sell them the country. There is precedent for this, which is how Louisiana and Alaska both found themselves in the USA. Anyone who can offer me enough cash can have it. We’ll have to hammer out a few details but if I could have a $5,000,000 deposit I’ll get back to you from my newly registered office in a country I have yet to select. I have a list of likely destinations here. Some, to be honest, are better than others.

If not, there’s the political option. It might take some time, but look at all the problems we could solve. We could be a state, Scotland could be a separate one and North and South Ireland (like the Dakotas or the Carolinas) could also be states. Wales could even have a go at independence within a federal framework. At one stroke we get rid of the Royal Family and loads of political problems.

I don’t really have any pictures to go with this one – I can’t find the one with pigs with their snouts in the trough, which always reminds me of Westminster for some reason.

I will try my best. Something seasonal, but no Robins.

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Tampled Leaves – Arnot Hill Park

 

 

 

It’s Hard Work Being a Prince

I’ve no doubt that Prince Harry is a hard-working and sincere young man, by the standards of royal princes. Same goes for his brother. And his father.

However, if any of us were the children of royalty I’m sure we would all be doing a great job too. It is, I suggest, quite easy to be a patron of charities and suchlike if your mother or grandmother is the Queen.

I’m pretty sure that in addition to helping charity I’d be up to opening a few things, laying some wreaths, visiting the warmer parts of the world on “official duties” and causing outrage by dressing as a Nazi for a fancy dress party or taking all my clothes off at a party in Vegas.

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Four Generations on Stamps

Ah, no I was wrong there. I’ve never dressed as a Nazi for a fancy dress party or stripped off at a party in Vegas or any other venue.

I suppose that’s because I had parents who taught me how to behave. Harry’s father is not, despite his green credentials, a great role model, and his mother, well what do I say? I know opinions are divided on Diana, and I’m not going to speak ill of the dead, but if she’d been from a council estate I think Social Services would probably have taken the children away for their own good.

Prince Philip has been a bit of a handful over the years, but he’s worked hard and only retired at the age of 96. The Queen is still going and strikes me as a decent sort.

I can’t think of anything bad about George VI.

Edward VIII, on the other hand, the selfish, playboy, petulant Nazi-lover, is not a man I have any great regard for.

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Prince Harry

George V, I know little about, though I don’t think he was much of a parent.

Edward VII was a multiple adulterer as both King and Prince of Wales.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is that the family has form for self-indulgent, petulant behaviour, they have different values from mine and I’m finding myself becoming steadily more radical as I grow older.

I thought I was supposed to get more right wing as I aged but I’m actually thinking about starting a revolution and lining the Royal Family up against a wall with a firing squad.

Various members of the Royal Family are shown, appearing on coins, stamps and School Attendance Medals.

Parcels,Pate and Pakora

Disclaimer – there is not much pakora in this post – but I’m a slave to alliteration so I lied. Sorry about that. I did have pakora in my sandwiches last week so I do at least have a slight excuse to mention them. They were sweet potato pakora and, to my mind, much nicer in sandwiches than the falafel we also tried.

Yesterday I breakfasted on porridge, took Julia to work, cursed several cyclists for their ridiculous strobe lights and arrived at the shop far too early.

I had to use a lot of old self-adhesive stamps where the glue has dried out. This means they have to be fixed using a stick of glue. In turn this means that several of them have to be detached from my finger tips. They were a really bad idea as the glue either dries out or forms an unbreakable bond with the backing paper. I’m sure they are good when they are new, but we, as you know, use a lot of old stamps.

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They are First CLass Stamps, but no longer self-adhesive.

My first parcel of the day was a selection of gum cards bound for America. Imagine my surprise when  my fourth parcel turned out to be a group of gum cards. To America. It was the same man, who quite clearly hadn’t thought things through.

Fortunately I have strong nerves and a steady hand so I was able to open the parcel with my trusty scalpel and add the second lot of cards. Two lots of cards. one lot of postage and a substantial refund. Hopefully he will be happy with that.

After parcels (and no more mishaps) I proceeded to do more banknotes. This an ongoing project. I have photos loaded up until Myanmar and will be moving on to Nepal tomorrow. I’m looking forward to Zimbabwe…

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Nepal – bank notes and an unusual head-dress

In the evening I read and replied to other bloggers, wrote a blog post, then wrote a second blog post, though it was actually too late in the end.

Between the two I cooked ratatouille and sausages, made a batch of smoked mackerel pate and did the sandwiches.

The pate recipe is simple and I’m not sure why I don’t do it more often. Mackerel, cream cheese. yoghurt, spring onion, lemon juice, lemon zest, horseradish sauce and dijon mustard. Quantities range from two bits of mackerel and quite a lot of cream cheese down to juice and zest of half a lemon and a teaspoon of each of the seasonings. Next time I may leave out the yoghurt and add more horseradish. Or I may just buy the pate and avoid the epic amount of washing up it generates.

It has worked out rather well and Julia can have the third bit of fish. She likes fish. I eat it because it’s good for me. I used the small blender and two bits of fish was enough to fill it. I haven’t used it for a while and couldn’t work out how to get the bowl off . Julia eventually sorted it for me.

You can also make fish pate with smoked haddock, though I seem to remember you can do that with a fork. There’s a look of the shoe sole about a smoked mackerel fillet if you aren’t careful. So far it has provided a decent depth of filling for four medium cobs and will probably do at least two more.

It’s really quite amazing. Some smoked fish and stuff in a blender and I’m already daydreaming about a Michelin star.

Tonight we will finish the ratatouille, add some “French-style lentils” from a packet, bake a potato and have some veggie burgers. This week I have bought the burgers – next week I will be making them. I am also going to start cooking my own lentils. I have become very lazy.I always used to make my own but have drifted off course somewhere.

I’d better try making my own pakora too…

Banknotes of Laos

Banknotes of Laos

Sunset

I have frittered my night away and now have seven minutes to keep my new plan (two posts a day for a fortnight) on track.

It was light this evening. At 4.00 it was still almost daylight where it had been srak at tat time only a few weeks ago. This state persisted until I finished my shopping at 4.45 and walked out into a beautiful evening. The day had gone by that time but the sky was still bright with the remains of a sparkling winter day.

There was enough pink in the sky to bring the clouds to life, and depending on which way I was facing, or how high I was, wisps of cloud streaked the sky, or gathered in hollows to bathe the city buildings in a pink halo.

I eventually got home and was able to take more photos. My camera did its best to average out the colour, because that is what it is set up to do by the scientists who designed it. But it couldn’t completely remove the beauty.

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Another attempt

I tried some of the special settings – moonlight, sunset, pop art, but they have  atendency to alter rather than accentuate. The moonlight setting removed even more colour, the sunset a setting didn’t seem to make any difference and the pop art setting tended towards the garish end of things. I had thought of using the expression “gilding the lily” but the overall effect was like being hit in the face with a high-vis jacket. whilst standing under floodlights.but they mainly make things look garish

This is some sort of lesson in the use of modern technology to remove all that is good from our lives. Or add much that is tawdry.

Call me old-fashioned, or even a Luddite, but the modern taste seems to be for change rather than improvement.

Looks like I’ve missed the target, but I’d rather develop my theme than cut it short for the sake of meeting a self-imposed deadline. I will add some photographs now and post about 20 minutes late. Twenty minutes, in my flexible world, is not worth worrying about. Or even 30…

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Garish & tawdry. The fact that it is blurred is the least of this picture’s worries… 

 

Regrets, I’ve had a few…

There are of course the obvious ones – I regret ever starting smoking, I regret eating so much and exercising so little and I regret not being better with money.

I regret being an indifferent husband, a bad father and an ungrateful child.

Most of all, in this miserable, whining list, I regret not being able to make Julia see my marriage potential when we first met. It took me nine years to persuade her, though as she points out, it might have been easier to persuade her if I’d adopted a life of seclusion, sobriety and celibacy. I, in turn, point out that if she’d married me I wouldn’t have needed the wine, women and song to dull the pain of rejection. I am not by nature, introspective or pale and interesting.

To this day, after 30 years of marriage, she remains unimpressed by my explanation.

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Two of my favourite things…

I was born too late to drive a Bentley Speed Six or fly a Sopwith Camel and I didn’t realise you could use a metal detector to find gold in Australia until it was too late. On the other hand, in the absence of parachutes and decent brakes, my regrets are tinged with a feeling of relief.

As for Australia, my suspicions about snakes and spiders mean I am not fully committed to the idea of wandering round with a metal detector, regardless of the possibilities.

You can, after all, find gold in Scotland if you are prepared to brave a cold river.

Finally, I confess that although I did many things I would come to regret, my main regrets are about chances I didn’t take, challenges I ducked and opportunities I missed. There is probably a good quote about this somewhere on the net, but at the moment all I can think of is “A man who never made a mistake never made anything.”

It doesn’t quite fit the subject, but it does provide a good place to break off. And it’s probably a good place to put regrets into perspective. It’s all very well looking back, wondering about “what ifs” and plotting different courses for my life, but it all points to one thing. Destiny needed me to be in Preston on a particular day in 1980. I was there. And I’ve never regretted it.

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A pattern develops…