Monthly Archives: Feb 2020

Preparing to Prepare

I have started.

After looking at a number of sites for advice on Power Point I found myself no wiser after a couple of hours. I recognised the words but not the concepts. It involves buttons and menus and stuff, but I knew that when I started. If you told me it involved dancing elephants and the Dagenham Girl Pipers I wouldn’t actually have any proof that you weren’t telling the truth. I am going to have to involve somebody considerably smarter and more technical than I am. Regular readers will realise that I am, of course, referring to Julia.

I did, however, take on one gem of wisdom – that you can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear. Or, to put it another way, if the content is poor Power Point won’t improve it, just project it on the wall so that even people at the back of the room can see how bad it really is.

With that in mind I have started to think about the content.

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Bradford on Avon Tribute Medal with Great War Campaign Medals

Another thing that I read was that you should follow the 10 – 20 – 30 rule. This states that a presentation should feature ten slides or less, last twenty minutes or less and involve a typeface of at least 30 points. This means that it has to be punchy, to the point and written in big letters so you can’t fit too many words onto a slide. As a further refinement they suggest dividing the age of the oldest member of the audience audience by two and using that as the minimum font size. As we have an eighty-year-old member that means 40 point, which, as he’s troubled by cataracts, is probably not a bad idea.

You see, I’m getting better already…

They actually expect about an hour, and to be fair, it needs to be around that length to make it worth people making then effort of comiing to the meeting. The material falls neatly into two halves so I’m going to aim for an introduction, two twenty minute sections and a summing up. That should keep it snappy and fill the time.

On that note I had better get off, as I now have some research to do.

The top picture is the Brighouse Tribute Medal with a pair of Great War Campaign Medals, the other is the medal from Bradford on Avon with a similar pair of medals. They are both going to feature in the presentation.

 

Birds on Banknotes

 

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Sudanese Banknotes

Last night I started writing the looming presentation then made sandwiches. I always leave them until late as it keeps them fresher. This is more important these days as I no longer wrap them, just put them in a plastic box. So far it has worked, and we have cut down on plastic and foil.

I made my normal tuna filling – tin of tuna, chopped spring onion, black pepper and mayonnaise. I often add lemon juice or zest, but had no lemon last night.

I had no cobs either, so used sliced bread. Two rounds each, because Julia works hard and I’m greedy. That was when I discovered something interesting. The surface area of two slices of bread, being larger than that of two cobs, means that the spread only makes three sandwiches. That was why I had one cheese and pickle sandwich and one tuna sandwich.

Then, off to the living room to fall uncomfortably asleep in my chair. That wasn’t actually my intention but it was what happened. I fell asleep shortly before midnight and woke slightly after 2.30. Crawled up to bed, woke Julia, agreed with Julia that I was (a) inconsiderate (b) cold and (c) old enough to know better. Two hours later I rose, as my body has developed the habit of producing more liquid than it takes in, and managed to slip back into bed without Julia noticing.

Another note from Suriname

Another note from Suriname

At 6.40 I woke again, as I have developed a habit of waking just before the alarm goes off. In the days of mechanical alarm clocks I put this down to the preparatory click that my clock used to give. In the days of electronic technology I can only suggest it’s a primaeval instinct. And a bloody nuisance.

Smugly, after a brief chat with Julia, I snuggled back under the covers and enjoyed the warm and virtuous feeling of a man who, because of circumstances beyond his control, need not get out of bed to give his wife a lift to work an hour and a half before he really wants to get up.

There really is no better feeling than lying under a stack of covers feeling warm and relaxed. Well, warm relaxed and with a bacon sandwich would be better, if I’m honest, but Julia seems resistant to suggestions that she cooks my breakfast before leaving.

At work I took 85 photographs of banknotes and dealt with twenty one phone enquiries about rare coins and similar things. My world tour has moved from Sudan to Trinidad and Tobago. I prefer the designs of the latter, but Sudan is a lot easier to type.

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Swedish 20 Kronor – the figure on the back of the goose is Nils, from the books by Selma Lagerlof -a very interesting writer I had never heard of until today.

I wish I’d worked harder at school and got a proper skill…

 

Good Intentions

Prologue

I wrote this post about twenty hours ago, apart from this paragraph. The penultimate sentence was true. I did serve tea. The final sentence did not come true. It should have read “Then I am going to watch comedy programmes and fall asleep in front of the fire, finally waking after midnight and going to bed without posting.” Now that you know that I can pass you over to last night’s second post, secure in the knowledge that it should now make sense.

The header picture is one of my favourite photos, despite its imperfections – you don’t often see a butterfly soon enough to picture it on a crocus. I took it four or five years ago but still like to see it. The other two were things I was working on today.

I walked through to the kitchen half an hour ago with the intention of cooking tea, writing a quick blog post and starting to firm up my presentation. It’s only three weeks away and it’s looking rather under-prepared. I say “under-prepared” but I might actually mean “not started”.

In the old days I used to give talks on the Sealed Knot and the English Civil War. I’d stick a uniform on, grab a box of equipment and set off, often with an assistant, stand in front of an audience and start. No preparation, no heart-searching and, most importantly, no Power Point. I’ve never even used an overhead projector for presentations.

I am absolutely dreading the forthcoming presentation – everybody uses Power Point these days and the audience will be expecting it. Even if I prepare the slides properly I still have the problem of standing, talking and pressing a button at the same time. That’s three things! I’m not sure I’m up to it.

I don’t have an assistant for this talk, so I can’t even tell the audience, “And now I’ll pass you over to Julia.” She used to hate that.

Meanwhile, back at the blog…

I sat down, started looking at comments and found myself whisked away to a world of poetry, parties, hummingbirds, health, ponies, gardens and various amusing characters. I’m afraid I’ve been neglecting my WP reading dreadfully. Sorry about that.

The result of that I left the potato wedges in too long before adding the veggie burgers and not only did I write no blog, but I am now going to have overly crispy potato wedges.

It will be a busy day tomorrow, in place of our usual day off. Julia has a hair appointment in the morning and a meeting in the late afternoon/early evening. We have several collections booked in tomorrow – everyone seems to be selling at the moment – and I’ve been asked to go in as we are going to need to be at full strength.

Banknotes of Sudan

Banknotes of Sudan

After a slow start to the year its good to see that things are finally moving, and I’m glad that the request for the extra day came. when it did – I was going to be lonely tomorrow without Julia. I now have a full day planned, extra pay and somewhere warm to sit without increasing my domestic fuel bill.

I’ve even, eventually, managed to complete the post.

Now I’m going to serve tea.

Then I will add tags and photos.

Medallion - Her Majesty at 90

Medallion – Her Majesty at 90. Complete with gold-plating, spot colour and a Swarovski Crystal, because nothing says “quality tribute” like a garish, blinged up medallion with a crystal in it.

A Little Learning

After a day of dragging a collection of aching joints around I finally surrendered at 5pm last night and went to bed. Julia returned home from work, administered tea and hot cross buns (yes, it’s that time of year again) and left me to recover in my own time.

She applied fish and chips later in the evening with tea and sympathy and the threatened flu never materialised. That might have been because I averted illness with a well-timed nap and application of carbohydrates. Or it may have I was merely cold, short of sleep and getting old.

Today, I find myself quite perky and have returned to blogging.

We had no internet at work today. When we rang the company they said they knew about it and were working on fixing the problem. They carried on working to fix the problem for another five hours. WE couldn’t put anything on eBay, we couldn’t answer emails, we couldn’t even Google things that cropped up in conversation. We did manage to send some parcels after accessing the internet via the boss’s phone but it is not the same as sitting at a screen.

In 1973 we celebrated EU membership

In 1973 we celebrated EU membership

We had to send two people across the road to use the cash machine because we couldn’t take card payments without access to the internet. They both came back, which was good, because sometimes they just drift off and don’t come back. Fortunately our only telephone buyer of the day rang five minutes after the connection was restored.

At least all this gave me time to polish the counters and clean the work surfaces in the kitchen. I also cleaned about 1,200 photos off my memory card. I tend to leave them there, even though I won’t need them again. I really should start behaving in a more responsible manner with my stored photos.

So, there we go.

Today’s learning outcomes are that I now realise how much we rely on the internet and that I must spend more time organising my photographs and sleeping. But mainly I learnt how much more I have to learn. After a day with plenty of time to think, I realised there’s a lot of stuff out there that I still don’t know.

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Snowdrops

Last Week’s Photos

I took 425 photos last week, according to the count I just did. Exactly 200 were personal and 225 for work. I’m not surprised by the number of photos but I am surprised that they worked out to such tidy figures.

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Cook Islands $1 – gold-plated copper with coloured detail

Of those, about half a dozen are blurred (as I delete obviously faulty ones at the time of taking, if I can) but many are poorly composed, badly lit or simply duplicates to make sure I get a decent shot.Many of the work shots are poorly lit because the subjects, particularly coin sets in boxes, and the lights (a couple of badly placed fluorescent tubes) aren’t really designed for good photography.

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Guernsey 50p – much the same as the previous photo – they never circulate and are really just medallions for people who want lots of bright shiny stuff

And again!

And again!

It was a dull week at work – just coins. medallions and the cards that go with them. The “house style” so far as we have such a thing, is also dull, as the shop owner doesn’t like shots which might be more interesting than average. That’s a shame, as I like to look for slightly more interesting angles. Apart from taking pride in my work, it breaks up the tedium of taking 225 photos of shiny, round things.

The other problem I have with him is that he doesn’t use a camera himself. This means he doesn’t understand lighting, or the way the camera sees the shot, particularly the colour rendition. He can’t see why we can’t replicate the picture his eye sees. Most of the time we get decent shots, but with a good camera, good lighting and with some decent equipment such as tripods and diffusers, we could do a lot better.

This is a medallion to mark the 75th Anniversary of the Spitfire’s First Flight.

A lot of them have to be photographed inside plastic capsules, which doesn’t help.You can’t win with that one. If you take a proof coin out of a capsule you get criticism for taking it out and, in the view of the critic, putting finger marks on the coin. If you leave it in you get questions about whether a scratch is on the coin or the capsule.

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Crowns – from the Festival of Britain 1951 to Wedding of Charles & Diana 1981

So here are a few of last week’s coin and medallion photos. Not really much of a challenge, apart from the poor equipment, and not much of a feeling of a job well done either. It’s fortunate I have a blog to keep me going.

 

 

Now, where was I?

As far as the blog is concerned I’m eating cake in Derbyshire. In real life I am back in Nottingham, where I passed three increasingly unpleasant days at work and finally had a day of rest.

Today, Sunday, I had a lie in, read, shopped, snacked, snoozed and cooked.

As I speak, I am on the verge of serving ratatouille with Lincolnshire sausages, and also have a pan of vegetarian cottage pie filling simmering away. Tomorrow we will have the pie, with a topping of mash, and on Wednesday we will have the remains of the ratatouille, probably with a baked potato.

We used to serve Italian style sausages with the ratatouille (Italian style meaning British sausages with Italian flavoured fillings) but they cost more and didn’t taste as good as a Lincolnshire sausage.

They are also better for use in sandwiches, and tomorrow we will have sausage sandwiches for lunch.

And that, for the benefit of future researchers, is the way middle-aged  men and their wives spent their winter Sundays in the early 21st Centuries. By the early 22nd Century you will probably need a license to own a sausage, or at least pay a punitive tax, and the use of plastic wrappings will be superseded by the use of potato-starch substitutes which can be composted or used as a topping on pies.

TESCO Top Valley - an hour later

TESCO Top Valley – an hour later

While I was looking for a potato starch/plastic links I found this one. It’s one of my favourite subjects, but I wouldn’t advise reading it if you are eating. In the 22nd Century people will probably wonder why we ever thought cremation was a good idea.

Back to work.

On Thursday I was referred to as “disabled” by my co-worker. It’s funny what goes through people’s minds. We were discussing whether coin dealers would have made it to heaven in Egyptian times as we spend a lot of times destroying dreams when people ring up with a “valuable” coin. I checked this up – I think we’re OK. If you read this, it’s about doing good deeds, not necessarily about valuing coins.

We moved on to Christianity and he asked me if I thought I would still be disabled in Heaven or if all would be corrected. This was news to me, as I didn’t realise I was disabled. Anyway, as I pointed out, we don’t go to Heaven after we die, we have to wait for the general resurrection and, theologically, only need a skull and two femurs (the Skull and Crossbones) to gain eternal life, so I’m not sure a dodgy knee comes into play at any time.

I then asked him if he saw me as “disabled”. He changed the subject.

We then move on to a couple of days of him continually arguing with the shop owner about minor details of what we do. It’s like being in the middle of a divorcing couple. Fortunately I was given a set of ear plugs last week (the reason is too long and involved to explain) so on Saturday afternoon I put them in. It helped cut out some of the noise.

 

Sometimes, when there is no other subject, I take pictures of wheels.

Scone Chronicles 35 (Part 2)

So, the moment of truth…

Was our second visit to Tagg Lane Dairy as successful as the first?

I decided to try a different cake this time, and opted for the Sticky Toffee cake. I cannot lie to you, it was even better than last time. There was plenty of potential for it being too sweet and sickly, but it was not. It was just pleasantly sweet and toffee flavoured.

The cake, with swirls of toffee flavour, was excellent, with a lovely lightness of texture and tiny cubes of toffee embedded in a toffee icing. It was delicious, and, although it probably had a fatal dose of sugar for a diabetic, was just right for me.

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Sticky Toffee Cake

The coffee and walnut cake, which was Julia’s choice was as good as last time, but not as good as the Sticky Toffee cake. You know the bit in Henry V where he says. And gentlemen in England now a-bed, Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks, That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day?

Well, if Shakespeare had eaten the Sticky Toffee cake at Tagg Lane Dairy he would have written this speech about the cake rather than wasting it on Agincourt. It was that good. If I was marking out of ten, I’d give it eleven.

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Tagg Lane Dairy

The premises are new and , according to a wall plaque had been built with the help of funding from the EU. People may well want to think of this in the future, as I’m not sure the government will be funding many such projects in the coming years.

Unlike the cafe at Brierlow Bar, or the one at Home Farm (where we used to be based) it was not cluttered with a multiplicity of fashionable junk but was just neat and clean and a pleasure to use.

Finally, as I was taking a few wintry landscape shots near the gate, a female Sparrowhawk flew in to the yard flying so low she actually used the gate. She flew past me at about knee high, so close that I could almost have touched her. She then flew round the perimeter of the farmyard and flipped over the drystone wall to see if she could surprise anything on the other side.

We had Magic on the Marshes two weeks ago, now it’s magic on the Moors. I have been very lucky with what I’ve seen in the last few weeks. I just wish I could photograph it all to show you.

We also picked up some raw milk while we were there. I’m not sure whether it does me any good or not but I know that around half the time I have raw milk to drink my skin seems to improve. It might be a placebo effect, but if it feels better I’ll accept that, even if it’s because I’m deluded. It still feels better, whatever the reason.