Monthly Archives: April 2020

ASDA Disaster!

As I said yesterday, I spent a lot of time amending my ASDA Click & Collect order. I added my payment details and ensured I had the conformation email. Everything was, as the Americans say, copacetic. Actually, from what I see on WordPress, they don’t say it. But they could do. It’s one word I wouldn’t mind them importing into English.

Things took a distinct turn for the worst when we arrived. At ASDA you park up then use their app to tell them you have arrived. A what? I don’t do apps. I did it the old-fashioned way, catching the eye of a staff member and asking for help.

As they brought the shopping across I felt a deep depression settle on me.

My order was  for over £60, including things for the stock cupboard and a few bits for neighbours. What was coming to us across the car park was a small box with just over a dozen items, including some that I’d cancelled the night before.

They had clearly not processed the new order. They had sent me an email to tell me that the order had been amended and I had, foolishly, not checked the rest of the email, which detailed the order. When I returned home and checked, the “amended order” was not, in fact, amended. It was just the old order repeated.

I won’t bore you with too much detail.

The man on the helpline (after I had spoken to three other people, including an idiot) told me it was obviously a “technical matter”, that there was no way for him to provide me with the food I had ordered and that “there’s nothing I can do,”

I will remember this in future.

In fact I will remember it in two weeks. I have another Click and Collect order with ASDA in two weeks, but I’ve also managed to get a TESCO delivery slot two days after that. It’s very tempting to cancel the ASDA order. I don’t like doing it, as I am a man of my word. On the other hand they let me down badly today and refused to make things right.

Fortunately I’ve managed to arrange things over the last month so that we have enough food to last us until the next delivery. It means we are out of mustard, short on marmalade, and low on cheese, but have plenty of toilet roll, pasta and longlife milk.

However, I’ve just been watching the news from Brazil. Their President makes Boris Johnson look like a statesman, and President Trump is an intellectual giant in comparison. In terms of counting our blessings, let’s just reflect that it could be a lot worse.

It was an an unpleasant, cold, grey day today, though it’s supposed to improve tomorrow.

And that concludes the miserable, moaning diary entry for today. I thought I’d use some rainbow photos as they are a symbol of the lockdown.

abstract abstract expressionism abstract painting acrylic paint

Photo by Steve Johnson on



Lockdown Diaries

My diary for yesterday – 29 April 2020. I’m writing it in the early hours of the next day after a full day of loafing. I thought I’d have a go at writing a diary so I can look back in years to come. I also means that I can moan in this one and write a soup recipe in the other post.

Despite my commitment to earlier rising I managed to roll over and go back to sleep after Julia got up. This is becoming a habit and something I need to avoid. It started as a matter of practicality  – I would let everyone else in the house use the bathroom and dress before rushing round, eating breakfast prepared by Julia and then giving her a lift to work.

It has, over the years, become less a matter of practicality and more a matter of laziness. I am also finding, with having arthritis, that it isn’t so easy to rush in a morning. I used to resemble a meercat, bright and busy, but I now move like a tectonic plate. The grating in my knees and back adds to the impression of geological motion.

My back has been particularly bad for the last three days and I’m having trouble getting around. I am using my stick even to get round the house. Last week I had trouble with my knees and ended up wearing a knee brace. I seem to be falling apart by installments.

When I finally creaked downstairs the post had already been and I had a letter about a telephone consultation with rheumatology. I’m beginning to wonder why we can’t always do it by phone, apart from blood tests and X-Rays. Later in the day I had a phone call to tell me the blood tests results were OK and I could start taking the Methotrexate. This was an exact copy of the call I had yesterday, They are trying to patch a service together using part-time staff and staff out of retirement, and there are a few rough edges. On the other hand, it’s not a great problem to get an extra phone call – it’s a lot better than not getting the results at all, which, unfortunately, has happened in the past.

The Methotrexate has several side effects, and I think I may have one of them as my stomach is giving trouble. After taking the pills last night (you take six on one day and then take a vitamin pill on the other six days) I did not feel very well. On the other hand it may be coincidence. The vitamin pills are to help counter some of the drug’s side effects. You know you have problems when you have to take pills to protect you from the other pills you are taking.

If I had my life over again I would look after my health and my money more sensibly. And my wife.

I made soup for lunch, which I have already written about.

plastic container with fruits and vegetables on green grass

Photo by Lisa Fotios on

Later I went online and finalised my grocery order. We have a Click & Collect order to pick up tomorrow and, as it’s difficult to order groceries two weeks in advance, it needed quite a lot of alteration. You have to secure a slot as soon as it becomes available and worry about the details later.

I did put in an order two weeks ago and haven’t been able to alter it until now. The original order had 19 items and they were unable to supply five of them. I cancelled some things and added others. When I went to checkout I found four of the items were out of stock, including the flour. Twenty minutes and they were already cancelling things…

I went back to the flour to look for alternatives and there were none, However, they were still showing my original selection to be in stock. I thought I’d order it again just to check. It was out of stock when I got back to checkout. I am thinking bad thoughts about ASDA.

Six weeks after the panic buying and I still can’t buy flour. I also had trouble with eggs, baked beans and tinned chickpeas. Makes you wonder about the “robust supply chains” they claim they have.

The ASDA site even asks if you can go round the shop instead of using the delivery or collection services. To be honest, no. If I do click and collect or delivery I meet one or two people, who keep well away from me. Mathematically that’s a lot better than walking round a shop full of people who walk too close.

I’m not a great worrier, but I’ve decided on a strategy and I’m going to keep to it.

person holding silver blister pack

Photo by cottonbro on



I have 28 minutes to post, and am going to give it my best shot. Please excuse the haste and the worse than normal editing.

Today’s main event, apart from a hospital phone call (which was a duplicate of the one I got yesterday) was the soup. We had half a dozen manky carrots, a medium sized parsnip and a swede (rutabaga) which was beginning to look a bit grey round the cut end. My solution – root veg soup.

This is a lockdown recipe, because with only shopping every week or ten days I’m not quite getting the supplies right and we needed to get through a few more roots.

I also had the green end of a leek, so I softened that and roasted the roots whilst cooking the tea last night. I then boiled it with stock and spices (2 tsp cumin, 1 tsp ground coriander, half a tsp of lazy chilli from a jar) and left it covered overnight. No need for a fridge, we are having a cold spell here at the moment. We always do once we start putting plants outside.

Today I added some lazy garlic from a jar, a touch more chilli and reduced it to a smooth consistency with a stick blender. I tried to leave  afew flecks of red, but they didn’t stand uput in the finished soup. Sometimes I use finely chopped red chillis – they stand out better.

The result was a nice beige soup with an interesting flavour and a touch of mild heat. I’m not sure that it needed the ground coriander, as I can never really taste it when I use stronger tasting spices.

Finally I added a spoonful of turmeric to brighten it up a bit. I’m not sure if the photos show it, but you get a slightly brighter orange/yellow soup when you do that.

Things I didn’t add – mushrooms and kale (despite kale being virtually compulsory in recipes these days. I thought mushrooms would be confusing, though they do need using soon, and I couldn’t be bothered to take the kale off the stalks (I didn’t want to spoil the consistency by putting stalks in. I was going to put kale in at the end rather than boil it with the rest of the veg.)

It made far more than we needed and we will be having it tomorrow too. And Friday. However, it’s good and cheap and you can have sandwiches with it so it helps dodge the salads.

The one on the left has no added colour, the one on the right has the turmeric added. The one in the header picture was taken with flash, which made it look a richer colour and wasn’t a fair comparison to the original beige.

I rose a little earlier than usual this morning, which is part of my new plan. It is necessary, after weeks of casual slacking, to return to the world. Rising earlier will help me get more work done, and if I get up fifteen minutes earlier each day I won’t notice the gradual change. By the time I go back to work I will be rising with the lark and facing the day with fortitude. Not that we have a lot of larks in Nottingham, in the morning or, indeed, at any time of the day.

As I descended, ready for the day, the post arrived. I now have a new supply of bran for the bokashi bucket. We are producing a lot more vegetable waste these days as a result of healthy eating. As we gradually work our way through the carrots I am also peeling more – there’s something very unappetising about the skin of an aging carrot.

I will be finalising our shopping list later in the day, and carrots won’t be on it.

The second parcel contained masks. I’ve only bought ten, but I thought I’d get a few just in case. Government advice is still that we don’t need them, but this might change and it’s easier to wear a proper mask than make one from a handkerchief and two rubber bands.

face mask on blue background

Photo by Anna Shvets on

In the evening, acting on Tootlepedal’s advice, I watched some improving TV. First I watched a painting programme, which would have been useful if I had any talent for painting. Then I did the washing up while Julia watched an Andy Warhol exhibition at the The Modern. We then sat down for two programmes about Philip Larkin. He was an interesting though slightly repellent character, but I knew that. The first programme was by someone who had known him and was quite interesting. The second was by someone who had trained as an actor before becoming an academic. That one was interesting because it showed how an academic can build a media career.

Just after midnight I checked in with TESCO, which has no delivery or collection, and ASDA, which did have a collection slot. I did some ordering then had a look at the list for our Thursday collection. It’s hard doing the shopping by remote control.

Some More Wall Paintings

Hardham: St. Botolphs Church: The "Lewes Group" 12th century wall paintings




I’ve just been looking up church wall paintings  as  a result of their appearance in one of yesterdays posts.

I am trying to learn more about them, though it is not, at this time, possible to visit any churches.

One of the best preserved painted interiors seems to be found in St Botolph’s Church, Hadham, in West Sussex. It’s not a part of the country I’m familiar with,though it’s always seemed very pleasant on the rare occasions I have visited. The church is either Saxon or early Norman and is quite small and plain on the outside. It’s a different matter on the inside, where the original wall paintings were rediscovered in 1862.

Hardham: St. Botolphs Church: The "Lewes Group" 12th century wall paintings

There are 39 different scenes, including four of St George, the earliest depiction of him in a British church.

Hardham: St. Botolphs Church: The "Lewes Group" 12th century wall paintings

This is St George being tortured on a wheel. I’m fascinated by the age of the paintings, and the way they have survived over the years, less fascinated by the subjects. It seems to me that our ancestors took far too much interest in torture and death.

This church is one of a group of five churches known to have been painted by a locally-based group of crafstmen using locally available pigments (red and yellow ochre), which led to the colour palette being referred to as ‘bacon and eggs’.

At St John the Baptist’s Church, Clayton, the paintings feature scenes of the Day of Judgement, making them an early example of Doom paintings.

There is a conservation dilemma at the church, as they also have bats. Bat urine is damaging the roof timbers and bat droppings have to be cleaned from the walls before services. This leaves the 800-year-old wall paintings at risk. It’s a case of irresistable force and immovable object. The paintings are listed for preservation purposes, but it is illegal to interfere with the bats.

One of the things I note, is that the paintings at Hardham were whitewashed in the 13th Century, when I normally think of it happening in the 16th century, at the time of the Reformation.

Photographs © Copyright Michael Garlick and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Charred Red Pepper Dip

First char your pepper. I used the garden flamethrower again and it did a better job than it did on the aubergine last week.

I shoved it in the blender and added the half carton of soft cheese left over from the Smoked Mackerel Pate. It looked a bit watery as it went in. With hindsight I should have taken it as a warning. I may have said that before.

I think I’ve also said I will look at recipes instead of working from memory. I tried but I couldn’t find the one I wanted, and as I had the soft cheese ready I just blundered ahead.

Add some garlic and smoked paprika and blitz it. Mutter. Add bread. Add more bread. When it looks firmish taste and add black pepper. It needed seasoning but I didn’t want to add lime juice as it was already sloppy. Even with the bread it was not exactly firm so I drained it in a sieve and managed to produce something with a consistency like a soft humous. I note from my spellchecker that the Americans spell humous differently too. You live and learn.

Charred Red Pepper Dip

Charred Red Pepper Dip

It was just about firm enough to be  acceptable and tasted OK. It needs some work but we ate it all so it can’t have been too bad. The photograph makes it look like something from a post-mortem examination but in natural light it lacked that spongy, moist lung-like quality.

We had it with green leaves, tomatoes, crackers and falafels. I’m going to try making my own falafels. The spellchecker doesn’t like that either. Falafel, according to the Concise Oxford Dictionary, is a variation of felafel. Google prefers falafel. The spellchecker doesn’t like either.

Before I do that I’m going to make sure I have all the ingredients and a recipe.

Flowers - detail

Flowers – detail

I thought I’d have another crack at the flowers. There’s not much else to photograph when you stay inside.

A New Day, A New Life

Today is the first day of the new regime. I have celebrated this by using a picture of dawn from the free photo library. It was easier than getting up early to take a less impressive photo.

Smaller portions, more exercise and earlier rising are three key points in the new way of life and have just been forced to add another – no internet quizzes. I’ve spent the last 20 minutes pitting my wits against Merriam Webster vocabulary tests and once again, my wits have come second. I’m good for my age, according to the calculator, but rarely make it to the heights of the top ten. Part of the trouble is that my computer is a bit slow, which loses me points. Leaving that excuse aside, the main problem, of course, is that I get words wrong. It’s amazing how many words I’ve never heard of. This sounds like a continuation of yesterdays post, but it isn’t meant to. It’s a lot less surprising to find a new word than to find a new idiom.

I’ve also given up doomsurfing, which was one of M-W’s new words for today. I started it a few weeks ago and gave it up last week. This week I learned the new word for it.

There is a fine line between keeping informed and wallowing in bad news. I started spending too much time looking at news and statistics and this invariably affected my outlook. This may or may not be linked to the way I lapsed into becoming a TV fixated jellyfish, sitting staring at the screen most of the day. However, in the few days since I stopped looking at bad news, I have felt better.

Going back to the second paragraph, 20 minutes of internet quizzes is 20 minutes away from productive work. There is no point in replacing uselessly staring at a TV screen with uselessly staring at a computer screen.

I am now going to check up on the word “doom”. M-W covers it, telling us that it originally meant judgement, but it doesn’t talk about the church wall paintings. Like so many things, I’ve always meant to search some out, but never got round to it. I’m fascinated by them , and by all church wall paintings. In fact, by all wall paintings. I have, more than once, had tea in Newark by a wall that was still decorated with Elizabethan wall paintings (though I believe that tea room has now closed). I like the idea that something has survived for hundreds of years. This is particularly true of the church paintings as they were targeted for destruction during the Reformation. I find the whole story of the Reformation and the rediscovery of the paintings under coats of whitewash, to be fascinating.

A Real Trip Through Lent

Doom painting, from St Thomas’s Church, Salisbury

Wenhaston, Suffolk, St Peter's Church | history & Photos

And for my Suffolk readers – the Doom from Wenhaston Church, which, as the link shows, has a very interesting story.


Tales of Tall Poppies

The header picture is a poppy in the front garden. It was taken at about 10 am and the petals are still crumpled from being in the bud. They don’t last long, by 2 pm, as a previous photo showed, they are already losing their petals. It’s a hard life being a poppy. As a man who is crumpled from life, and has bits falling off, I sympathise with these flowers.

Poppy - already falling apart

Poppy – already falling apart

I am, as I have often mentioned, 61 years old, and have spoken English all my life. I have read extensively and must have heard millions of words spoken. Today, on Pointless, I heard about tall poppies for the first time.

It seems it is a well known idiom, but it has passed me by. It’s not one of these words that has suddenly appeared either, it was first used in English in 1710 and dates back to Lucius Tarquinius Superbus, the last King of Rome.

It is also, it seems, a common figure of speech in Australia and New Zealand.

I feel happy to have found a new concept in English, but very ignorant not to have already known it.

meadow flower poppy wild poppies

Photo by Skitterphoto on

This is another stock photo, as none of my poppies look particularly tall.

I will leave you with a link to a poem about tall nettles by Edward Thomas. I’ve put it in the blog several times, so sorry to be repetitive, but I can’t think of too many poems featuring tall flowers.

According to Thomas’s Wikipedia entry the Petersfield Museum holds 1,800 books about Thomas in a study centre. I think I’ve read three. The feeling of ignorance persists…

Stir Fry Crazy

I backslid yesterday morning and went shopping on the way back from the hospital. I’ve let things slip a bit on the kitchen logistics and am short of a few things. This does not include carrots. We have enough carrots to eat them every day for the next week. In fact, we are going to have to eat them every day to make sure we get through them.

Julia made tea last night. I bought a bag of beansprouts while I was in the shop because they called me as I walked past. This was one of the high points, as were the four fresh rolls, the packet of ginger biscuits and the bunch of flowers. They didn’t have any decent marmalade, I didn’t see any mustard and there was, as usual, no flour.

It was tricky shopping because it was a spur of the moment thing and I didn’t have a list. I didn’t actually forget anything, but I did fail to find a few things that were probably there, such as the mustard. It was probably somewhere in the shop but it was Aldi and the aisles are narrow so going back would entail passing too close to people. At the best of times you get too close to people in Aldi, and there were several people shopping who didn’t seem too bothered about maintaining a proper distance.


The new flowers – artistic silhouette, or badly underexposed? The blue statice is the last survivor of the previous flowers.

I probably shouldn’t have gone shopping because we could have lasted until next week, but I’m beginning to crack under the pressure of lockdown. I did want a few supplies, and I did want to get something for Julia but I also, I admit, wanted to do something normal like shopping.

As you may be able to tell from the header picture, there is a possibility that Julia is feeling the pressure too. Look past the luscious fresh vegetables and the delicious chilli tomato sauce. Where, I ask, are the noodles you would normally expect with a stir fry? It did taste good with pasta, but it was a bit of a surprise.

I think the lockdown is starting to get to all of us in different ways…


Better Than Expected

I have to admit that the trip to the Treatment Centre turned out better than expected.

There was very light traffic on the road, though one or two drivers still managed to make a race out of it. Despite the doctrine of Natural Selection there seems to be an endless supply of idiots. I suppose that if the stupidity gene is recessive even sensible people will end up with idiot children. This explains a lot.

When I arrived at the centre there was some parking, which isn’t usually the case, and the barriers were open, so there was no charge. You know what I’m like about parting with money for frippery, so this was good news. As I left the car I noted that it was 8.55.

There were two security guards lurking at the entrance but they were chatting rather than doing anything useful. The ticket machine for the phlebotomy department was not working so they were handing out tickets at reception. I hope they had washed it after it was last used.

There was no queue, I just knocked on the door and the phlebotomist opened it, told me she was going to put her kit on and closed the door. Moments later, dressed in face mask, apron and gloves, she opened the door and let me in.

The vein took some finding, but she hit it first time and took two tubes of blood. Two. They must be doing a lot of tests.

She took 60 blood samples on Wednesday, but only a handful yesterday. She has three kids, and this is making things difficult at the moment, particularly as the older one is now afraid to leave the house. Based on my experience of having just two kids, three must be difficult at any time. I still remember the panic I felt at being left on my own with a baby and a two-year-old. Keeping two of them under supervision at the same time felt like I was in the middle of a real life fox, goose and sack of corn riddle. On top of all that she’s a very competent taker of blood.

After that it was upstairs to the pharmacy. After discussing the medication, yet again, I was handed a bag of pills and yet another booklet. I’m now waiting for the go-ahead to start taking them.

As I pulled out onto the ring road I looked at the car clock – it was 9.18. Allowing a couple of minutes for parking this means I was in and out in 25 minutes. This, I suppose, is an upside to the lockdown.

There were several points, one due to the construction of the centre and three due to people who didn’t understand the concept of six feet/two yards/two metres (one being a member of the medical staff). Note my previous comments on numbers of idiots.

Pictures are, again, from the free library. It’s difficult to find a good one for blood. The bottom picture is a shameless attempt to cheer people up.

animal pet cute portrait

Photo by Pixabay on