Monthly Archives: Apr 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.