Author Archives: quercuscommunity

Day 142

In the end we had sausages for breakfast. It would have been more economical, and probably healthier, to have had them for tea, but it just seemed like the right thing to do. What better way is there to start a week than eating a surprise gift of sausages?

That’s right, following them up with marmalade on toast. Julia bought some nice mixed grain bread yesterday and I allow myself toast and marmalade on Sundays.The rest of the week, I do without it as part of my cheerless diet routine. There are a varying number of calories in a slice of toast and marmalade – let’s go for 150 as an average figure.  Cut out toast and marmalade for 6 days and that’s 900 calories. Cut it out for 48 weeks (allowing myself a little leeway for weakness and holidays) and that’s 43,200 calories if my mental arithmetic is reliable.

As my daily intake is supposed to be around 2,500 calories cutting out a slice of toast and marmalade a day is the same as fasting for two and half weeks (17.28 days). I did that on the calculator, and double checked it all, as that seems a lot. Tootlepedal has told me several times that dieting is all about making small, almost imperceptible cuts in consumption. If a slice of toast and marmalade a day comes to this, you can see how it works.

Lunch was home made mushroom soup and a sandwich made from smoked mackerel pate. Julia likes fish, I am less keen. As a compromise I bought smoked mackerel last week. She ate some of it and I mixed the rest with soft cheese, black pepper and lemon juice to make the smoked mackerel pate. It made two good sandwiches for lunch and will make two more for lunch tomorrow. I normally make it using the small blender (we don’t have a big one these days) but was feeling lazy today so just whizzed it together using a fork. There is less washing up that way. I’m going to add some chopped spring onion tops and sliced cucumber for tomorrow so I can pretend I am on an elegant Edwardian picnic tomorrow rather than sitting in the windowless back room of a coin shop.

Today’s picture is the tank traps at Gibraltar Point. Strange to think how things have gone – Julia’s grandfather was one of the first tank drivers. I grew up seeing tank traps along the coast (and still do) and on the news from Ukraine it seems that the tank is no obsolete on the modern battlefield. A century of ingenuity went into designing a weapon that is now outdated, but we still don’t have a safe and satisfactory way of opening a can of corned beef.

Makes you wonder about the human race.

Day 141

It was just another Saturday.

Got up with plenty of time to spare. Julia made bacon sandwiches and I went to work to find the almost obligatory small car parked (badly) directly in front of the shop. Yet another of the blue rinse brigade going to the hairdresser but parking in our spaces.

I stamped up a couple of heavy parcels that were going abroad (approximately £28 of stamps on each one), packed the other orders and settled down in front of the computer to watch a live auction sale. At that point the customers and phone calls commenced. It’s always the way. can’t complain though, as we are only just building the retail trade up to a reasonable level after Covid.

An elderly gent came in with his daughter as he had saved some coins from his change and wondered if they were worth anything. They were the same assortment as usual and, as usual, worth only their face value. He went away crestfallen, with his daughter laughing. I felt sorry for him, as he was only acting on stories he had seen in the news about coin values. Part of the sympathy, I admit, was because I had a sense of looking at my own future. And not even my distant future.

Later in the afternoon we had a small rush of orders. Four to be precise. Three came in while I was loading items for sale and the final one came in while I was packing the others. The Post Office closes at lunchtime on Saturdays so we couldn’t get them in the post but at least they will be done for Monday.

One of the customers is a butcher and brought us a pack of sausages, so I ended up bringing sausages home in my lunchbox. They look very good, but I’m not sure whether to have them for breakfast (which seems a bit greedy) or to save them for tea (which involves self-discipline).

Maybe I was wrong in the first line. It wasn’t just another Saturday, because we got free sausages.

 

 

Day 140

I’ve just been looking at a recent haibun, which I had thought I might reprint it in the blog. When I looked at it I found that, despite it being accepted and published, and despite my various edits and improvements before submission, it still has faults. It’s strange how that happens. There are at least two corrections needed in the space of 200 words. I suppose this will always be the problem with written work. It seemed finished when I submitted it, but the faults are clear and jarring.

Looking at it with fresh eyes shows more clearly what an editor may see when looking at my work. They aren’t even complicated faults – one being a fault with rhythm and one being a repeated word.

The piece I have used, could be better, and I have had a couple of thoughts for improvement, but nothing leaps out at me immediately. I’m now wondering about the idea of leaving everything for an extra three months before submitting it.

 

Quiet Corner

As a child, I attended a village school where the playground shared a wall with the churchyard. On one side of the wall we played and shouted. On the other, a line of small mossy memorials marked the graves of babies. Having grown up knowing that I had a sister who had died before I was born, I accepted, as did most people, that babies died. Years later, staring in wonder at my firstborn, I would think about those stones again, the tiny bodies that they covered, and from a new perspective, the parents.

snail shells
the song thrush uses gravestones
for an anvil

First Published Blithe Spirit February 2022

Day 139

So soon? I have just finished day 138 (Part 2) and am already into the next post. It took about 24 hours to get round to the last one and is already midnight, so I will be completing this in Day 140. This is confusing me, so I don’t know what you readers think of it.

The teashop review won’t be done for a few days, so that will be even more dislocated.

Today was less complicated in the shop – no complaints and a few orders. They were all easy to find and I had them all packed by 10.00. Another couple of orders came later in the day and we got them done easily too. It was all too simple – I’m sure we will pay for it in the morning – we are bound to have more complications.

This seems to be the way at the moment – not many customers about and the ones we  get are the ones that cause problems.

I got a 5 ounce silver coin ready for eBay today. It’s a £10 coin from Tristan da Cunha. Clearly it’s just a piece of nonsense as nobody would want a 5 ounce coin in their pocket, and nobody would put a coin into circulation that was worth so much more for its silver value than its face value.

It commemorates the Year of the Three Kings (1936) when we had three Kings – George V (who died), Edward VIII (who abdicated and George VI (who didn’t really want to be King). There is a contemporary medallion set, but most of the commemoratives are very recent. A bit like Edward VIII memorabilia – most of it is recent in origin.

Tristan da Cunha is a remote archipelago which earns much of its income by allowing people to issue coins and stamps using its name. There are 250 people living there so it’s not as if they need many coins – this coin has a mintage of 499, which sounds small in world terms, but is actually enough for every inhabitant to have two each.

We have had several other years with three monarchs – 1066, 1483 and 1553. 1936 is the only one that didn’t involve murder or execution for at least one of the participants.

 

Day 138 (Part 2)

“It’s a Wheatear.” said the elderly gent with all the gear (who may actually have been younger than me). He was right, it was a Wheatear, and he was standing about ten yards away from it. There was absolutely no need for him to walk any closer, as he was already about forty yards closer than me. He had binoculars and I had my eyes. As I pointed the bird out to Julia he spooked it and scared it away.

I like Wheatears and would have liked to get a better view. I was not pleased. Fortunately it bobbed up again and we were able to view it properly. This time the elderly gent, who may well have heard what I said about him earlier, just stood and watched.

Wheatear

After five minutes of bobbing about and displaying the white rump from which it gets its name (it’s from the Anglo-Saxon “white arse”) It flew away. Fortunately, I manged to get a few shots.

The whalebones we have seen before were still there, but now mounted in a framework to make them into a sort of sculpture. It’s probably better for them than just lying on the grass, like they used to do.

There were a lot of blue butterflies out in the yellow flowers. Can anyone recognise the flowers from the photos? I’m rubbish with flower ID.

As an interesting sidelight – the Trustpilot photos for Gibraltar Point contain some great photos, but unfortunately contain several that include rocky outcrops, summer clothing and Barbary Apes – this is Gibraltar, and not Gibraltar Point. The two things are very different.

This is written on Day 139. I will now write a post for Day 139 and in the near future will write about the cake at the4 tearoom. I may even reflect on my dietary sins of the day. But then again, I may not.

Whale bones Gibraltar Point

New Building Gibraltar Point

Old Building Gibraltar Point – I first visited this in 1965. Has it changed? Well, it seems a lot smaller  . . .

Yellow Flower Gibraltar Point

Yellow Flower Gibraltar Point

Chips at Sutton on Sea

Day 138

We went to the seaside today. It was the first time we’ve been out since we went to Leeds for Christmas Dinner last year. We had chips and cake and saw a Wheatear. This may take a couple of posts.

You wouldn’t thank me for a description of our preparations, which involved breakfast at McDonalds, blowing up the tyres and buying expensive fuel. (Strange how Breakfast at McDonalds didn’t make it big in either film or music, whereas Breakfast at Tiffany’s did.)

Nor, I feel would you benefit from a description of the journey through Lincolnshire, which is a little like a voyage through the mid-twentieth century whilst staring at the back of a tractor. We also got stuck behind a caravan and a motorhome. This is the advantage of travelling in spring – we only had one caravan, one motorhome and two tractors  – as the holidays and harvest really get going there will be many more hold ups.

Dolphin – Sutton on Sea

We finally arrived at Sutton on Sea and The Dolphin, expecting to sit down to a fish and chip special and use the toilets with the great tiles. (This is quite important at my age.) Unfortunately the various lockdowns have not been kind to The Dolphin, and it is now just a takeaway. It was the same last time we went, but it now seems permanent. I’m not saying this is the worst thing about lockdown, but it is certainly a major change for the worse. I’ve been going there for 34 years, and am sorry to see it go.

We ate in the community garden just round the corner, chatted to a couple with electric bikes, and watched a starling pounce on a butterfly. I’ve never seen that happen before. Even with high magnification I couldn’t identify the species of moth.

Starling Sutton on Sea

Fish and Chips from the Dolphin

Gold £2 Coin 1995 End of WW2 Reverse

Day 137

Arrived home at 4.30, crammed with good intentions. It is 8.44 now and the intentions, though still there, are starting to leak out slowly as I subside, like one of those faulty Christmas Santa decorations people have on their lawns at Christmas. All I’ve done is eat leftovers and buy something on eBay.  Eating leftovers is good, buying stuff on eBay is not quite so good. I am not short of stuff.

I was going to get some submissions sorted tonight and look up some recipes. So far I have watched several actors reciting poetry on You Tube. And this. OK, I’ve looked at a couple of on-line auction catalogues too. As I work in antiques and collectables this counts as Continuing Professional Development rather than wasting my life and filling the house with junk.

We had an interesting customer on eBay. He emailed us this morning. The gold medallion he ordered a couple of days ago ahs arrived and he is unhappy that it is so small. Our details included the information that it weighed half a gram, was 11mm in diameter and, as if that wasn’t enough, included a picture of it next to a ruler. There is a market for these tiny gold coins and medallions, though I’m puzzled why anyone would want one.

We don’t want him to be disappointed, so told him he was welcome to return it, though we did point out that we had been accurate in our listing.

So he decided to start an argument.

Time is money and we don’t get paid for spending time winning arguments, so we just ignored him. That seemed to annoy him even more so he launched another rant.

I really don’t know what makes some people tick.

Day 136

Yesterday I did some bulk cooking. We had pasta bake for tea and finished it off for lunch today. That left me with a lunchbox that needed washing. Easy enough, I thought. Hot water, washing up liquid, put the lid on and give it a good shake. It’s airtight, isn’t it, that’s why it keeps sandwiches fresh.

Imagine my surprise when a stream, of hot water went all over my shaking hand. It appears that sandwich boxes are not as airtight as I thought. Fortunately the water was merely hot. If I’d actually used boiling water the results could have been more painful.

Tonight we had sweet potato and chickpea curry, also cooked yesterday. Tomorrow we will have either ratatouille or curry with baked potatoes. I haven’t quite got the portion control right and we have a helping of each for tomorrow. On Wednesday we will have butternut squash and chilli soup for lunch. Then I will have to cook again. It’s far easier when you just get on with it and do a bulk cook. It’s not exactly inspiring food, but it’s better than buying a takeaway, which is an ever present risk when you don’t plan properly.

I’m thinking veggie burgers and roasted veg for Wednesday, and pizza and salad for Thursday (we already have the pizza bases).  Friday is a long way off, but it will probably involve carrots. We have quite a lot of carrots. It’s probably going to be hash. I’m not feeling very imaginative at the moment and we also have quite a lot of parsnips, sweet potatoes and swede, which make quite a good hash. I think we’ll have corned beef with that, as it will have been a meat-free week by then.

Strange to think that a few years ago we I decided to go for meat-free Mondays. Now look at us – virtually vegetarian. It is, I confess, mainly by accident. I didn’t mean to cut so much meat out, and not every week is as meat-free as this one.

The picture is Chickpea and peanut butter thai red curry from some time in lockdown – one of Julia’s recipes.

 

 

Day 135

The morning is now over and I have spent it having a lie in, eating porridge, repairing a strimmer, catching up on reading and . . . er . . . that’s it. I am currently writing the first few lines of the blog whilst waiting for the kettle to boil (having received shouted instructions from the garden.

It has just boiled, so I will do as I am told and hope to be back with you soon.

Farmer Ted, the knitted bear assistant

Later . . .

I read some of the Haiku Society of America mentorship booklet, which I found hard going. It’s more or less a writer bio followed by three haiku and with a few kind words about the mentorship scheme.

Or, if you look it up on Google, it may be the Human Slaughter Association Mentorship programme. I have a limited capacity for reading haiku (though it is less limited than my capacity for reading them), and don’t like video conferencing or workshops, so you will be more likely to see me discussing humane slaughter than haiku. I confess, and have never hidden the fact, that I am not a fan of haiku and only write them because I need them for haibun.

After a few pages of that, I decided to have a go at Ribbons, which is the magazine of the Tanka Society of America. I joined last week and they have already sent me a magazine. Even better, it is full of tanka.

There are some magazines I read that just feel like home, and others that don’t feel comfortable. Ribbons is comfortable, as is The Haibun Journal. There’s nothing much to see on that last link, as they don’t do anything online. I merely add the link to prove it exists.

While I’m talking about magazines and societies, I should mention that there are other good magazines, and that my definition of bad magazines is based on my own personal view rather than a proper procedure. I find it so much quicker just to form an unreasoning prejudice rather than a balanced view.

I will also say that I don’t like the process that the societies all seem to adopt, of running memberships from Christmas to Christmas. It’s a bad time of year to extract money from people and when they all do it at the same time it forces a decision on some people. Well, on me. I know there are reasons for this, but you would think that at least one would do it differently, just to make it more convenient for members. I suppose when the rest of your members are highly paid and successful (as all the writer bios indicate) nobody else ever finds themselves short of money.

Gatekeeper butterfly

I decided just to add random feelgood photos to this one. The top one may, in hindsight, fulfil that purpose for vegans.

Day 134

Got up, had a bacon croissant sandwich for breakfast, went to work and found a parking space. Home for lunch (it’s my half day) for vegetable soup I made last night. Does it get better than that?

The answer seems to be “no”. Nothing in the rest of the day, even watching Mega Shark Versus Kolossus and eating a Magnum choc ice, though good, failed to improve on the morning.

I suppose that an outbreak of world peace and a sudden dose of common sense influencing international politics would improve on a bacon sandwich, but it didn’t happen and so the day is tailing off. Julia will be making burritos for tea and Pointless Celebrities is on soon, so there are still things to look forward to, despite this anti-climax.

Yesterday, I found out a very interesting fact. Two, in fact. One is that rats and mice are unable to pass wind, in either direction. Julia said something very unkind when I told her this, but as I said, blame my healthy high-fibre diet. The second is that simply calling yourself “organic” doesn’t make you a nice person.

The reason I say this is because I found out how organic gardeners kill rats. Unfortunately, with neighbours who put out too much bird food and have BBQs and decking (all good stuff if you are a rat) I am forced to take action from time to time. I don’t want to poison a cat and I don’t want rats in the garden, so I use a trap. Organic gardeners have another method.

They don’t use poison, because that would be bad. They use baking soda, delivered in a number of ways,, usually mixed with peanut butter or a flour and sugar mix. The rats eat the baking soda, the soda reacts and produces carbon dioxide when it hits the digestive acids of the rat. And the rat, instead of releasing the gas, inflates.

You aren’t actually poisoning the rats, you are inflating them until their internal organs rupture. This, to me, seems a lot worse than simply poisoning or trapping them. Maybe I’m not cut out to be an eco-warrior.