Author Archives: quercuscommunity

How does weather affect your mood?

The title is another from the random subject generator. It’s not quite random because I refused the first one – “Describe an Ornament”. We have a house full of clutter and I don’t want to remind myself of it by describing one particular piece.

So, how does the weather affect my mood? Obviously I feel good when the weather is good and less good when the weather is bad. That was an easy one.

I’m rapidly losing faith in the random subject generator.

Here is a selection of messages written on tiles in the Mencap garden.

I’ll be able to return to posts with more pictures tomorrow because I’ve bought a new card reader from ASDA. I nearly had breakfast while I was there, despite the memory of it being  fairly rank last time I had it. The service was so slow my knee gave way while I was standing in the slow-moving, and slightly mutinous, queue so I left. This was, I’m pretty sure, a blessing in disguise.

I finally had breakfast in the square at Newark – two Lincolnshire sausages in a bun with fried onions and brown sauce. It was very tasty, and much better than ASDA. The resulting mess demonstrated my wisdom in selecting shirts in food-coloured check patterns. After scraping up the spilt onions you could hardly see the mark.

 

 

A Bad Start. A Really Bad Start…

Things started badly this morning. As I followed my normal matutinal routine I turned to flush the toilet and my glasses fell off.

I will allow you a moment for thought here.

If I had planned the whole thing my glasses would have either missed completely or hit the seat and bounced off to safety. As it was unplanned, and I was hurrying, they didn’t miss. At another time, and if they had hit a different target, I might have been proud of my effort. Today, pride was not the first feeling I experienced.

I couldn’t leave them there, in case the flushing took them somewhere where it might cause an expensive blockage, and it was unlikely I was going to persuade anyone else to help me out. There was only one solution.

Fortunately I used to work on a farm, so this wasn’t the worst place I’d ever had to put my hand. (In case you were wondering, it IS the worst place I’ve ever lost my glasses).

It’s all fixed now and I am wearing my glasses once again. All that remains of the episode is a vaguely disturbing memory and the faint smell of TCP that lingers round my glasses.

And yes, before you ask. We do have rubber gloves in the house, I just didn’t think of it at the time.

After that, unsurprisingly, things improved.

 

 

 

Book Review: Fer-De-Lance

Fer-De-Lance by Rex Stout

Mass Market Paperback: 285 pages

Publisher: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group; Bantam Crime Line ed edition (1 Mar. 2005)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0553278193

ISBN-13: 978-0553278194

It’s the first book in the Nero Wolfe series and the Amazon price was low, so it seemed a good one for me to start with.

Nero Wolfe is rather Holmesian in his range of knowledge and detective abilities, though his disinclination to leave his home aligns him more closely with Mycroft than with Sherlock.

Archie Goodwin, Wolfe’s assistant, and the narrator of the stories, is somewhat more with it than Dr John Watson, and is more active as a detective, though he does share Watson’s eye for the ladies. In fact, in some ways Goodwin is the main character of the novel.

The pacing is good, and the plot is complex enough to be satisfactory. However, it is a bit dated in the choice of murder weapon. I always think of Edgar Wallace when it comes to complex gadgets. I’ll say no more for now, see what you think.

To sum up – characters, pacing and puzzle are all good. Look on the murder weapon as a period curiosity and don’t let it get in the way of your enjoyment.

Great British Bake Off and Other Thoughts

I’ve just been watching GBBO and shouting abuse at the TV screen. It’s amazing how worked up you can get about sponge cake.

After the change of channel following the last series I was prepared never to watch it again. I even thought I might not bother giving this series a chance. I didn’t really fancy Noel Fielding for the job because I think he’s a bit over the top, and I’ve never found Sandi Toksvig as entertaining as she seems to find herself. As she’s the same age as me and much more rich and famous it’s possible I’m in a minority here.

Having watched the series so far I have to say I can’t really tell the difference, despite the change of personnel. Despite my misgivings they seem to be doing a good job. Being a fan of light-hearted banter and cake this really is my sort of show.

One of the things that fascinates me, apart from the cake, is the careers that seem to open up for some of the bakers. Nadiya Hussein, the 2015 winner, seems to be popping up all over the place. She’s on TV, has a newspaper column, is an author and has been up for several awards. She’s even been a question on Pointless, and it doesn’t get much better than that.

Compared to the general run of TV “celebrities” she’s way ahead of most of them, as are all the GBBO winners.

It’s a tricky thing to judge, and I don’t have a clue how we’ve arrived a a situation where people can make a career from being stupid on TV. Despite my cluelessness it looks like we’re in for a long spell of exposure to people who went on Big Brother, TOWIE, Made in Chelsea and whatever other dross we seem to fall for.

I’m thinking of pitching an idea called Dancing on Thin Ice where a group of spurious celebrities is made to skate on a frozen lake as the spring thaw arrives. Depending on the audience phone-in results they will be given bricks to put in their pockets as the series progresses. It will be filmed on location in Russia, as they have the the ice, and the right sort of attitude to Health and Safety.

I’d better start rehearsing my speech for the award ceremony.

 

It could have gone better…

We went down to the Mencap garden tonight to drop off a donation of plants from one of the neighbours. We have Japanese anemone, Michaelmas daisies, buddleia and raspberries. I’ve also donated my tea plants as they can make a better job of looking after them than I will.

The Magpies were waiting.

There were two on the roof of the shed, two perching on the fence and two standing on top of a lamp post. One was perching in a tree and one was pottering around in the grass. He’s the one that we think acts like a stroppy teenager. We assume it’s a “he” because girls don’t act like stroppy teenagers. If Magpies wore baseball caps his would be on backwards.

We’ve never seen eight at one time at the gardens before.

The first part of the afternoon was less interesting.

It involved eating soup (which went well) but then deteriorated as I took two bags of books to the charity shop. It started to rain as I parked the car. I grabbed a lightweight rain jacket from the back seat and managed to empty one of the bags of books onto the floor.

As slapstick goes it was a polished and faultless move.

After parting with the books, which still hurts as I talk about it, I decided to use the available light to photograph some bits and pieces. (I find the light in the car better than the interior of the house at this time of year). I hadn’t locked the door of the battery compartment last time I opened it.

They fell out.

I put them back.

And at that point I realised I hadn’t put the card in.

I was so wet I steamed up the inside of the car. This took a while to clear and gave me time to brood on the unfairness of life.

Then I went home, where Julia told me she had a job for me. That brings us back to the top of the page…

Poppies in Autumn

First we went to Aldi, because they had been advertising they would have craft supplies in this week. To Julia craft supplies are like cat nip to cats.

Then we went to the garden centre in search of rooting powder. This was hard because, over the years, the gardening supplies have been forced out by the gift shop and are now hidden like a shameful secret.

The salvage yard has always seemed to stock too many duplicates. If I was a cynic I would be tempted to suggest this is because most of the stuff is modern and made in China – not salvaged or reclaimed. I have nothing against the stuff, or any of the other repro gear, because it adds a touch of elegance to the garden, but it should be made clear.

It often crops up on programmes like Bargain Hunt where the experts don’t seem to recognise it and have to wait for the auctioneer to tell them. I suspect that they are really just being nice to the contestants and stall holders by not mentioning it, because when the Chinese make repro they make lots of it and it gets all over the trade.

They once brought a shipment of repro vases in to the Newark Antique Fair – everyone had them and they were around £15 each. Cheerful, decorative and cheap.

We went to Wales that weekend and there was one in a shop window. It had travelled 250 miles, aged by 100 years and increased in price to £75.

When I win the lottery I want one of those big urns.

Back home two orange poppies were unfurling themselves, a Red Admiral flew off as I tried to focus and the spider still lurks.

The shield bug on the fatsia japonica obliged by posing. Shield bugs are very good like that.

 

A Pale Rainbow

First of all – a correction. I cooked the chicken and vegetables in the oven, not on the hob, so it was actually a casserole and not a stew as I stated in a previous post. It’s a small point but important if you value accuracy.

Apart from that, there’s been drizzle, a poor attempt at a rainbow and cheesecake to follow the casserole. (We bought it on the way back from the leisure centre, my cheesecakes are better than bought ones, but tend to be runnier and crumblier and harder to eat with panache.) Though it’s tangy and lemony, and makes you tabs laugh, as they say round here, it does tend to get spread down your shirt, in your beard and on the table.

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Casserole – before

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Casserole – after

You may be wondering why I’m posting three times today, when the first was sufficient. The truth is that it helps me avoid hoovering, and gives me an excuse to use some of the photos I took this afternoon.

My latest way of improving my life is to take photographs every day, declutter  every day (even if it’s only a small amount) and to write every day. That means you have to look at photos of a drizzly day, but I’m sure there are worse things.

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Pale Rainbow over Mapperley