Author Archives: quercuscommunity

Wednesday – Tackling the Backlog

We went to Bakewell today. We went to Bakewell last Wednesday too. We may not be exciting but we are consistent.

However, this highlights a problem – I still have a lot of photos from last week. I also have a food review from last week, and I already have another one from this week.

This is a small backlog, but one which, in normal circumstances I would normally ignore. Things would be left and I would move on. I don’t delude myself, life goes on even in the absence of my views on traffic, tourists and charity shops, and nobody will feel a sense of loss if I don’t get round to writing about my hot pork sandwich. As for the book reviews I was planning – I wrote a book review in January 2019 and another in December. I’m guessing that most people don’t really visit the blog for my book reviews.

However, after a good night’s sleep, a lovely day in Derbyshire and a Valentine’s Day Gift that went right (and took a load off my mind) I am feeling inspired to work.

The lack of poetry writing in my life is also a factor. If I write prose I can pretend I am too busy when, in truth, I’m lazy, unimaginative and uninspired. Being busy prevents me facing up to that. I can write “lazy, unimaginative and uninspired” and still feel good because I’m writing about eating cake and looking at ducks.

Dog owners were a notable feature of the day. I think dogs are lower down the evolutionary scale than cats, I don’t like them in cafes and I tend to think that anything bigger than a terrier should be banned from living in town. However, I have to say that the dogs today were charming, full of character and attended by a great bunch of owners, who all seemed sensible, cheerful and enthusiastic about dogs. It was good to see, and really cheered the day up, to be honest, Cats tend to be a bit aloof, and I’ve never seen one look happy on a lead.

This post features ducks, people and a few other things from our visit to Bakewell last Wednesday. It misses out the sandwich, which will be the next post. I will then move on to this week’s visit, and the cake, but that will probably be instead of writing about Thursday or Friday.

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When the price of scrap goes up I’d cut the locks off and cash them in – I am not a great romantic

I will write about them while the weekend of storms rages around my head.

An that is how the next backlog will develop. Well, it’s one way. They also develop because I sit in the living room with Julia, chat about life, watch TV, snooze and use the netbook. It does well for an ageing, low-powered evolutionary dead-end, but it can be slow and tedious when loading photos. Hmm, ageing, low-powered evolutionary dead-end – sounds a bit like me.

I’m writing this on the computer in the cold dining room. It’s less comfortable but a lot quicker.

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The river Wye at Bakewell

Tuesday – the new Monday

This morning, as Julia struggled to work by bus again, I relaxed, ate toast and watched the weather report on TV. The forecast stated that there was a weather warning in Derbyshire, that there might be snow on high ground and that it might rain at lower levels. That was all very much like the forecast yesterday, which proved to be so badly wrong.

As I thought of yesterday’s events, and the unexpected snow, a flurry of medium flakes drifted past the window.

“Well, well,” I muttered as I watched them fall.

After about twenty seconds and several dozen flakes they stopped falling. It hardly seemed worth the trouble.

Work was fairly average. There were only six parcels to pack, a much more restful number than yesterday’s 28. We had several people bringing coins in to sell, including three who wanted to sell metal detector finds. One wanted too much money and one had boxes of interesting, but low quality, junk. We did, however, buy a sixpence of Queen Elizabeth I and a Saxon sceatta.

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Less interesting than a Saxon Coin

This is how life in a coin shop should be – we have been a bit quiet recently and it’s nice to be busy.

I also put a number of coin sets on eBay. It’s not the glamorous end of the coin trade (if such a thing exists) but someone has to do it. Life can’t all be Gold Nobles of Henry V. This was what last night’s speaker found when he detected a Gold Noble on Time Team shortly after starting detecting. He hasn’t found one since!

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Tristan da Cunha has a lot to answer for

I’m going to post this now and then come back to put the photos up, otherwise it will never get posted before midnight. To be fair, it’s not just photos, everything takes ages on this Netbook.

Just finished – it took just over half an hour!

Some Unexpected Snow

We did expect snow this afternoon, it was just that we were expecting it in a different place. It was supposed to be on high ground in Derbyshire. Instead, it snowed on the low ground of Nottingham.

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Carlton Hill – Nottingham

At 12.30 pm it started to rain. By 1.00 it had started to resemble a wintry shower.Then it began to look like snow, which it wasn’t, as none was forecast. By the time I parked by the side of the road it was beginning to stick.

I nearly went straight home, as I had things to do, but I went to visit the jewellers instead and watched from their office window as the flakes became larger and formed a four inch blanket of snow.

That, of course, was just the start of my problems.As I sat in the car to come home, the road seemed to fill with traffic. I cut through a side street and joined a main road. If only I had known what horrors lurked ahead…

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Snow in the Trees

I won’t bore you with details, but will merely point out that a fifteen minute journey took me two hours as the traffic system of Nottingham proved unable to accommodate snow and travel at the same time. I actually had to stop at KFC to use the toilets. Such are the demands of an ancient  bladder.

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Porchester Road – Nottingham

This gave me plenty of time to take photos, as a lot of the time was spent parked and waiting. It was, at the same time, both very annoying and an opportunity for photography.

It’s currently melting nicely, and I’m hoping that driving conditions will be good in the morning.

 

In the evening I battled with the remains of the day’s gridlock as I made it through to the Numismatic Society meeting. The speaker had managed to make it, so it seemed only fair to turn up, despite the temptation to stay at home. He was talking about his hobby – metal detecting – and was an entertaining speaker.  I now have just 4 weeks to prepare my presentation…

It seems the bridge will be staying closed for a few days more, and that the Highways Agency has been way out in its estimates of the re-opening. Julia is back on the bus tomorrow. I feel guilty but the bus was delayed badly today, and is likely to be delayed tomorrow, despite using bus lanes. In a car we have no chance of getting through without queuing for hours.

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Detail on a Snowy Day

A Photo from Julia

 

Julia took this photograph last week, using her phone.

It is the best Long-Tailed Tit photograph either of us has ever taken and has made me wonder why I even bother trying with my camera. I rarely get one in the frame, and when I do they are normally blurred.

She not only has them in the frame and in focus but she has them in an amusing “I’m not speaking to you” pose. We had kids, we had cats, we recognise the pose.

This is what happens when you marry a talented woman. I’m sure I’m not the only blogger to experience this. My breeding days are over and my photography has been surpassed. If she ever starts using public transport I will have nothing to offer.

Meanwhile, the wind has been roaring outside for most of the day. The tail end of Storm Ciara is still with us, despite the promise of it stopping by 3pm.

We dropped Number One Son at the railway station just after 3.00 pm, and it did seem to clear. The wind dropped, the sky turned bright blue and it looked like things were definitely on the up. This lasted until we did the shopping. By the time we finished the shopping the sky was grey again and the rain was starting again.

We didn’t need more rain, as we already have patches of flooding, but weather is like that.

We didn’t need more wind either, as we already had a number of trees down.

Number One Son arrived home over three hours later due to various disruptions – about double the normal time. It was not a good weekend to travel.

Still, he did get home in one piece, our roof is still in place (apart from one tile) and tomorrow is looking better. Our weather may not be good, but it’s rarely very bad either, just bad enough to have a good old grumble.

I will finish with an Owl picture. I’m still able to do decent Owl pictures, even if my Long-Tailed Tits aren’t up to the mark.

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Peak Shopping Village

 

 

Carmageddon!

I stole the title from a news article. According to T. S. Eliot, it is OK to steal from the work of others.

The Highways Agency closed a bridge in Nottingham on Thursday night to check some damage they had found during a routine inspection. Along with thousands of others I did not know this when I set off to take Julia to work at 8.00 that morning. (To clarify – thousands of others did not know, but only I was taking Julia to work).

A journey which should have seen me spend about 45 minutes in the car, took me two and a half hours. I won’t describe it, or the behaviour of some drivers in the queue. Nor will I complain how bad it was for me or  how useless the Highways Agency are (though this is very tempting – they were totally useless in warning people and totally useless in setting up diversions). They were great at closing the bridge and causing chaos, but I could have done that with a few signs – that’s they easy bit). I won’t even moan about the fact that the bridge, which was supposed to be closed until Friday mid-day, is now likely to be closed until Wednesday.

I am not even going to remark that many people must suffer worse inconveniences than this on a regular basis.

No, today’s gem of wisdom is that if the fairly small matter of a closed bridge brings a city to gridlocked chaos, where would we be if something serious ever happens?

Despite having a prize-winning bus system and an expensive tram system, neither was much use. The buses don’t have bus lanes on the ring road and the trams don’t necessarily go where we need to go, though the network is expanding.

The second gem of wisdom, and I can’t help feeling smug at managing two in one day, is that this is why we can’t get people out of cars and onto public transport. Even when things are running properly Julia has to take two buses and two hours to get to work by public transport. I have never even tried, as it would take two buses and the best part of an hour to do a journey that only takes me ten minutes by car.

So, from one point of view, the problem is poor public transport. From the other it is that I’m selfish. When the world comes to an end, I will have to take my share of the blame for pollution. But in my defence, the bus would take the equivalent of three working weeks out of my year, and deprive the world of a substantial chunk of my writing. This may, or may not be a price the world is willing to pay, but it does at least allow me to say this is the way the world ends, gets me back to Eliot to complete a circular blog.

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Nottingham – Sunset on Wednesday

The pictures are from Wednesday, when we ate scones and did other things I have not yet written about because I left the camera at work, and was then overtaken by circumstances.

Scone Chronicles 33 – Yes, we have Scones

I had meant to space the food reviews out a bit more, but I’ve been forced into this by a certain amount of heckling about the lack of scones.

Move smoothly on from Sunday evening, ignore the next couple of days and that brings us neatly to Wednesday and time for elevenses. We are at the Peak Shopping Village, the ducks are clustering round looking for food, and a small scone shaped gap is opening up in my middle regions.

We went to buy half-price boots for Julia, as her expensive ones had started letting in water. This was easy – by the time she had made her selection I had made a circuit of The Works, failed to buy a book, and had left in disgust. We then went to the hospice charity shop where the only thing I wanted turned out to be part of the display. I hate it when that happens.

By that time I was definitely in e of refreshment so we entered Massarella’s cafe and while I sought a table Julia went to get tea and scones.

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A mediocre scone, with badly applied egg wash

As we breakfasted late (porridge followed by sausage sandwiches, using the sausages left over from the night before), other people were already lunching. My quest for a clean table did not go well and left me elbow to elbow with a stocky elderly lady (I select my words carefully) chasing the final clean table. She had a fine set of elbows and a surprising turn of speed, and laid her walking stick across the table to claim the prize as I floundered in her wake.

Massarella’s always sounds like an Italian restaurant, with tiled floors and lots of chatter. Add the barking of a dog to that and the whole ambiance falls apart, and not just for me. Several other people were clearly irritated by the dog-friendly aspect of the cafe.

However, compared to the scones, the barking dog was no problem. The scones were dry inside, and lacked flavour. My mother used to mutter “cheap baking” at times like this. It certainly seemed to lack the rich, fluffy, buttery sensation you get from a decent scone.

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OK, not as disappointing as England’s woeful rugby performance, but still pretty disappointing

I have a feeling they may have been frozen, and dried out in thawing.

We will go back because we like the atmosphere, and the Italian gent behind the counter charmed Julia. And, of course, because they offer Afternoon Tea at £18 for two people. But, like a trip to the hospice shop, we won’t expect too much.

That last comment could also apply to the charity shops of Bakewell where we visited later – they don’t seem to have much in, and it’s getting harder to justify the time spent looking round when there are no decent books.

So, Massarella’s, the Charity shops of Derbyshire and The Works (where I failed to buy a single book) had all better pull their socks up. This is just not good enough!

Because they have ducks, a nature trail and a carved owl archway, I will visit again, but they would be well-advised to get a grip. Carved owls cannot replace decent scones.

Vexed! And a Space-Filler Post

The planned post for the day was Scone Chronicles 33, and it actually had scones in it. I had done about 75% of it before I broke to make tea (corned beef hash with red cabbage, in case future researchers wonder what it was). When I looked for my camera to load the pictures after eating, I found that I must have left it at work again. I am quite annoyed with myself.

I am therefore going to write a blog around the recent photos that I have on the other camera. First I will have to check what they are, as I can’t remember what they are.

It’s not looking promising.

There are pictures of the Peace and Tribute medals which I’m going to use for my talk at the Numismatic Society, which is, as yet, amorphous and coming up in four weeks.

There are banknotes from the shop, some modern collectible coins and some “evasions”. Evasions are interesting to students of coins, Georgian history and crime. And Americans. A lot of them were used, and even made, in America until the emerging state got its coinage sorted out. I say “interesting”. If brass, rubbing, train spotting and collecting matchbox labels are interesting…well, you get the picture.

In the eighteenth century there was a shortage of small change for everyday transactions. The gap was filled by tradesmen who issued their own tokens, forgers and makers of evasions, which fill a gap between the two. This is one of ours on eBay. They were made to look worn so they blended in better, so this is actually quite a good example.

An evasion is a coin made to look like a coin, but with some very unsubtle differences – it may have King Alfred or another figure on it, it may be mispelled and it may bear a date on which no coins were minted. It will, however, have a head on the front, looking vaguely king-like, and it will have Britannia or a harp on the back. In other words, it is meant to deceive, but be an obvious fake when examined. And, as an obvious fake, it isn’t legally a forgery.

When you consider that the punishment for forgery was hanging for men, and burning at the stake for women, you cans see that this was an important distinction.

The last woman to be burned at the stake in Britain, was Catherine Murphy, executed in 1789 for coining. Her husband was hanged for coining that same morning. By that time the burning was mainly symbolic as the victims were usually hanged or strangled before the fire was lit. This must have been of small comfort.

Despite popular culture shouting “Burn her, she’s a witch!” the English never burned witches. We hanged them. The last witch burned in Scotland was in 1727. I’m sure that whether they died by hanging or burning, witches must have felt hard done by, seeing as witchcraft didn’t really exist.

The last woman imprisoned for witchcraft in the UK was Helen Duncan, who claimed to have had contact with dead sailors and to know that HMS Barham had been sunk before it was officially announced. She was jailed in 1944 under the provisions of the Witchcraft Act of 1735. This, to be fair, wasn’t a case about witchcraft but about wartime censorship and a fraudulent medium claiming to be in touch with dead servicemen.

They may look like worn out copper discs, but coins can be quite interesting.