Category Archives: blogging

The Plan Falls (Mainly) Into Place

Right, I’ve sorted out the debacle that resulted from this morning’s post. I’ve also confessed to another world-class senior moment. This is beginning to be a habit.

So, how did the plan for today go, I hear you ask.

Well…

Julia – dropped off at work on time.

Go home – read blogs and write one.  I think you probably know how that went.

Laundry – did that. Couldn’t get a parking space so  had to carry three nags of washing  round the corner and across the road. Managed to set one machine on a cold wash, which was annoying.  Apart from that I had the place to myself most of the time.

Photographs – went to Arnot Hill Park. Didn’t get many as there were a lot of shadows on the water from neighbouring trees, and the bits without shadow had glare from the low sun. There was a cormorant – originally diving for fish, then drying its wings. It took some stalking after I first saw it, but once it decided to dry its wings it stood and displayed itself shamelessly. Nobody else seemed to notice. It’s the first one I’ve seen on the duck pond.

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Tufted Duck male on the duck pond at Arnot Hill, Arnold, Notts

From there I went shopping, met an old friend, and spent a happy hour catching up on the news.

After that it was back home to cook and plan blog posts.  However, first I had a sit down and cup of tea. Shall we just say that no cooking or blogging took place, as I moved smoothly on to the final element of the plan.

Fortunately I had set the alarm on my phone, and was  woken in time to pick Julia up from work.

We’re now waiting for a Chinese delivery, as it’s too late to cook. Well, that’s the excuse I’m using.

Only two photographs today because the rest won’t download. The card reader isn’t working and the lead for connecting the camera directly seems to have disappeared. They do that if you don’t keep a constant watch on them.

 

In Defence of British Food, and a Discussion of Netiquette

I’ve just been reading an exchange between two bloggers who have different views on British food. They were very polite to each other, though there was definite disagreement, and raised the question about how to handle such a situation.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to avoid disagreements by ignoring them. Does my opinion really matter that much if it’s going to upset someone? Much better to stay positive and friendly.

When I was a salesman the all purpose remark for those times. “Yes,” we would say to the customer,”there’s a lot in what you say.”

All you had to remember was not to tell them what there was a lot of. Sorry about the grammar, but I think it conveys the general idea.

My first experience of on-line disagreement was with sports forums, where the most argumentative people in the world seem to congregate. If there was a word to be misinterpreted, a nuance to be missed or an erroneous opinion to be expressed, they are the ones to do it. I soon learned that it was easy to upset people, difficult to explain why you were being misinterpreted and impossible to change anyone’s mind.

In the case of the food debate Ellen Hawley, who writes Notes from the UK, wrote a post called Is British Food Dull? She lists a number of things which show some dull food, praises some American food, discusses the idiocy of modern British chefs and doesn’t use the letter “u” enough.

I think the poor woman is American, so I’ll forgive her the spelling. I’ll also forgive her comments on British lasagne, because most of it does taste as she correctly says, like glue. Mine doesn’t, because (a) my mother taught me to make it with a cheese sauce and (b) I can’t be bothered to make it these days.

When you have such British staples as Shepherd’s Pie, Cottage Pie and Savoury Mince (a school dinners favourite) why bother with sheets of pasta? All that excitement from just one portion of ground up meat.

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Cottage Pie (with Sweet Potato topping) served with carrots and samphire

She’s not wrong about modern chefs either.

However, I can see that having our national cuisine run down by a woman from a country that brought us biscuits and gravy, American cheese and pumpkin pie, could be a little irritating. (Not that you can really hold one blogger responsible for the gastronomic iniquity of a Nation).

This brings us on to Emma at EMMA_FOODS, who stood up to defend our national cuisine. It didn’t go too badly to start, but then she admitted she was from London. Well, London isn’t Britain, despite Londoners thinking it is. (Personally I find it just as irritating to be lectured on food by a Londoner as by an American – they eat jellied eels and pies and liquor).

She then goes on to say “I don’t think we are just the stereotypical bland, dull, stodgy cuisine we once were”. Hang on, I thought she was refuting the idea that our food was bland, dull and stodgy…

Then she goes on the praise the current crop of British chefs. I’m not going to say anything – partly because it’s not polite to criticise and partly because I can’t spell gimmicky.

It’s also partly because I don’t see much wrong with traditional food. There’s a reason we eat what we do – mainly it’s because we can grow it, which used to be important. I like kale and carrots and Brussels – they go well with pies and roast meats. I also like mushy peas, black pudding and Yorkshire pudding (either with gravy or with jam and white sauce). Porridge, in particular, is stodgy, dull, boring and very good for you according to modern thinking.

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Chicken Pie with Brussels and red cabbage.

It’s nice, as Emma points out, that we have access to so much other food from other places, but that doesn’t apply all over the country. It’s not bad here in Nottingham,but if you live in Lincolnshire or Cornwall (as Ellen does) the picture is very different.

We are also experiencing a growth in distilleries in the country as a whole, particularly with gin, for people who like drinking scent, and a rise in Farmers’ Markets and Farm Shops, so quality local food is more readily available. This is despite the fact, as I have said before, that they re becoming more like supermarkets. I bought samphire from several farm shops last year, and it all came from Israel.

As for popular modern food – pan-fried sea bass and lamb shanks are only fried fish and stew so what’s all the fuss about?

Strangely, I seem to find myself unable to see much difference between the two positions of Ellen and Emma, and I’ve now stepped in to disagree with both of them. Traditional food, done well, is pretty good. Things like curry and Chinese are pretty mainstream, and in big cities there’s plenty of other food about if you want it.

I didn’t even set out to discuss food, I was meaning to talk about the etiquette of avoiding arguments. I’m not sure I’ve managed that…

I am, however, interested in your views, so what do you think. What’s the best way of avoiding arguments on the web?

A Valuable Lesson

I learnt a valuable lesson yesterday when my computer warned me that it was about to run out of battery. I plugged the charger in but the message persisted.

Then the computer went blank.

The first lesson is that when your computer charger starts making funny noises don’t ignore them. They don’t go away and it will eventually stop working. I ignored it for months. It didn’t get any worse, to be fair, but it didn’t improve either.

Of course, to a man who has all his passwords listed and who uses a variety of back-up methods, this is not a problem. You just borrow a laptop from your wife and carry on.

I have my WordPress passwords listed at the back of my diary. My 2014 diary. As you may have guessed from previous posts, I’m not the sort of man who would know where to find his 2014 diary.

As for storage, that’s something other people do. It’s like parachute jumping, I know the theory but I’m content to leave it to other people.

Fortunately, after a night of not being able to access my account, I am now able to run the computer using a borrowed charger.

I am chastened but, to be honest, no better organised.

It’s nice to be back.

Whilst writing, I have noticed that the ability to save posts has returned.

Things are looking up.

Eleven Photos and the Benefits of Blogging

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Teasels in flower

The main picture shows some teasel in flower. They have gone over a bit but you can still see some of the bluish flowers. I thought I’d include the picture after showing the mature ones earlier on this week.

 

The fungus is growing out of one of the raised beds in the Mencap garden and the mooring ring is from the quay at Burleigh pottery in Stoke.  I spotted the blue butterfly on a visit to Men in Sheds in the summer and the bear was in a field near Scarborough advertising a music event. The dragonfly was pictured on our trip to Rutland Water, but I don’t seem to have identified it on the photo and can’t find the reference. I think it’s a Common Darter if I  remember correctly – I only see common things.

 

The bird with the bandit mask is another Nuthatch and the Swan was cruising down the river at the back of the National Arboretum last year. The mouse is from a harvest loaf we cooked on the farm and the remaining two photos are also from the farm – a Mint Moth (there were dozens about in the herb garden) and a poppy with chamomile.

They all bring back memories, and without blogging I wouldn’t have restarted with the photography – another thing I like about blogging!

Publish!

I’ve been struggling today. It’s not that I’m short of subjects, but they are either not suitable, need more work or need photographs. (I have many of the photos I need, but can’t get the card reader to work).

It’s the same with time – I had a list of jobs to do and I’ve been behaving like a startled rabbit. The result is that I made more mess than I started with. Julia  brought back three wooden boxes from her friendly fruit stall, so we now also have more clutter than when we started.

In the end I decided that I’m the only one that demands daily posts so why make my own life a misery with deadlines?

In the end, at 11.59, I pressed the button, loaded the post and then carried on editing.

Am I the only one who does this, making a rod for my own back?

Please tell me I’m not…

 

 

More Random Titles and Happiness

I took another look at the random generator and came up with: Is there anything you regret?

The answer, of course, is “yes”.

I think I’ll leave it at that as going further into an answer is like opening a big bag of misery and reaching in right up to the elbows. Yes, I regret a lack of confidence, parenting skills, education and skill at saving. But all the wallowing in the world won’t change it, so on to the next question.

Those of you who are able to put up with bad language might like to read a bit of Larkin on the subject.

Write about how you drive (or why you don’t).

I drive less well than I did when I was in my 40s. However, I make up for that loss of quality with the increasing volume of advice I dispense to other drivers.

Write about an experience that made you very happy.

Starting on WordPress made me happy. It was a bit of a trial at first, and still can be on some days, but overall, I’m happy when I’m typing and thinking of all the interesting people out there.

I was also happy when I found the random subject generator. I was having a tough morning thinking and it has eased the burden of thinking quite nicely.

Who from your past do you wish were still around?

Actually, shelve what I just said about it making me happy. You can’t live your life looking back and thinking about what might have been.

There are dozens of family members that I’d like to have around, but I’d want them back in healthy and happy times, not how they were when they died. And that sounds a bit like the plot for a horrible sci-fi plot.

I’m not sure whether to go for another random title or not.

Write about your feet.

Yes, time to call it a day. My feet have done sterling service over the years but this is one subject too many…

 

Breakfast, Bench and Bug Boxes

The day started badly, as I had passed a disturbed night and felt tired, stiff and fragile. As the first light of a non-too-rosy dawn crept through the curtains, I groaned and turned over.

This was how I slept in, set off late and was unable to accomplish my first task of the day. We had barely laid out the parts for a new garden bench when the Monday group arrived, two hours earlier than we were expecting. As I’m not allowed to be a volunteer (due to the conflict of interest thing) we had to leave.

As a consolation prize Julia bought me breakfast at Harvester, which was excellent. Fruit, yoghurt, Full English, toast, marmalade, a quick crumpet (because it was there) and refillable tea. All for 75% of the cost of two Olympic breakfasts at Little Chef. I passed on cereal.

After that we returned home to find the internet was down. BT claim we hadn’t paid the bill. They seem to do this about once a year – cutting us off for non-payment without actually sending us a bill or a reminder.

By the time it came back on we were already back at the gardens tacking a pallet bench together ready for tomorrow.

Then it was shopping, chip shop and try to get a blog post done before midnight…

Done, with 12 minutes to go. I will add photos later.

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Bug boxes made from frames out of the school skip and filled with the hollow stems of scabious