Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Tale of Two Torontos

I’ve been to Peterborough today, which featured a visit to a garden centre, lunch with my sister, the cutting of a monstrous pyracantha, and the transfer of various junk from her to me, with a view to me taking it on another illegal jaunt to Leeds on Sunday. Actually, I just checked the regulations and I can visit to facilitate a house move. He cannot, however, travel to Nottingham and stand in my garden. It’s all a bit surreal.

The pyracantha is in my sister’s garden, well, half of it is. The other half has been removed. It’s still about over seven feet high, and some of the bits we took off were between five and seven feet tall. The branches were quite thick and resisted my heaviest pair of cutters – a set of Wilkinson Sword geared bypass loppers. They are OK, but the handles are a bit short to apply pressure when cutting the bigger bits and I struggled with branches over an inch in diameter. The newer ones, I note, have longer handles. I really should have taken a saw but I hadn’t realised how big they were.

My arthritic fingers ached a bit after I’d finished but have recovered now and the only remaining damage is in the form of scratches to my hands and forearms. It looks like I’ve been wrestling a cat. (Actually, last time I had to get a cat into a basket my arms ended up a lot worse.)

We had some photos from Number Two Son last night. He seems to have taken to life in Toronto with enthusiasm, having been camping in the woods as a birthday treat. The pictures are of trees and blue jays.

We spoke of Peterborough Ontario this morning too, my sister mentioning that when she had Googled Peterborough in the past she had ended up with the Ontario one and itb looked nicer than the English one. This led me on to a gem of trivia knowledge I came across last week when we sent some coins there – there is a Toronto in New South Wales.

Wonders will never cease.

The featured image is a soup. I’m using the netbook to post this and it’s even slower than the ancient PC, so I went for an easy option, as we had soup tonight.

In the Depths

I’m waiting for a phone call. When I was in Leeds earlier today I swung one leg out of the car after parking, the car rolled forward and, before I could get my leg back in to use the brake, I’d hit the car in front. I left a note under the windscreen and am currently waiting for a call. I’m not sure if I’ve done any damage – there was nothing obvious – but you can’t be sure. I have three areas of damage on my car where people have hit me (twice in car parks and once at a roundabout) and just driven off. It always annoys me to see them, thinking that someone  has done that and driven off. That’s why I left the note, though I could do without the hassle.

I’m also about to embark on a major argument with one of the neighbours. I won’t bore you with the details,  but the day my dad died I got a letter pushed through the door. Since then I’ve being trying to solve the problem, avoid arguments and bring it all to a conclusion. I have enough other stuff to do at the moment so wanted to settle as quickly as possible. They keep wanting more and I’ve reached a point where I’m going to have to say enough is enough. Tomorrow I’m expecting the fireworks to start. It’s cheaper to give way rather than go to court, but they are trying to make me take joint responsibility for a dodgy supporting wall in their garden and that could be a problem for years to come.

Then there are the neighbours on the east side, who are encroaching on the boundary. I have to sort that out before it becomes a problem, though I don’t like making a fuss.

Meanwhile, the rear chimney stack needs attention as it’s starting to look a bit rickety. That won’t be cheap as it never is when a man goes up a ladder.

The re-wiring still needs doing, and the decluttering is progressing slowly.

We are now finishing disposing of Dad’s possessions, which is a sad time. I remember reading a poem about the tyranny of heirlooms. So many items hold great memories, and, as we don’t live in a grand country house. I can’t keep them all but It is so difficult letting go.

And that is why I feel like I’m standing in a pit.

Sorry to be so negative, but sometimes, if you set out to give an honest appraisal of your day, there will be days like this.

I used the butterfly photo as a reminder that there are good days too.

Vaccination!

It was flu vaccination day today. My original time was mid-morning but, before I could ring and ask for a change to an earlier time they sent me an earlier time. That was good, as it allowed me to get to work on time.

We arrived at 8.05 and by 8.10 we were on our way home. This was, I have to say, excellent service with a great turnout from the practice staff and a well thought out system.

It’s 8.40 now and I’m having a cup of tea before going to work.  I thought I’d write a quick post now because tonight we will be preparing for an epic journey to Leeds tomorrow. They are in lockdown, of sorts, as from last night but as Number One Son is moving to a new house we want to take some things up for him.

As I understand it, we can’t enter the house or garden to socialise but as long as he isn’t in the backyard (note to US readers, a yard in the UK is a small, generally cheerless enclosure with hard floors and walls) we can unload the furniture and things into the yard, leave and watch him emerge from the house to collect them.

After not socialising in the house or garden we can then go to the pub and stay there till 10,00 pm with a group of strangers who aren’t wearing masks.

It’s a little inconsistent, but that’s the way life is at the moment. No point moaning, just do our best and protect our own family. The best way to do that is to protect everybody, by sticking to the spirit of the regulations, It’s just sad that not everyone is taking that view.

Having said that, I wonder which academic hot-shot decided that it was a good idea to bring all the students back. Not someone who knows much about young people, I imagine. Of course they are going to party. If I was forty years younger I would be out there, knocking back a few beers, telling everyone that alcohol was a disinfectant and asking if anyone wanted to try a spot of social undistancing.

It’s not the students who are at fault, it’s the universities who wanted to get income from the accommodation.

Anyway, just look who they have for role models – full pubs and hypocritical politicians.

Rant over. Time for work. I’m going to add a general purpose, though hopefully tranquil photo as the system is jammed up again. See you later.

 

Computers!

Just a short post as I need to get to bed early – it’s flu vaccination day tomorrow, one of the biggest days in my social calendar. If it goes as well as my visit to the pharmacy today – a forty minute queue outside in a cold wind – it will probably cause more flu than it cures.

When I went to the Post office this afternoon I wasn’t able to send any post out because the computer system was down. There is, it seems, no manual system for sending post. There was a reasonably well-developed postal system in the seventeenth century, which they managed without computers and still found time to persecute witches and cultivate religious bigotry.

If I had time I would have a really good rant, particularly on the subject of pharmacy staff who don’t wear masks, but time, as I said, is short.

I seem to have been asleep most of the evening.

We had a couple of frustrating orders today – one where we’d got the postage wrong and faced a loss of £18 on the transaction and one where we seem to have sold the item through the shop and forgotten to remove it from eBay.

We bought a few lots in – mixed coins and a pair of First World War medals – sold a few bits, saw one regular customer and had to ask several people to put masks on.

I just need eighteen words and some photos and I will have done enough to meet the 250 word target – oh, I just did.

See you tomorrow with more ranting…

A Sea of Troubles…

Last night I got home, chatted to Julia, admired her new hair cut, ate tea and fell asleep.

She woke me at around 10.30 with a cup of tea and a scone. I was, it seems, less than charming, ate the scone and went back to sleep, waking just after midnight – too late for a second post about my adventures. This was just as well, because there were no adventures.

That is how a day ends that started so well.

Today I went to the shop and found, even before I entered, that my key didn’t work. This sometimes happens. It hasn’t happened for about a year and I was beginning to think the keys had all bedded in. Seems I was wrong. The stale smell by the door is getting slightly better but the dodgy light switch still crackles when you use it. I get round that by leaving the lights off when I arrive. Whoever comes in second can risk electrocution. This is evolution in action – the smart ones survive.

I switched on the computer, which worked, then I opened up the email, which didn’t. For some reason it had randomly thrown us out instead of keeping us permanently signed in. Fortunately I now know the password to get back in.

British West Africa 1/10th of a Penny

I had messages about postage and delivery to answer. I won’t bore you with the details.

Then I found I couldn’t get into eBay. They’ve been messing with security and decided not to let me in without a one-time pass code. Unfortunately the pass code has to go to the telephone of the owner. It’s lucky he was already up and working at home when I rang to explain that. Then I started to sort the orders. This can be difficult when you work with people who think that the alphabet doesn’t apply to them. I needed three sets of world banknotes, which should have been easy enough to sort out if they had been, as they are supposed to be, in alphabetical order, They weren’t.

Just after we opened a man ring up to sell us “rare” stamps. We don’t really deal in stamps, as we tell him every week. And they aren’t rare. Then the query about the “rare” £2 coins. We have plenty of them, which tends to suggest they may not be rare. Then the walk-in with the 50p coins. At least she didn’t tell us they were rare. Add a man who called in to spend £3.50 on card and that completes our day.

I will chuck in some photos of stock and move on to cook tea,

We are expecting an ASDA delivery soon. Three times I have ordered celeriac. Three times it has been out of stock.

EIIR Medallion

EIIR Medallion

 

 

 

 

Up early, doing stuff…

I woke with a creaking back this morning and decided to make this into an opportunity to rise early and bee industrious. It is not yet 8.15 and I have already checked emails, made WP comments, boiled eggs, ordered my week’s groceries online and spent a short while cogitating on the nature of soup.

Last night we had one of the best soups I have ever made. It was a lustrous orange-gold with a velvety texture with deep, savoury flavour, which caused Julia to ask if I had included bacon in the recipe. If it had been a voice it would have been James Earl Jones.

The recipe for this nectar? Two onions, a bag of ready chopped carrot and swede (or rutbaga if you prefer) and two cheap vegetable stock cubes. Boil. Liquidise. I did leave it standing for a day before liquidising which may have helped.

I’d ordered the ready chopped veg because I’m lazy and I didn’t bother with any other ingredients because I’m feeling apathetic.

It’s ironic that as I hit the pinnacle of my soup-making career I am actually disposing of my cookery books. Most of them have cost me just a few pounds from charity shops in the past and that is where they will end up. They were remarkably (and sadly) clean when I got them (indicating that they had never been used in anger) and that is how they remain. I do read them to get ideas, but rarely use a cookery book as I either make it up or use a recipe off the internet.

That is enough for now – I have to make breakfast and sandwiches for lunch then start on a full day of non-fun activities which have been planed for me. Such is life.

Sharp-eyed readers may notice that the soup photo has been used before – it’s what we call a stock shot.

The Sanguinary Sequel

This was meant to be posted last night but I seem to have forgotten to press the “Publish” button. Senior moment! Bah!

I have reduced my “Following” list to 33.

At this point I realised that I have several people missing who should be on. I may eventually get up to around 50.

I was surprised to find that Derrick Knight was not on my list. He is one of my most visited sites, alongside Tootlepedal, but I didn’t seem to be following him. As with a number of people who are frequent visitors to this site I just get back to him by clicking on his link. Sorry Derrick.

So far it’s only halfway through the day and apart from cooking brunch and watching one episode of Diagnosis Murder I have done nothing but Word Press related work. I have answered comments, finalised the “Followed” List, followed Val’s instructions on how to delete followers and read a few blog posts. It is not a lot. Finally, as I am working towards a secret self-imposed target, I decided it was time to write.

Unfortunately I just calculated the target and I’m going to miss it. So, craftily, I reset the target and I’m going to meet it. All I had to do was adjust the time-scale. And, as it’s a secret, you will never know…

It’s later now. I’ve been on the phone to my sister, ordered a prescription online from a reluctant NHS system that kept kicking me out, washed up from brunch and made  a pot of soup that will see us through the next couple of days.

I am making slow headway towards my 250 word target. This is 261. At 250 I can persuade myself it’s a proper post. At 240 it’s probably OK, but at 230, it doesn’t seem like I’ve made  a serious attempt.

Some days, the magic just doesn’t happen. This may be linked to the bad night’s sleep I had last night. I have made many mistakes in my life, and last night they all came back to me. They do that once in a while. It has been within my grasp at times to be richer, happier, thinner and more widely published, but I have shown an uncommon talent for failing to failing to close the deal. It’s as if my subconscious likes to torment me every so often by letting me know that it knows…

The photos are just random work photos.

 

Greek banknotes

Greek banknotes

Tree Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire - dramatic setting

One Tree, Four Photos

The featured image shows a tree at Gibraltar Point yesterday. I have used the “Dramatic” setting, which could easily be labelled “Melodramatic” as it always reminds me of the words “It was a dark and stormy night…”

The one below is the one my camera took with its normal setting. Having just checked it I see that “normal” means it’s set for fluorescent lighting (which is what I use when taking pictures for eBay. This may account for the slightly lifeless colours I have been noting recently will dull weather.

Tree Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire - normal setting

Tree Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire – normal setting

The next one is the same tree, and the same photograph as above, but with the computer’s “auto correct” setting applied.

Tree Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire - auto correct setting

Tree Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire – auto correct setting

I’m not clear what it actually uses for reference. In this case it hasn’t made a lot of difference. I have tried it on other photos at times and it does make a considerable difference, but I didn’t think to save original copies to compare the two. I only actually started thinking about this a few minutes ago when I auto corrected a couple of beach photos, which seemed to consist of moving them from Lincolnshire to California – the difference in sea, sand and sky were that significant. It did not, however, change any of the subjects into youthful, bronzed lifeguards, as you will see when I eventually use the photos.

I did, as you may guess, take three photos for use in a blog post, the fourth is an afterthought. The fourth uses a setting called Pop Art, which brings all the colours out and always reminds me of a 1970s colour postcard. I have used it before with some posts, mainly when I’ve been at the seaside.

I’m sure the postcards that used this colouring were labelled Photochrom, but I’ve just looked it up and found that it was a completely different process according to Wikipedia, so I may be getting confused.

Tree Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire - Pop Art setting

Tree Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire – Pop Art setting

Personally, I like the stormy picture, as it suits the skeletal tree, and I like the Pop Art setting as it reminds me of a day at the seaside. From the point of view of it just being a photograph with no context, either of them are reasonable tree photos.

From the documentary point of view, neither are accurate – there was no storm and the day was not that bright and sunny.

However, it was a bit brighter than the other two settings imply, which might be partly down to me having the camera adjusted for fluorescent light.

Having started off to compare a few camera settings I’m now starting to wonder if any photograph is reliable, particularly with so many ways of manipulating photographs being available.

How long, given the current state of technology, before somebody comes up with an app that inserts Elvis Presley into a crowd scene every time it detects more than twenty faces in the photo?

Or even better, inserts a photograph of Derrick  J Knight holding a gherkin – we could call it the Where’s Wally? App. (That’s an in-joke for regular readers of Derrick, who has introduced the slang term wally into the culinary vocabulary of a wide range of his WP readers.)

 

Tuesday, and a Departure from My System of Simple Titles

Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire

Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire

We went to the coast today, it was warm and pleasant, though a touch crowded in places. Our route took us through North Lincolnshire to avoid the roadworks round Lincoln. We eventually arrived in Chapel St Leonards, thinking of toilets. There was a queue, and it was a bit crowded to we went to Sutton on Sea, which was also queued out and crowded. Eventually we found toilets in Alford which was not crowded, being a traditional sleepy market town, though there was still a queue for the toilet as they only allow one person in at a time.

Dabchick, Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire

Dabchick, Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire – it is scratching the side of its head.

Dabchick, Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire

Dabchick, Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire

Thomas Paine served as a customs officer in Alford. (The linked article has interesting information, though some of the syntax is slightly irregular.

Skegness was also crowded so we carried on to Gibraltar Point. The main car park was crowded, so we went to the smaller one and had a picnic under the pines before walking in the marsh and taking a few photos. Julia walked more than I did – I sat in the hide trying to get some duck photos.

We saw a good pincushion gall and plenty of berries – hawthorn, sea buckthorn and rose hip. If old wives are correct it will be a bad winter, but they aren’t always right. I’m sure the berries  have more to do with the summer weather than the coming winter.

Pincushion Gall, Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire

Pincushion Gall, Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire

Pincushion Gall, Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire

Pincushion Gall, Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire

I couldn’t find a dragonfly to pose for me, though several flew past and several grasshoppers lurked modestly amongst grass stems which prevented decent photos.  I did manage a few shots, including sky and water, which tend not to move when you press the button, unlike ducks.

On the way back in the dark we narrowly missed a female roe deer that bounced out of the hedge in front of us. There are plenty of dead deer poems (google it if you don’t believe me) of which this is probably the best known. Due to me being alert and equipped with new brake pads the world has been deprived of another.

 

And back to Sunday

We had a pleasant evening last night with Julia’s brother and his wife. I had a nice steak with chips, onion rings, mushroom, pepper sauce and followed it up with sticky toffee pudding and custard. It was a simple and not particularly healthy meal for a simple and not particularly healthy man.

Due to Julia’s brother’s understanding of discount systems, special offers and loyalty cards, it was half price. Substantial, flavoursome and discounted – what more could you want?

I noticed that due to the lockdown there was no salt, pepper or vinegar on the table. We ordered from paper menus which we were asked to throw in the bin on the way out.

I also had what was referred to as a complimentary salad. At least I assume that was how it was spelt. It didn’t say anything nice to me, so I suppose it was complimentary only in the sense of being (supposedly) free. As it was a steakhouse rather than a food bank, it wasn’t actually free, as they clearly charge for it somewhere along the line.

It certainly wasn’t complementary as it didn’t enhance the steak and chips.

Come to think of it, it wasn’t really a salad either, just a few bits of green leaf and veg in a small pot. I’m not sure where a salad ends and a garnish begins, but I have definitely seen garnishes that were bigger than this “salad”.

Despite this, it was an excellent meal in good company and I’m looking forward to a time when we can go out without having to worry about contracting a fatal infection.

It’s roast veg, pie and gravy tonight. The picture is a library picture so I can post before eating.

Damsons

The bottom picture is the damsons we picked – very nice harvest from a tree in a pot. Not sure if I mentioned them before.