Category Archives: Uncategorized

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

Progress of Sorts…

Make chicken stew. It’s in the oven. Several hours late.

Soup? Er…just about to do it. Veg are ready but I need to wash a pan as I’ve been storing compost scraps in it for the last few days. Yes, I need to empty a bokashi bucket.

Curry. It won’t take long.

Living room – I’ve moved stuff round, which is related to tidying, though not closely related. More a cousin than a sibling.

Hoover. Perhaps tomorrow.

Meanwhile I have washed up and done the recycling, which I’d forgotten about. I often forget the washing up, though not as much as Number Two son, who is a world class amnesiac. Also watched darts and discussed the finer parts of sports marketing and sponsorship with Number Two son. Had bacon cobs with mushrooms for lunch.

Cut up plastic bottles to make poppies. (and give me an excuse to re-use old photos of poppies).

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Poppies made from plastic bottles

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Poppies and corn wreath

 

 

 

Another Day, Another Plan.

It’s about seven hours since the last post, but I’ve managed to sleep and get Julia to work in that time.

I’m hoping that today will be better in terms of productivity, decluttering and writing.

I’ve just about shaken off the bad cold I had last week and there has been no repeat of the nose bleed. I have a weak nostril that often bleeds when I have colds (maybe two or three times a year – but I consider that “often” for an adult).  It was a notable nosebleed, and though I don’t have a proper marking scale I’d rate it as high volume, short duration. My normal nosebleed is low volume but longer duration. Maybe the anti-coagulants are altering the way my nose bleeds.

Practical advice. Forget pinching the top of the nose or putting your head back or all that stuff. Roll yourself a decent cylinder from tissue and shove that up. You can leave gaps, and you don’t need to ram it home, as it’s a nostril, not a cannon. Just make it big enough to stay in without help. I find it usually stops the bleeding quite quickly.

When I finish this post I’m going to sit and write my plan for today. Top of the list will be “make chicken stew” and second will be “make soup”.  Actually, it may be the other way round, as I need the soup for lunch. Butternut squash and roasted Winter Vegetable Soup is the plan. Ready cut butternut squash was on offer yesterday and the veg are left over from yesterday’s tea.

After that I will “make sweet potato, lentil and chickpea curry” and put it in the fridge for tomorrow, “tidy living room” and “hoover”.

There will be other things too, but I’m just trying to convey an impression of the day, and I don’t want anyone asking me if I’ve done it all. Short lists are better for that sort of thing.

Plans, like blogging, are a good way of delaying work, but they have their uses too. They are a bit like meetings -everyone does them but only some of them are useful. About half of all lists and ninety percent of meetings would have been better if they had never existed.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am going to start that stew.

A Very Average Day (Part 2)

This is the second part of a post about Sunday, written on Tuesday.

I was finally able to load the clean laundry into the car a couple of minutes before 10.00 and decided to go directly to the supermarket, rather than go home first.

If I go home between errands I tend to brew up, sit down and turn to WordPress. It can take quite an effort to get up and go out again.

Since our new Sunday opening laws Sunday has become a strange day. (Note that “our” refers to England and Wales – Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own regulations, and “new” means 1994 – I take time to get used to change). It’s always been a strange day, to be honest. Even before the 1994 Act it was legal for shops to sell some things on Sundays, but not others. Even if a shop was open you couldn’t guarantee being able to buy everything on the shelves.

This law was partly to safeguard shop workers from exploitation. Farm workers didn’t count. We were allowed to work Sundays, and when the shops are closed on Easter Sunday and Christmas Day, we are still allowed to work. The law is quite keen on farm animals being fed and inspected every day.

And I was, quite honestly, happy to reduce Christmas Day to work, food and presents. It’s what people really want – I’m not sure how many people really enjoy the Queen’s Speech, Monopoly and arguments.

I remember being in a Motorway Service Station one Sunday before the changes came in. A man was reading the paper and talking to his wife.

“They won’t get me working Sundays.” he said. “It’s not right. I won’t do it.”

He seemed totally oblivious to the fact that people were working to allow him to travel, eat and read papers on a Sunday.

Anyway, let us leave 1994 and return to the present.

I missed the customary chariot race opening but, arriving at 10.07, was still amazed by the number of people who were already there, and by the speed at which they were moving. What is it about Sunday opening that turns the average shopper into a crazed looter?

There’s plenty of food in the shops, so why do we need all the wheel-to-wheel Ben Hur impersonations?

Later, I noted a new tactic from a particular couple – one of them stood looking at a shelf, whilst ensuring that their trolley stuck out into the aisle. The other stood looking at the opposite shelf, making sure that nobody could get past. It’s a new one for my anthropological survey of irritating shoppers.

On leaving, I passed a woman in a four-wheel-drive discussing shopping with her teenage son. He was clearly failing to live up to her expectations. In several different ways. It took me right back to the time when I used to do similar things with my kids. It never made them change and it often made me feel guilty afterwards. Kids are like that.

If I could, I would have told her she was wasting her time, but I don’t think she’d have listened. Anyway, I’m not exactly an expert. I did, however, manage to coerce Number Two Son into making brunch when I got home. I may be bad at parenting, but I’m good at psychology. Once I got his mouth watering he was putty in my hands…

 

 

A Very Average Day

In the discussion of What’s a Blogger? there have been some good answers.

One of the things that has emerged is that people think their blogs are about boring everday life.

This isn’t true. To someone as nosey as me the details of other lives are very interesting. As I said in one of the comments, I’m the sort of person who enjoys rail journeys because it allows me to look in the gardens of trackside residents. I also like Google Maps, though I’d prefer to see them presented as real time satellite photos. If I ever win the Lottery I will price up a spy satellite. Oooops, I just did. £390 million plus launch costs.

You’d think they’d throw in a free launch for that price, wouldn’t you? They’ve obviously been learning from the computer industry. Computer – £299. Actual working computer with the stuff it needs to be useful – that will be extra.

I may rent one instead. There are a lot of back gardens that need looking into.

Back on the subject of boring lives, I had a double lot of laundry on Sunday morning. I’d felt lazy the week before so I hadn’t done any. This has an obvious knock-on effect, particularly as Julia packed the bags. She always has to sweep the house for anything that looks remotely washable, and believe me, she was successful in her quest. Number Two son contributed too, as he’s off on holiday. He’s only going for a few days, but he’s packing for a month.

The normal people were there, the Odd Couple (who slid in just in front of me and took two driers before sliding out on some mysterious errand), The Big Lad and Overalls. With the Odd Couple away, that left three of us, all looking like sad batchelors doing their own laundry.

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A Fat Man taking an Accidental Selfie – my normal “Selfie Shirt” can be seen in the Featured Image

I know this is untrue in my case, and I know that, like me, Overalls, drops his wife off at work at 6am. I’ve never actually spoken to The Big Lad (who is in truth no bigger than I am), because we are English and we are men. I always assumed that he was single as he was a large Goth with Heavy Metal tattoos. After looking at his washing I now know that he does have a partner of the female sort. Either that or he has a strange taste in underwear.

Strange what you see when you keep your eyes open.

There were two new people in – both women. This is unsettling as they don’t usually come in till later, and because they took up all the machines.

I had to overload two small machines, then stuff a third when it became available (hence my view of Big Lad’s washing). After that I had to wait for driers. Then their was no space to fold…

That’s the trouble when you let women into the launderette.

This was just the beginning of what proved to be a very average day.

Part 2 will follow