Category Archives: Uncategorized


It was quite a good day in the shop. Arrived early, got a parking space…

A good day can have such a simple foundation. Saw some regulars, wished them compliments of the season, bought a few bits, sold a few bits, had a mince pie, went home.

I picked Julia up and we went for a cup of tea and a toasted teacake, followed by shopping. While we were there we witnessed an unpleasant scene and an example of appalling parenting.

The parent in the example of appalling parenting was playing some sort of film on a telephone and holding a child in front of it with one hand while she ate a baked potato with the other. Whatever happened to talking to your kids?

The unpleasant scene was, to summarise, a middle aged daughter abusing her elderly mother, and dragging things up from years in the past. Not many daughters, she said, would put up with it. I won’t dwell on it because, unlike many of the conversations I listen to, there was no comedy involved. It was a tragic insight into the way your life could go.

It put a damper on things, and six hours later, it’s still depressing me.

I’ll leave you with a poem by Philip Larkin on child-rearing. It contains bad language.

Sorry about the downbeat nature of the post, I’m hoping to get back to normal tomorrow.

Blogger or Diarist?

This is, I suppose, the sort of day that differentiates a blogger from a diarist. A diarist would examine the ins and outs of the election results, give a few opinions and generally squirrel away a bit of archival material for future generations. A blogger would merely write about potatoes and similar trivia.

A diarist might try to pass opinions on what has happened, but they might turn bitter and after half an hour of bitterness he might get fed up with it all and turn back into a blogger.

That way I can suggest that the political life of this country may well be improved if we cut Scotland loose, literally, and floated it off to Europe. Then we could give Ulster to the Republic of Ireland, dig a moat along the Welsh border and settle down to running our own country properly.

While we are all breaking up I might also declare my house and garden to be independent, add a sentry box to the front garden, put one of those stripey poles across the entrance to the drive, call it Checkpoint Charles.

It will be a small country but every bit as useful and relevant to world politics as Wales or Scotland or any of the other ambitious but useless tiny countries that clutter the UN up.

I will, I think, be in a stronger position than many of these countries as I’m going to offer Amazon the use of my shed for “accounting purposes” and operate an “offshore” financial institution from the coalshed. The garage is already spoken for – it’s going to be the official mint of Quercusonia and we’ll be knocking out coins, banknotes and stamps for collectors, just like Tristan da Cunha  I might even start my own internet domain, as there are plenty of q’s left – the only current one being Qatar. Quercuscommunity.qs sounds quite good.


The coins are from Cabinda. I bet most of you are thinking “Where?” I think there’s a bright future ahead for us smaller countries.

We will, of course, be happy to take part in UN Peacekeeping missions, preferably for two weeks at a time and in Cyprus, or another holiday destination, though we don’t really have the manpower for full-scale military operations. More to the point – we don’t have a gun.

I’m not sure whether to be a Republic, a Monarchy or a Soviet, or merely continue with our current system of benign despotism, where Julia orders me around most of the time but also brings me cakes when she comes home from work. It has worked for 30 years, which is more than some countries manage, and as you can see from the header picture, she is among the better looking world leaders. We had Belgian Buns tonight. If you look at the link you will see they are mentioned along with something Swiss, and Danish pastries. If cakes can be international and get on with each other, why can’t humans?


DD 7, HP 16 and HP 18

DD7 is, you may recall, the Dundee postcode area. That was the second time I’d discussed Dundee. That’s embarrassing, just like getting old and repeating the same stories over and over. I note that not all the facts are consistent between the two posts. Not only repetitive, but inaccurate. This is not good enough.

DD7 is actually the town of Carnoustie, which is most famous for its golf course. I didn’t know much about it until I checked Wikipedia. It’s a fascinating place and the Wiki page is much more informative than usual. It has it all – the linen industry, famous people, several explanations of the name and two VC winners – Charles Jarvis and George Samson. They have streets named after them in Carnoustie.

HP 16 and HP 18 are both in the Hemel Hempstead postcode area, which is 24 miles North-West of London. It’s an interesting town, as I recall, with a gyratory roundabout system and a rugby pitch built on an old council tip. It’s also the home of Hemel Stags – a very successful southern rugby league club. I went to a Sealed Knot battle there once and ended up in the medical tent having four stitches in my eyebrow after taking a musket butt to the face. It was a touch awkward because the bloke next to me turned and said: “You were the bloke who broke my leg last year.”

We parted as friends.

Happy Days…

HP 16 is Great Missenden, the one time home of author Roald Dahl. I’ve never been there, though it gets a good write-up. They have a Roald Dahl Museum. I may have to visit one day.

HP 18 includes the village of Brill. It has a windmill, some Civil War history (which includes John Hampden), and a VC winner.

Time to go now – election results to watch.



More of the Postcode Safari

I’m going to visit SG 14, CF 15, BS 10, TS 12, DD 7, HP 16 and HP 18. It may take two attempts.

SG 14 is the Stevenage area, in North Hertfordshire, just north of London. It includes part of the town of Hertford, just 19 miles north of London. One of the more famous people to be born there is Captain W. E. Johns. He wasn’t actually a Captain, but it sounds more solid and reliable than most other ranks. Senior enough to show he was capable, but junior enough not to be held responsible for anything bad in the conduct of the war.

You may not recognise the name, as it generally means nothing to women or to people under 50, or, I presume, Americans, but he was the author of around 100 books, including the Biggles books. As you can see, if you read the link, he’s an interesting man.

I’ve read about 50 of the books, which probably isn’t a good thing as he’s generally held to be a touch racist.

CF 15 is Cardiff, and contains the village of Taff’s Well. It is unique in having the only thermal spring in Wales. It was a popular resort in the late 19th century and the spring is about 21 degrees Centigrade. There’s more to it than that, but you’ll have to read the link.

BS 10 is Bristol area, and takes in part of Bristol, including Westbury-on-Trym. It’s quite historic, tracing its origin back to King Offain the 8th Century, and being used as quarters by Prince Rupert during the Civil War. It was the home of Robert Southey, a Lakeland poet who was Poet Laureate for 30 years. He is the first person recorded using the word zombie in English.

Next up – TS 12 – which is Teeside. It’s quite a nice place, despite including Middlesbrough. Technically it’s actually Cleveland, though the letters TS tend to suggest otherwise. Cleveland was a county from 1974 – 1996. Cleveland Police, like Humberside Police still exist, even though the counties don’

TS 12 is Saltburn-by-the-Sea, which has a very nice pier and a funicular railway. We’ve been to the pier, though I don’t think I’ve written it up. I did, however, write a clerihew which mentions Saltburn. It has thus gained poetic immortality.

The header picture is a squirrel in a bin at Clitheroe Castle. The other is Sandsend, which is close to Saltburn. It’s the best I can do.

Beach at Sandsend

The Hasselback Potatoes

There is no photo, as I left my camera at work and can’t be bothered to go back and get it.

The picture I have used is merely a repeat of one from yesterday. My report is this – they look good and they are easy enough to do. People who have never had them before will be amazed. But they don’t taste much better than ordinary baked potatoes they way I did them (rapeseed oil and garlic seasoning).

I will try olive oil next, butter after that and even goose fat if I need to. They make a good talking point if you are having people round.

The stir-fried Brussels and broccoli were better. boil the Brussels and broccoli fro 5 minutes the stir fry them with soy sauce, honey, some rings of red chilli, ginger and garlic. It was very nice, and I suspect it was healthy too. I’m thinking of ways to serve Brussels over Christmas, and this is going to be one of the ways.

No photo of those either.

You’ll have to be content with a repeated photo for now. I’m going to have tea and toast in front of the TV now because Julia is away in Leeds for the day and I have several hours of quiz viewing to do, uninterrupted by conversation or the rattle of wrapping paper.

Will be back with another post later.

Thirty-Seven Minutes

I completely forgot I was meant to go to a Numismatic Society meeting tonight. Then I missed the fact that the day was almost over. By the time I thought about it there were 37 minutes left. At least it made the title an easy choice.

It’s not the first time I’ve completely forgotten something important, but it’s always a worry when it happens. I was tired, I was worrying about something else and I just ran out of brain power. It was 11.00 before I remembered – four hours too late.

It’s 16 days to Christmas and I still have things to do. Time goes so fast!

On the other hand, there are only ninety days of winter left.

I’m going to leave it at that.

By the time I’ve found a photo it will nearly be midnight. I will then go to bed ans dream of parcels.

A Collectors World Parcel

A Collectors World Parcel


In a rush, I forgot the title…

As usual, Sunday has seen the death of many good intentions. I was going to make vegetable soup for lunch, but we got up late and Julia made brunch, so we didn’t need lunch. We had crumpets instead of lunch, plus a slice of stollen. It was very nice, though in nutritional terms it may not quite have been what the doctor ordered.

She is out for a Christmas dinner with friends from a previous job while I cook myself a lonely meal and cook the soup ready for tomorrow night, when we will eat it with a sandwich and croutons. Oh yes, we are going to be sophisticated. Even more so when I reveal the croutons will be made from a very stale piece of sourdough. I really sound like a foodie rather than a man who can’t manage his pantry properly, don’t I? In an ideal world I wouldn’t have a load of wrinkly root veg and a quarter loaf of inedible bread.

The soup is very like the vegetable stew we had last week, though the ingredients are slightly more wrinkled and I’ve used one stock cube instead of two. We had dumplings with the stew, using freshly ground garlic seasoning. It was tasty, filling and virtuous, though I did get a lecture on my immaturity when I sniggered whilst complimenting her dumplings. It seems it is time I grew up.

That’s one of the nice things about being married to Julia. Despite all the evidence, she still thinks I’m capable of improvement. It’s heart-warming, but improbable. I’m 61, I’m set in my ways and this, I’m afraid, is as good as it’s going to get.

My alarm just went. My lonely meal is ready. It’s potato wedges, cheese and onion pasty and mushy peas – comfort food. I’m going to watch the Strictly Come Dancing results, shout at the judges then make tomorrow’s sandwiches.

This is not the life I envisaged when I was a young man. There were more yachts, steaks and butlers in my vision of my future. Fortunately I’m very fond of mushy peas.