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At a Loss for a Title . . .

It is our day off and nothing much is happening. The builders next door are not here today, the re-roofing of the house next to them is now complete and there are no other building sounds  around. This is unusual – all the houses round here are from the 1920s, they have mock-Tudor fronts (or in other words, render that crumbles and wood that rots) and small clay roof tiles which have  a tendency to crack in the frost.

We had a buzzard fly over earlier this morning, chased by crows, and there is a dunnock singing fitfully from the pear tree. All else is calm. At one time you never even saw a buzzard in the county. Then they started to expand their range. They reached the edge of town about twenty years ago, then ten years ago we started seeing them on the horizon as they soared over a golf course a couple of miles away. Recently I have seen them over the High School playing fields, which are only a few hundred yards away, but this was the first time one has flown over the house.

Enamelled crown – about 200 years old, so you can forgive the damage.

The car is in for servicing, which is going to be a bit of an adventure – we have hardly been anywhere since we returned from Suffolk at the beginning of lockdown – and the oil is looking both low and treacly. I topped up a bit a few weeks ago and kept my fingers crossed. If my calculations are correct, it’s a week over 14 months since we started the first lockdown. In that time we have hardly been anywhere. At least it’s good for the environment, and the fuel bills are cheaper. There is, let’s face it, a silver lining in everything.

Pictures are three different enamelled crowns – different styles and different levels of finish.

1887 Enamelled Crown

1887 Enamelled Crown

Camera Faults

The featured image is the Belgian enamelled coin I spoke about yesterday, the one I couldn’t show as I’d left my camera at work.

They heyday of the enamelled coin in the UK was 1887, and many of the coins you see were ones with the 1887 Jubilee head of Queen Victoria. That’s why so many enamelled Georgian coins are worn – they were old when they were done. Most of the Jubilee head coins are in good condition as they were taken directly from the bank to the enameller’s workshop. It’s an interesting subject that I would like to know more about. That, to be fair, is something that could be said of many subjects. This is a paragraph I just rescued from yesterday’s draft, which I am about to delete – I try not to add things after publishing but in this case it’s something I should have covered, and forgot.

Today I had even more camera problems. It started with me thinking it was an eBay problem, which it sometimes is. However, it looks like there’s a problem with my camera card. I have a situation where I take photos but they don’t show up on my card. Other photos show up, ones I thought I’d previously moved or deleted. After a certain amount of switching on and off and trying cables and card readers, it occurred to me that I’d just taken five pictures of a tiger medallion and five pictures of a 1938 cricket giveaway had appeared on the card. What, I asked myself, if those five pictures of 1930s cricketers turned out to be my tiger photos.

It’s a bit of a stretch, I know, but by that time, having done everything I could think of, including clearing my cache, I was at the end of my tether. As I dragged the first photo, Don Bradman changed into a tiger. Very strange.

Haven’t a clue what is happening but it must be a card or camera fault. I will try to narrow it down tomorrow. Meanwhile, here is another shot of the coin with a different background. Generally I find the blue is better when taking pictures for eBay but the black is sometimes better when photographing things as a record.

Enamelled coin – nice rare example.

Learning from last night, I have answered comments and am about to post. Then I am going to watch Pointless and plan some poetry. Tim to get a grip.


Marmalade Hoverfly


I left myself with little time to post, then, when I reached for my camera to load the photos, I realised I’d left it at work. Again. This is annoying.

It also leaves me with 14 minutes to write a post and publish, unless I want to have to start getting notes from WP congratulating me on doing two days of consecutive posting. I’d be happy to do without the notes, but after working my way up to 14 days I don’t want to slip back. It’s like being one of Pavlov’s dog, but without the food.

I have spent most of the night reading blogs and generally catching up, which was quite pleasant, but I really should have blogged first and read second. However, that’s normally the way with me. Good sense and organisation are another world as far as I am concerned,

I can’t think of much more to say, as most of it will be contained in what is now going to be tomorrow’s blog, with photos.

Eight minutes to go.

I ead a blog tonight about writer’s block. I’m glad to say that I don’t believe in it, though I do find writing less easy at some points. I did, however, restrain myself from saying that as it’s not really my place to offer opinions on the blogs of others. I took that option on another blog too – about whether it’s better to say “they” or “he/she”. The drivel that is modern life…

Bees and Poppies – A Simple Post

We have been averaging 14-18 poppies each day. They make a good show in the morning but the petals fall by lunch, so they aren’t the best at providing a showy display. On the other hand, they did drift in free of charge. Others, which I have paid for, have failed to prosper. I keep saying I will have another go with the big red oriental ones, but never get round to it. Perhaps I will simply buy some cheap seed and sprinkle it in the gaps between flagstones. We established  a massive drift of Californian poppies on the farm by emptying some seed packets onto newly dug earth, so it’s worth a try.

Bee on Welsh Poppy

Bee on Welsh Poppy

There are some wonderful drifts of poppies on the ring road where they are letting the grass grow for the pollinators, with Californian and red poppies. They still have their petals when I drive home, so I’m thinking they may be better than the ones we have which, I think, are Welsh poppies. I always thought the yellow ones were Welsh poppies but when I looked them up I found these were an orange variety. There are yellow ones along the street, one of my gardening clients used to have them, but they don’t seem to have spread this far.

Hoverfly on Welsh Poppy

Hoverfly on Welsh Poppy

At one time we had a lot of marigolds. I was given them by a customer, and they spread well and kept coming back, but then declined over a couple of years. We still have three or four of them, but they are not showing any signs of recolonising the garden. It is strange how some things flourish and others don’t. The alyssum isn’t doing so well either, though I’m fairly sure that is being shaded out by the red valerian. That could be the reason why the marigolds have gone, as they would have been overshadowed by the valerian, which is a real thug of a plant, but I always think of them being tough enough to fight back.

Bee on Red Valerian

Bee on Red Valerian

That’s the trouble with gardening the way we do in the front garden – you get what you’re given, which in our case is red valerian. I’m thinking it might be time to cut some of it back and give other things a chance. The only thing that stops me is that it attracts hummingbird hawkmoths, which are always a pleasure to see.

The last bee is on Red Valerian because it would stay still in the morning when it was on the poppies. By 4pm there were no poppies.

I’m wondering id the black bee is a Field Cuckoo Bumble Bee because of the all black colouring. I’m not sure what else to look for to ID it, or if there are any other similar species. I’m hoping the hoverfly is a Marmalade Hoverfly because I like the name. It’s common round here, according to the ID guide, so I feel safe with that ID.

Marmalade Hoverfly

Marmalade Hoverfly

The Benefits of Looking Closely

From the point of view of my diet, today was a bit of a disaster. Julia brought Danish pastries when she returned from work, and while she was buying them, she bought sausage rolls that were on special offer. We ate them, then I opened a parcel from my sister and had a piece of Grasmere Gingerbread. Only one, as a quality check. It was excellent. It seems she had been buying some by post for birthday gifts and decided to treat us too. It’s delicious, and she is very kind, and nobody held me down and forced me to eat it…

I had a small meal for tea. I only had room for a small meal.

Meanwhile, after a classic senior moment, I am taking delivery of two sets of internet groceries tonight. I thought I’d cancelled TESCO after ordering from ASDA. It seems I didn’t. By the time I realised (when I saw their text at bedtime) it was too late. Normally their text comes in at around 10,00 am, which gives plenty of time for cancellation. Yesterday it came in after 5.00 pm, by which time my phone was charging in another room. Unlike many young people today, I am able to go for hours, sometimes all day, without checking my phone. I went for seven hours without checking my phone (anyone who really wants me is quite capable of ringing me) and I missed the text. As a result I have paid for delivery, and  a small order surcharge, to have a load of bread and vegetables delivered. We will be giving some bread away later tonight and vegetable soup is going to be on the menu several times in the next week.

Getting old is no fun.

We looked at a box of stuff in the shop today. A lady brought it in, with no great expectations. After an initial look we lowered her expectations even more. Then I had a look at the box of costume jewellery she had brought in. It’s not our sort of stuff, but we always try to help if we can. The “costume” jewellery included a cameo in a gold mount, a Victorian gold brooch with turquoises, a gold cravat pin and two gold tie pins. It’s not the sort of stuff we deal in, but I told her where to take it for a friendly reception and a decent offer. We did, however, give her the best part of £300 for two gold coins that had been made into cufflinks. That was a pleasant surprise for all concerned.

The morals from today – don’t throw anything away until you have taken advice, have a good look at everything and sort your stuff out before you die so you don’t lumber your kids with it.

British West Africa 1/10th of a Penny

Three Posts – One Day

Everything seems to have gone well today. I managed not just one post, not even just two posts, but three. Well, I will have done by the time I finish this one.

The procrastination went badly, as I booked the car in for service, rang for a prescription, signed some legal documents, spoke to my sister and started a letter I’ve been putting off for a while. I must start working on that again.  Unfortunately I didn’t do all the writing or researching I wanted to do, but something had to give. I did cook baked eggs for breakfast and did avocados for lunch, in addition to some washing up and exercises and something else I was going to list. Unfortunately |I have forgotten the last one. But I did do it, so I haven’t been entirely idle.

Just remembered that I was supposed to be renewing a subscription to a poetry magazine too. Does a poet’s labour never end?

It was internet shopping, that was what I couldn’t remember. Even though I’m getting quicker it still takes me the best part of an hour to plan and do. Compared to the hour plus that it used to take me when I did the shopping in person, it’s actually a nett saving in time. I also don’t use the car, don’t buy sweets or magazines and don’t by random foodstuffs because they catch my eye. Despite the drawbacks with substitutions and such, it’s probably more efficient. The only problem is that you tend to get into a rut and eat the same thing every week if you aren’t careful. I remember being told this several years ago – people just press the button to repeat the same order week after week and their diet becomes much less varied. This is considered a bad thing as it limits the range of nutrients you are taking in.

Word, words, words…

I’ve just been doing my online grocery shop. We didn’t have a delivery lasy week as we were trying to use up some of the stuff we still have. You can soon build up a surplus if you order the minimum amount each week. We have, for instance, five peppers, which is more than enough for the coming week. That’s what happens when you order automatically each week and don’t plan your menus properly.

I noticed something new on the ASDA site today – plant-based coleslaw. Now, I know I’m not well up on modern terminology, but plant-based coleslaw”? It’s made, as I recall, from cabbage and carrots and mayonnaise. There are probably more complicated versions, but when I can be bothered to make it, that’s how I do it. Cabbage and carrot make up 95% of the recipe. I use spring onions, apples and sultanas depending on what is to hand. They, last time I looked, were all plants or from plants. You could eat it with bacon and there would still be enough plants in there to justify the description “plant-based”.

As with so many modern expressions, they are using it to cover something else up. In this case, I presume they have taken the eggs out but calling it “vegan” doesn’t portray a particularly cheery image. And “we are happy to use small foreign children as slave labour but don’t want to be cruel to British chickens” doesn’t quite have the right tone either.

So, as ever, we bend the language to the point of being inaccurate, and almost meaningless, in the pursuit of marketing. And marketing, as we all know, is not much different to lying, apart from a better defined career path. If you lie outside the marketing industry you may well become Prime Minister, as we have seen recently, but there are no guarantees.

For the featured photo I have used a picture of plant-based wheat.

Time to Think

It’s Wednesday again, and another day off. I have, as usual, a packed schedule and list of jobs to do. I am going to enjoy ignoring them all. It’s what I do best. If you have  a talent you should nurture it. If I had my life again I might try to nurture a talent other than procrastination, but for the moment that is what I will work on.

It’s an intriguing subject. If you could have your life over again, would you, and what would you do do differently?

I will have to make one obviously impossible assumption here – that I could go back to being a baby again. If I just restarted without knowing anything of my past life the chances are that I would do nothing differently, be directed by random chance and, eventually, end up writing a blog post about how it could all have been different.

That would make a bleak book wouldn’t it? A man who gets a second chance wastes it in the same way he wasted his first life…

(I’ve just been reading a style guide (by accident rather than because I meant to) and now feel guilty that my ellipsis has not been preceded by a space, does not have a space between each dot, and lacks a space after it.) I didn’t even know that there was a style guide for an ellipsis. Or there were British and American styles of punctuating when using brackets. I just slap the punctuation where the cursor happens to be when I press the key. Life is too short to worry about dots.

Alternatively, you end up with a story about a man who is reborn knowing all his previous mistakes and trying to correct them. That would probably be even worse. Can you imagine being  eight years old, for instance, and thinking “I must write to T S Eliot and Siegfried Sassoon to gather quotes for the book I intend writing in twenty years time.”

It would be a strange sort of life.

There would also be the problem that I would have to be in Preston in 1980 to meet Julia, and the worry that she wouldn’t like the new me.

That would be a good story – it has all the makings of a top class rom-com  and has fame and fortune written all over it. Now all I need to do is go back in time and remake myself as a Richard Curtis clone. I was tempted to use the new style ellipsis at the end there, but I resisted.

A Day of Education

Today, after packing a reasonable number of parcels, I started loading a selection of maps, went on to empty coin cases and then started on some books. We have a  very interesting book at the moment – and as a result of reading it I now know what arrangements were made for pregnant women, victims of shipwreck and people who made gloves from rabbit skins as a side-line. I can also tell you what arrangements wee in place pertaining to pre-war fabric, second hand goods and fund-raising bazaars. Fascinating stuff – and I mean that sincerely. The administration must have been  a huge task, and that was just one small aspect of wartime life.

All you need to know about clothing coupons

The second book I looked at was, in some ways, more interesting, purporting to be a journalist’s evaluation of German paratroops.  He says they dropped into Poland and Holland in disguise, dressed as regionally appropriate peasants in Poland and, amongst other things, nuns and British soldiers in Holland. My view, as it always has been, is that these were just  stories. Look at it logically – you look up and see a nun on a parachute. Is your first instinct to wonder why a nun is parachuting, or wonder why the Nazi is wearing a dress? It’s bad enough jumping out of an aeroplane and being shot at without having the additional distraction of a stiff breeze blowing up your wimple.

Slightly less educational

So there you go, a day of education.

The advert in the header is from a map of Hampstead. It’s a Volvo P1800 as driven by Roger Moore in the Saint.

Crepuscular rays at Rufford Park

Time to Try Tanka

Breakfast was baked eggs. I put chopped spring onions, mushrooms. ham, tomatoes and grated cheese in an oiled dish, broke on three eggs and seasoned with black pepper. It’s a substantial brunch designed to last until this evening (with possibly a scone to keep us going) so I think three eggs is OK.

In the oven for twelve minutes (it wasn’t fully heated when I put them in) and Julia said hers was a little too firm for her tastes. She will get ten minutes next time because she is a barbarian who eats eggs before they are decently hard. I was happy with my 15 minutes as I like mine hard, and don’t mind them rubbery.

It’s a simple recipe, but one I seem to have forgotten over the years. Do you have recipes like that?

There are no photos as I ate it well before thinking of them. Maybe next time…

I managed to get three submissions off last night and this afternoon I had an acceptance from the batch sent out on the 18th. I sent ten haiku and eight tanka off to two different editors at the same magazine (they often have different editors for different things and allow you to submit to both) and have now had one accepted by each editor. I’m counting it as two submissions and two acceptances. If it had been one editor at the magazine I’d have only counted it as one. This is one way I’m upping my submission numbers. The other is trying new magazines. I’ve just submitted to one that holds the record for my speediest rejection. I thought I’d give it another go. The editor has changed and the so has the system – if they like it they accept within 14 days. If they don’t like it you can submit it elsewhere after 14 days. It’s a little imprecise, but simple enough as a system, and at least they aren’t going to set any new records.

Julia is making something complicated with chicken and marinades and stuff (she takes more trouble over the food that I do). It smells good, and she has just taken it out of the oven. Time, I think, to load this and eat.

I’m also sending two tanka prose off (the inelegantly named tanka equivalent of haibun) – one of them features crepuscular rays, hence the photo.