A £1 Saved…

I am very tempted not to post tonight. I can’t think of anything interesting to write and I can’t concentrate on finishing several posts I am halfway through.

Sorry about that. I’ve tempted you in and now revealed there’s nothing here for you. It’s bit like those sites on the internet where they tempt you in with promises of being surprised by what a housewife from Sheffield found in her back garden. You click and you end up clicking 25 more windows, by which time you are bored, annoyed and becoming suspicious that you have been lied to.

I’m not even convinced she has a back garden.

The best event of the day happened when I went to fill up the car and pump up the tyres. The air pump was still running when the man in front finished doing his, and carried on running till I did all four of mine. It normally costs me £1, so that’s a whole pound saved. I’m going to put it in a pot and save it towards our round the world cruise.

The round the world cruise fund is a new innovation for this year. So far it contains £1. We need a bit more to make this dream into reality.

And that is about all the good stuff that happened today.

 

 

Only 51 weeks until Christmas!

Yesterday, one of the customers told me the fact I have used in the title. It makes the year seem rather short.

This, in turn, lead me to calculate the length of time before Spring starts. Just 56 days. That, of course, is only half the story. Meteorological Spring may start on 1st March according to the scientists, but the weather doesn’t always agree.

My parents were married at the end of March and, as they told me for 60 years, it snowed.

One thing you can rely on is the daylength. It’s already feeling longer than it did (and it is actually ten minutes longer than it was on the shortest day). This means that it is lighter when we leave the shop, which makes a big psychological difference. On 29th February, in Nottingham, the day will be over three hours longer than it is now. Even the thought of it is enough to cheer me up.

It’s a sobering insight into the shortness of life. The days of wine and roses are indeed not long…

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I was watching the Christmas University Challenge Final tonight and found myself doing quite well against a number of people with high-powered jobs and multiple degrees. The main difference between us, apart from my lack of degree and a job as a shop assistant, is that I suspect they all had confidence, plans ambition and productive work habits. I’ve just spent Christmas watching TV and playing Candy Crush when I should have been writing a best-seller and running an eBay business.

Ah well…

I did manage to get the outline of my presentation done. I have quite a lot of material on 1919 and went through it, with suitable reference to mutinies, Russia, Ireland, strikes, riots, war memorials and the Baltic.

Happy at the breadth and depth of my knowledge, and my grasp of the subject matter, I was alerted to the fact that this feeling was not universal by a gentle snore from Julia’s direction.

It looks like I’m going to have to do some editing.

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UK £5 2017

Today’s pictures are all recycled, with vague links to Christmas and 1919.

Once bitten…

I have just been watching Dracula on TV. It has been, to put it mildly, a patchy experience. The story has been spread over three nights, which is one of its weak points as there was only enough story, I felt, to fill half that time. Or less.

The first episode was drawn out and dull. The second episode was tedious and lacked grip. It finally came to life in the closing moments. The third episode was quite good and I could have watched more of it. So, could do better, and if anything similar comes along I’ll probably give it a miss.

Once bitten, twice shy.

Just a short post tonight, as I’ve got to go and make tomorrow’s sandwiches.

I finished the Christmas Chutney today. It has been very good, and reminded me of the Christmas Chutney I used to make in my farm kitchen days. It’s good and fruity and packing plenty of Christmas spice. Mine used to have cranberries in but was much the same flavour.

All went well until I chewed down on my final cheese sandwich and found half a plum stone. They clearly hadn’t skimmed it properly, which was one of the reasons I preferred to de-stone the fruit before using it. It’s quicker to boil and skim, but there’s always the risk of a broken tooth. Fortunately there was no dental damage from this episode, just a bit of a shock.

Not the Worst Day I’ve Ever Had

Today I packed parcels. I wrote eight slips out and remembered, after the sixth, that it was no longer 2019.

I moved on to load a gold 50p piece on eBay (it was Paddington Bear at St Paul’s Cathedral). I won’t trouble you with my views on “collectable” coins or the debasement of national character that accompanies cartoon animals being depicted on coins. However, I will let you imagine what these views are.

Then, just in case the excitement of being back at work became too much, I photographed some 1930s auction catalogues. That calmed me down.

A number of people rang me for advice on “rare” coins. On even rang me twice. I thought about telling him he was an idiot but customer service training prevented this.

You can tell how well everything went from the fact that I spent the whole day thinking it was Friday. It was only when Julia informed me that tomorrow was not Saturday, as I thought, that I realised my mistake.

We had vegetable stew for tea. Then we had cheese. It was very relaxing.

Now I’m writing a short post and I’m going to have tea and biscuits before going to bed.

As days go, I’ve had worse.

Some Photos

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I have noticed, when looking at my photos, that although I often don’t have a photo to go with a post, I also have photos I never get round to using. With that in mind I’m going to publish some of the photos I took on Monday. They aren’t very good as I’m a bit rusty after months of only photographing coins, but I’m going to make an effort with photography again this year.

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Tree – Tagg Lane Dairy

The header picture shows a stand of trees across the road from the dairy. The light was going and it almost came out as black and white. The other is in the garden of the farmhouse, which is intruding slightly into the shot. I’m using the old, small camera, which makes it tricky to frame as there’s a black spot in the picture, which increases with zooming, and which needs to be cropped out.

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View from Tagg Lane Dairy – Derbyshire

This was a view across the fields. The sun was just catching the stone wall, but it didn’t add as much colour as I thought it would.

Finally, on the way home, we found a place where sky colour, foreground interest (I use the term loosely) and parking coincided. I know a bad workman always blames his tools, but I’m sure they would have been better with one of the better cameras. Unfortunately I still haven’t learned to use the new one, and the other Olympus has flat batteries.

Sunset December 2019

Sunset December 2019

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Sunset – Langley Mill – December 2019

Sunset Dec 2019 Langley Mill

Sunset Dec 2019 Langley Mill

Scone Chronicles XXVIII – Tagg Lane Dairy

We’ve been here once before, though on that visit we just bought raw milk, as we’d already had tea and cake at the bookshop down the road.

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Coffee and Walnut Cake

 

Although there’s no scientific basis for believing raw milk is good for you, I did feel a bit better after drinking the last lot and thought I’d have some more. When reading up on it I was surprised to find that it’s completely banned in Scotland, and many other countries.

Strange how you can buy cigarettes or alcohol from the supermarket but raw milk is heavily controlled.

Anyway, back to the review.

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Tea, cake and milk in a proper bottle

Tagg Lane Dairy is a working farm in the Derbyshire countryside and has a slightly stronger smell of cows than is normal at a tourist destination. Apart from fresh air it has raw milk, organic burgers and a very nice cafe.

The cafe is quite new and is very clean and unfussy. It avoids the modern curse  of being cluttered with tables made from floorboards and various industrial surplus and is far better for that. I don’t want to eat in a workshop I want to eat in a cafe.

The menu seemed to be a bit limited, though I didn’t look too hard at the time. It seemed to offer three sorts of cake and mince pies, but it may do more. It had Victoria sponge, Lemon Drizzle cake and Coffee and Walnut cake. To be honest, you really don’t need more.

They also have plenty of ice cream, or maybe gelato. I’m not quite sure of the difference, but it was too cold for either of them.

To be honest, the best bit wasn’t the excellent cake or the nice clean cafe. It wasn’t even the view (we sat outside so I could take some photos of the views). It was the staff. They were cheerful, efficient and more besides. I’m going to have to use the word “lovely” here. It’s a high praise, and in danger of being gushing, but they deserve it.

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Julia says the blank spot in the middle reminds her of something off CSI – the murder of an innocent cake

So, to sum up, a nice simple stop for tea, cake, ice cream and raw milk. Lovely staff, a pleasant experience and something to look forward to next time I take a trip to Derbyshire.

 

Requiem for a Bookshop

There was a time you could go to the bookshop at Brierlow Bar, browse an interesting selection of books, buy a few nice greeting cards, have a cup of tea and a Kit-Kat, listen to the elderly gents discussing steam railways and come away feeling relaxed.

It was, to be honest, a bookshop from a different time and it probably wasn’t very profitable.

Judging by the crowd in the cafe it’s much more profitable now. But ithe profits, unfortunately, don’t seem to have been used for upgrading, or even maintaining, the toilets.

In terms of stock, we couldn’t buy any cards this time, as the ones we liked seem to be out of stock.

The Natural History selection seemed a bit bigger this time and the poetry seems to have grown a little in quantity, though the quality has, I think, declined. They still have a good selection of History and Military History but Julia wasn’t able to find anything in her line this time. I quite like travel and cookery books but I haven’t been able to find any decent ones for a couple of years now – both victims of the increased cafe space/reduced book-shelving.

It is also more difficult to get round, as the gangways were always quite narrow and the increasing customer numbers make access quite difficult at times, particularly as so many of them seem to drift round aimlessly and clutter the place up.

There was only one dog in today, but it was barking quite a lot. It was only a pup (though an Alsatian pup, so quite large) and the owner was bribing it to stay quiet by giving it treats. Or teaching it that if it barked it would get treats. For me this goes to prove that people should have to pass a test before being allowed to have a dog. Judging from the evidence of her kids it wouldn’t be a bad thing to make them pass a test before breeding either.

I did manage to buy a few books so it wasn’t a wasted journey, but I’m afraid it’s going to be the last time we treat it as the main destination for a day out.

Apart from the access issues, the toilets and the stock, I just don’t feel relaxed there now, and the cafe reminds me too much of what happened to our kitchen on the farm, even down to the cliched decor.

I wish them well. They’ve invested time and money in the place and made it much more lively, and presumably a more viable business. However, it’s lost something in the process and it’s not the pleasant, relaxing experience it used to be. I suppose that’s the story of life.

If you want to read a selection of opposite views try this site. Lots of people love it, and they all seem to love it in the same formulaic way. If I was a suspicious man I’d think someone was rigging the reviews. However, having seen some of the customers it’s more likely that they all belong to the Stepford Wives reading group.

There are some very informative negative reviews too, some of which echo my feelings.

I did like a few of the quirkier ones – like the one where they ate, spent an hour browsing and then bought a book.

Or the one where they found it a good place to while away a few hours with the kids.

Presumably they also spent a lot of time cluttering the place up and getting in the way of grumpy old gits like me.

In conclusion I will leave you with a nightmare vision of the future, where you can’t buy books in bookshops or plants in garden centres because they have all expanded their cafes and gift sections until there is no room for actual stock…

And having unburdened my soul of this sorrow I will enter the New Year as a happier man.

Happy New Year to you all.