There’s nowt so strange as folk…

I once bought a collection of 107 owls. They were no bigger than two inches tall, with some being under an inch, and none were by recognised potters. Most of them had been sourced from gift shops or charity shops and as a collection they were a pleasant, if slightly eccentric, thing to look at.

Owls are nice. If it had been a collection of vultures I might have felt slightly different about it.

I tell you this to set the scene relating to another collection we bought recently. It consisted of about ten pound of mint condition decimal copper with a few five and ten pence coins.

Most of them were carefully laid out in plastic bags before being rolled up and taped into ribbons of coins, but a substantial number were individually wrapped. Some were wrapped like sweets but the majority were taped into individual flat packets. Cutting the pieces of plastic from a larger bag must have been laborious, but the effort of wrapping them was Herculean.

And no, we don’t know why he had done it like that. I just assume that he was old and had time on his hands. In those circumstances some of us blog, others wrap coins tightly in bits of surplus plastic and cellophane. Goodness knows what I will be doing in a few years time.

People think that they are protecting the coin but in fact, the chemicals that make up plastic contain a lot off sulphur, which discolours coins. Over the years they have developed plastics that do less damage to coins. AS you can see from the colours of some of these coins, these weren’t wrapped in low sulphur plastic.

Anyway, my job was to remove all the wrappings.

I’ve had more exciting jobs, but I still paid whether I’m excited or not.



Decimal 1/2 p coins – not worth much in 1971 and worth less now

More of the Same Old Drivel…

I’m sure I wrote half a post earlier on today, though I can’t recall what it was about or why I didn’t finish. This senior moment stuff is really starting to take hold.

Sunday, as usual is a turmoil of competing strands, including sleeping, eating, napping and watching excessive amounts of Diagnosis Murder. And I’d meant to do so much…

Not that it’s so different from every other day of my life. I always mean to do so much.

I started by deciding not to get up even though I was fully awake at 7am. At 8.30 I decided to get up in “ten minutes” and at 10.30 Julia shouted upstairs that if I didn’t get up my breakfast would go cold.


It turned out to be a lie: it was already cold. She had foolishly taken my “ten minutes” claim at face value. You’d have though she’d have learned after 30 years…

It serves me right for being cuddly, laid back and quirky, I suppose. The exact words that were used were fat, lazy and unreliable, but I know she doesn’t mean it. Which reminds me, I must look at the embroidery on the wall to check out the exact date of my Wedding Anniversary. It’s at the end of the month and, with it being the 30th anniversary, I’d better get it right. She cuts me a bit of slack for the minor ones, but I’m supposed to be making a fuss of this one.

It’s five years ago since I was last expected to remember so it’s not too onerous.

I just had a quick look at some anniversary gifts, like this engraved glass plaque, because nothing says “I Love You” like something that looks like it comes from a promotional gifts catalogue. Even I can see this would not be a good choice for a main gift, though I might chance it as a secondary gift, with the added bonus that I could have the date engraved on it.

I do like this. Possibly not as a wedding anniversary gift though. Too aerodynamic.

Then I searched for pearl jewellery.

I’m going for a lie down now, as my bank balance is feeling faint.

Seal pup - Donna Nook, Lincolnshire

Seal pup – Donna Nook, Lincolnshire

Soon be that time of year again. A cold day on the coast watching seals.





Dreams and Confessions

I woke early this morning. You can probably tell that from the fact I was able to post before going to work. I woke around 4.30 after having a bad dream. I can’t tell you what it was about but it featured being trapped in tunnels and saying more risks having unwelcome Freudian interpretations forced on me.

After a trip to the bathroom went back to sleep until 5.30 when I awoke convinced that the police were about to tow my camper van away because I’d obstructed someone’s driveway by parking it round the corner from the house. This was very vivid and it was a few seconds before I realised that I didn’t have a camper van and didn’t have a corner to park anything round.

The subconscious is a weird and wonderful thing. Mainly, in my case, weird. It’s not many years since I dreamed I was a spinning top on a fairground ride and woke up to find I was in mid-air, having spun myself out of bed. To be fair, I wasn’t in mid-air for long as gravity did its part rapidly and efficiently.

Julia said: “Have you broken anything?”

I assured her I was OK.

“I meant the bedside table. I knew you’d bounce.”

And they say romance is dead…

Then there was the time I woke up screaming because the giant rat was eating my leg, only to find the “jaws” were my own hands grasping my leg.

Anyway, I popped into wakefulness again at 7.01, which is my normal weekday time (I normally allow myself to lie in until 8.00 on Saturday as I don’t have to run Julia to work). It seemed pointless to go back to sleep so I got up, had the last of the Chinese takeaway for breakfast, blogged, made my sandwiches (yes, cheese again), went to the local shop, did some long-term financial planning (or bought a lottery ticket if you prefer the unvarnished version) and turned up at work just in time to get the last parking space. For some reason everyone thinks they can park in front of the shop on Saturday, even though they are nothing to do with us.

We had quite a crowd in at one time and succeeded in getting a customer to join the Numismatic Society. We had nine customers and three staff in at one time. In the old shop you were uncomfortably full if you had three customers and if you had four you had to synchronise your breathing.

By four I was glad to escape and go shopping with Julia. I say “go shopping” but we have developed a routine that features us having a toasted teacake and a mug of tea before she goes round the shop while I sit and read the paper. It suits me because I’m a lazy male chauvinist pig and it suits her because she hasn’t got someone trailing round behind her complaining about prices.

The rot started  a few years ago when I found myself nodding and saying “Yes dear.” when I wasn’t actually listening. I’d always said I wouldn’t do that, but once it started, the rest seemed to follow naturally.

That, I think, is enough for now. To continue risks me getting a fleas in my ear if either Julia or my sister read this. Like Bertie Wooster, I have a set of female relatives who can be fearsome when annoyed.


Nearly there!

The pictures show one of the answers to my question from yesterday – where does all the time go?

An Interesting King

The coin is a 1 Fils of King Ghazi I of Iraq. Dated 1938 it is uncirculated and still has traces of its original lustre.

King Ghazi was king for only six years but he seems to have packed a lot in – wanting to annexe Kuwait, conducting an affair with a palace servant, having suspected Nazi sympathies and, finally, dying in a car crash which may have been organised by his Prime Minister.

All this sounds very familiar.

Fils is singular, though some coin dealers write 1 Fil. The plural is fulus but in the west we stick to using fils. Unfortunately it’s also French for “son” so you need to be quite precise in your search terms. In French it’s both singular and plural.

The coin is available on eBay for £25, though lower grades are available much cheaper. That’s a good thing about coin collecting – it encompasses all budgets. You can buy some very interesting coins for a pound or two if condition isn’t important. We did that yesterday, selling a coin of Louis XVI like this one, from 1792, to a young collector. It was very worn, but it was £1 and think of all that history!

Where does all the time go?

Last night I came home, did the washing up I’d left to mature for a couple of days and prepared the evening meal. We had some leftover chicken, wrinkly carrots, bendy parsnips, over the hill mushrooms, softening onions and sprouting garlic. I then threw in some stock cubes, pearl barley and water.

I’m thinking of marketing a line of cookware with the motto “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here” featured on the logo.

With hindsight more water or less barley may have been better. And less cooking. I lost track of time and it ended up with a couple of hours on a very low heat. The result was a pearl barley risotto. I liked it, though I was surprised. Julia was equally surprised, and not quite so keen. She doesn’t always appreciate my deviations from the culinary norm, or the fact I hate wasting vegetables.

I watched TV with Julia, replied to comments on the blog, wrote 1,100 words in two parts, did the washing up again and made the sandwiches for today.

Then I fell asleep.

It really doesn’t sound like a lot of work when you consider it took the best part of eight hours. There was a slight nap involved (about thirty minutes – that’s all) and the TV probably took up two hours, so I suppose it becomes a bit more understandable.

Then there was today, which just seemed to fade away. I got Julia to work for 8.30, was at the shop for 9.00, bid on some ebay items by 9.30 and had several parcels packed by 10.00. After that it all became a blur and suddenly it was the end of another week – just one more day to go until Sunday.

Where do the days go, and the evenings and the weeks? In fact, where did this year go? Or my life, come to think about it. If the next twenty years go as fast as the last twenty I really don’t have time for naps.

Now I’m off to find photos for this post and to prepare myself for more postcode facts.

The picture is part of my collection that I found recently after some years in a dusty box – it’s a fund-raising flag used by the Foresters to raise money for their regimental war memorial at Crich.

More Postcodes – EX6, B14, W7.

I found the list of postcodes, so will start off with EX6, B14 and W7. Ex is Exeter and B is Birmingham. I expect W is London, but will have to check.

EX6 includes a number of wonderfully named villages, but for some reason I’m drawn to Cockwood. It seems unfair that schoolboy humour takes over, but that’s just the way I am.

As Wilde said, “we are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” Apart from my sense of humour, that’s in the gutter and showing no signs of leaving.

I can’t actually find much to say about the place but after reading this I want to go there. In fact, I want to live there. There’s just one paragraph and a picture of Cockwood, but it’s enough.

And if you want a fact – one cubic metre of mud from the Exe estuary has the same calorific value as 14 Mars bars. As a metre of mud weighs 1.7 tonnes and tastes of mud, 14 Mars bars weigh 615 grams and are therefore a lot more convenient as a quick snack. They also taste of caramel and chocolate which is a lot better than mud. (Please note that if I’d done these calculations in 2008 the weight would have been 937 grams – another reason modern life is not as good as the old days). That’s 1.35 lbs and 2 lbs for those of you who don’t do metric. A ton of mud is near enough a tonne of mud for me not to bother converting.

B14 is Birmingham and includes Kings Heath, Yardley Wood, Druids Heath, Highter’s Heath,Warstock. I’ll be honest with you, my knowledge of Birmingham is sketchy and Wiki’s knowledge appears to be the same. Only King’s Heath gets much of a write up and that, to be honest, isn’t rivetting.

The report on the tornado of 2005 might amuse those of you who live in countries which are prone to tornadoes.

And then it’s W7. As I suspected, this is London. If Birmingham is an unknown land, London is even more unknown. I believe I’m right in saying I’ve only been to London nine times in my life.

Four  of them were for work and one was because I took a wrong turn. One saw me wake up on the floor clutching a sign that said “Danger – Guard Dogs – Keep Out“. Drink, I admit, had been taken the night before. I lost my wallet another time and British Rail officials let me travel home for nothing, though I did catch the newspaper train which took six hours instead of the normal one and a bit. However, I promised interesting facts…

Hanwell, which is what W7 is, the subject of an extensive and interesting write-up on Wiki. It was the scene of filming for several early Carry On films, the parish where Harry Secombe’s brother Fred served as a priest and it has a flight of locks. Plus a lot more – carnival, music festival, beer festival and a Saxon past.

The interesting fact I have selected is that when they added a second parish to the expanding suburb in the early 20th century the new church was the first in the Anglican Communion to be given the name St Mellitus,

So that’s it – just the three. I will do some more later.

Picture is a gratuitous cute bird. No connection with any of this.


A Bonus Moaning Day

I lost the list of postcodes I was going to do, and it’s getting late. As no plan of mine ever survives contact with reality for more than a week, this is about what I expected.

I’m not going to give in to stress and attempt the impossible, so I’m going to relate a story instead.

We had a visitor today, who introduced himself as a police Detective Sergeant. This was a pleasant surprise as we thought they’d forgotten all about us.

This air of positivity was soon dispelled when he told us he wanted access to our cameras and asked if they covered the other side of the road. The owner said no, they didn’t cover the other side of the road and the detective as good as called him a liar, saying he could see from our monitor that it did.

The owner explained that although they could show the other side of the road they couldn’t show the detail required for police evidence needs, as had been pointed out to us last week.

Actually, it seems, they are good enough when the police say they are good enough. It’s only when they don’t want to take action that the cameras become unusable.

It ended with the detective telling us that he didn’t appreciate the hostility and reminding us that he was a human being.

To be honest, if you walk into a shop with boarded up windows, where the owner was told in the last seven days that his crime won’t be investigated because CID is too busy to look at the case, you are unlikely to be welcomed like a long-lost brother (1).

If you then demand access to CCTV footage from cameras that were judged to be inadequate last week and tell the owner that they are adequate this week because you are investigating a serious crime, you are not going to be reducing tension.

I agree that he is a human being, and shouldn’t be met with hostility because of poor management and political interference, but as you can see from this pay scale, he’s a human being that is paid quite well, particularly as his job description seems to exclude catching people who rob coin shops. He will also be getting paid the same this year as he was paid last year, whereas the shop owner is looking at a bill of over £15,000 for lost stock, lost trade and extra security.

Anyway, end of rant. He got the footage he needed because we always try to help the police. This is, I think, the fourth time we’ve let them have footage – it’s just a shame they aren’t there for us in the same way.

Finally, a lighter end to the rant.

We’d been joking a few days ago that people in Nottingham would be getting fake Kew Gardens 50p pieces in their change after we had a box of them stolen. And sure enough, someone brought one in today. We can’t prove it’s one of ours, but it’s marked “Copy” like ours and it’s a bit of a coincidence that it cropped up in change locally.

I couldn’t find any photos suitable for “theft” or “police” so I went for a Robin.


(1) To be greeted like a long-lost brother you need to bring biscuits.