A Ride in the Country

In the middle of the day I first dropped Julia off at work (she is going in to familiarise herself with the garden) and then went for a drive.

I saw an Orange-tip on the verge and a Buzzard perching in a roadside tree, which was a good start.

It was a good day for free range pigs, warm but not too sunny. I always worry about them getting sunburn when it’s too hot. Obviously it’s nothing like as painful as being grilled, but it must be fairly unpleasant , particularly as they have short legs and no way of getting suncream on their backs.

When I have stopped and looked at them before there have been hundreds of birds abou (Jackdaws, Carrion Crows, Rooks and Black Headed Gulls), but apart from a few gulls there were none about today. I must start looking on a regular basis to see if it’s seasonal or if today was just a one-off.

Further down the road I stopped in a lay-by for a look round. I tried a few flowers and some still life shots but the butterflies wouldn’t stop to pose and all the birds were hiding in trees, though they were singing their hearts out. If only I could recognise more birdsong, or more flowers.

The only bird I actually saw was a Buzzard, and that was too far away to get a decent shot.

It was good to get outside for a spot of nature therapy. I hadn’t realised how much I’d missed it the fresh air and actually having to think about things. Sitting at home watching daytime TV is not something I’m keen to keep doing.

 

Reflections on life and snack food

The day started badly, with news of the Manchester bombing. I mention it because it seems to be something that should be mentioned, though I have nothing useful to say on the subject.

I think I’ve reflected on this before, and the way we select what goes into our posts. Nobody is going to be reprinting my blog in 100 years and treating it as a valuable social history resource because it’s lightweight fluff and random jottings. However, if I was sitting at a desk with a pen and a book, and a lack of immediate audience, I might be tempted to become serious, or even pompous.

An earlier draft of this post was much more serious, and tried to be meaningful, even profound. However, I soon put a stop to that.

I’m currently watching Secrets of our Favourite Snacks with Simon Rimmer. i’m feeling quite virtuous as I watch, because I’ve pretty much given up crisps and other salty snacks. Apart from nuts, but they are too expensive to go mad on, and are full of nutrients. (That’s a personal view and I would probably struggle to find scientific proof for it. If you follow my nutritional advice don’t bother to ring me from the cardiac ward and complain it’s worked out badly for you.)

I’ve learned three useful things so far – the bigger the container the more you eat, if you are distracted you eat more and there’s a man who writes a crisp blog. Even by my standards that’s a lightweight blog. (The link might not be to the crisp blog mentioned in the programme but it’s the only one I could find.

They then went to Manchester as people in North-west eat the most salty snacks of anyone in the UK. Seems Manchester is fated to be in the news today.

 

Belfast, Salad and Blogging

We went out to lunch at Harvester today. It’s not fine dining, but the Early Bird menu offers a good plateful for £6.99 and you get unlimited access to the salad bar. Believe it or not, it was the salad we went for. We’ve been a bit light on veg lately and I want my bowels in top condition for Thursday. From Wednesday I’ll be making notes, as nurses seem fascinated by my inner doings and ask some fairly detailed questions about bowels.

I would hate to be detained in hospital due to lack of fibre.

We are calling it a research trip, because we were looking at Julia’s bus route options for her new job.

I’m now going to moan.

There was a young woman in our section who completely destroyed the ambience.

She was loud, so it was difficult to hold our own conversation.

She was dull.

She’s a student.

When her companion occasionally tried an answer she didn’t listen.

She has trouble parking her car during international cricket matches (she must live near Trent Bridge);

She thinks, due to a list of ailments she’s suffered over the year, that her immune system has been compromised by the flat she lives in. Whatever she’s had has not affected her lungs.

She is going to New York to celebrate finishing her finals.

Her mother has already bought four outfits trying to find one that is just right for her daughter’s graduation.

She hasn’t even finished her finals yet, but she’s clearly confident of passing.

When she returned to the room after multiple trips to the salad bar she started talking (or shouting) while she was still yards away from the table.

Worst of all, she had a Belfast accent. (If you aren’t familiar with the Belfast accent, it’s abrasive and always reminds me of a chainsaw).

I was glad when she left.

She’s probably a lovely girl and clearly gets on well with her mother. I hope they have a good time at graduation.

But I never want to be in the same room as her again.

Do people have no sense of volume? Or do they just think we will all be interested in details of their banal life.

Ah, I suppose, when you think of it, I may just have described a blogger…

 

 

The Final Countdown

It’s 9.40 am. I’ve already had my first hospital trip of the week and my time is now my own until 7.30 am on Thursday. At that point (fingers crossed) I should enter the final phase of the operation that has now lasted six weeks. Based on previous experience and the scanty information I was given at the beginning I was expecting it to be over in 3 days. Yes, what an idiot I was.

It is now three days until the operation and seven more before the catheter comes out. I am counting…

Although I’ve tended to concentrate on the urological side of things, as there are ready made elements of pathos and low comedy in that, I’m also been investigated for a range of other problems, all identified on my visit in December.

Take the Great Warfarin Farce as an example. I asked for the tests to be left until I’d finished with the operations but the doctor insisted. It involves visiting a hospital on the other side of town twice a week and eating rat poison. They may call it Warfarin and pretend not to know it has another use but I’ve fed bucketfuls of the stuff to rats over the years. It was first sold as a rat poison in 1948 and as a medicine in 1954. I leave you to draw your own conclusions

I went for my first appointment and I got off to a bad start with the nurse by enquiring why I had to give the same information every time I visited and why they couldn’t store it from visit to visit. She didn’t like that.  To be fair, she probably hears it a lot.

Things worsened when I told her I couldn’t make the next date for testing as I would be in hospital. Basically she called me a liar, and supported this by calling up a copy of my discharge letter to prove it said nothing about part two of the operation.

I suppose she thought I just wore the urinary catheter for fun.

“That,” I said, “is the discharge letter from the emergency admission last week. You need the one from 10th April.”

“Ah!,” she said, “I see.”

However, the operation didn’t happen and I had to stop the Warfarin five days before the next operation. That meant I was on Warfarin for five days.

I’ll cut to the chase – on my last test the nurse, a more practical and cheery individual than the first one – said: “I don’t even know why they started you on Warfarin until after the operation.”

So, I’m off Warfarin at the moment, though Julia has intimated she’s at a point where, if I don’t stop whining about the NHS, she’ll be happy to feed it to me, whatever the nurse may say.

Nothing much happened today

It’s 9.30 at night, I’m watching Grantchester and gradually losing the will to live. It’s all getting mired down in the complicated personal lives of the characters, to the extent that it’s more soap than sleuthing. Tonight features a romany camp, which I always associate with Albert Campion, cunning disguises and weak plots from the 1930s.

You would be correct in thinking I’m not a fan. I read some of the books and thought they were OK, even if they weren’t as good as Father Brown. Yes, the Father Brown stories are dated, and the TV stories do deviate from the originals, but they are crime stories with characters, not a soap with a crime in it.

At least, with both kids heading back to Yorkshire by train, it’s now quiet. I’ve never known two people make so much noise without actually saying anything useful. It might be that I’m getting old, or it might be that they are badly brought up. Either way I suppose it’s my fault. It normally is.

I had to laugh at one point yesterday when we were watching TV. Number Two son, following a story about a wayward child, said:”If she was my daughter I’d have banned her from doing that.”

“You might want to think that through.” I said,”When have you ever taken any notice of me?”

I’ll leave you with that thought.

Sharlston Rovers v Nottingham Outlaws

It was always going to be a stiff test today because Sharlston Rovers are a long-established club. Founded around 1881, they won their first cup in 1895 (The Wakefield and District Cup) and have an impressive record of winning and producing professional players, including three winners of the Lance Todd Trophy.

Outlaws  were founded in 1999. We won a few things, notably the Harry Jepson Trophy in 2008. I say “we”, though my role in the victory was confined to a bit of light spectating and the offering of advice to the match officials, who completely ignored me.

Despite the lack of history and pedigree we didn’t look too bad for most of the time.

It’s hard playing Rugby League in Yorkshire, because they grow up playing it, where most of the Outlaws come to it via Rugby Union. The two games may seem similar, but they are quite different in places and it sometimes shows.

There are other differences, but this might not be the time or place to mention my views on Yorkshire Rugby League.

We arrived about ten minutes late to find that the skies were blue and Outlaws were in the lead. Neither would last.

First the rain came, then Sharlston equalised. We scored again, but missed the kick, and when Sharlston scored again they nailed the kick to lead by two points.

We exhibited a certain amount of defensive frailty, as they say and fell six more points behind. At that point the crowd started to relax and the whining stopped (there’s nothing as whiney as a Yorkshireman under pressure).

This proved to be the story of the second half too, as our continuing defensive troubles allowed Sharlston in a couple more times. We kept them under pressure and forced several schoolboy errors, like a long pass to the wing that went into touch. Embarrassing.

Having played RL in Yorkshire for several years Number Two son clapped that error in a display of Yorkshire sportsmanship. He knows how to twist the knife.

The best part of the day was seeing one of our players make his First Team debut. He started as an Under 9 and Number One son used to coach him. It was worth the trip just to see that and hear Number One son say “I’m feeling very old now”.

I know that feeling.

It was a trip down memory lane for Number Two son too. During his Yorkshire playing days he’d been carded by today’s ref and been in a fight with one of the Sharlston players (who was then playing for Featherstone Lions).

I am such a proud parent.

Final score 26 – 10. It was closer than the score suggests for most of the match.

 

 

 

 

 

Cream Teas

I mentioned cream teas a couple of days ago, and was asked to provide more details. It seems that the concept of the cream tea hasn’t travelled to America, which is surprising as it contains a lot of fat and sugar, which are what I consider to be two of the main ingredients in American food. Looking at the Wiki entry for clotted cream it seems it would be classed as butter in the USA, which would really confuse things.

The cream tea as we know it dates back to the 1850s, according to the Cream Tea Society. Other sources cite dates of 1931 and even 1964. The latter date is cited by the OED, and I can’t say they’ve exactly covered themselves in glory in this case. I’m sure I’ve seen references to them in the 1920s and 30s (whilst reading classic crime novels and I will make a note when I next see a reference – I haven’t made one before because I didn’t realise I would ever need the information.

There are even references going back to the 10th century.

My mother, who worked in a farm tea shop at weekends in the dim and distant past, remembered making cream teas well before 1964.

TESCO cream tea

The normal cream tea consists of scones, strawberry jam, clotted cream and tea. There is a traditional Cornish version which uses Cornish splits, but I’ve never actually seen one. In the south west I’ve often had it with plain scones, though in the rest of the country it’s usually a fruit scone.

I’ve also had other jam, and in fact I do like apricot jam with my cream tea.

There’s no such latitude with the cream. Cornish Clotted Cream  is a protected product and can only be made in Cornwall from milk produced in Cornwall.

As for the tea to accompany it, I noted that at TESCO you can pay extra and have it with coffee. I’m not sure why, but my view of coffee is not a positive one. Any beverage that is improved by passing through the digestive tract of a weasel is not really one for me.

That just leaves one area to cover – cream first with jam on top (Devon style) or jam first with cream on top (Cornish style). Debrett’s says jam first and cream on top.

It’s like the milk in first debate – there is no right answer.

Misleading picture

Note that they serve it with jam on top. In reality the jam provided with the cream tea has no chunks of fruit in it, so doesn’t look quite so attractive.