Tag Archives: cake

Car, Garage, Disappointment

Eventually, the phone call came. I have a valve which is sticking open when it should be closed. Phew, that was a relief. Sounds like a simple enough job. What a stupid thought…

The valve, as far as I can tell, exists to release pressure somewhere so that the car can’t do more than 30 mph and accelerates slightly more slowly than me on my way to the salad aisle. It’s part of the system that is there to guard against engine malfunctions. Thirty years ago we didn’t have such things as far as I know. I have certainly never experienced this after many years of driving diesels. This is slightly annoying.

There is, it seem,s no underlying fault. just a sticking valve.

Yes, the safety system has activated itself in the absence of a fault, and is itself the fault. Are you with me so far? The VW Passat I previously owned did 247,000 miles without an engine fault. This one has done a third of that and developed a major fault in the system designed to protect my engine from major faults. This is one step along from programmed obsolescence and one step on from sanity.

They will need to put it up on a special lift, which is currently in use for the next three days, and dismantle the front sub-frame. You can only get to the valve after some major work. So much for German engineering. Who thought it was a good idea to put the valve there?

A part I don’t need, jammed open when it shouldn’t be, and concealed behind many hours of spanner work. This is looking like a triumph for stupidity and a very large bill for labour. Cancel the cautious optimism of the last post.

It’s tempting to let go with a good old moan and a session of “Why me?” but I have better things to do, including eating the last of the Christmas cake.

Let then historical record show that in the day before our third lockdown became law (I believe they will pass it tonight, I passed the time by moaning about garages and cars (an eternal subject for conversation if ever there was one) and eating cake (ditto).

 

 

The Chimes of Midday

I’ve just heard the sound of the Council House clock striking. I always feel it’s a good day when air conditions and the wind direction carry the sound. You can, of course, get too much of a good thing, which is why the chimes stop at 10.30. This was done many years ago when hoteliers complained that the bell was keeping guests awake. In the 1970s I spent a night in Durham. The cathedral clock chimes all through the night. All through. Loudly. Never again.

Anyway, apart from that I’ve had an unremarkable day.

Dropped Julia at work. Filled the car (the fuel gauge lit up and pinged). Came home. Did some more of the OU course I started yesterday (it’s a 12 hour course on poetry, nothing heavy), did comments on WP, did a bit of editing, read a couple of internet articles, washed up and realised that it’s midday and I need to get some work done. Also realised I didn’t know how to spell midday so had to look it up.

I had the same problem last week with the plural of roof. I pronounce it rooves, but I’m sure it is correctly, though inaccurately, spelt roofs. Seems I’m wrong and rooves is still acceptable in the UK, even though Doctor Johnson declared it to be obsolete in 1755. It’s always irritated me that it’s spelt differently to way I say it, particularly when wife and calf both go to a v in the plural.

I am so glad I’m not a lexicographer or a scholar of the English language. So many details, so much tedium.

I thought I’d write a post to make sure it’s done (Final of the Great British Bake Off tonight so I won’t be writing much). Laura is my favourite contestant, though not the greatest baker. She’s very clumsy and often drops cakes in the final stages. Then, the next week, when you thing she’d slow down and use both hands she’s back at it, talking, rushing, moving cake one-handed and spilling it again.

It is finished. I’m now going to make a sandwich and move some stuff round so Julia thinks I’ve been tidying up.

 

A Fine Day Loafing

It’s early afternoon, we’ve just had lunch (Lincolnshire sausages in warm baguettes), and Father Brown is on TV. It could be a touch warmer, but apart from that life is good.

A delivery driver has just turned up with a box containing three meals (my birthday present from Number One Son) – unfortunately I’ve forgotten what they are, though it will be a nice surprise. One is chickpea and peanut butter curry and another is pork steaks with garlic greens but that’s as much as I can remember. I’m feeling a bit guilty because I gave them some harsh feedback when it was requested, much of it on the grounds that they failed to solve a problem which they created needlessly. I just found their answers – they had sent them but I’d overlooked them. I’d better write and apologise.

While I was writing last night’s post I had followed several interesting links and gave myself an idea for another Medal News article. This is good, as all my other ideas have run into problems and I’m not feeling industrious at the moment. I will regret that when we go back to work and I find I have no time (my perennial excuse).

My original plan was to spend my time writing three articles for three different magazines, but one has turned out to be difficult to write, one needs a table (which I don’t feel like compiling ) and the other is turning out to be harder to research than I thought. They will all end up being written but not just now. According to an article on motivation, which I read last night, I have just increased my chances of completing them by telling people I am doing them.

We have just had a visit from  a neighbour. Julia dropped her a card and present off this morning as it is her birthday. She came to give us a plate of cake. Unfortunately we weren’t able to invite her in as we don’t want to be delinquent. This morning the internet carried the news that house sales have started again and people can view houses. So, you can’t invite a neighbour or family member in but you can have an estate agent and a stranger looking at your home. Life is very strange.

Photos are, again, from the free picture library.

cat sleeping on the table

Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

A Relaxing Sort of Day

This morning I read several blog posts, did some writing and resisted the temptation to turn on the TV.

We had tomatoes and mushrooms on sourdough toast for lunch (my slightly chaotic buying has landed us with a surfeit of mushrooms), the post arrived (bearing a parcel of tomato plants and woolen twine for Julia) and we are now watching Father Brown on TV.

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The post also held our letter from the government. Just in case we hadn’t heard, it tells us, amongst other things, to stay at home. This has already been covered in so many ways in the last few weeks that this further message is superfluous. No doubt it seemed useful at the time they thought of it, but it’s been a bit slow in coming and is now just waste paper.

Later, I intend to do some shredding and watch Pointless.

Ah, shredding…

It took some doing. I hate to think how many sheets we did, but it took the two of us over an hour to do it, mostly by hand as the shredder didn’t show a lot of enthusiasm for the job.

When I took over managing the youth side of the club my first action was to cut the joining form down from three pages to one. With over 100 junior players that saved 200 sheets of paper straight off. I’m amazed at how much paperwork some people can generate. He, to be fair, was always of the opinion that I didn’t keep enough records. He was probably correct, but I did it for six years, never had a problem and, best of all, saved a few trees from being pulped.

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There are now two bin bags of ripped paper in the hallway waiting to go out. We tried to put it all in one, but there was so much weight in it the bag started to rip.

After that we had tea and Battenberg cake, and relaxed with Pointless as a pigeon on the chimney pot filled the room with cooing.

I’m going to look for photos now, then will plan the evening meal after posting. I have had worse days.

I thought I’d adopt a cake theme for today.

 

A List of Things I will Probably Do

We’ve done enough today to give me the material for several posts.

We rose late, which is not unusual, and won’t be mentioned again.

After that we had breakfast at Sainsbury’s. That will provide material for a blog post.

Sainsbury's Arnold, Notts

Sainsbury’s Arnold, Notts

The journey into Derbyshire, with a detour and two queues may well rate a mention, though maybe not a post on its own. In fact I may as well mention it now.  Having a choice of routes, I decided to go via South Wingfield.

Unfortunately, someone had had an accident at the junction and the road was blocked. I ended up using a lane I’ve never used before, despite 30 years of travelling in the area. It was a pleasant diversion, though the fact that it had grass growing down the middle should have been a warning that it was going to be a bit narrow. We met eight cars coming the opposite way, probably diverted by the accident because I doubt that it sees eight cars a day on most days. Most of the drivers were women, and most of them seemed to be preserving the chariot driving traditions of Boadicea.

At Matlock we had to queue, due to weight of traffic. I hadn’t expected it to be so bad, as I was thinking that people would probably still be on holiday. Maybe they were on holiday, and had decided to spend the day in a traffic jam in a picturesque old town.

After that we joined a queue to get through Bakewell. See my comments on Matlock. The only difference was that it was market day and the queue was longer and slower.

At Brierlow Bar we visited the increasingly disappointing bookshop. People who like their reviews laced with sarcasm may like this one.

Grim view from the Bookshop

Grim view from the Bookshop

The third visit of the day was to Tagg Lane Dairy for raw milk. While we were there we had a cup of tea and a slice of cake. There will be a review later. I was tempted by the gelato but I thought I’d wait until the Spring.

Finally, we went home. The traffic on the outskirts of Nottingham was very light, so maybe my thoughts on people going away were correct in this case.

Sunset at Langley Mill

Sunset at Langley Mill

I also managed to get a few photographs, having read an article of landscape photography last night. I am hoping to use them for this series of posts, as I could do with some new photos. They aren’t particularly good, but you have to start somewhere.

I used one of my old cameras because I still can’t remember what all the buttons do on the new one.

Grinding to a Halt

Sorry about the unexplained absence. On Monday night I felt sluggish, I followed this up with a bad night and by Tuesday morning I was close to a state of suspended animation.

I still went to work, because there were only two of us in on Tuesday, but feel a bit bad for taking the money for doing next to nothing.

When I got home I sat in the car for a few minutes to listen to the end of a radio programme and seem to have fallen asleep. I don’t remember doing it, or even feeling sleepy, but I do remember waking up so there is pretty strong evidence to suggest that is what happened.

The fact that I just had to correct six typos in that paragraph further indicates that I’m still not firing on all cylinders.

I went to bed and slept until Julia returned from a staff meeting. She wasn’t noisy but after years of parenthood you can detect the noise of key in lock from the deepest slumber. I think I managed to make conversation of an acceptable nature as she went away fairly happy and left me to sleep.

When I did drag myself from bed I was in time to see the final element of the Great British Bake Off. They have, as usual, managed to select a final three that I don’t agree with. It’s nothing to do with their baking skills, or even their worth as human beings, because you simply can’t tell without meeting them. However, two of them do exude an aura of oily smugness when viewed on TV. It’s mostly the same every year, the three or four that I like as people prove themselves to be totally incompetent within the first few episodes and I have to watch as the competition is won by sycophants, Paul Hollywood’s favourite or a fully paid up member of the jolly hockeysticks brigade.

Generally I can’t even remember them a couple of years from their win.

While I was looking up the link for GBBO I wandered into looking up what happened to past winners. While I was doing that I found an interesting new fact.

Have you ever heard of Otter Fishing?

Don’t worry, it’s not like trout fishing, it’s using otters to drive fish into your nets. I’d herad of cormorant fishing, but never otters. I also learned that in the 16th and 17th centuries we had cormorant fishing in the UK.

Wonders will never cease…

Fondant Fancy, with lesser cakes at Botham's in Whitby

Botham’s Whitby

Another One Bites the Dust

Hopefully, my masterful title writing has hooked you, and you are now wondering which of my many shonky enterprises is currently munching the dry brown stuff.

It could be the continuity of my blog. I started writing it last night but was diverted by a number of things, including a slow-cooked tea which refused to cook properly and an interesting programme on how they make cakes in factories, including fondant fancies and Battenberg, which are two of my favourite cakes.

Did you know they use jam to glue the cake slices together in Battenberg, but jelly to stick the marzipan? I didn’t. It really is fascinating. Not quite fascinating enough as I fell asleep before the end of the programme and missed my midnight deadline.

I’ve been burning the midnight oil recently, trying to correct the faults in my haibun, which are coming home to roost at an alarming rate. Another set came back today, meaning that I now have a run of five submissions without a single success to lighten the gloom.

I am not letting it bring my mood down. It’s frustrating that I no longer seem able to write acceptable haibun but I’m sure it will pass. If I write enough one of them, on the law of averages, will turn out OK.

With that thought in mind, I am off to lunch at IKEA. Number One son needs a few bits before he moves into his new flat and I want to be as helpful as possible in helping him  move out.

It will be a relaxing interlude, which will hopefully help my writing.

 

 

Cake as a Cure

Just a quick post today as I have had a lazy day eating cake and anti-inflammatories.

One of them seems to have worked as the pain and swelling in my foot has gone down. If I am attacked by joint pain in future I will try cake as my first choice of treatment.

I’m currently watching Sense and Sensibility on TV. For me, Jane Austen is better on TV, and Sense and Sensibility is also better in the Emma Thompson version. I confess I’ve always found Austen difficult to read. While I’m at it I may as well admit I feel the same about the Brontes.

I am not a great reader of classical literature, as my attempts at self-improvement have shown over the last few years, as I tried to plough through several variations of the 100 greatest novels.

Although the plots may end up tweaked for film and TV it doesn’t really matter as I’m watching for entertainment rather than as an academic pursuit.

Today’s photos are of the owl sculpture at Harlow Carr garden – it works better when you are standing there next to it, rather than in a photograph.

The Scone Chronicles XIII

And yet again – no scones.

The venue was the bookshop at Brierlow Bar and though Julia looked carefully, she could see no scones.

She did, however, buy two slices of glistening home-made cake. It looked sumptuous. And delicious. And once again I had to relearn that tough life lesson that looks can be deceptive.

As you may have noticed, I’m not the cheeriest or most modern of people and I am suspicious of change. I’m still not fully convinced that the bookshop needed a cafe, or that a crowd of people and dogs is of benefit to a bookshop with narrow passageways. I’m almost certain that anyone who parks a pram in a gangway, so that fat men with walking sticks nearly fall over getting past, should be prosecuted by social services and their children put into a gloomy gothic orphanage.

In a way it’s a shame I didn’t fall as the combination of damp floor and blocked gangway is a dream for an ambulance chasing lawyer.

Much as I despise the current compensation culture it would be fun to sue and make a few cogent comments to the court about people running cafes in a space that should be filled with books.

I’m not sure whether I would then give the money to Julia for a new polytunnel or burn it on You Tube just to prove a point. (The point being that the money wasn’t important, not that I am stupid).

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Good in Parts

Anyway, back to the cake. It was apricot and some sort of nut. Julia was in “Bear of Very Little Brain” mode and forgot the details on the way from counter to table. You’d have thought she’d have been brighter after an hour and a quarter of top flight conversation with me in the car, but apparantly not.

It tasted a bit like walnut, but there was definitely a large identifiable piece of cashew in there too.

I said: “Cashew!”

Julia said: “Bless you.”

After you’ve been married 30 years this is what passes for humour.

It was confusing cake because some of it tasted of ginger too. The top, where the glaze had soaked in, was nice and moist, but the lower two thirds was dry and quickly reverted to crumbs. Fortunately we had cake forks to deal with this problem.

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Appearances can be deceptive

To sum up, and to put my personal bias to one side, the tea was good, as it always is (made with proper leaves and a strainer), the ambience is getting better as they sort things out, the cake could have been better, but even that wasn’t too bad, and the book stock seems to have improved.

I’m actually quite impressed with what they have done at Brierlow Bar, despite my resistance to the 21st Century.

 

A Rest from Scones

Time, I think, for a change of gear.

We went to Harlow Carr on Tuesday, the Yorkshire coast on Wednesday and Lincolnshire today. On Thursday I went to see my Dad. I’ve eaten scones, sandwiches and afternoon tea, plus a vegan sausage roll. I’ve ticked off another pier and another non-pier. And I have been to three garden centres

As I sit here typing I’m trying to digest two slices of Mrs Botham’s excellent Date & Walnut Spelt Cake. I would have been happy with one slice but Julia likes to ensure I’m well fed. I looked in the mirror last night and can confirm that she is succeeding in her endeavour.

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Scones at Bettys – Devon Style or Cornish Style?

Devon Style – Cream first, then jam on top. Cornish Style – Jam first, then cream on top.

A few days without cake, some exercise and a meal or two consisting of vegetable soup may be in order.

Tonight’s healthy tea was veggie burgers (pumpkin, spinach and quinoa from Tesco’s freezer) with potatoes and organic baked beans.

I thought I’d try something healthy but the beans cost more and had less flavour than the normal budget beans. Back to budget beans, I think.

I did the shopping in Corby last night, on my way back from Peterborough. If you know about Corby you won’t be surprised to learn I bought tinned haggis in addition to veggie burgers and organic beans. Actually you might be surprised – I was. Until last night I didn’t even know it existed.

Sorry for the repeat photos – I wanted to go further back but WP is stopping me.

Tea, scones and sunshine. Bettys, Harlow Carr

Tea, scones and sunshine. Bettys, Harlow Carr