Tag Archives: children

Seven Reasons to be Cheerful

I am feeling particularly cheerful today and decided it called for another list. It won’t run to 10 points, but I’ll try to keep it going as long as possible.

One, I have a wife. She’s still with me after 30 years. I don’t know how, or why, she puts up with me.

Two, I have a sister who worries about my health and sends me face masks by post.

Three, the kids have grown up and become reasonable human beings. I actually quite like them, which wasn’t always the case when they were teenagers. You have to love them, because it’s what parents do. And you have to feed them because that’s the law. But liking them is a bonus.

Four, Number Two Son, currently still in Canada, rang Julia today to say he’d seen a Cardinal and it was the best bird he’d ever seen. Nice to know he has grown up with a proper set of values.

Five, we have enough food. This wasn’t the case a few months ago, when panic-buying was in full swing. I thought of this because I used the last of the pre-cooked rice I’d bought in case things got worse.

Six, after the Mexican style fried rice I made (which was better than it sounds) we had apple crumble using apples from the Mencap garden.

Seven, we had ice cream with the crumble, which was delicious after a hot, stuffy day.

I could get to eight, but seven seem OK, and scans better in the title, so I’m going to call it a day.

The photos are from an old camera card I rediscovered recently.

 

A Quiet Day

The lockdown continues, though in a much diluted form, and Nottingham’s uncut verges continue to be good for bees. I noticed this on the way to work, where the Gas Board continues to dig up our frontage and block access to the shop. I spent all day listing medals of Edward VIII and forgot to move so my legs seized up when I tried to get up.

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We had saag paneer last night using the spice kit Number One Son arranged for us. We didn’t quite have all the ingredients, so we used some kale in place of the spinach. It had a notably different texture but worked quite well. I checked up, and it seems that saag is not, as I thought, spinach, but, depending on who you believe, either a mix of spinach and mustard greens, or simply mixed greens.

Always so much to learn.

We still have three spice mixes to use and will reconfigure the week’s shopping to use them all this week. Unfortunately Julia can’t find out how to cancel the spice subscription. As with so many of these offers (£1 for four spice kits) they make it difficult to cancel. Even worse, if you don’t order your next lot in time you have to take what they send you. That’s how Number One Son ended up making moqueca. I had to look it up – it’s Brazilian Fish Stew. I think I can do without this.

Number Two Son, still in Canada, applied for, and was turned down for, a job as a dog groomer. As he has no experience of dogs or grooming this was not unexpected. However, he has had a call back and they want him to work in some sort of management capacity. He has an amazing capacity for getting strange jobs. If he ever writes a book he will not be short of material for his biographical notes.

I think I’ll leave it there for now. Dog grooming and fish stew is quite enough excitement for one day.

The End of the Day

Just a few more musings on things I didn’t cover in the earlier post.

I noticed, while shopping yesterday, that my thoughts were turning more to sugar. It tested my self-control yesterday, enmeshed as I was in a shop filled with cake, hot cross buns and chocolate eggs, but I got through it.

Well, I say I “got through it”. I got through it in the sense that I bought Belgian buns, Battenberg cake, two small chocolate rabbits and a bag of mini eggs. It’s not much for a week as long as you spread it out, and could have been a lot worse. I’m hoping that next week will be slightly more disciplined.

Number Two Son rang Julia. He was trying to reassure her that he was OK and back in employment, this time at a bank call centre. It’s nice to know he’s financially secure but now she’s worrying that he’ll catch something off his co-workers.

It seems a local politician has lost her job over remarks she made about Boris Johnson being in hospital. To be honest, though the comments were ill-judged and discourteous I think things are being blown out of all proportion. She was also inaccurate in saying Boris was the worst PM we’ve ever had – we’ve had far worse, though to be fair he hasn’t really got into his stride yet.

As I write this, I have a massive pan of ratatouille cooking. I carried on buying aubergines even though I couldn’t get courgettes on my last couple of shopping trips. They are now starting to go brown in places so I decided to get them cooked now and then store the results.I’m determined not to waste a morsel of food, though it can be tricky with all the fresh veg I’m trying to store.

Despite the pronouncements of this brain-dead mother of two, we aren’t all throwing food away. In the last three weeks we have thrown away a couple of cupfuls of milk that went off. I just couldn’t be bothered to find a suitable use for it. Sorry. I will do better if it happens again.

I note from the article, and the pictures with it, that she “had” to throw stuff away, including Worcester Sauce, Soy Sauce and two jars of pickled onions. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never found that those products actually go off. They certainly don’t go off three weeks after they were bought as part of a panic-buying spree.

That, I think, covers the bits I missed last time. Tonight’s tea was roasted veg (potatoes, carrots, parsnips, leek) with a bought-in chicken pie, broccoli and gravy. Tomorrow’s tea will be fish pie, because we need to eat the fish. On Friday we will start on the ratatouille. If we eat it with something out of the freezer we will have space to freeze some ratatouille.

Inn the garden, poppies are getting ready to bloom and the Red Valerian is preparing to burst out.

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Red Valerian, about to flower

Charity, Children and Christmas

It’s finally here (which is more than you can say about the promised article on the Gibraltar £20 coin), and in just over three hours it will be Christmas. It seems like a lot of effort goes into just one day.

It also seems like a lot of guilt goes into it, as we are emotionally blackmailed into giving money to the homeless, foreign children and donkeys. Now, I have great sympathy for the homeless, and for foreign children who are needlessly blind, or in need of fresh water, but I don’t appreciate the tactics of the charities in swamping the Christmas TV screens with these adverts.

As for the donkeys, I may sound heartless but compared to a child I don’t really see the suffering in the same league. I also think that on charity quiz shows the celebrities should be prohibited from raising money for animal charities, but that’s a personal view and as the RSPCA raised £81 million from legacies last year it seems there are plenty of people who are happy to give.

It’s an interesting document, the RSPCA report, though I notice that , once again, it fails to call for the prosecution of people who deliberately breed faults into dogs in the name of breed standards. Another personal point there. I must be careful not to rant.

I give to two charities monthly One is for children overseas and one for children in this country. I’ve been thinking of transferring the former donation to the homeless in this country, but after seeing the adverts I’ve decided to leave it. I may transfer the second one, as I’ve had words with the charity over the years about their tactics in trying to bully me to give more. It shows the power, and wisdom, of the TV adverts, where one has stopped me withdrawing support, and the other, which doesn’t advertise, might lose out. On the other hand, as it’s the charity and not the kids that have upset me, I may leave that too.

I’m in better financial shape than I have been for the last few years, so I may just have to give more, as I’m beginning to think about the homeless and the Salvation Army. Their adverts at Christmas always make me feel that way and General Booth came from Nottingham so I should support the local man.

And that, via a circuitous route, takes us back to the beginning of the post. It looks like the adverts, irritating, and cynical as they may be, do serve a purpose.

I will now wish those of you who celebrate Christmas good wishes for the holiday. Those of you who don’t celebrate Christmas can have my good wishes too. If you don’t hear from me tomorrow, imagine me eating a large lunch, with turkey and Hasselback potatoes, and snoozing in front of a feast of variable quality TV.

Dog Show Prize Medal

Dog Show Prize Medal

 

Poppies, Kids, Death and Zen

I deadheaded the poppies a couple of days ago. It seems to have paid dividends because this morning there were fifteen poppies in a spot where we had never had more than six.

I thought of stopping to take a photograph, but bit was raining, I was in my shirt sleeves and the flowers were not very impressive, being weighed down by water droplets.

It sounds artistic now, and I’m starting to regret not taking the picture, but it was cold and wet this morning and enthusiasm was not running high as I left for work.

By the time I returned they had all dropped. They do that. It’s very annoying.

For those of you who aren’t conversant with deadheading it’s a way of manipulating nature with just a pair of scissors.

Plants flower, set seed and then close down as their job of perpetuating the species is over.

If you cut the dead flower heads off before they set seed they have to keep flowering to fulfill their biological imperative. Tricky, isn’t it?

It’s a bit like kids. Once you have a couple you can stop. And you still end up dried out and dead, just like a flower in Autumn.

I have to go now, I’ve just started on a meaningful poetic thought and it needs nurturing. It starts with raindrops and ends with scattered petals, and has haiku written all over it.

Poppies growing from cracks in concrete

Poppies growing from cracks in concrete

I’m getting a lot of use out of very few poppy pictures. I’ll take some more pictures later in the week.

Scone Chronicles XIX

Sorry, I decided it didn’t matter if I missed a day posting and, six days later I’m only just getting back to blogging.

I have plenty of things to write about, but no enthusiasm for the work.

However, I will give it a go, as scones have recently reappeared in my life. On that subject, I may dispense with Roman numbering after the next one. That’s what they did with Spitfires in WW2. They got to Mk XIX and the next one was the Mk 20.

I suppose it’s all part of the dumbing down of the world. First we stop using Latin numerals, then, under pressure from Microsoft, we adopt American spelling.

We’re on the verge of electing a buffoon, and have a fine choice, with both Johnson and Farage, so we’re following America in so many ways.

I’m going to fail to post before midnight, but I’m not rushing. It’s a bit late to worry about my posting record.

On Wednesday we went to meet Julia’s brother and sister-in-law who were visiting family in Radcliffe-on-Trent, a large village just outside Nottingham (which I thought was a town, until I checked when adding the link). The Atrium is a converted bank, and is very pleasant, though the name had led me into expecting more glass and plants.

The staff were efficient, cheerful, and very patient, which was good as they had a lot of kids running about. One of the kids was my great nephew, who is just over a year old now. He’s not quite walking but he’s on the verge, and manages to get about well enough.

The scones were large, and light in texture, though a bit sweet and slightly deficient in fruit. It doesn’t make them bad scones, but it does stop me talking of them in glowing terms. I’d happily go back for scones if I was in Radcliffe-on-Trent again, but I wouldn’t necessarily drive all the way from Nottingham for them. Julia had Bakewell Tart. It was a bit lurid compared to last week’s Bakewell Pudding.

Still having difficulty posting using the ancient netbook, so I’ll call a halt there. It’s amazing really, a few years ago I thought this machine was brilliant, but after using a laptop for the last three years it’s like torture.

 

 

Quick Update

Number Two Son now has a bank account and a mobile phone. Mobiles are more expensive in Canada. He’s now searching for a job.

Number One Son set off this morning, had a few hours in China and is now back on the way to New Zealand.

We had a Chinese takeaway tonight. It’s cheaper with just the two of us. It’s also all the travelling we are likely to do this week.

That’s it for now.

I will have more time tomorrow.

Travellers’ Tales and an Auction Result

Number Two son is in Toronto, has already arranged his national insurance number and is on the track of a job. This is all good to hear.

Number One son, meanwhile, is somewhere down south preparing to take a flight on Saturday. When he gets there he will be spending the first ten days travelling round in a camper van.

Ah, the carefree days of youth.

Julia had to wake me up the other day when she left me in the car whilst shopping, but it’s not the same thing as camping.

Most of the day was spent researching medals to go on eBay. I found a couple of interesting stories, which I’m writing up.

The Genghis Khan coin sold for £16. It’s cheap for 800 years of history and a link to one of the most famous names in history. But, on the other hand, it’s expensive for a piece of dust-gathering junk. It’s just a question of perspective.

A Day Off

I say day off, but it wasn’t quite as clear cut as that.

We started with laundry. This was Julia’s idea – she thinks that the kids need clean laundry for their foreign adventures. I agree with her on that point. I do, however disagree that we should be doing it. Neither of them are working at the moment, as they are both flying out this week, so they have plenty of time to do their own laundry.

Despite this, we were able to enjoy a freshly-cooked bacon cob at the cafe down the road, before we returned to the launderette to do the drying.

We went to the jewellers after taking the washing home, cadged a couple of cups of tea and had two watches fitted with new batteries.

After then had a late lunch at Frankie & Benny’s. They charge £2.39 for a cup of tea. I was expecting a pot for that price. Not only that, but it’s served as a cup of hot water and a teabag, so you don’t even get properly made tea. You need boiling water for tea.

They are having some problems, with closures and redundancy, I’ve been told. I’m not surprised. If their grasp of business is as good as their grasp of tea making they are in deep trouble.

No photos again today, but at least it’s a slightly less depressing post. I’m planning our next holiday now. It’s likely to include piers and scones, so watch this space.

Dentist tomorrow.

Into each life some rain must fall, as Longfellow said.

 

 

 

 

Photography Puzzles

Looking through the old photographs, as I was yesterday, I am reminded of the complexity of regulations around photography.

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Care Bears came to visit

I have photographs of children and vulnerable people and I have permission to use them. So I’m clearly OK to post them on the blog aren’t I? Well, no. According to some regulation, which may be data protection rather than safeguarding, I should have asked for time-limited permission and I shouldn’t use them indefinitely. Schools, for instance, are only supposed to use photographs of children while they are attending the school. This would tend to suggest that I shouldn’t use the images now we have closed down.

This suggests that even if you are lucky enough to get a decent shot of a child you can’t keep using it. Unless you’ve paid a child model – that will be OK. That’s one anomally. Another is that I can’t publish names, but newspapers can. Presumably predatory perverts only cruise amateur blogs – professional photos and newspapers hold no interest for them.

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The Quercus Group in disguise

There’s another anomally – if I want to take pictures of children on a visit I need permission, which some schools take more seriously than others.  We once had a teacher shouting at one of our group members because they had  taken a picture with their telephone, which might have included a school pupil.

Yet that teacher thought it was OK for the school to take pictures of the visit without asking our permission and without checking with the vulnerable adults in the group. In fact no school ever asked permission to take pictures.

I’m not saying they should do, but I am saying that there should be one rule for everyone, particularly for schools that insisted on coming on days when the group was in.  Julia, being soft-hearted always resisted my requests that we should have a photo permission form for visits and only give permission to groups who gave us permission.

It’s funny how a train of thought can rise from a few photos…

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Agroforestry project

Imagine what that would mean for the famous Pears Soap advert. They used this one for years. Oh, how Admiral Sir William Milbourne James GCB must have mentally thanked his grandfather for this portrait of him in green velvet as he strode the decks of his various commands, where he was known by the nickname “Sir Bubbles”.

Image downloaded from the website of the Victoria and Albert Museum, with permission. Despite a lack of medals and dead animals this kind gesture has elevated thm to the status of one of my favourite museums.