Tag Archives: Christmas

Lots and Lots of Lovely parcels

The smell of cooking potato is wafting through the house. It will soon be followed by the scent of sizzling sausages. Tonight’s meal is not going to rate high on the sophistication scale. I briefly toyed with the idea of sausage casserole, but quickly blanked it in favour of wedges and beans. I will add one of the many relishes I currently find myself in possession of, and consider it a meal fit for a King. The new King will probably disagree, as I doubt that his minions are currently engaged in cooking anything as mundane as this.

I returned to work today, to find a list of sales on eBay. There were 25 parcels by the end of the day but all I managed was to pack & post 16 of them and the pack a couple of others ready for tomorrow. It works out at three parcels an hour, which is not impressive, though I did have to disinter some of the stock from dark recesses and use some cunning packaging on a few others, which all takes time. I really wish the owner of the shop would consider how we are going to pack some of the things we sell. Several of them required export labels too, which can be a bit like writing an essay.

Julia came with me and kept me supplied with sandwiches and coffee, before walking over to the post office with bags of packages. She is going to help tomorrow morning too, by which time we should be caught up. She truly is a jewel amongst women and deserves better than me. Those are my words, not hers, though I’m fairly sure she would be happy to agree.

We also had a number of phone calls, several starting with “Oh, good, you’re open.”

I had to disappoint those customers by telling them that we weren’t, and I was there to pack parcels. On the whole, they took it well, despite the anomaly of having someone answer the phone to say we weren’t open.


Hard Times of Old England

To me, the week between Christmas and New Year has always been a strange time. The presents are done, I can go back to disliking my fellow men with a clear conscience and there is nothing left to do apart from wait for the forced jollity of the New Year.

I’d be happy to start the New Year on Boxing Day and get back to work, but tradition means we have to wait a week. Historically we celebrated the Twelve Days of Christmas, but as there was no TV and no annual holidays I suppose you needed a good feast. When we think of life as historical characters we rarely think of ourselves as peasants do we? Dirty, downtrodden and destined to die young, it’s not really a life that holds any appeal to me. But life as a courtier, with all its pox and politics is hardly more attractive. If I was able to go back in time I’d not want to go back far – some time with anaesthetic, antibiotics and civilised dentistry would do me nicely.

Anyway, here I am, with a laptop and one earphone in. I’ve listened to Feelgood and am now making my predictable way through all the old favourites. I don’t do carols, and I’m very predictable. I really should listen to some modern music. If they ever write any that’s worth listening to i may try it. I’m going to put both earphones in now and listen to a group of old blokes knocking out a song about the state of the nation whilst fronted by a woman who looks like a member of the Women’s Institute. Ah, the Rock and Roll lifestyle. The song comes from the eighteenth century, which tends to support my view that we don’t need modern music. Sadly it also supports my view that there is nothing new in politics and that we will never learn to stop fighting wars.

Now I’m going to go through and do family stuff.

Happy Christmas

I surfaced rather than rose on Christmas morning, having spent the evening before grazing on finger food, our traditional start to the Christmas season.

Number One Son was already pottering around then kitchen and the smell of cooking sausages provided an extra inducement to get dressed and go downstairs. I use “dressed” in a fairly loose sense – I’m wearing double flannelette and a dressing gown in various colours and patterns. Coordination never was my forte.

I’m not sure when “double denim” became a thing, or why they call a denim jacket with jeans a “Canadian Tuxedo” but for the modern day miser-chic look, double flannelette has no equal. Team up your checked pyjamas and nightshirt (note the layering effect to keep out the cold – we haven’t switched the heating on yet – with a nice striped dressing gown and you are well on the way to dressing like me. I’m sure I have some paisley somewhere but for now am accessorising with black fingerless gloves and a woolly hat.

If you happen to write a life-style blog and you are cringing at my fashion tips, good. It’s about time we chose our outfits based on warmth, practicality and what we have in the wardrobe. As a planet we throw a lot of clothes away, and 5hey are hard to recycle. The easy way is to buy fewer clothes and wear them for longer. Forget fashion and don’t throw anything away until you can see daylight through it. This is my serious thought for the day.

This article is an interesting read. I particularly like the idea of compostable clothing. in the past I have composted cotton underwear and leather/cotton gardening gloves. Unfortunately a lot of stuff is mixed fibres. I once composted socks and they left a fine mesh behind – the synthetic portion of the wool mixture.

Anyway, have a great holiday, despite me preaching about recycling. This year I cut down on waste by refusing to wrap anything I was giving. Julia went mad. Apparently this isn’t in the spirit of Christmas. But it did save me a lot of time and I didn’t have to buy wrapping paper.

An Accidentally Thoughtful Post

Well, I went to sleep again last night instead of blogging. It seems to be my new routine. I will do my best to start a better habit over the holiday. However, my good intentions tend to last as long as a mayfly so don’t hold your breath.

Today is my last day at work for a while, as I won’t be back until 3rd January.  That’s plenty of time to try a new routine and drift away from it.

Meanwhile, the turkey is thawing in the kitchen (Julia remembered to do it – I merely thought about it then forgot to check and went to bed).

Happy Christmas to you all. Unless you don’t celebrate Christmas, and find the whole thing incomprehensible. It’s a sign of modern times that I have to worry about things like that. Life was much easier when we could just wish everyone a Happy Christmas without worrying whether it would upset someone. Christmas hasn’t suddenly become offensive, because just like every other religion, I like to see lots of people enjoying themselves, and I’m sure that most people do. No, the big change is that people have suddenly become so sensitive and willing to take offence.

Robin at Clumber, Nottinghamshire

My Christmas message to the world is therefore to stop taking yourself so seriously. People my age were brought up to talk and think in a way that will be offensive to modern snowflake sensibilities ( and I may have done it there) . You can take us as we are, because we really aren’t that bad. Or you can grow up all twisted inside because the world is unfair and you aren’t given enough respect. Your choice. Over the last few years I’ve seen lots of things change, some for the better, some not. I can’t change them so I’ve decided that as I approach the downhill slide to the crematorium I am going to laugh while I’m doing it.

That’s strangely philosophical for a wet, grey Saturday morning, but I had a short slot for writing before  setting off for work and let my fingers wander over the keyboard. That’s what emerged.

Tonight I hope to be back to my normal lightweight self.

Robin at Clumber, Nottinghamshire

Day 29

Has the year really passed so quickly? There are now only 336 days left until Christmas. The cynic in me is tempted to suggest that it will only be a couple of weeks before we start seeing the first Christmas displays in the shops. However, first we have Valentine’s Day (14th February). Then we have Mother’s Day (27th March) and Easter (17th April). Then there are all those summer holidays that people have been looking forward to, because modern people can’t function without their holidays. When I started work we used to get by on two weeks a year, and knew people who had been at work when there was no such thing as annual holiday. The whole country is getting soft. You can’t imagine the Spartans taking two weeks off in summer. Anyway, enough about the good old days. We probably won’t start Christmas until September.

American readers may have noticed that we have Mother’s Day on a different day. That’s because ours is linked to Mothering Sunday, which is a church festival and it takes its date from Easter, which is a notably moveable feast. Yours is linked to a woman called Anna Jarvis, who wanted to honour the memory of her mother.

I must apologise to Americans here, because I had always assumed that your Mother’s Day was just another commercial orgy driven by greetings card manufacturers. Seems I’m wrong – not only was it not started for that reason, but it inspired an English woman – Adelaide Smith – to reinvigorate the festival in the UK. She lived and worked in Nottingham and is buried nearby, but until today I knew nothing about her.

However, the greetings card manufacturers did take over, and Anna Jarvis actually tried to put a stop to Mother’s Day. To be fair to the card manufacturers, when she needed care at the end of her life, they paid for it, but it just goes to show how commercial interests take things over.

That’s probably a good place to stop. Otherwise I might get onto the subject of Father’s Day, a completely unnecessary blot on the calendar, and an idea, I suspect, that is supported behind the scenes  by an international  cartel of sock manufacturers.


Closing Down for Christmas

I’ve just done 450 words on the evils of modern Christmas, but I thought I’d leave it until later. Christmas Eve (or Christmas Morning by the time you read this) needs a lighter touch and I don’t want to sound like a modern incarnation of Scrooge.

We closed the shop at 1.00 today, and queues at the shops were already backing up as people tried to get into the car park. One pm on Christmas Eve and you are doing your shopping? What sort of person are you? What sort of Christmas Dinner are you going to have. I missed a few items when doing my lists, but I’ll work round it rather than engage in a scrummage with a group of disease-riddled people who can’t plan.

Our day finished on a high note. I put a cheap medallion on eBay and the boss told me I was wasting my time as it was cheap, dull and wouldn’t sell. Twenty minutes later, it sold. I always like it when that happens. I have just checked, and find that two of the other items I put on have also sold – just goes to show the magic of new stock.

Meanwhile, I had a blood test yesterday. My INR ration should be 2.5. It was 1.5 at the last test. It had gone down to 1.2 by the time of this test. To compare – a normal person has a ratio of 1 to 1.1. I(n other words, the pills were doing no good at all.

I had the usual questions, but I hadn’t missed a dose or changed medication. Then she said, “It’s Christmas, the brussels sprout time of year.”. “Yes,” I replied,”and I have been eating more greens.”

I knew that green veg could counter-act the medication. I had no idea that they could wipe out the whole,benefit of it. I call it “medication”. It’s actually rat poison, but “medication” sounds better.

For blog post on the opposite problem, try this. It only seems like a few months ago that I had the opposite problem. Oh, it was only a few months ago. Warfarin is a very imprecise drug. Next blood test?  Wednesday 29th December. Bang goes my ambition of wearing my new pyjamas and slipper socks and not getting dressed for a week.

Happy Christmas everyone, and many more of them. Or Happy Holiday, or just Best Wishes for the next few days, depending on what you celebrate.

Christmas Looming

Today was another of those days that drifted gently down the stream of life with scarcely a ripple.

The morning started in a moderately interesting way when we joined a traffic jam. Ten minutes later we were diverted down a side road as Police Officers directed traffic around a bus. There was a mechanic’s van, a recovery vehicle and a fire extinguisher. I couldn’t any more than that. As I say “moderately interesting”.

And that was it. We lost a medallion that someone had ordered, and deduced that we were lacking a small box. It eventually turned up under my desk, so that wasn’t a great start to the morning. I must do better.

We had  a couple with a young child in during the morning. I engaged the kid in conversation because he was becoming bored and he asked his mum why Santa was working in a coin shop. I really should trim my beard again. And lose more weight.

At home we discussed the Christmas shopping, which I really must sort out tomorrow, as it’s only 11 days to Christmas.  First I have to address the Christmas cards to my family. Every year I say I’ll slip a note in as I should get better at keeping in touch. And every year I panic at the last moment and struggle to get them in the post, once again with good intentions but no letters.

Actually it’s only ten days till Christmas as midnight has slipped by. Where did they all go?

Yes, that is me in the picture. It’s a few years ago . . .

A Simple Day for a Simple Man

I’ve just spent a happy morning in front of the fire chatting, eating chocolate and watching compilations of Christmas songs on TV. I am a simple man and this is all I need. This expanded to a happy afternoon doing the same.

I just spent five minutes trying to delete a surplus full stop from that sentence. One of my resolutions for next year is to keep my computer screen cleaner, as it turned out to be a small mark on the screen that lined up perfectly. This isn’t the first time it’s happened, but it always fools me.

As I said, I am a simple man.

I have my wife by my side, my firstborn nearby and the spare child checked in by some mysterious process which allowed his face to appear on a computer screen and tell me I was looking older. He is looking uglier and tubbier than last time I saw him. It is good to have all this modern technology to hurl abuse at family members who are thousands of miles away, though I’m not sure that when I first came across a “video phone” in a science fiction story that I would ever use one for this purpose.

After that I rang my sister using 19th century technology and delayed her until she had to go, because her oven was emitting smoke. Her cooker has either elected a new pope or burned her Christmas dinner. I fear it is the latter.

I’m now going to stalk a few of my regular blogging companions and see how their day is going. After that it is turkey and more TV. I also intend drinking some of the tea I have been sent as presents and rounding the day off with biscuits.

1995 Robin stamp


Happy Christmas Everyone

Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, have a good day tomorrow. I’ve just been speaking to Number Two Son in Toronto. He has a couple of days of employment left until his job finishes, at which point the Canadian Government will start paying him enough for food and accommodation. He’s already on the trail of another job, so the unemployment may well be short lived.

If you judge the quality of a nation from the way it treats its lower level citizens (and let’s face it a tourist with a Geography degree and job experience at the lower end of the hospitality trade isn’t a high class immigrant) then Canada is looking pretty good. I am, of course, biased, as they are looking after him well. If he looked a touch more indigenous he might not be so lucky.

Despite my use of a stamp with traditional Christmas imagery, there has been no snow here, though there was some further north, and there were no carol singers either. However, we can still have goodwill to all mankind. Even IO can manage that for one day out of 365.

In the shop we had five parcels to do, which were, fortunately, all for UK addresses. The Royal mail has suspended a number of foreign services because they have so much mail accumulated, and so many closed borders. I’m sure that a few late parcels won’t spoil Christmas, but it’s a sign of the times when the world grinds to a halt.

A dealer came to call, and told us he’d been stopped on the way by police wanting to know the purpose of his journey. Clearly, murder, rape and robbery are all on the back-burner while they chase the real criminals. Rob the shop and they won’t even knock on your door in case they infringe your civil rights. Sneak in a quick visit to your grandma and you will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, unless you are one of the well-known exceptions.

First Official Air Mail Postcards

I was able to spend the rest of the morning researching the first scheduled air mail service in the world (September 1911 – London to Windsor) and Epps’s Cocoa, which was at one time the best selling brand in the UK. I would add links, but I don’t want to spoil you.

Epps’s Cocoa Nature Cards

Julia sends her regards too – though she’s rushing about worrying about Christmas being a “success”. We have each other, we have family, we have food, warmth and (somewhat dull) TV. We don’t really need anything more, but she always worries. I hope you all have a comfortable and unexciting day (we’ve already had too much excitement this year) and that next years shows a distinct upturn.


A Fresh Start

I was so full of ideas this morning that I filled two pages of my A4 notebook before I even got my trousers on. It’s maybe not the most dignified of mental pictures, but it shows the wisdom of always keeping a notebook close to hand.

Most of them will, of course, not develop much further. I could feel that from a few of them as they hit the page and scurried across the book. Some will not be good enough to develop, though a few will be merged with other ideas. Some will, I confess, be illegible by the time I have another look. My handwriting is truly, and embarrassingly, terrible.

That will still leave plenty. It’s quite likely that some will never be developed simply because I move on to other things before finishing the list from this morning. That is the life of a poem. Sometimes it soars, but it, more often it staggers or simply slumps.

Sunset over Wilford, Notts

Sunset over Wilford, Notts

I really must get a grip. I have some haiku to finish, because they need to be submitted tomorrow. I also need to arrange my buildings insurance (which just means remembering to pay for it) and order the Christmas food. It’s only ten days to Christmas and I am not at all prepared. I’ve ordered Julia’s main present (which probably won’t get here until after Christmas) and a supplementary present which I hope will get here before Christmas. The post is unfortunately very random. In my defence, she didn’t tell me what she wanted until last night, so it’s not entirely my fault. However, we don’t currently have a turkey. I’m not that bothered myself, I’d be happy with a tin of corned beef and a sprig of holly, but everybody else expects turkey.

At the moment my only proper preparations for Christmas are two tubes of cheese footballs I bought several months ago, a Christmas pudding and a packet of stuffing. As preparations go, it’s not impressive.

Sunset over Wilford, Notts

Sunset over Wilford, Notts

These area few sunset photos I took last week. I’m not sure they were successful, looking at them in this size, but at least they are new.