Tag Archives: cold

Cold Night, and Cake

It’s 4.30, it’s cold and I am too tight to put the heating on. So I’m going to write 250 words as quickly as I can and withdraw to the living room. I don’t mind putting the fire on in the living room because we will both be there most of the evening, which seems a much better use of the heating.

I have been looking at my submissions. There have been none in November. To be fair there wasn’t really anywhere to submit to and I did have two weeks where I was devoting most of my time to thoughts of my internal workings after my unexpected trip to hospital.

That’s where my plan ground to a halt, as Julia needed to go to the shop and I thought it was cold and dark and not the sort of night for her to be out shopping. So I drove her down to the shop. 

I’m back at the keyboard now, still cold, and still trying to write as quickly as I can. As a result of our trip to the shop we now have cake, so the kettle is one and I really want to get done as quickly as possible so I can pay proper attention to the comestibles.

So, there I am – I have done no writing in November.  I also found, when looking at the list of submissions for December, that two of them are in the wrong month – they should be in January.  I really do need to get organised.

Whilst I was in the car park I rang Julia to tell her where I was parked. The phone wouldn’t ring out. I tried my sister to see if it was just a fault with ringing Julia, but it wouldn’t ring her either. Then I tried to text. That wasn’t working either, but it did advise me there was a problem and I should insert a SIM.  This was annoying, as there is a SIM in the phone. It won’t come out until I am eventually forced to change my phone again, or until the kids sell all my possessions on eBay after the funeral.

However, as proof that I can cope with modern technology if forced, I switched it off and I switched it one again.

It worked.

Bloody useless pile of garbage. How is this an advance on my 100% dependable old Nokia? I used to empty the soil out a couple of times year, drop it regularly and never had a moments grief from it. Phones should be better now, not worse.

Night falls . . . well, to be accurate, night fell, as the photo is about 5 years old.

WordPress Hates Me!

It is that time of year again and I have a blanket around my shoulders as I sit in the dining room and type. It would be easy to turn on the heating, but I’m thinking of seeing if we can make it to November before we start  to use the heating. In the old days, when my parents had a stone-built house with thick walls and no heating apart from an AGA and electric fires, I thought little of working in my room until my hands turned purple with cold. Eventually, when the wiring started to give problems, they had the house rewired and installed electric central heating. There was no gas in the village so it was electricity, coal or buy an oil tank.
The internal walls were so thick that the electrician who quoted for the job had to buy new tools and take a break to restore his mental equilibrium. It was then that we realised how many extensions had been added to the house, and how many “internal” walls had started life as exterior wall.
I suppose that’s why I have an enduring daydream about living in the desert. I like cactus and lizards in the garden would be fun, but most of ll it would be nice to know every day would end up being sunny. We are heading for four days of warmer weather again in Nottingham, but “warmer” is a relative term. This morning we had ice on the car and the alarm pinged to tell us it was 4° C.

You would not believe the trouble I’ve had typing that degree sign. I had to have four attempts and look it up twice. Then, while I had my head down typing I seem to have pressed the wrong button and wiped most of the post. At that point I realised it is so long since I’ve had to recover text that I’d forgotten how to do it. This text looks very small and pale – I do hope it’s going to show up properly when I post. If not, you have my apologies.

You can guess my feelings on the matter from the title.

The header picture is Julia – so much more reliable than WordPress. One picture is all you’re getting – I’m  not giving the computer a chance for more messing about.

Things Can Only Get Better

797 views, 12 visitors. The mystery continues. I have not been able to work out why, and it probably isn’t worth the effort.

Royal Mail announced that it is now accepting international parcels again, which is good. However, on reading the actual text rather than the headline it turns out that if you live in Northern Ireland you can post International Mail to the Republic. That’s not a lot of use to most of us and as a news release is misleading and almost untrue.

I don’t know details of the ongoing computer problems but I suspect a lot of it is due to the vulnerability of outdated systems (as was the case when the National Health Service was hacked a few years ago).

The lesson I will take from all this is not the lack of investment in new kit, but the way they kept lying to us about the resumption of services, and the way that all through the pandemic and into the cyber attack, the way they keep charging full price for a shadow of a proper service.

Big news of the day was that Julia was off work ill. She was poorly all yesterday but I still had to force her to take a day off today. I’d be happy to see her have tomorrow off too but they have been pestering her on the phone all day and she says even if she was still ill (she claims to be cured) it’s a waste of time staying at home.

When we retire I am going to make her change her phone number. When we were on the farm she used to give out her phone number to Quercus clients. When she went to work for MENCAP the clients we had in common shared her number so now all the MENCAP service users have it, and even on holidays and Sundays we get calls from them.

She is nicer than me. I would either be rude to people or change my number.

The staff are nearly as bad. Her manager has been ringing up too, to bully her into going back to work tomorrow. They will be sitting in a heated leisure centre with running water and flush toilets. Julia will be out in a garden with one lousy heater in a portacabin, water they take down in containers and chemical toilets. They have no electricity in the gardens, so no lighting either at this time of year. It’s not the sort of place you want to be when you are ill.

Snowdrops in the MENCAP garden

An Ambitious Day

Yes, it was an ambitious day. And no, of course the ambition didn’t translate into massive advances in anything. I have a couple of poems in my head, the outlines of ten slides for my talk and not a lot else. It’s better than not having a couple of poems in my head (though they are never as good once I get them on paper) and not having the outline of ten slides done, but I had hoped for more.

It all started off with my decision to get dressed this morning. Normal clothes seemed to speak of standards being maintained so I opted for that rather than the Christmas Victorian Miser Chic look. That would have been warmer, and probably more productive, as the cold kept driving me through to the other room, and TV. And the coffee machine, the remnants of Christmas biscuits and conversation.

At least I did get some stuff done. There have been other Sundays where I have done less. I’m just cooking pizza now and will then be adding salad and going through to watch the Great Pottery Throwdown.

I’m using the word “cook” in its loosest sense here. Ready-made bases, sauce from a jar, grated cheese from a bag and a few sliced veg is not the height of pizza perfection. Nor is coleslaw from a  plastic tub, a sprinkle of cherry tomatoes and some leftover canned sweetcorn. At least it’s not a takeaway.

There’s not much to say apart from that. An inactive life leads to an uneventful blog. On Monday, it will be three weeks util my talk. At the rate I’m going, it should be OK, but I need to ensure that I do keep going at this speed. Bearing in mind I have ten submissions to make (it’s a busy month) this is going to be a hectic few weeks.

A nice cup of tea

Chilly . . .

The flower in the picture was waiting for Julia when she arrived at the garden yesterday.  Today followed much the same pattern as yesterday, though we did put the cover on the car windscreen so there was less to clear.

It was -4 when e set off this morning and -2 when I emerged from work. This is probably regarded as shirt sleeve weather in Canada, but we find it quite chilly. The houses opposite the shop still had frost on the roof so I expect it had been that temperature for much of the day. I’m getting too old for this. Old bones need more warmth.

I’ve done some proper menu planning for the first time in ages. It’s not so much that we need to plan the food, but it can be a bit cold in the kitchen (to the extent of food thawing faster in the fridge than if we leave it on the work surface) due to our budgetary restraints. The menu planning is not so much about maximising nutrition as minimising time spent in the kitchen.  If I can organise things to cook two or three meals at a time the kitchen is warm enough. If I just want to chop a few veg and bake one thing it can be an inhospitable place.


One day we will look back on this time and realise that we would have been better spending the money and keeping warm. To be honest, we’d have been better moving house thirty years ago while we were both working. We could have bought one that wasn’t draughty, and which didn’t front up to the north wind quite so much. Being on a ridge, we get a good view and flooding isn’t a problem. However, it can be a bit breezy.

That’s enough for now. I need to sit by the fireside talking to Julia and sipping tea, but mainly, eating cake. We have quite a lot of cake to eat (lemon and blueberry) because it was reduced and it called out to her as she passed the shelf  . . .

Spam, Spam, Spam . . .

Sorry, I seem to have become an unreliable WordPresser recently – not much reading and some very erratic writing. I won’t promise to try harder because, believe it or not, I am trying harder. I’m just not very good at it.

It’s partly the fault of the Russians. They invaded Ukraine, gas supplies went up in price and we all decided to economise. That means I spend more time in the living room and less in the dining room. That is where I do my writing, on a junk covered table that has been used as a desk far longer than it was ever used as a dining table (and was actually a second-hand office table I was given about forty years ago). Conjure with that mental picture for a while, it’s hard to imagine why I’ve never been featured in a glossy magazine spread on elegant living, isn’t it?

We have, so far, only had the heating on for one day. It’s a mild autumn, which is lucky. The living room is a slightly warmer room than the dining room, which opens onto the kitchen and faces north. The living room has thicker carpets and is smaller and less draughty. We sit there with blankets on our knees talking about the good old days and saving money on gas so we can spend it on cake and my collection.

I could write in the living room, but I don’t write well when I balance a laptop on my knee, and it seems anti-social. I could use a pad and pen, but these days it’s harder to write when TV is on – I no longer have that youthful capacity to work and listen to TV. Sometimes I even find it hard to converse while TV is on.

So there you go – Russians, cold, WP and my mental decline, all in one post.

So, why the title? It’s because I was researching some South African medals on a family history website. Ancestry, my normal site, doesn’t cover South Africa, so I tried some others. One of them seems to have triggered an avalanche of spam. First of all I got adverts for anti-virus software and then threats about harmful viruses on my computer. I’ve had them before, but have ignored them and they have faded away.This time, though they came to nothing, they did leave me with an annoying number of pop-ups. I’ve downloaded a free pop-up blocker. So far this morning it has blocked 62 pop-ups – that’s about one every twenty seconds. It’s hard work using a computer when a third of the screen is constantly choked with spam. I am, to say the least, frustrated and annoyed, and wishing I’d not bothered with the South African family research.

The picture? Fund-raising flags for Serbia, from around 1914. We bought them in with some junk a few weeks ago. The problem with the Balkans are still with us, as are our problems with the Russian Bear and jingoism.

Day 32

Just a quick visit. The shop was very cold today, the heating is poor, and by mid afternoon, when I realised I was cold, it was too late to do anything about it. I was frozen to he core, shaking, and looking forward to getting home. When I did, I sat in front of the fire under a heap of clothing and, over the course of three hours, thawed out.

This is a brief trip to the dining room to clatter out a few words on the computer before going back to the warmth of the living room. The back of the house faces north and is a bit draughty, which isn’t what I want right now.

I was intending having a night off from writing anyway, so it has just fallen right.

Tomorrow, I will check on submission windows for February and will start again.

We had constant phone calls today. Every time I tried to use sellotape, or was halfway through licking stamps, someone rang. Rare £2 coins, rare 50p coins, a coin bought in a Charity Shop . . .

I also made three appointments for people to come and sell us stuff. It would be better if they wanted to buy, but there you go. That’s how it always is in a shop. It’s easy to buy junk, hard to buy quality and even harder to sell anything. Now that people are used to buying on bay and places like that they don’t come into shops. They still want us for information, but, with rare exceptions, nobody buys in coin shops these days.

Somebody offered us £1,400 for a gold coin. We have it on at £1,950. So we declined. He came back with an offer of £1,500. We ignored it. Time is money and we are getting fed up of wasting time on people who are basically

picking our pockets.

We frequently get offers of less than the bullion price. My favourite ones say “I’d be happy to pay £X for this.” or variations on that theme, when X is less than we paid for it. I really want to write back and say “So would I.” but the boss won’t let me.

If I were to write a song about today I would call it The Shopkeeper’s Lament.

An enamelled crown of 1887. An under-dressed St George slays a dragon. Frankly, I don’t think boots and a cloak are the right kit for the job. I’d want a decent pair of trousers too – even if you don’t get your bits and pieces singed by dragon fire, they need protecting from chafing. And a lance would be handy too.

Day 13

I know there’s no real bad luck in numbers, but there’s something about writing “Day 13” that sets the hairs rising on the back of my neck. I don’t have enough on my head to notice if it happens there.

Until now, I hadn’t realised it was the 13th, even though I’d written several times on the packing slips.

We had a letter returned yesterday. We knew it had gone astray because the tracking number showed it was in South Korea when it was actually addressed to the Czech Republic. It was returned with the information “Undeliverable due to incomplete address”. They manged to send it back using the return address, which proves what the Post Office says – that a street number and postcode is enough. But despite a full address for the Czech destination, they were unable to deliver it to its intended destination.


It cost us over £9 in wasted postage so we have put in a claim with the Post Office and will see what happens.

That’s about it today. We had pasta bake using the sort of ratatouille I prepared last night. Tomorrow we will have the rest of the sort of ratatouille with something else. Possibly tuna steaks. We found tuna steaks in the freezer a we cleared out before Christmas.

We have so much food in the house that apart from picking up some bread and milk and carrots we didn’t need to shop this week. Fortunately, with some serious eating of soup and other bits and pieces, we are managing to get through things without wastage. It helps that we are using less meat and that the kitchen, due to prevailing wind and winter temperatures, is actually colder than our ancient fridge.

Ah, the charms of life in 2022.

I used the parcel photo again, as the highlight of the day hinged round a parcel.



Perhaps I Spoke Too Soon

The cold I had on Friday (as reported in my last post, turned out to be a bit worse than expected and I took Saturday off work, spending most of it in bed. I spent most of Sunday in bed too and passed an unpleasant night coughing and spluttering.

This morning, feeling tired and washed out, I went to have my dressing changed (the healing is still going well)  and discussed the cold with the nurse as I was worried about the way it had knocked me out.

She had a word with one of the doctors and I was instructed to get a Covid test. It seems that if you have symptoms they now send you for a test, even if the symptoms are of a cold rather than Covid. The three lateral flow test all count for nothing, which makes me wonder why we bother with them.

The booking procedure for a test is quite easy even if there are pages of badly designed forms to fill in.

I won’t go on. Partly because I’m too tired, and partly because I’m beginning to lose my inclination to fight the modern world.

The good news is that I can stay off work tomorrow until the result arrives. The bad news is that I might get another ten days off if it’s positive. I’m not sure I can take another ten days in isolation after being housebound for three weeks with my leg.

However, I may email my MP tomorrow and ask why we bother with lateral flow tests when doctors clearly have no faith in them.

Not Quite a Senior Moment…

I really don’t know what to write about. I did do part of a post earlier this evening but I decided I ned more time so I can do it properly. That’s the trouble. My past is littered with posts that need more time. Somehow I manage to forget about them time after time…

It’s cold here tonight, and wet and windy. I really want to put the fire on, but it’s the second half of May and it doesn’t seem right. Better to be cold than soft.

I’m starting to get perilously close to a couple of deadlines and I’m falling behind with a daily writing challenge I set myself. It’s been going for four weeks now and I’ve managed to get behind every week. Fortunately I manage to pull it round each time.

I woke up in front of the TV last night after Julia had gone to bed and thought I was having a heart attack. I had a terrible burning pain in the chest, radiating up through my neck and into my jaw. Even as I was searching for pen and paper for a final message to Julia, I remembered some of the final words of the pharmacist relating to my new anti-coagulation drugs.

“Take it with food,” he said, ” preferably a proper meal.”

Yes, I had indigestion caused by throwing down a pill several hours after I had eaten, completely forgetting all I had been told. I spoke top the Anti-coagulation Service this afternoon, they also reminded me I had to have the pills with a meal, though they did say it was for the purposes of absorbing it better. There’s always something extra to remember, and as I’m having to do it with a decreasing amount of brainpower it isn’t easy.

Not sure if it’s a senior moment or not. Probably just stupidity…

Talking of stupidity – a couple of years ago, Julia brought some dried teasel home and left it on the floor as she sifted through her bag searching for keys. It seems to have released some seeds and we had teasel growing last year, hence the header picture. This year, we seem to have around 50 self-seeded teasels, including some in very tricky places. They are all rooted between paving slabs, so we can’t get them out to transplant and will have to weed quite a lot out to allow us to get to the front door. I don’t think we will have flowers this year, as I seem to remember they are biennial, but we will have  lovely show in 2022.

This is my version of the old Greek proverb – “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they will never sit in.”

I just noticed that it has slid past midnight – another day missed…

Bee on Teasel