The second day of the Jubilee Bank Holiday. One of the neighbours has been flying bunting originally used for the Coronation in 1953. It was flown on the same house as in 1953 too, as the house has been in the same family since it was built in 1928 (or thereabouts).
Julia went to the park with one of he friends last night for the beacon lighting, but there was some confusion over the timing of the events so they came home without seeing much. They did meet the lady who walks her tortoise, but he wasn’t there.
The only interesting feature of the day was a rejection from an American haibun magazine. I could write a few hundred words on the subject but I’ve decided not to bother, as I’ve said all there is to say on the matter and I’ve forced you to read it several times. Well, actually I did write several hundred words on the subject, but it wasn’t very original or interesting.
Tonight we are having hoisin meatballs for tea, and I am about to make them from scratch. It’s one of those kits from Gousto, a birthday present from Number One Son. It’s nice to try new recipes, but it’s a bit of a culture shock to start slicing garlic again. Over the years I’ve adapted my cooking style to use garlic out of jars and ready chopped veg, as it gets round the problem of having stiff fingers. I can still use a knife, I just can’t be certain I’ll still have all my finger tips by the end of the slicing.
So, to sum up. I’m going to go and cook and while I slice vegetables I’m going to try not to think of editors . . .
I went for a haircut today. Julia’s orders. Because of my lack of dress sense she’s keen on my looking as tidy as possible in case someone mistakes me fora tramp. I was going to do my own hair (it hasn’t been done since the start of lockdown) but it can be tricky getting it right so I agreed. I haven’t actually had my hair cut by anyone else for about ten or twelve years, when I had it done on a whim while was in the barber with the kids. For some reason they would never let me cut their hair. The time before that was about 25 years ago. It’s saved me a fortune. Anyway, after enduring a conversation that hasn’t changed a lot in the last 25 years (despite the fact it’s a different barber from the one that did my hair in that shop 25 years ago), I was then charged a price that hasn’t changed a lot in the last 25 years. To be honest, I may start going there regularly as it’s so much tidier when someone else does it. And I had my eyebrows touched up. That’s when you know you are getting old.
The nurse who took my blood this morning is the mother of a kid who went all the way through school with my kids. He joined the army when he left school, went to work on cruise ships and liked the sea so much he’s now joined the Royal Navy. Quite an adventurous life so far. It was nice to catch up.
I also went shopping. They ask you to be considerate to their staff by wearing a mask (and most people do). Sadly, two of their staff and a security guard couldn’t be bothered to wear a mask. Makes you wonder why you bother. Also makes me wonder what message they think they are sending.
I’m now going to think about trimming my beard. If I’m careful I can tidy it enough to satisfy Julia whilst leaving it long enough to scare small children.
Oh, the shopping? I bought her some flowers. And a quiche. I’m back at work tomorrow and I fancy a slice of quiche. also bought steak. I’m going to cook tonight. Baked potato, steak, salad. Looks good, virtually no effort. That’s my sort of cookery.
Breakfast was baked eggs. I put chopped spring onions, mushrooms. ham, tomatoes and grated cheese in an oiled dish, broke on three eggs and seasoned with black pepper. It’s a substantial brunch designed to last until this evening (with possibly a scone to keep us going) so I think three eggs is OK.
In the oven for twelve minutes (it wasn’t fully heated when I put them in) and Julia said hers was a little too firm for her tastes. She will get ten minutes next time because she is a barbarian who eats eggs before they are decently hard. I was happy with my 15 minutes as I like mine hard, and don’t mind them rubbery.
It’s a simple recipe, but one I seem to have forgotten over the years. Do you have recipes like that?
There are no photos as I ate it well before thinking of them. Maybe next time…
I managed to get three submissions off last night and this afternoon I had an acceptance from the batch sent out on the 18th. I sent ten haiku and eight tanka off to two different editors at the same magazine (they often have different editors for different things and allow you to submit to both) and have now had one accepted by each editor. I’m counting it as two submissions and two acceptances. If it had been one editor at the magazine I’d have only counted it as one. This is one way I’m upping my submission numbers. The other is trying new magazines. I’ve just submitted to one that holds the record for my speediest rejection. I thought I’d give it another go. The editor has changed and the so has the system – if they like it they accept within 14 days. If they don’t like it you can submit it elsewhere after 14 days. It’s a little imprecise, but simple enough as a system, and at least they aren’t going to set any new records.
Julia is making something complicated with chicken and marinades and stuff (she takes more trouble over the food that I do). It smells good, and she has just taken it out of the oven. Time, I think, to load this and eat.
I’m also sending two tanka prose off (the inelegantly named tanka equivalent of haibun) – one of them features crepuscular rays, hence the photo.
Julia went to work by bus this morning. I felt so guilty that I got up at 6.30 to make sure her breakfast was ready when she got down. It was only tea, cereal and toast, so hardly the most onerous of breakfast.
We are back on the Weetabix so it needs some time to soak. I don’t like Weetabix because it’s often crunchy due to lack of time in the mornings. However, Julia doesn’t like Bran Flakes, my weapon of choice in the war for fibre and regularity, so we alternate – each one of us gritting our teeth and eating cereal we don’t like to accommodate the other. I suppose that’s what marriage is all about at times. When we retire I think I will make porridge every morning. We both like that. We could, I suppose, have two boxes open but I regard this as vain and wasteful. I was brought up to be modest and frugal.
She left me with a lecture about doing housework while she’s out. Housework? And ruin a perfectly good writing day?
I’ve had a go at the washing up and I have plans afoot for cooking tea – I think I’ll try a vegetarian version of last week’s casserole for tonight and make chickpea and sweet potato curry for tomorrow, In a minute I will do some shredding. I can do that without moving from my chair.
I’ve just realised that you are probably wondering why Julia had to travel by bus. WE had snow at the weekend, and in England that means we grind to a halt. We had snow on Saturday but it fell early enough for the daytime temperatures to melt it. We had snow yesterday, but it started inn the afternoon and froze overnight. That means that the street we live on is, based on previous experience (32 winters) is a touch slippery and the slope down to the main road holds all sorts of possibilities. I’m getting more cautious on the roads as I grow older, and as my car insurance premiums increase. If it doesn’t melt today, it’s likely that we will have a surface like a skating rink for the next week. I will review the situation tomorrow.
At the moment the sun is out, next door’s conifer has turned green and the roof of the house below us on the hill is starting to show black slates through the snow. I’m hopeful.
It’s not bad weather, it’s bad preparation. When you only have a couple of snowy days a year it’s hardly worth the effort and expense of preparing for snow.
Just before starting work I had a call on the landline – this is usually the sign of a scammer. It turned out to be a really pleasant Indian gentleman in a call centre. Apparently, all this working from home is playing havoc with broad band availability and our router has been sending out messages. Could I switch my computer on so that he could check the situation?
Yes, I said, as soon as he gave me his identity code. Identity code? Yes, the one supplied by the service provider so I knew callers weren’t trying to scam me.. Ah, he said, he wasn’t actually from the service provider, he was acting on their behalf. Well, I said, it’s unfortunate that they hadn’t given him the code. If he rang them for it, I’d be happy to talk to him further as soon as he got back to me with it.
I actually feel better than I do after I have swearing at a scammer. It’s so much nicer to be polite, waste their time and then disappoint them.
Julia is on the phone to one of her needier clients. Again, I cannot describe the conversation due to issues of confidentiality, but it is circular. And long. And, as it is on something modern like an app or a zoom, it is loud and intrusive too. She might be working from home but technically this is a day off for me, even if I am treating it as a work day. Obviously in this context “work” is an expression of hope rather than fact.
I have researched a number of magazines as recipients for the articles I wish to write. I have read several of the magazines more deeply than necessary and I have made a list of possible articles. My plan is at the stage known as “getting there”. In other words it is a rag-bag of elements which don’t amount to much.
It is more of an intention or an outline. Time for some more work, but this time I will do it in front of the TV whilst watching Pointless. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Ironically that’s a very dull saying. Equally ironically, I haven’t done much work.
Having watched Pointless and failed in a few rounds – notably the modern music and the football questions – I meant to get back to work. Instead, I watched Eggheads. It is one of the dullest quizzes around, but we had tea and biscuits and I can never resist temptation to sit and drink tea, with or without biscuits. As a late lunch we had corn on the cob (Julia went out for a walk and, as usual, nipped into a shop to buy something. She can’t break the habit. Today she bought corn on the cob.)
I am quite hungry now and have just put the vegetables into the oven to roast. Carrots, parsnips, leeks and potatoes. I will put sprouts in when I put the pasties in. It’s a meal we have nearly every week but I never get fed up of it. Apart from being year round comfort food, it’s healthy and easy to make.
It’s been eleven hours since I started “work” and I have not managed to complete anything yet, apart from some TV viewing and three blog posts.
As I started this one I noticed my total was 2,000 which means I missed the chance to write a post about reaching my 2,000th post. I may have to plough on to 2,020 before marking the occasion.
I’m now going to put the pasties in and about 25 minutes after that will make the gravy. It’s only made with gravy granules, so is nothing exciting. Then I had better get the shopping ordered. I only have until midnight and it can be a slow process. I also get distracted easily.
I have already done the shopping list relating to the spice kits – we will be having linguine with prawns and rocket. I’m not sure why, because we make that anyway.
We are also having Iranian Vegetable Stew, which apparently takes its inspiration from Persia and North Africa. This tends to suggest it isn’t really Iranian or a proper recipe, just some vegetables to soak up some spices they wanted to get rid of. Pardon my cynicism. I keep meaning to give ras-el-hanout a try, so this is my chance.
Finally we will be having nasi goreng. I’ve wanted to try it since I read about it as a teenager reading my dad’s Somerset Maugham books. It’s typical that I’ve always steered clear of cooking it in case it didn’t live up to my expectations. Next week will be an interesting time.
I will try to take photographs before I eat everything.
Disclaimer – there is not much pakora in this post – but I’m a slave to alliteration so I lied. Sorry about that. I did have pakora in my sandwiches last week so I do at least have a slight excuse to mention them. They were sweet potato pakora and, to my mind, much nicer in sandwiches than the falafel we also tried.
Yesterday I breakfasted on porridge, took Julia to work, cursed several cyclists for their ridiculous strobe lights and arrived at the shop far too early.
I had to use a lot of old self-adhesive stamps where the glue has dried out. This means they have to be fixed using a stick of glue. In turn this means that several of them have to be detached from my finger tips. They were a really bad idea as the glue either dries out or forms an unbreakable bond with the backing paper. I’m sure they are good when they are new, but we, as you know, use a lot of old stamps.
They are First CLass Stamps, but no longer self-adhesive.
My first parcel of the day was a selection of gum cards bound for America. Imagine my surprise when my fourth parcel turned out to be a group of gum cards. To America. It was the same man, who quite clearly hadn’t thought things through.
Fortunately I have strong nerves and a steady hand so I was able to open the parcel with my trusty scalpel and add the second lot of cards. Two lots of cards. one lot of postage and a substantial refund. Hopefully he will be happy with that.
After parcels (and no more mishaps) I proceeded to do more banknotes. This an ongoing project. I have photos loaded up until Myanmar and will be moving on to Nepal tomorrow. I’m looking forward to Zimbabwe…
Nepal – bank notes and an unusual head-dress
In the evening I read and replied to other bloggers, wrote a blog post, then wrote a second blog post, though it was actually too late in the end.
Between the two I cooked ratatouille and sausages, made a batch of smoked mackerel pate and did the sandwiches.
The pate recipe is simple and I’m not sure why I don’t do it more often. Mackerel, cream cheese. yoghurt, spring onion, lemon juice, lemon zest, horseradish sauce and dijon mustard. Quantities range from two bits of mackerel and quite a lot of cream cheese down to juice and zest of half a lemon and a teaspoon of each of the seasonings. Next time I may leave out the yoghurt and add more horseradish. Or I may just buy the pate and avoid the epic amount of washing up it generates.
It has worked out rather well and Julia can have the third bit of fish. She likes fish. I eat it because it’s good for me. I used the small blender and two bits of fish was enough to fill it. I haven’t used it for a while and couldn’t work out how to get the bowl off . Julia eventually sorted it for me.
You can also make fish pate with smoked haddock, though I seem to remember you can do that with a fork. There’s a look of the shoe sole about a smoked mackerel fillet if you aren’t careful. So far it has provided a decent depth of filling for four medium cobs and will probably do at least two more.
It’s really quite amazing. Some smoked fish and stuff in a blender and I’m already daydreaming about a Michelin star.
Tonight we will finish the ratatouille, add some “French-style lentils” from a packet, bake a potato and have some veggie burgers. This week I have bought the burgers – next week I will be making them. I am also going to start cooking my own lentils. I have become very lazy.I always used to make my own but have drifted off course somewhere.
On Friday I experienced an uneasy feeling, which grew through Saturday as I realised that I probably had a blood test this morning. I say “probably” as I had neglected to make a note in my diary and I had mislaid the letter giving me the next date.
Eventually I found the letter (which also counted towards my decluttering quota) and confirmed that I did indeed have a blood test this morning.
In the manner of these things, the plan suffered a set-back. I woke at 6.15, summoned by my bladder and then went back to my nice warm bed bed. That meant that instead of leaping into action at 6.30 I hauled myself out at 6.45 and the whole day started slower and later than intended.
There wasn’t much of a queue and the phlebotomist hit the vein first time. I bled well after they removed the needle and I’ve had no panicky phone calls so I’m presuming all has gone well.
As I left the hospital I noticed that the day was much lighter than it had been three weeks ago for my last test. Spring is definitely on the way.
I’ll leave out the boring bits – parcels, swearing at other drivers, TV – the normal stuff that makes up my life.
Tonight we had the beef stew I’d meant to cook last night. (We ended up with frozen veggie burgers due to time constraints). It turned out reasonably well despite my normal cooking technique of chucking stuff in and seeing what happens. I keep meaning to learn how to cook properly, but I never get round to it.
It’s cottage pie tomorrow. I made it while I was doing the stew. It’s good to be a day ahead.
That’s about it for today. Nothing interesting happened and I have 23 minutes left to post.
Tonight I will do some decluttering and some cooking.Not much, just enough to say I have carried out the last two elements on my list.
Nobody needs to know I intended to clear the dining room table or cook four meals in advance. A carrier bag of books will suffice, as will a simple beef stew. It was going to be venison (it’s healthier and everybody likes Bambi) but they didn’t have any in the supermarket. They had some last week, which is what gave me the idea. Typical.
Cookery isn’t so bad when you think of the alternative – watching the depressing news on TV, watching equally depressing non-news or watching poor quality repeats.
I’ve just been looking at the early months of 2017 on the blog. I seem to have had a much more interesting life in those days, though I did have more spare time, which probably helped. Annoyingly, I also seem to have been a better writer and proof reader.
That gave me the idea for the title, and sent me off to You Tube for an hour or two of nostalgia interspersed with cooking, picking Julia up and checking eBay.
That’s the trouble with the internet – always so much distraction.
I have put the leftover curry in the fridge (for my lunch tomorrow), made the tomato and vegetable sauce for the pasta bake and am currently roasting chicken and vegetables. I keep meaning to take photos but I always forget.
We were planning on seeing the seals at Donna Nook this week, but the weather forecast for Wednesday is looking bad – high winds and rain. We may leave it another week. I actually wrote a second post about the seals last year.
Loking at last November I’m struck by how little we are now doing, and, at the same time, how much remains the same.
I also need to know how to search my own site, instead of searching entire months for infornation. Does anyone know?