Tag Archives: day off

Day 199

The Welsh established a new temperature record yesterday – 37.1 degrees C – near enough 99 degrees F. For a country that is famous for its mountains, rain and coasts, this is hot.

Meanwhile, approximately 100 miles east, I have been given the day off. There weren’t enough orders overnight to make it worth working in these temperatures. So I have a bonus day off. It’s 10.16 now. I have dropped Julia off, returned home, browsed the internet, attended to emails and am now planning a cup of tea and a touch of TV with a fan.

It’s a hard life, but someone has to live it.

One of the emails was an apology and a postage refund. I had, you may recall, a surprise brassiere delivered by a company that was supposed to send me ink cartridges. This cost me just over £3 in postage to return. They didn’t send me the money, and they didn’t reply after I reminded them. Last night I sent them a second reminder. I’m pretty laid back but it’s now five weeks, and it was their error, not mine.

My second reminder was the sort I like to think of as “crisp”. It’s not rude, brusque or sharp. It doesn’t seek to prove a point, place blame people or lecture, because I hate letters that do that.  It avoided terms like “debt” and “recovery”. I merely pointed out that I was owed the money, had asked previously and would now like it within seven days. Result – apology and £4 sent. I’m not going to go broke for £4 but it’s owed, and should be paid. After all, I could just have binned the bra and said nothing.

Ah well, time for tea, TV and some evaporative cooling. No point in taking chances.

An Unsummery Start to the Day

It’s approaching 8.00am and I would normally be leaving the house, but today being a day off, I am typing. I waved my car off at 7.05, as the garage collected it and I now have a day to type and worry about the size of the car bill. I’m hungry but I can’t cook yet as Julia is having a lie in and if I cook the smell will make her want to get up and come down for breakfast. All in all, it’s a messy start to the day.

I’m very tempted by the idea of baked eggs, but I find they work best if kept simple, and as I also fancy the idea of bacon I’m in two minds about what to do.

The prospect through my writing window, is grey. If you told me this was March or November, I would believe you. Apart from the temperature, which is chilly but not actually cold, things are definitely unsummery. That should be a word – meaning disappointingly unlike summer, but not quite bad enough to put a jacket on.  “Typical English summer” is often used in this context, meaning that it’s a disappointingly dull period where sunburn is a distant prospect, even for a nation of people who are inclined to expose too much blue/white flesh to the elements. The average English sunbather isn’t so much protected by sun oil as basted. There’s something about sunbathing Brits that always makes me think of pork crackling.

Note I am referring mainly to the English here, the Scots, according to popular belief, are even more delicate in matters of sun, and the Welsh exist in a semi-permanent miasma of mist and rain.

This, by the way, is my default setting. Leave any chimpanzee alone with a word-processor and they will eventually write Hamlet (or so they say). Leave the English alone with a keyboard and the topic soon turns to the weather . . .

Wednesday – the New Saturday

Didn’t set the alarm last night – slept until 8.30, which was nice. Felt rested when I got up, which was unusual.

Baked eggs for breakfast with bacon, spring onions, cheese and black pepper. We didn’t have a delivery last week as we were out on Thursday night, so we are living off what we have. Now that the panic buying is over, Brexit is done and there are no shortages, we are working our way through the tinned tomatoes and beans. Another week or two should see us nearly done, then I will start laying in a properly planned food and toilet roll reserve. After all, just because there is nothing on the horizon it doesn’t men that there won’t be a plague, zombie apocalypse or meteor strike tomorrow…One growing trend we see in the shop is people buying silver and gold, particularly silver, because they fear for future instability. To be fair, these are people who, in general, also believe that covid is a government plot, vaccination is bad and that Bitcoin is as good as real money.

My view is that gold is a good long term investment, silver is a good, but less stable, investment and that Bitcoin is made up and is similar to the Emperor’s new clothes – as soon as someone catches a cold and finds it is all made up, the whole thing will collapse. Some people will have made big money from the credulity of others and millions of people will have financed the 21st century equivalent of the South Sea Bubble.

Vaccination, covid and Government plots are topics for another time. It’s Wednesday, which is my equivalent of the weekend, and I have things to do, which include being cheerful, ordering groceries on the internet and, of course, submitting more poetry. But first I must do the washing up. Julia has gone to get her hair done and was quite clear on me not sitting at the computer all morning.

Life Intrudes

It’s our mid-week day off. It’s not quite as important as it used to be when Julia worked weekends and it was the only day where we were able to relax together, but it’s still quite an important day. It’s lie-in day and leisurely fried breakfast day. Sunday, the other day we now have off together, always seems more frantic, as we still consider it laundry day.

I thought I’d get myself an hour of writing in before Julia emerged, like the many headed hydra of adulthood, to remind me that there are jobs to do. We established a few days ago that she doesn’t expect I’ll ever grow up, and doesn’t consider writing to be work, so has redoubled her efforts at being the responsible adult of the household.

You can’t fault her on this, as someone needs to confront the ever-rising tide of anarchy and darkness that besets me, but she needn’t be quite so cheerful as she orders me about.

She seems to forget, I am the paterfamilias of this family and my word is law.

The rot set in when we were discussing the marriage service. My mother told her to ensure the word “obey” was taken out.

“I like it,” I said, “and it’s traditional.”

“I’m not promising to obey you.” she said. And she never has.

I just noticed that as paterfamilias, I’m entitled to sell my children into slavery. I don’t suppose they would have taken any notice (they too have no respect for their paterfamilias) but it would have been one way of reducing the food bills in their teenage years.

So, there I was, sneaking downstairs to write…

I turned the computer on with some trepidation (which is another story) and checked my emails. No acceptances, no job offers from the National Press but, on the plus side, Trump has not deployed the Nuclear Option in his efforts to cling to power and a vaccine against Covid seems like a reasonable hope.

We’ll call that an average day.

I then turned to the ASDA grocery order which needs doing before 10.00 today (edit: 20.00 or 10pm), and found that they have released slots until Christmas. This involved booking slots and ordering food six weeks in advance. As if I know what I want six weeks in advance. I have enough trouble shopping a week in advance, which is why last night say me, once again, peeling carrots to get the black bits off. This is always irritating as it takes more time and, I believe, removes the nutrients, which are concentrated under the skin.

That polished off the next hour (you have to order a few things to confirm the slot, which all takes time). Julia is now downstairs in full Porlock mode, rattling round the kitchen and preventing me concentrating.

She has also decreed that today will start with bran flakes and be followed by me working hard at decluttering. So, no lie-in, no peace, no leisurely breakfast and no epic haibun.

If I knew the way to write the sound of a really big sigh I would write it now…

Signs of the Times

I’ve just had a cold sausage sandwich for lunch. It was made with seeded brown bread and Branston pickle. It was the second of the day as the first one had been so nice. The second was nicer, but I did feel guilty whilst eating it. I am, in case you hadn’t guessed, considering the idea of losing weight.

Earlier in the day I dropped Julia off at work, bought a new battery for my micrometer (better than a ruler for measuring coins and medallions), went to Hobbycraft to buy some art supplies for Julia and decided to have a ride in the countryside.

I selected the road between East Bridgford and Kneeton because it’s a pleasantly rural road which reminds me of the countryside where I grew up. Unfortunately the verges have been cut and it wasn’t a great day for plants and pollinators.

I did take some pictures of a bee and a few flies but that was about it. There were quite a lot of white butterflies about and one brown one, but nothing stopped long enough for a photo. Same goes for birds. Rural pigeons don’t sit still when people point things at them and apart from them a few swallows were the main birdlife, but again, they are a bit quick for an old man.

I will be back later to add more details and photos. Until then you can think on the curse of modern villages – the building of expensive homes that nobody local can afford. The posh new people who move in then start complaining about the noise and smells from farms. They think that the countryside is a massive playground when it’s really a factory with no roof.

This isn’t really a surprise as most of the newcomers think food comes from Waitrose rather than out of the ground.

I have just set my alarm to wake me when it is time to collect Julia. Based on last week my planned  “cup of tea in front of the TV” could be accompanied by closed eyes and snoring.

When all is said and done…

…more is said than is ever done.

Yes, I’ve found a new formula for titles, though I have to admit that it’s tinged with the same old cynicism. I’m sure that anyone who has ever had to work with groups and volunteers will be familiar with the sentiment behind the title.

It is possibly best summed up by a statement I once heard at a meeting. They used to love meetings on the farm and had a great capacity for attracting people who were distinguished by a talent for empty talk. One of those people actually told us that their talent was for having ideas. I hadn’t, until that time, thought of that as a talent. Volunteers with ideas are ten a penny. Volunteers who actually carry their ideas through have a price beyond rubies.

To be fair, I’ve worked with some great groups of volunteers. Obviously, today was one of the days when I found my thoughts dwelling on the ones who weren’t so great.

It’s been that sort of day, but least said, soonest mended.

I had an unexpected day off today, as I worked yesterday. We are still not back to full time working.



Things started to go badly when Julia couldn’t find her keys to the gardens. It led to half an hour of muttering and moving things. I couldn’t help, as I (a) couldn’t remember where she’d had them and (b) when I advise her to try to remember her movements she goes ballistic. She could, if I’m honest, be better at taking advice.

To cut a long story short, I gave up a portion of my day off to borrow a set of keys and get a new set cut. Then, because I clearly hadn’t had enough fun, I went back to get two of them re-cut. You’d think cutting keys properly with a modern machine would be simple enough, but clearly not.

It was too late to do much by then, so I made the decision to give up on the rest of my day off, made Julia share her sandwiches, waited round, did a few odd jobs and generally wasted the rest of the afternoon until it was time to give her a lift home.



To be honest, I have had better days.

Guess what happened on the way home?

That’s right, Julia remembered where she had put her keys…



Wednesday Again

Today I got up late, as I don’t see any point in having a day off and flinging myself out of bed at dawn, or any time approximating to dawn. The benefit of having two days off together (as I did this week due to a rearrangement of our days in the shop) is that you can work into the early hours of the morning, pretending to be creative. I say ‘pretending’ because I’m not sure I do my best work when I’m half asleep.

I read for the first hour of waking, then went downstairs.

I had written four haibun last night and, after replying to comments on the blog and reading a few other blogs I got down to work.

All four needed considerable tightening up, and that’s what they got.

Then, at 12.00 I decided to have lunch, as I hadn’t actually had breakfast. Sourdough toast, tinned plum tomatoes, fried mushrooms and scrambled eggs, in case a future reader is interested. It’s not exciting or healthy, but it’s what we had in the fridge. A bit like my writing, which is what happens to be kicking around in my head when I sit at the keyboard.

That turned into a short spell of watching TV and a rather longer one of napping. I don’t know why I needed a nap, perhaps because I could.That led on to doing the washing up and doing a bit more writing. After that there was more TV, a discussion of shopping lists, a meal of stir-fried vegetables, the on-line shopping order and this blog post. Actually there was a previous blog post but it developed in a way I couldn’t be bothered to complete, so it is now resting in drafts.


Light and Shade

TESCO have increased the delivery charge – I am now paying them £4.50 to pick and deliver my groceries, where it used to cost £3. That’s £75 a year, though if I had to drive to the shop every week I suppose it would cost me about that in car running costs and time.

That’s it for now. The post is drawing to a natural close, midnight is approaching and I need to do my sandwiches for tomorrow.

It’s tempting to ramble on a bit to try for 500 words, but I’m going to stop now. Three hundred and eighty nine will have to do. (If I’d written 389, it would only have been 385 and I wouldn’t have been able to add this sentence and top it up to 412). I just noticed, on  adding a title to the second photo, that the word count went up. Strange…


Smash and Grab

I was relaxing last night, having had an easy run up to Leeds, and a slightly less easy run back (rain, spray and lorries).

Number One Son is safely in his riverside apartment with half my kitchen equipment (Julia decided I didn’t need things if I hadn’t used them for a few months, though I notice her breadmaker is still here).

Julia was rattling round the kitchen, newly released from jury duty, and all was well with the world. Apart from famine, poverty and the shadow of Armageddon, but I normally manage to ignore that.

Then I get a phone call.

It’s from the owner of the shop.

He had left it till the end of my day off, but was just ringing to warn me the shop was in a bit of a mess after a break in.

A pair of robbers, who I sincerely hope will be afflicted by scabies and erectile dysfunction for the rest of their miserable lives, smashed their way in through two front doors and grabbed (a) the box of 50p pieces and (b) a random selection of coins.

The box of 50p coins probably contains £100 of coins. The random selection contains a rare 50p, and  other coins to a value of about £5,000. We think they were after the 50p rather than the other coins.

Of course, to do this, they had to smash the counters rather than reaching in through to open backs.

Considering all the effort he has put in to expanding the business, this is a real slap in the face.

Much worse than a car rolling away.

Sometimes you wonder why you even bother trying. A lifetime building up and two scrotes with a hammer can cost you thousands in five minutes.

The police have said they will get there as soon as possible.

A Day Off, and a Fish Pie.

We had a telephone call from a this morning. It wasn’t the normal one asking if we’d pass control of our computer over to a complete stranger who claimed to be from Microsoft. It wasn’t even asking if we’d ever had PPI. It was from Severn Trent Water telling us that we could expect lower than normal water pressure as the freezing weather had caused a number of bursts, and repairs would take a few days.

The roads are breaking up in places too, after just a few days of ice and snow last week. I assume that they build their roads better in places where they have snow, because at his rate we’d have no roads at all if we had a full winter of bad weather.

However, we still managed to fit in a Full English and a visit to a jeweller. It was quite a good morning.

The afternoon involved housework and wasn’t quite so good. Due to a cock up on the catering front, as Geoffrey Palmer used to say in The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, we now have enough fish pie to last us two meals. This always happens when Julia decides to “help” by shopping on the way home from work. We already had plenty of ingredients, and we had fish pie on Saturday. Julia cooked it and I assumed she’d used all the stuff she’d brought.

She hadn’t, but I didn’t know how much extra she had left over until I opened the fridge tonight. We’re having fish pie tonight. And tomorrow.


Fish Pie


Fortunately we like fish pie.

A suitable place for the 2.30 joke

I should be bubbling over with things to write, and I have, in fact, written enough to fill at least two posts, but none of it felt right.

After sleeping for a good six hours I awoke this morning  feeling refreshed and determined to do things. Top of the list was to ring the dentist.

I did this and they agreed to an emergency appointment at lunchtime, thus spoiling my chances of the 2.30 joke. If you don’t know it look at the bottom of the post. That was unusual as dental surgery receptionists tend to define “emergency” in a different way to the rest of us. Having spent the previous six weeks with a detached crown on the right side, I had given my left side molars a good workout. One of them, the one at the back that has been a problem for about 30 years, had finally given up under the workload and crumbled.

As the dentist had previously told me he wanted to take that one out, I wasn’t keen on going back. Apart from an impacted wisdom tooth I haven’t had an adult tooth out and it’s the thin end of the wedge, leading to the sixth age of man (the lean and slippered pantaloon) before I slide into the state  of being – “sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.” Especially sans teeth, as I’m resigned to reading glasses and the rest is still a way off. I hope.

Now, rather than slip into a gloomy reflection on mortality (as in the first draft) or a distasteful discussion on the state of my dental health (second draft), or even a polemic on mercenary dentists (both drafts!), I am merely going to say that this visit was a pleasure.

Twenty minutes after starting the treatment, without any pressure to spend money or have extra work done, I was out on the street again with a freshly glued crown, a patched up tooth (no mention of extraction from this dentist!), a bill for just £18 and a feeling that all was right with the world.

There was a snag, as I couldn’t eat for two hours as the glue and filling set, so I had to watch Julia eating lunch (more of the honey and oatmeal loaf) as my stomach rumbled plaintively.

I have also arranged for my annual hypertension appointment instead of trying to dodge it. Nothing useful ever comes out of it. It always seems to a be a different nurse and the same conversation – basically “you’re too fat”. Now, I’m not medically trained, but I had noticed that myself. Still, they seem to worry if I don’t get tested every year.

Finally, after a visit to Wilko’s, where they are selling off bird feeders for £7.50 each, I went home to work on my list of other things I need to do. I bought two of the feeders and still saved £4 compared to the price of one in a garden centre.

I was so industrious that I even missed Pointless.

This is a picture from Wednesday, as I don’t have any from today – for an idea of the wind speed just look at the tail feathers.



2.30 joke? Tooth Hurty. It’s a very old joke. I may be the last person alive that finds it amusing.