Tag Archives: difficulties


I had a food delivery from ASDA today. It was a lot better than the last internet order from ASDA, and the driver was a source of much information. He told us, for instance, that during the height of the panic-buying people were buying so much food that on one delivery run he was only able to fit three deliveries on the van. No wonder they ran out of both food and capacity.

For a while I started to feel sympathy for ASDA. Then I began to unpack the order and look at the substitutions.

I had ordered two packs of bake at home baguettes. I did this because I want to finish off the baking at home and be able to have fresh bread in a week’s time. It’s nine days until the next delivery.

I didn’t get that. They substituted ready-cut white bread rolls, the sort we call burger buns in the UK. They are never good quality bread. And, being cut, they are already well on the way to being stale by the time you get them. Poor quality, stale, soft, cotton wool and unappetising. We have limited freezer space and though we have frozen one pack we will have to eat the other as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, eating them will delay the eating of the sliced loaf we also ordered, and that will start to go stale, or even mouldy, before we finish it.

There is nothing like a nice, crusty, warm baguette. And, as we say in the UK, the substitute buns are nothing like a nice, crusty, warm baguette.

Who thinks a pack of burger buns are an acceptable substitute for a nice crusty baguette?

If they were out of vinegar would they send me battery acid as a substitute. They are, after all, both acids, but they have very different effects when sprinkled on chips.

I also ordered a couple of Sicilian Lemon tarts as a treat for dessert one night. They sent profiteroles. I like profiteroles, and if I wanted them I’m quite capable of ordering them. But I wanted the sharpness of Sicilian Lemon tarts, even though I doubt that the lemons have ever seen Sicily. We had the profiteroles tonight – they were short of chocolate and cream. I don’t know about you, but I don’t buy them because of the choux pastry, I want chocolate and cream. Or, to be accurate, I want Sicilian Lemon Tart.

Better than the bread substitution but not ideal.

Then there was the coriander. I wanted fresh coriander leaves for some recipes I’m going to try. So I ordered fresh coriander leaves with soil so that they would sit in a pot and last a week or two. I thought I was getting a pot too, but they have stopped doing that so they save plastic.

What did they send?

Did they send cut coriander, which would give you the flavour without the longevity? No.

Did they send Ground Coriander or Coriander seeds from the spice section? No.

They sent me flat leaf parsley. As I had already ordered some, I now have two lots of flat leaf parsley.

So, no coriander, and a double helping of parsley. If I’d wanted two, I would have ordered two.

I really should stop believing them when they say they have things in stock, and I should start saying that I don’t want substitutions. Then, of course, I would end up with no bread and no pudding.

To be fair, I should say that they did substitute a couple of things which were more expensive than the items I’d ordered, and didn’t charge me extra. But I’m not feeling very fair after the bread substitution, or last week.



Title, Title, Title!

I was a bit rushed at the end last night and  forgot the title. Must do better, as my school reports used to say.

This morning the internet was off. It’s a minor irritation compared the the BT debacle in the shop but it’s still annoying to have to get ready to blog, then have to get up and go to another room to reconnect the internet.

I don’t think I’ve covered the BT debacle yet. That’s British Telecom for overseas readers – a widespread so-called provider of  telephone services in the UK. The best thing I can say about them is that they aren’t Virgin. BT are dire in many respects, but they are far better than Virgin. Far, far better. However, I won’t labour the point. Nor will I ever use a  Virgin telecommunication product ever again.

We booked BT to come and connect the new shop to phone and internet on the day we moved. It couldn’t be done in advance as it’s a transfer of number from one line to another. But it’s a very simple operation, so what could possibly go wrong?

Well, first of all they wrote to the flat above the shop cancelling the telephone contract and telling them they would be transferring our number to them. This caused consternation in the flat. It’s partly their fault for using the shop address as their flat address, but you’d have thought BT records would have identified phones properly (possibly using the phone number as a hint) …

At this point all my British readers are either hurling BT-related  abuse at the screen or laughing hysterically.

What happened, when we rang the day before, was that they denied all knowledge of the job and told us that it will be two more weeks before they can do it.

Under further questioning they admitted that they had booked the wrong phone for transfer, but they had cancelled it. We knew that.

They had correctly identified the phone after that and booked the job. We knew that.

What we didn’t know was that they had then cancelled it. Nobody knows why, though stupidity is the favourite suggestion.

The situation is this.

We have moved into the new shop. The handset from the phone works in the new shop, but we have to take it back to the old shop every night to charge it on the base station.

The internet works in one spot in the new shop. Unfortunately this isn’t where we set the computers up, so we’re currently working with an ancient laptop balanced on the counter.

As for the card machine – if you want to pay by card you have to go to the old shop, as it is connected to the old line.

This situation, which sounds like the script for a surreal comedy, is likely to persist for most of the next two weeks.

It’s lucky that we only moved two doors down.




A Feast of Lemons

If life gives you lemons, they say, you should make lemonade (though I actually spent the afternoon making apple juice in our newly delivered 250ml bottles).

They don’t tell you what to do to the person who actually hands you the fruit, but if you’ve read my posts before and have a reasonably active imagination I’m sure you can work out that I won’t be handing them over on a silver salver.


In short, our growing area has been repossessed by the farmer who has decided that he can make a better job of running it than we can. He waited until we went away for a few days then moved in to “clean up” – a process that included felling most of the cape gooseberries (currently selling at around £10/kilo) and some of the tomatoes.

To be fair, he’s not wrong, it wasn’t a traditionally tidy allotment, but you need weeds for wildlife and foraging and you need nettles for nettle soup. We haven’t had the time to work it properly this year and since becoming enthused by vegetables, the farm has been able to put a lot of labour into tidying their half of the plot, making ours look even worse.

He’s a personable sort, prey to sudden enthusiasms and difficult to fall out with, but when you come back to find useable crops dumped on the compost heap it’s hard not to think bad thoughts..

However, I’m not going to waste time, energy or health worrying about it. We still have our own polytunnel and “vertical veg” just became my main interest.

Second lemon – the Forest Schools have stripped all the blackberry bushes between us and them. There are, as I always tell people, very few rules of foraging. One, in order of importance, is only put it in your mouth if you know what it is. Two, almost as important, is never to strip a plant – leave some for other foragers and for the wild creatures who rely on it for food. It’s  a question of manners for us – a question of life or death for the animals.

The third is about never picking below three feet high in a dog walking area.

Next year I’m going to go down early in the picking season and pick what we need. I’m then going to film myself applying copious amounts of personal liquid waste (as Bob Flowerdew calls it) to the brambles. Hopefully I’ll be able to provide my own after my current problem is sorted out. If not I have access to gallons of urine each week from the separator toilets.

After they’ve stripped the bushes I’m going to blog on the subject, provide them with a link to the film clip and sit back smiling.