Julia has a sixth sense for when I’m enjoying myself.
I left her asleep, and breathing rhythmically (as in pigs grunt, men snore, ladies breathe rhythmically), and crept quietly downstairs for some quiet time with WordPress. Next thing I know, she’s up and zipping everywhere in high energy mode whilst asking what I’m making for breakfast. I had said I’d make breakfast last night, but I was thinking it would be a while. I don’t know how people manage to move from asleep to manic in such a short time. I woke up an hour ago and I’m only just making the transition from lethargic to sluggish. At this rate ‘awake’ will cut in around lunchtime and snooze around 3pm. That’s my sort of day.
And, as I say, sensing that I’m just starting to relax with my keyboard, she is here, buzzing with energy and deflecting me from my plans.
We had a Chinese takeaway last night. It was our first since March. It might actually have been out first since 2019, as we haven’t been having much Chinese. I’d been looking forward to it for a good three months. It was a complete disappointment. Too salty, badly presented and surrounded by guilt. The guilt is mine, as I should be economising and not eating such rubbish. The saltiness and poor presentation is down to the restaurant. It’s good news for my health and diet that I won’t be having another one in the near future (apart from lunchtime, when the leftovers come into play). Strange how you can look forward to something so much and then find it is so disappointing. There is nothing good I can say about the experience, apart from the fact it was first class aversion therapy. In terms of diet and spending, the lockdown has been good for me.
Julia is now making breakfast, as I’m too slow. I’d better go now, and at least make some attempt at being a half-useful husband…
I have been asked to point out that this is a work of fiction and that none of it, apart from the Chinese meal, represents, an accurate version of the truth. And even if it did, I have no room to talk as I was snoring so badly last night that she had to wake me up so that she could hear the TV. I know that bit is true, because I was snoring so loud I even woke myself up at one time.
Do you remember the days when TV was so exciting that it was impossible to fall asleep?
This is the post I meant to write before I published the last post prematurely.
On 8th October 2014, I started this blog.
The subject was Green Care, the group known as Quercus Community and guinea fowl. I seem to have written about this last year too, my memory really is going. The first post contained the words “it might be asking too much of a blog if I expect it to correct my character flaws”. So far, this has proved correct. Despite 2,114 posts I am still the same deeply flawed human being I have always been, with a Cavalier Attitude to grammar and an addiction to random capitalisation. I have not, as I have noted elsewhere, found fame and fortune and no Fleet Street editor has chased me with promises of cash, cocaine and female company in return for my services. Not that I would actually recognise cocaine if it shoved itself up my nose.
This is the first picture I published on WP. In those days I was able to see them after I posted them. I can see this one, but expect it will disappear in a few minutes.
Anyway. I found limited fame and fortune amongst the dozen or so readers who visit regularly, and that will do for me. The friendship on WP has a price above rubies.
I have sort of drifted off Green Care along the way, Quercus Community closed down after we were forced form the farm and despite my recent mentions of Parker Pens I have yet to be offered either free pens or a sponsorship deal. The only thing that lasted was the name of the blog, which is now inaccurate. On the subject of Parker pens, don’t come crawling to me when I’m a famous writer Parker, my price will have gone up by then.
Thye blog really needs a makeover and a new name, like “A Fat Luddite Moaning” or “The Epitome of Gittitude”. This will, of course, be lost on you if you come from a culture lacking Luddites and miserable old gits.
So there we are, a journey from there to here, with a few diversions. Now I’m going to cook tea.
Lockdown news – Nottingham still heads the table for new cases and “Mayors of Northern Towns” get a lot of airtime whining about why they need more help. Nottingham gets no decision about locking down, no help and no airtime.
As I said yesterday, I spent a lot of time amending my ASDA Click & Collect order. I added my payment details and ensured I had the conformation email. Everything was, as the Americans say, copacetic. Actually, from what I see on WordPress, they don’t say it. But they could do. It’s one word I wouldn’t mind them importing into English.
Things took a distinct turn for the worst when we arrived. At ASDA you park up then use their app to tell them you have arrived. A what? I don’t do apps. I did it the old-fashioned way, catching the eye of a staff member and asking for help.
As they brought the shopping across I felt a deep depression settle on me.
My order was for over £60, including things for the stock cupboard and a few bits for neighbours. What was coming to us across the car park was a small box with just over a dozen items, including some that I’d cancelled the night before.
They had clearly not processed the new order. They had sent me an email to tell me that the order had been amended and I had, foolishly, not checked the rest of the email, which detailed the order. When I returned home and checked, the “amended order” was not, in fact, amended. It was just the old order repeated.
I won’t bore you with too much detail.
The man on the helpline (after I had spoken to three other people, including an idiot) told me it was obviously a “technical matter”, that there was no way for him to provide me with the food I had ordered and that “there’s nothing I can do,”
I will remember this in future.
In fact I will remember it in two weeks. I have another Click and Collect order with ASDA in two weeks, but I’ve also managed to get a TESCO delivery slot two days after that. It’s very tempting to cancel the ASDA order. I don’t like doing it, as I am a man of my word. On the other hand they let me down badly today and refused to make things right.
Fortunately I’ve managed to arrange things over the last month so that we have enough food to last us until the next delivery. It means we are out of mustard, short on marmalade, and low on cheese, but have plenty of toilet roll, pasta and longlife milk.
However, I’ve just been watching the news from Brazil. Their President makes Boris Johnson look like a statesman, and President Trump is an intellectual giant in comparison. In terms of counting our blessings, let’s just reflect that it could be a lot worse.
It was an an unpleasant, cold, grey day today, though it’s supposed to improve tomorrow.
And that concludes the miserable, moaning diary entry for today. I thought I’d use some rainbow photos as they are a symbol of the lockdown.
I had meant to space the food reviews out a bit more, but I’ve been forced into this by a certain amount of heckling about the lack of scones.
Move smoothly on from Sunday evening, ignore the next couple of days and that brings us neatly to Wednesday and time for elevenses. We are at the Peak Shopping Village, the ducks are clustering round looking for food, and a small scone shaped gap is opening up in my middle regions.
We went to buy half-price boots for Julia, as her expensive ones had started letting in water. This was easy – by the time she had made her selection I had made a circuit of The Works, failed to buy a book, and had left in disgust. We then went to the hospice charity shop where the only thing I wanted turned out to be part of the display. I hate it when that happens.
By that time I was definitely in e of refreshment so we entered Massarella’s cafe and while I sought a table Julia went to get tea and scones.
A mediocre scone, with badly applied egg wash
As we breakfasted late (porridge followed by sausage sandwiches, using the sausages left over from the night before), other people were already lunching. My quest for a clean table did not go well and left me elbow to elbow with a stocky elderly lady (I select my words carefully) chasing the final clean table. She had a fine set of elbows and a surprising turn of speed, and laid her walking stick across the table to claim the prize as I floundered in her wake.
Massarella’s always sounds like an Italian restaurant, with tiled floors and lots of chatter. Add the barking of a dog to that and the whole ambiance falls apart, and not just for me. Several other people were clearly irritated by the dog-friendly aspect of the cafe.
However, compared to the scones, the barking dog was no problem. The scones were dry inside, and lacked flavour. My mother used to mutter “cheap baking” at times like this. It certainly seemed to lack the rich, fluffy, buttery sensation you get from a decent scone.
OK, not as disappointing as England’s woeful rugby performance, but still pretty disappointing
I have a feeling they may have been frozen, and dried out in thawing.
We will go back because we like the atmosphere, and the Italian gent behind the counter charmed Julia. And, of course, because they offer Afternoon Tea at £18 for two people. But, like a trip to the hospice shop, we won’t expect too much.
That last comment could also apply to the charity shops of Bakewell where we visited later – they don’t seem to have much in, and it’s getting harder to justify the time spent looking round when there are no decent books.
So, Massarella’s, the Charity shops of Derbyshire and The Works (where I failed to buy a single book) had all better pull their socks up. This is just not good enough!
Because they have ducks, a nature trail and a carved owl archway, I will visit again, but they would be well-advised to get a grip. Carved owls cannot replace decent scones.
Julia and my sister went out for a special offer gym session and Afternoon Tea yesterday, hence the scones in the picture. It didn’t go 100% well. Service was poor, organisation was poor and the daintiness of the sandwiches left a lot to be desired.
My sandwiches at lunchtime are very similar, and I’d never dream of serving them to people as part of a sophisticated afternoon tea.
She eventually accepted their apologies and left with a doggy bag, as service had been so slow that she needed to be elsewhere.
To be fair, the portions were large, and I ate well as a result.
In the evening, as part of a week of celebrations to distract her from the fact she’s about to have a milestone birthday, we had curry delivered.
They have changed the recipe since we last ordered and we were left gasping for air by the new spicing regime in the prawn puri starter which we shared. And it was late.
It’s OK having all these deals and services, but not so good if they are going to be perpetually disappointing.
Frankly, I’d been expecting a three day week, efficient public transport by monorail and a robot butler by the year 2000, having believed everything I’d been told about the future back in 1968.
It hasn’t quite worked out like that.
We used the rice and biryani leftovers from last night to make kedgeree and watched Strictly Come Dancing.
It’s a far cry from my dreams of robot butlers.
Similarly, as I stuff envelopes tomorrow morning, it will be a long way from my dreams of a glittering career as a captain of industry. Fortunately the human mind is able to adapt to most forms of failure band I will probably emerge from my troglodytic existence at 1 am in a happy frame of mind.
With a rapidly approaching birthday and no gift ideas, I have more immediate problems than a disappointing life. It sounds the same, but a disappointed wife is infinitely worse.
Sorry, due to a lethargic few days I missed posting on Sunday after we got back and fell asleep in my chair last night, waking after midnight – too cold, too stiff and too late to post.
When I say “yesterday” I mean Sunday.
Yesterday we went to Lakeland. It sounds good. It sounds like it should be a National Park full of lakes and trees and thoughts of Wordsworth. In fact Lakeland, formerly Lakeland Plastics, is Britain’s biggest seller of kitchen accessories, as generations of long-suffering husbands have found to their cost.
We actually went to the HQ, the flagship store, or the Mother Lode, call it what you will. Julia set me down in the cafe with a slice of Lemon Drizzle Cake and told me to stop whimpering.
Fortunately the Lakeland shop is based in Windermere, which is in the Lake District, so it could have been a lot worse. If it had been the one in Nottingham the views would have been terrible and there would have been no cake.
We started the day by waking up in Skipton, having dropped Number One son off in Leeds on the way through. We didn’t really need to drop him off but Julia hadn’t seen his new flat so there was a certain amount of nosiness involved.
To get me to agree to the trip she had promised me a night in a Travelodge followed by breakfast at the farm shop next door.
I am easily bought, but having visited the farm shop to buy pies and veg before I had high hopes for the breakfast.
I’d still recommend it for pies and veg, but can only say that my high hopes were not entirely justified. For one thing, we arrived at the front door to find it closed. There is a much smaller entrance at the other end of the building and no sign that we could see. If it hadn’t been for someone walking past and telling us we would probably have driven away and eaten somewhere else. With hindsight…
The cafe is new since we last stayed in Skipton. It’s nicely set up in the modern fashion (ie tables made from planks with paint on and that sort of gubbins) and was bustling. There were plenty of staff about, we were shown to a table fairly quickly and although I was sort of sitting in a gangway it wasn’t too bad.
I think they had to fit the table in that way. Seeing as they took twenty quid off us, and presumably off several other people during the course of the day you can see why they succumbed to the temptation to crowd an extra table in. It did cause a bit of a hold-up several times but that wasn’t my problem.
We ordered tea. We waited. We eventually ordered breakfast. We waited some more. The waitress who had taken the tea order noticed we hadn’t had the tea and chased it up for us with profuse apologies. The tea arrived. So did the breakfast.
We’d been there about twenty five minutes, which is a bit too long for breakfast. I want to feed and get back on the road.
It was busy, to be fair, but they had plenty of staff. The problem was that it all seemed a little chaotic and disorganised. Several couples who came in after us had their drinks before we did, and one even had their food order.
This gave me time to inspect our table properly – there were three uncleaned grease spots on on it and a big blob of something foodlike adhering to the salt cellar.
The good bits were – nice bustling atmosphere, lovely friendly staff (though the supervisor seemed a bit frazzled), excellent black pudding, fried eggs done exactly as I like them (turned over, set all the way through), great hash browns, tasty mushrooms, good portion size.
Average or a bit above – Sausages were above OK but not as good as expected from the write-up. Bacon tasted good but had been cooked until leathery, massive cups which I always feel let the tea get cold (and are tricky for arthritic fingers).
The not so good bits – long wait, served out of turn, cold baked beans, poor signage, toilets upstairs, table hygiene (not just our table, they were a bit perfunctory with their wiping down – I was watching).
Then three women with pushchairs decided that they really had to make me move so they could get past. I’m sure that they could have got through without all the fuss and pulled faces, but some people just love to make a drama out of nothing. It’s not like they are the first people to push a kid in a pushchair…
Anyway, enough for now. I may well go to Greggs next time we stay at Skipton. It’s not a great breakfast experience but it is value for money, quick and never disappointing. I don’t expect much from them and I don’t provide much so our expectations meet perfectly.
Did I mention it rained? If you know the Lakes you probably already knew this. It rained the first time I went there, around 1964, and it’s been raining ever since. To be fair, it only rained for about thirty minutes. Judging from the puddles I think they had more rain in Nottingham than we did.