Today passed in a blur. Perhaps you guessed that from the title.
First there was the blood test. In the absence of a panicky phone call I’m assuming I passed, though tomorrow’s post will bring the full details.
Things have changed over the last few weeks. When I had my blood test five weeks ago it was still almost dark when I left at around 7.15. Two weeks ago it was definitely verging on daylight. Today it was bright and springlike. Not only is it easier to see where I’m going but I’m feeling decidedly more cheerful.
Irises in Spring
In the last month they have blood-tested 6,893 inpatients and 4,694 outpatients. The average wait is, they say, nine minutes. I’m dubious about the nine minutes but I’ll let it slide for now and start timing my wait from now on. I have a stopwatch on my phone and I’m obsessive enough to use it.
After that I took Julia to work and then went to work myself. On arrival I ate my sandwiches for breakfast because I hadn’t had time to eat anything this morning.
We had a dozen parcels, a couple of customers and put some stuff on eBay, but nothing particularly interesting.
After that I drove to Newark, spent a few hours chatting, shopped, ate another sandwich and went home. Once home I read some blogs, answered some comments and started cooking in bulk for the coming week.
I’m now writing today’s post as tonight’s stew simmers.
Julia is out visiting a neighbour. She’s got the car keys so I expect she’s going to fill the car with junk and expect me to be happy about it.
It’s all part of life’s rich pageant for a married man…
Big day today. Off to the letter office where five parcels were waiting for me. There was no queue today and I parked in a disabled space as my knee was killing me. I know it’s not a good thing to do, but there were three others left empty and I was having to use my stick.
It turned out there were six parcels, which was a bonus. While I’ve been at work the postmen have been taking them back to the letter office. The trouble is that everyone wants them to be signed for. There’s no trust in the world anymore and everyone wants proof. I posted over 2,000 parcels when I was dealing by mail order and I only ever lost one.
In general I like to believe that people are honest, and the proliferation of distrust on ebay tells you a lot about the way modern society is going. I also have my suspicions that ebay and Royal Mail are in league to take as much money as possible from us. Remember that ebay also charges commission on postage costs. I was happy with my purchases, but you’ll have to take my word for it as I haven’t photographed them yet.
After that we had breakfast and set off for Newark market where, noting the lack of customers, I did the old show business joke. It basically hinges round the phrase “there’s no business (pause for effect) like show business”. It tends to amuse us, though we don’t have high standards.
Then things took a turn for the worse. We stopped at Grantham for a toilet break and a drink. Julia’s coffee, in a paper cup, cost £2.75. We’re going to have to start taking a flask.
Forestry land in Brazil costs as little as $50 an acre – about eighteen cups of coffee. Makes you think, doesn’t it?
After that we joined a queue on the A1. The traffic spent ten minutes travelling fitfully then ground to a halt. In the next two hours we listened to a Terry Pratchett talking book, chatted, watched red kites and fell asleep. Well, one of us did. The other one recorded me snoring and sent an audio file to my sister.
It seems that a trailer had become unhitched from a car and emptied itself on the road. Nobody was hurt, which is good.
Finally we arrived in Peterborough just in time to miss a low key but photogenic sunset, visited my father for a couple of hours, wished him a happy 89th birthday for later in the week and returned home without incident.
All in all, quite a worthwhile day, with the bonus of a relaxing snooze in the afternoon. I know it’s generally frowned on to sleep on major roads, but I think it’s OK if everyone has stopped.
Julia’s phone has been going all day. The large polytunnel in the gardens proved unable to resist the wind last night and the ancient, brittle sheeting disintegrated. Despite being off ill, she has had a constant stream of texts, photographs and requests for decisions.
To call in a team of experts would cost £500 over and above the cost of the plastic. At the moment she is waiting for an answer from the Young Farmers’ Club. to see if they are able to help.
In the shop we assembled a couple of office chairs. They are now pushed up to the desk in the middle room, waiting for a dedicated ebay team. However, it will probably end up with me and Eddie. One of the customers is currently refurbishing a computer for me and then he’s going to set a printer up a wireless network. This might seem normal to you, but it’s close to being miraculous to me, as none of my previous jobs have involved using a computer. I had my own for doing ebay, but I’ve never worked for someone else, or with someone else, using a computer.
This, I suppose, is the 21st century.
After that I had to remove a coin collection from plastic pages. Over the years the pages had sealed the coins in, so I ended up cutting them out with scissors. It’s a tedious job, but there was a Maundy fourpence in it, amongst the silver threepenny bits, so it felt worthwhile.
It’s even more tedious than sorting out the two plastic boxes of mixed cupro-nickel coins. Half-crowns, florins, shillings and sixpences plus large-sized 10 and 5 pence coins. I’m so used to the small 10p and 5p that the old-fashioned large ones come as a bit of a surprise. Thinking of it, I should have taken pictures to illustrate this. I may do that tomorrow.
In the afternoon I was off, so I took a quick trip to Newark to see my mate on the market. He was one of three stallholders who had braved the wind and rain, and they had all spread out to make the market look fuller. There were seven trees down on the way, with two teams still working on clearing them. It’s been quite windy round here. Fortunately all the roads had been cleared so there were no delays.
That’s about it. Julia is continuing her slow recovery, but while I was out this morning she inspected the garden for storm damage and, whilst struggling to keep her balance, managed to topple over. She does that. As soon as I’m distracted she tries to do too much and sets herself back. Fortunately she hasn’t hurt herself, but I’m thinking of rigging the house with CCTV so I can prevent a repeat.
I didn’t get many photos today, just a few silhouettes of Newark and some sky.
I started off by delivering Julia into servitude at 8.30 this morning. She’s not fond of Thursdays as she has to rush across town at 4pm to get from one job to another before finally being allowed home at 8pm.
Then I went to Newark. It was cold, business was non-existent and the tale of the last two weeks was one of cold, snow and poverty. After an exchange of cards, a cup of tea and a laugh about old times (there’s nothing to laugh about at the moment) I went browsing in W H Smiths looking for writing paper. I didn’t find any. The notes in my Christmas cards will, as a result, be written on paper torn from a spiral-bound notebook. To be fair, this is a more accurate reflection of me than smart writing paper.
A trip round Wilkos netted a tin of Vaseline lip-care products for Julia, a bucket of fat balls for the birds for £4 and a chicken and stuffing sandwich for £1. Yes, I know, I’m not supposed to be eating bread. However, as I’d already treated my self to a sausage and onion cob for breakfast I didn’t think a chicken sandwich was going to do too much extra damage, either to my waistline or my digestion.
From there it was a quick trip to the doctor to put in some prescription requests and on to TESCO for healthy veg and new gloves.
Resisting the urge to go home I visited the shop to drop off Christmas cards to my new colleagues (I’m such a creep) and helped with the delivery of two new cabinets for the new shop. It’s starting to take shape.
I then went home, supposedly to post on the blog but actually to engage in a variety of displacement activities, including sleeping in front of the TV, watching TV, checking ebay, picking Julia up from work, browsing the internet, writing notes to go in Christmas cards and warming up soup. I was tempted to say “cooking” but I’m pretty sure preparing soup and a sandwich isn’t cooking. We normally have something more substantial but after a day that saw us both deviating from our diets we thought we’d cut back a bit.
I even managed to do a bit of reading, having bought the Kindle edition of Maya and the Book of Everything by Laurie Graves. It’s going quite well so far. We’re right into the action and moving along nicely and there’s no boring stuff about chivalry or whales. She is therefore already ahead of Cervantes and Melville in my estimation. On the minus side there’s a definite lack of talking animals, though Sir John Oldcastle is about to make an appearance. I like Sir John.
Today I have been concerned with toilets to a greater degree than I would have liked. Some days are like that. It is, as I often say, my age.
I had to stop for toilets before reaching Newark. This was a nuisance, but there’s always an opportunity in adversity, and in this case it was a Bridgford Breakfast at East Bridgford Garden Centre.
As a result I didn’t need to eat again until tonight, when I added mince to the left-over vegetables and curry from the last two nights and topped it with sweet potato slices. It produced a flavoursome and fibre-filled version of Cottage Pie.
On the way home from Newark I took a few photos, topped up my grudge against cyclists and got home just in time to fall asleep and miss Pointless.
Why would anyone ride one of these? I can see there are advantages, but the main disadvantage, that cars and lorries can’t see you, seems to be a compelling reason not to ride one. There’s no point in being fit and healthy if you’re flat. There are more strange cycles here.
As a positive end to the day – Julia has taken orders for five nest boxes. That’s £25 towards new covers for the polytunnels. Only another £475 to go. Or 95 more nest boxes…
This is a fund raising medal issued by the Borough of Newark to raise funds for the families of soldiers who fought in what they refer to as the Transvaal War, now generally known as the Boer War in the UK, though they have other names for it in South Africa. I won’t discuss the Boer War here, as it will take a lot of space and reflects no credit on the British.
As you can see, it is one step beyond the junk box and appears to have been buried at some point. It also looks like someone has attempted to put a hole through it at the top, probably to use it as a watch fob or wear it on a ribbon.
Newark Fund Raising Medal 1900 (Reverse)
They originally cost a shilling, with silver ones costing five shillings and a case costing sixpence extra. There were 12 pennies in a shilling and 20 shillings in £1, in case you are a decimal baby.
As you can see from a careful look at the picture, they were made by Vaughtons of Birmingham.
It is the local equivalent of the Absent Minded Beggar medal, part of a massive Boer War fundraising effort.
The war served as something of a wake-up call to the British, when they got the runaround from a bunch of farmers. This meant that we called for volunteers and found that one in three was rejected due to the effects of poor diet. This would lead to the Education (Provision of Meals) Act (1906) because properly fed citizens were needed for the services. I would have thought it was counter-productive as fatter soldiers make bigger targets, but I suppose they need to be strong enough to march and carry things.
There’s a picture of F H Appleby here, with a truly inspiring soup strainer moustache, with further details here. He really was a busy man.
The spiritual descendent of this medal is the current Newark Patriotic Fund, which helps ex-servicemen and their families.
Number One Son cooked tonight, so there are no photos of the food. By the time I got back from picking Julia up from work (tonight being her late night) he had it ready and it seemed rude not to eat it right away.
It was, for those of you who like detail, a steak and shallot pie from Keelham Farm Shop, Skipton. The pastry was good and crispy and there were good chunks of meat in it. For my taste it was a bit over-salted (which seemed to come from the pastry) and shallots are always a bit too sweet. It was still good though.
We’re having the samphire tomorrow.
We had the orange and chilli marmalade this morning. Julia likes it. I’m dubious. I’m not sure there’s a gap in the market for a marmalade that slips down nicely but leaves a burning sensation in your throat.
Did I mention the rhubarb flavored chocolate yesterday? It was quite nice, and very Yorkshire, but it didn’t make it through the night. In fact, when I check, I notice it didn’t even make it into the blog.
The day started with a trip to work, with traffic jams and many thoughts (mainly homicidal). It progressed (if that is the word) to more traffic jams, a trip to the sorting office to pick up a parcel, and a blood test. It only took two attempts this week. I’m hoping I pass as they have currently reduced the interval to a week and weekly blood tests are a bit limiting.
It all turned out to be a bit of an anti-climactic day in the end. Even the threatening clouds didn’t turn into the threatened storm.
At least, when I got home, I had parcels from ebay to open.
The title is another from the random subject generator. It’s not quite random because I refused the first one – “Describe an Ornament”. We have a house full of clutter and I don’t want to remind myself of it by describing one particular piece.
So, how does the weather affect my mood? Obviously I feel good when the weather is good and less good when the weather is bad. That was an easy one.
I’m rapidly losing faith in the random subject generator.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Here is a selection of messages written on tiles in the Mencap garden.
I’ll be able to return to posts with more pictures tomorrow because I’ve bought a new card reader from ASDA. I nearly had breakfast while I was there, despite the memory of it being fairly rank last time I had it. The service was so slow my knee gave way while I was standing in the slow-moving, and slightly mutinous, queue so I left. This was, I’m pretty sure, a blessing in disguise.
I finally had breakfast in the square at Newark – two Lincolnshire sausages in a bun with fried onions and brown sauce. It was very tasty, and much better than ASDA. The resulting mess demonstrated my wisdom in selecting shirts in food-coloured check patterns. After scraping up the spilt onions you could hardly see the mark.
It rained all night, drying up in time to drive to work. I then returned home to collect a parcel for delivery in Newark and arrived at Newark Market just as the thunder claps started. After that rain stopped it became quite hot, I took my coat off, and the sky clouded over again. I left before the dark grey sky could fulfil its threat. On the way home the weather was remarkably pleasant, actually being sunny and hot.
Weather talk is typically British, I admit. I will therefore move onto something typically middle-aged.
I needed the toilet when I arrived in Newark. The one nearest the car park has been closed for some years now, as part of the “improvements” to the town centre. However, I knew there were toilets in the Town Hall (which is also home to the museum and a half-derelict shopping centre). Problem solved, you would think. But no, those are closed too – only one “Accessible” toilet remains, and that wasn’t accessible because you need a RADAR key.
Now, I’m not disabled, but I’m not very mobile either. That means that although I’m not ready to admit to needing a RADAR key, it’s not very easy to climb the stairs in the pub next door. Anyway, I have a conscience about using pub toilets if I’m not using the pub.
Enquiries revealed that there are toilets round the back of the shopping centre, not far from where I started. If I’d looked to my right instead of walking straight on as I left the car park I may have seen the grey-coloured sign suspended high on a wall. Even when you are close you can’t see it very well.
You then have to insert 20p, in 5,10 or 20p coins. I only had a 50p so had to ask a passer-by for change because they have a sign telling you they don’t give change. Twenty pence – that’s 48 times what it used to cost when I was a lad and “spending a penny” was a term you used to hear.
Two attendents were chatting in a cubbyhole, though one had gone by the time I emerged – some evidence that the rate-payer’s cash isn’t being totally wasted. Neither looked like this was the job of their dreams.
Newark markets itself as a tourist destination – based on today’s experience they have some way to go, which is sad as they’ve been doing it longer than I can remember (by which I mean around 30 years) and show no evidence of even getting the basics right.
In typical British fashion I made my feelings known be emitting a low-pitched but definite “humph!” as I left.
I am seriously thinking of writing a stiff letter to the council.
I really ought to be writing my next Desert Island Blogs but if I do I won’t get round to writing about today.
It’s not been an outstandingly interesting day, but then again, it’s been good enough to record – starting with greengages and ending in conflict with the government.
The greengages in the garden are sparse but pleasant. The tree is in need of a good prune to open it up into the approved goblet shape and I suspect a good feed will do some good too. It’s at the top of my list because I like greengages, but we’ll have to see what actually happens. When your wife is in charge, and has a group of enthusiastic volunteers to help her, nothing is certain. So far they’ve ripped out armfuls of mint, laid waste to the toadflax and clipped random branches off most of the fruit trees because they watch Monty Don on TV.
Elusive greengages, Wilford, Notts
She couldn’t run the garden without them, but it would be nice to have some order in the place. Whenever I think of work going on in the garden I tend to think of a maelstrom of ativity directed towards tidiness rather than pollinators.
From there I went to Newark. The weather was lovely and I heard an interesting story about shoes.
In the aftermath of the Great War the storyteller’s grandfather died as a result of gas he had inhaled on the Western Front. It was a common story, with some veterans still coughing their ways through the 1960s and 70s due to gas injuries. This death, with an eighteen-month-old girl in the family(thev storyteller’s mother) , cast them all into poverty. They were able to get shoes from a charity – shoes for boys had Peter Pan on the front and the shoes for girls had Cinderella. She was so ashamed of her charity shoes that she tried to cover the Cinderella up using blacklead grate polish.
Does anyone know anything about these shoes? Ideally I need input from a Londoner in his 70s – now where would I find one of them?
I’ve tried Google but it’s mostly about pantomimes. There was a Bradford Cinderella Club but there’s no mention of pictures on shoes.
Newark from the car park, again
After that it was time to get back to Nottingham for a blood test. I walked in, registered and didn’t even have time to open my book before being buzzed through. Unfortunately they sent me through to the wrong room. Then they redirected me and I went to another wrong room, though I think that was my fault. Finally they stuck a needle in me. Then another. And another. Then they called another nurse in, and she failed. Finally, as my false grin was stating to fade, they hit the red stuff. To be fair, they had hit the veins with previous attempts (and I was leaking blood all over the place) but they just couldn’t fill a tube.
Last time I gave that much blood the Blood Transfusion Service gave me a cup of tea and a biscuit.
It’s getting time for my car’s MOT test, and it occurred to me that I hadn’t had a reminder from the DVLA. I checked on the website and they have no record. This is government cost cutting in action. Seemingly it’s quite common these days. I nipped down to the garage to check, and confirmed I do need a test. I’ve booked it in for tomorrow.
After picking Julia up from work I went shopping, only to find that the road was closed. It took a while getting round that, after which I had to use a different branch of TESCO than the one I had intended. This entailed parking next to a squashed pigeon and dodging round a number of large women with tattoos, who were shopping, slowly, with their equally large, slow daughters.
Now, I’m large myself, and I don’t move as fast as I did, but I do try to employ a degree of spatial awareness and I don’t take my kids shopping. They wouldn’t go anyway: they don’t like being seem with me.
Finally, to confirm my view of the place there were no decent books on the charity book table. At my normal branch there is a bookcase with five shelves of books. At the one I used tonight, just a table with a scattering of dog-eared rubbish.
As a final thought, the insides of my elbows hurt as if they’ve been stabbed multiple times. Oh, that’s right…