It was icy over night, then the mist added a film of dampness to the already slippery surface. It was unpleasant even walking the few yards to the car, which was comprehensively iced.
It stayed misty all day, which would have been atmospheric if I had been in a place with hills and trees but which was merely depressing in the middle of town.
Yesterday had been bright and light when I left the shop. Tonight was dull and grey. However, it wasn’t slippery, so it wasn’t all bad. That is how we are at the moment, with slow progress to Spring. We will have a couple of days of higher temperatures and lighter nights, then it will drop back for a few days. I suppose that’s what makes me appreciate the good days.
So far it has been a mild winter, and, as usual, I keep having to remind myself that there is plenty of scope for bad weather in February (which is often a bad month) and even March. Being realistic, it doesn’t take much to close us down. A day of snow will cause havoc in the UK, whereas Norway or Canada would look at it and shrug it off.
I think poets must thrive on misery, because I found myself thinking creative thoughts on the way home in the car. This could be the end of the poetry drought, and about time too – there are a lot of deadlines coming up. I had 42 poems published last year and have had two accepted so far this year. I’m not going to judge myself solely by numbers but I would like to be in that area again so I can’t afford to waste too many chances.
I’m, sticking with my theme for photographs – another postcard and another parcel. variety is over-rated.
I just had to use my printer as a scanner – Number Two son needs copies of documents to support his bid to remain in Canada, and anything I can do to make sure he stays away from my fridge is good. However, despite owning the computer and the printer I have had to register with HP to be able to scan. I don’t know why. I just know it is very annoying, and very intrusive.
I’m afraid that there is nothing much happening either at home or at work. The only episode of any interest (and I use the term lightly) was when I packaged a parcel, only to find that the same customer had ordered something else a bit later. Because they were seperated by three other items I had not picked up on the fact. There are two things you can do when this happens (apart from swearing and declaring that customers, though necessary, are also frustrating). You can carry on and pack the second parcel, but this often results in a complaint that you could have packed it all in one and reduced the postage.
Fair comment, but they could either have done all their shopping at one time, or have sent you a message to let you know before you start packing.
Second choice is to repack the parcel. That’s what we did in this case. It involved a bigger envelope and cutting the front off the other envelope to stick to the second so that we didn’t waste the stamps. This is slightly more complicated when using padded envelopes, but it went OK and I used the rest of the old envelope instead of using bubble wrap. In the end, nothing was wasted apart from a little time and a sliver of vocabulary.
The Post Office was crowded today. It’s a long shop and the queue was out of the door. I suspect it is the last posting day for some places.
We’ll do the palindrome first. Sadly for all my American readers the 20th November isn’t a palindrome, so I’m afraid you are going to feel let down and lied to. However, I suppose you’ve become used to that over the years. I know that I have, and it looks like it will get worse. I was listening to some sort of academic on the news tonight and he said that the confidence rating in the UK Government had been at 75% until the Cummings Affair, after which it dropped drastically and continued to slide to around 30%.
However, I digress. Today, I enjoyed writing 20.11.20 on the slips with the parcels, all thirteen of them. I have sent parcels to Spain (2), Canada, Australia and Japan. I even sent one to Scotland and one to the 19th Century. Or Somerset, as it is known to the Royal Mail.
Several parcels had multiple items, and several of the items had, whilst waiting to be sold, managed to move around and had the be flushed out of cover.
Someone rang in with a telephone order just after lunch (as previously arranged by email) and things became a little trickier due to an equipment failure. It seems that if you leave a card terminal dormant long enough you have to reset it. We haven’t used for two weeks in lockdown, so, of course, it refused the payment and it took me twenty minutes to sort out before ringing the customer back to complete the sale.
The Minor Disaster relates to the ancient computer. It has been slowly crumbling and slowing down, and it is now making terrible grinding noises. On top of that it only works for ten to fifteen minutes before locking up and taking half an hour to close down.
I am now £379 poorer and will be picking up the new computer tomorrow night. There will be advantages, of course, like being able to use photographs again, but I will be having a few moments alone with my wallet to remember the cash and shed a few tears.
I’m using the netbook at the moment, and will struggle on for a few days. After all, it’s not like I’m just going to plug it in and start. It’s never that easy…
This morning, as Julia struggled to work by bus again, I relaxed, ate toast and watched the weather report on TV. The forecast stated that there was a weather warning in Derbyshire, that there might be snow on high ground and that it might rain at lower levels. That was all very much like the forecast yesterday, which proved to be so badly wrong.
As I thought of yesterday’s events, and the unexpected snow, a flurry of medium flakes drifted past the window.
“Well, well,” I muttered as I watched them fall.
After about twenty seconds and several dozen flakes they stopped falling. It hardly seemed worth the trouble.
Work was fairly average. There were only six parcels to pack, a much more restful number than yesterday’s 28. We had several people bringing coins in to sell, including three who wanted to sell metal detector finds. One wanted too much money and one had boxes of interesting, but low quality, junk. We did, however, buy a sixpence of Queen Elizabeth I and a Saxon sceatta.
Less interesting than a Saxon Coin
This is how life in a coin shop should be – we have been a bit quiet recently and it’s nice to be busy.
I also put a number of coin sets on eBay. It’s not the glamorous end of the coin trade (if such a thing exists) but someone has to do it. Life can’t all be Gold Nobles of Henry V. This was what last night’s speaker found when he detected a Gold Noble on Time Team shortly after starting detecting. He hasn’t found one since!
Tristan da Cunha has a lot to answer for
I’m going to post this now and then come back to put the photos up, otherwise it will never get posted before midnight. To be fair, it’s not just photos, everything takes ages on this Netbook.
I had a shock this morning. As I waved to Julia after dropping her at work I realised I had my father’s hands on the ends of my arms. I have the same ageing skin, the same slightly bent fingers and the same way of holding my hand when I wave. I even have some brown spots, though mine are freckles rather than age-related.
It was a bit of a shock.
I once wrote a poem, my first published poem as an adult, about looking in my shaving mirror to see my father looking back. It wasn’t quite accurate (or “authentic”, if you prefer), because I don’t, as you may have guessed from the beard, shave. And in those unguarded mirror moments I actually look a lot like my maternal grandfather who has handed down his distinctive head shape to me.
Eventually, I will probably write a poem about this. It will be much more complicated than the anecdote I have just related and will include angst and a word I can’t quite remember. I’ll remember it when I stop thinking about it. It’s like ambivalence. It might be ambiguous. Something along those lines anyway. Editors, it seems, like that sort of stuff, and I don’t have enough of it.
That reminds me, I have a haibun in Contemporary Haibun Online January Issue. I feel that it may be the last for some time, as one of the main magazines is closing and the chief editor, who has accepted several of my haibun, and offered editorial advice, is being replaced by a man who I do not get on with quite as well.
Time to work on my craft, and begin battering editors with my brilliance.
There were eighteen parcels to pack this morning including several with multiple content. We also bought in a pair of Great War medals and some sovereigns.
We turned down the tin of worthless coins and the stamp collection. It was plain that the owner of the coins thought they were worth a lot more than we did so we persuaded him to keep them as their interest outweighed their commercial value. The stamps, we were truthful about – the market for modern First Day Covers has been dreadful for years and we don’t buy them unless they are autographed or have a coin on them. Or they belonged to Freddie Mercury’s father.
Falklands Crown 2014 mounted on postal cover and autographed by Sir Tom Courtenay
For tea, we will be having haggis. This time it is made with meat. I’m looking forwards to it, and to making veggie burgers with the leftover veg,
As a welcome coincidence, it begins with “H” and allows me to indulge my passion for alliterative titles.
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.
I haven’t quite written the post about the Gibraltar £20 coin I promised yesterday as it’s taking a bit longer than I anticipated. Instead, I’m going to ramble on a bit and, having fulfilled my self-imposed requirement to post every day, I’m going to slink away.
The morning was quite bright and pleasant, and we had quite a few parcels to do. The proprietor had been in on Sunday to pack some, which made life easier, though we still had nine parcels to pack, including several with multiple contents.
One of the orders came with a set of packing instructions. I hate it when people do that. Do they really think we aren’t going to pack things properly? I often think of writing back to point out that I’m grateful for their note as the idea of proper packing had never occurred to me…
At the Post Office someone drew up in his Mercedes and parked so close to the shop that he nearly blocked the door. I deduced a number of things from this, including that he probably had parcels to post. So I put a spurt on, got to the door before him and ensured he couldn’t get past me before I got to the counter.
A queue quickly built up and he muttered to the next man in the line. By the time I’d finished there was a queue of seven, all muttering. Tough, I thought. I’d rather be the one at the front being hated by everyone behind me, than the one at the back waiting. Post Offices, when you have bags of parcels, encourage a certain hardness of outlook.
We had sweet potato and peanut curry tonight, cooked by Number One Son. It was very good and I may add it to my repertoire.
Julia has bought some sprouts in batter, with Camembert dip, for our traditional Christmas Eve buffet. She said they sounded so bad she couldn’t resist trying them. I can understand that. Apparently not many other people felt the same way as there were still stacks of them left in the shop.
I completely forgot I was meant to go to a Numismatic Society meeting tonight. Then I missed the fact that the day was almost over. By the time I thought about it there were 37 minutes left. At least it made the title an easy choice.
It’s not the first time I’ve completely forgotten something important, but it’s always a worry when it happens. I was tired, I was worrying about something else and I just ran out of brain power. It was 11.00 before I remembered – four hours too late.
It’s 16 days to Christmas and I still have things to do. Time goes so fast!
On the other hand, there are only ninety days of winter left.
I’m going to leave it at that.
By the time I’ve found a photo it will nearly be midnight. I will then go to bed ans dream of parcels.
I didn’t have time to finish last night, as midnight is a tyrant as far as blogging targets are concerned. I need 1.5 posts per day and “day” is defined as a period ending at midnight. To keep up, today needs to be a two post day, or even more.
We’ll start with ST7. It is, as I thought, Stoke-on-Trent.The address we sent the parcel to was in Cheshire and I did wonder if the postcode might be Stockport, which is in Cheshire, but I vaguely remember Stockport being SK. Logically it could also be Stafford, but it isn’t, Stafford’s has a Stoke on Trent postcode, which is ST16 – ST18 and ST20 and 21.
Don’t ask about ST19. It just gets too complicated. I used to travel the Midlands for a living and even I am beginning to find this bit confusing. And dull.
ST7 includes the village of Talke Pits. As you may guess, this was a mining village. It is one of the few places I have ever searched where the Wiki entry has come up short. Some quick research comes up with the information that there’s a shopping outlet there so I may have to pop by one day and find some information to add to the Wiki entry.
I will be touring WN7, SE16, FK4, WN2 and CF83. If memory serves me right that is a tour of Scotland, Wales, London and Wigan (twice). You are in for as treat.
However, I’m off to watch Strictly Come Dancing. If there’s one thing I love to see it’s the torment of an inelegant celebrity. I’m no Fred Astaire myself, but then I’m not being paid thousands of pounds to dance.
I would actually prefer Celebrity versus Lions, but the BBC have not replied to my proposal for a pilot show and are refusing to take my calls.
The featured image is one of the robin Christmas stamps from 1995. I have looked them up and can yell you there were five of them. I can’t recall any of the other designs – this is the only one we seem to get.
It seems, looking at the prices charges by stamp dealers, that we are being awfully extravagant in using these stamps for letters. In fact you can buy lots of stamps in the trade for below face value. There are even companies that specialise in this sort of thing – search “discounted stamps”if you want any.
Much of my working day was spent packing parcels as we kept getting orders through the day. We also had phone calls and a few customers actually visited the shop, despite the boarding.
One or two mentioned the boards with questions like “Have you been robbed?”. To which, after a few polite answers, we started replying “No, we’re just going for a shabby chic look.”. A few more and it was “No, we’ve joined a Blitz re-enactment society.”
If anyone else had asked there was a danger, by the end of the day, of the answer being less than polite.
There’s only so much to be said.
The rest of the day was taken up with moving stock and furniture round in preparation for our new security precautions. It appears we are not allowed to dig pits and line them with spikes.Or use guns and tripwires. Or train rottweilers to attack people wearing hoods and concealing their faces.It’s the nanny state gone mad, I tell you!
The spell-checker wants to remove “rottweilers” and substitute “erstwhile”. I originally spelt it “rottweillers” and the suggested alternative was “steamrollers”. I’ve often wondered how these things work. I’m definitely no wiser after this last selection.
I’ve given myself the night off tonight and watched TV with Julia instead of trying to force the writing. I’m not sure she’s grateful.