Tag Archives: parking

The Ten Best Things About Lockdown

It’s not been all bad, by any means. I don’t know how it’s been for everyone else, but I’ve quite enjoyed some of the time.

One – being paid not to work. As far as I can see, there is no downside to this. I like my work, but I prefer being paid for nothing. This is different from my normal occupation where I have to go to the shop for six hours a day, where I am paid for doing very little work.

Two – spending more time with my wife. Again, what’s not to like? I know not everybody is as lucky as me in their choice of partner.  Julia, for instance, doesn’t seem as keen on this aspect of the lockdown.

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Bee in Cranesbill

Three – clean air. I have to take the Government’s word for this, but, unusually, they seem to be telling the truth. This has to be good.

Four – less traffic. I’ve been able to drive to hospital for blood tests and get a parking space. Luxury.

Five – free parking. I won’t lie to you, I am extremely mean and if I can save a couple of quid I will do. The hospital car park is free for the moment as they don’t want to handle all that dirty cash.

Six – I’m still on the same tank of fuel I had in March. I haven’t been able to go anywhere, but the money in the bank is handy. (See Five)

Seven – relaxation. The first couple of months made me feel years younger. After that, I have to admit, it began getting more stressful.

Eight – I did get some useful work done, though not enough. However, the bit that I did has been worth doing.

Pie, gravy and roasted veg

Pie, gravy and roasted veg

Nine – we ate lots of healthy vegetables and are feeling better as a result. Apart from one disastrous KFC we haven’t had a takeaway delivery all lockdown. We have been having fish and chips on Fridays since the shop reopened, but fish is good for you and I’ve been leaving half the batter and some of the chips, They give you too many chips. I’m pretty sure that complaining about having too many chips is a sign of age…

Ten – I haven’t needed to speak to anyone. Social interaction is, in my opinion, over-rated. I’ve texted a few people and been on WordPress to exchange a few views. That’s enough. Within that circle I have enough people and they are all sensible people. Mainly. One has been making films with Sooty, but there is always one. Talking to more people just involves me with being tactful to idiots. This isn’t at the top of my list of skills. That’s why I’m not often called to deal with customers these days.

That’s it. I’ve been lucky in lockdown and I intend to stay lucky by remaining in isolation for a while longer.

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Scone Chronicles 36

Warning: There are no scones in this post.

We started off with a trip to the doctor, breakfast, visits to two shops and a bit of photography for the presentation.

Then we set off in search of food.

The plan was to go to Carsington Water for lunch and a walk. Simple enough, you would think, and it was certainly easy enough to get there. There was a minor glitch with the new parking system – they have changed it since we last visited and the new signs aren’t very informative – but we eventually managed to work it out.

The meal was good in parts.

The staff were excellent and, I was pleased to see, wipe right up to the edges of the tables when they clean them. They also lifted the menus up and wiped underneath.It seems easy enough, but there are a lot of places where they clean a bit in the middle and go round the menu.

And, of course, there are places that never seem to clean the tables. Yes, Sainsbury’s, I’m thinking of you…

Service was quick and friendly and the food was piping hot. It was, if anything, too hot. The veg all came in one pot and we had to divide it up, which was tricky when the pot was too hot to hold.

We had the sausage pie. It had a lot of gravy in it, as you can see from one of the pictures, and didn’t seem to have much sausage. You expect sausage to be the most visible ingredient of a sausage pie. That was served piping hot too, with the result that one of our intrepid, and hungry, team of testers burnt his tongue and blistered the roof of his mouth. Julia showed the normal level of wifely concern.

 

It’s fair to say that we regretted our choice, particularly when we saw the massive golden cod and chips served up to the lady on the next table. I had nearly ordered it but it was served with garden peas and had decided to give it a miss.

Garden peas are for scampi or breaded plaice. Battered fish should be served with mushy peas. It’s a well-known fact, and almost a culinary commandment.

So, to sum up, the staff, cleanliness, veg, chips and serving temperature were all good. Unfortunately the sausage pie was not really up to the mark. It was still good though, just not what I think of when I think of sausage pie. If I eat there again I will probably have the cod.

Finally, after being photographed as we entered the car park, we had to enter our registration  number and pay. It’s all a bit Big Brotherish. The real problem came when they couldn’t match the car to the number. The screen kept showing a white VW van with a number that was nothing like ours.

We tried twice. Then I walked back to the car to check the number, just to satisfy the attendants who were watching the machines. It still didn’t work. So one of them walked up to the car to check the number. It still didn’t work. So we had to walk to reception, explain, pay, sign a sheet of paper and ask for a receipt.

It’s not the fault of the people operating the system, but it was annoying., and I do think if you are going to photograph people you should do it accurately.

I think I’ll have to give it a three out of ten for customer experience and service.

Come to think of it, I may not go back for cod and chips, there are plenty of places to go without being messed about by the parking system.

Lots of Gravy - Carsington Water

Lots of Gravy – Carsington Water

Sorry the post is a day late, after an action-packed day out I typed half of it, fell asleep in the chair and woke up after midnight.

Death, where is thy Sting?

Where is thy sting, O Death!

Grave! where thy victory?
The clod may sleep in dust beneath,
The spirit will be free!

 

John Bowring

A few notes on life.

I have just spent the best part of a month’s wages on car repairs. I admit that my earnings are far from huge, but it still seems a lot of money. The car had a service, new brake pads and an MOT. It also had a new pollen filter, which was something that I didn’t even realise it had.

To add insult to injury it then needed a repair to the wing mirror that it didn’t really need because some jobsworth in a government office has decided that looking neat is now part of the new MOT. That alone cost me a day and a half of my pitiful earnings, and it isn’t even colour coordinated. It allows me to see behind me, but it did that already. It also flashes again, but as I already had an indicator in each corner I’m not sure why I need the extra one.

Then there was the matter of the water pump that was pumping more water onto the road than it was circulating through the engine. At 60,000 miles it should not have worn out. It certainly shouldn’t have worn out on a Volkswagen, which is supposed to be a durable car. I won’t be buying another one.

I have an intermittent toothache. After a couple of months with an occasional twinge it is building up a head of steam and aching for a part of nearly every day. It’s clearly not going to go away and needs fixing.  Tricky one – don’t like toothache, but I don’t like dentists either.

Finally, a word on car parking. The forecourt for the shops was, as usual, crowded this morning. I parked across three cars. This blocked one in completely, but it hasn’t moved for several years so that’s not a problem. The other two were left with plenty of room to get out, even if it did need a bit of work – you have to reverse a yard before driving out of the space at an angle. It’s not difficult and people do it all the time.

Unfortunately the lady who came asking for me to move my car couldn’t see this. She had parked in front of the shop and walked to a separate block of shops to have her hair done. Despite taking the space reserved for our staff and customers, she decided that she hadn’t caused enough disruption and insisted that I moved my car. I pointed out that I had left enough room for her to get out, but she insisted. I went out and showed her there was plenty of room, but she still insisted. In exasperation I pointed out that I had parked considerately but was now being inconvenienced by someone who actually had no right to be parked where she was.

She wouldn’t be persuaded and told me that I’d just have to put it down to her being a woman driver.

A hundred years of having the vote and fighting for equality would appear to have passed her by.

I’ve not had a good week, but this was by far the most depressing point.

No pictures today as WordPress is playing up again.

I’m hoping things will start getting better next week.

 

 

 

 

Book Review – “Pier Review”

Pier Review: A Road Trip in Search of the Great British Seaside by [Bounds, Jon, Smith,Danny]

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Summersdale (11 Feb. 2016)
  • ISBN-10: 1849538115
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849538114

Again, with this being a Kindle book I’ve taken the book cover art from the Amazon website, so thank you Amazon.

It’s a good book, though one with quite a few rough edges. You can tell this before you pick the book up because the less enthusiastic reviews, and even some of the more favourable ones, refer to grammar, blokiness, bad language and beer. I’m not that bothered about grammar, as you can probably tell from reading the blog, and, in truth, I didn’t notice any bad language. That probably results from me being desensitised by having two sons and a background of working on farms and markets. Like so many of my contemporaries that year at Finishing School eluded me.

It’s a tale of two immature mates and their driver, Midge. The narrative is based on them travelling round 55 piers in two weeks. It is, unsurprisingly, a badly organised and under-funded trip. It’s a familiar model and it felt like I’d read books by this pair before. After looking at their previous books I discovered that I hadn’t. I’ve merely read other gimmicky travel books by similarly immature, badly organised blokes.

This isn’t a criticism, just an observation. It was interesting to spend time learning about different lives and their relationships with the seaside, each other, their laundry and their past. There’s even a bit about piers in places, though not a lot.

One of the things they discuss early on is a quote from someone – J G Ballard, I think – that travel books never mention the parking. I take this badly, as my post on Cromer, our first attempted pier visit, does feature parking quite heavily. Now it’s going to look like I’m copying them.

Apart from that, I have a sneaking feeling that they planned the book better than it looks on the surface. They meet people, they stay in various places (a B&B, camp sites, floors of friends) and they space out the reminiscences. It could be an accident, but it could, under all the casual chaos, be quite a well-planned book.

It can be a bit tedious reading about people drinking (even more tedious than actually having to listen to them whilst they are drunk) and about their constant bad planning, but they are likeable idiots and the time passes quite easily as you read.

It cost me £3.99 on Kindle, which is more than I normally pay for a Kindle book, but I was happy with it. However, it’s a book about mates on a road trip: if you want to learn about piers buy a different book. I’ll review that later.

 

Fish and Chips in Felixstowe

When we arrived in Felixstowe we found the sea front and threw the car into the first parking space we found.

Fortunately the space was just across the road from the Regal Fish bar, which looks like a poky fish and chip shop from the outside, and a hollowed out hotel from the inside. There’s a choice of large or medium fish. I had a medium haddock (with chips and peas) and Julia had a large plaice with chips and salad. She fancied plaice and they only do large plaice, so she opted for salad to make it a bit healthier. She says…

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Large plaice on a large plate

The medium haddock was quite large too.

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Medium haddock – it was good despite looking like it had died writhing in agony

I really don’t know what to say now. It was excellent fish with good chips and good peas. I’d be happy to eat it every day.

So, excellent food, bright, clean surroundings and friendly staff. Beef dripping again. I forgot to check on gluten-free alternatives again. I must start checking that so I can look like a concerned and touchy-feely member of the 21st Century.

Don’t worry, I’m not softening, I’m just pretending to be concerned.

Meanwhile I saw this notice in the toilets – it seems that modern life is a lot more complicated than I thought. If Julia ever gets rid of me I’m going to become a monk. The vows won’t be much of a problem – after 30 years of marriage and 25 years with kids I’ve got the obedience and poverty cracked.

I can’t see the tonsure being much of a problem either.

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The complexity of modern life

 

 

Full Speed Ahead, and Damn the Cholesterol!

The first life-threatening dietary experience of the holiday was fish and chips in Sheringham. We started the day with bran flakes in the hotel room and, after a long, hot walk round Strumpshaw Fen decided it was time to head off in search of a pier.

I think it’s time to reveal that we have set ourselves the target of visiting every pleasure pier on mainland Britain. This may expand to encompass Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Isle of Wight, but then again, it may not. There are about 65 of them and based on the events of this week I may run out of cash and stamina before I see them all.

We tried Cromer pier, but couldn’t find anywhere to park. They seem to have obtained a large supply of No Entry signs since last time we visited, about 15 years ago. What with the one way system and the road works we tried three different ways to get round and failed each time. Eventually, after a seven point turn in a narrow street, I broke the cycle and parked behind the church, only to find out that all the space was reserved for disabled drivers and taxis. One of the reasons I hadn’t noticed this before parking was that the painted signs were faded. The other was that there were no disabled drivers or taxis using the spaces. This was to become a familiar pattern of the holiday.

That effectively broke my spirit and I decided to call it a day and head for Sheringham. You can park in Sheringham, next to the station with a preserved steam railway and a Victorian Penfold letter box (originally in use 1866-79). They seem rather more welcoming in Sheringham.

We eventually ended up in the Sheringham Trawler, a bright and cheery fish and chip restaurant. I was going to link to an information site – visitsheringham.co.uk – but they have a notice on the page telling me not to link to them without permission. While I can understand them having a problem with me stealing content I’m not sure why it’s a problem for me to link to them. They are, after all, a site that you would think would want exposure for Sheringham.

The establishment was, as I said, bright and cheery. They have pictures of local scenes on the walls and a programme of local events in the menu. The staff were great and the menu was good, though as long as they have haddock and chips with mushy peas all menus are good for me.

When the meal arrived it lived up to our hopes, being very tasty, generous in the portion department ans accompanied by a good-sized lemon wedge and a plastic container of tartare sauce. I suppose we shouldn’t be using so much plastic but that and the fact that they don’t tell you where the fish comes from, were the only two negative points that I can think of.

The batter was light and crisp too, which I forgot to mention earlier.

Another nice touch was the use of beef dripping for frying. It’s supposed to be healthier than more fashionable fats and why just upset vegetarians when you can also offend pescatarians and Hindus too.

I have a low opinion of pescatarians, so this is a plus point.

 

 

Lost in Leeds

It’s been a depressing few days. I’ve had a cold, and chest infection and sinus trouble. I’ve also been taking the problems of the world too seriously (let’s face it, I’m not going to change anything), feeling guilty about bringing children into this world, dwelling on past failures and thinking about how I’ve wasted my life.

It’s possible that a late Spring has had something to do with this lack of cheerfulness. There’s something rather forlorn about barbecue supplies replacing Easter eggs in the shops while freezing rain falls outside.

The fact I’m less than a month away from turning 60 may also have something to do with it. I know it’s only a number…

In fact it’s probably a good thing to turn 60, as one school of thought claims that ages ending in 9 aren’t good for you. You’re more likely to have an affair at one of those ages and more likely to commit suicide.

I am also, it seems, more likely to post a fast time in a marathon.

I allowed myself a slight smile at that thought.

Julia, on the other hand, had a good laugh.

Too lazy to kill myself, too ugly for an affair and too fat to run. Is this what my future holds?

Last night, whilst feeling ill, I drove to Leeds to pick up Number One son. I am such a good father. He’s lived in a number of places in Leeds and the last one was easy to find and convenient for parking.

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Leeds – convenient parking

It’s a shame that he moved away from there and took up residence in a glitzy block of flats in the centre of town. They have many good features, but being easy to find and in possession of convenient parking aren’t amongst them.

That was how I came to be parked between the flats and a shopping centre loading bay, and how I was able to experiment with low light photography.

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Leeds – low light photography

 

 

 

Misery…

We were selling some coins to a customer this morning when someone entered the shop demanding that we move a car to let him out.

The forecourt of the shop allows you to back a couple of cars upto the shopfront and then park one across. Normally it works well when we confine the parking to shop staff, customers and residents of the flats above the shops. Because we’re all in the same boat we tend to get on together and there’s no problem.

However, when someone across the road parks on our private forecourt, then comes in throwing his weight about when a customer is in the middle of a purchase, it doesn’t quite work.

We explained that the parking was for the shop during business hours, and he just kept repeating that he had two cars and only enough space to park one of them on his drive.

I’m not quite sure why he thinks he’s entitled to use our parking spaces but if it happens again I may have to suggest he buys a bigger house or sells a car.

Apart from that, I have a cold. It started yesterday in the car, abated overnight then gradually crept back as I spluttered and sneezed and coughed my way through the afternoon.

It’s just a cold and should go in a day or two, but if the man from across the road comes back I will do my best to infect him.

I arrive home at 4.20pm and went straight to bed. So far, six hours of lying in bed shivering and looking pathetic have produced very little in the way of tea and sympathy.

Quite clearly I need to work on my whimpering.

 

Blood Test Thursday

It’s light this morning, and I’ve breakfasted on overnight oats with blueberries so I’m all set up for the day.

I’ve answered last night’s comments on the blog, come up blank for an idea for a post, and made a mental note that I need another night of reading posts to catch up with people.

That reminds me that I also have a report to write tonight. Sigh.

I’m 12 days behind with some blogs, as I found last night, so I do apologise if you are feeling neglected. That gives me an idea for a post – Blogging and a Lack of Time.  I will develop that later, as I don’t have time now. (Sorry – predictable but true).

My leg just started ringing, which means it’s time to get down to City Hospital, moan about parking and let someone stab me in the arm.

Nobody told me life would be like this.

Cotswolds or Notswolds?

You can’t take it away from the Cotswolds – the villages are beautiful and the village names are just what you’d expect from Olde England – Chipping Norton, Upper Slaughter and Stow-on-the-Wold.

Unfortunately, because they are so popular, you are rarely more than twenty minutes away from a twee delicatessen or Jeremy Clarkson.

However, how about an alternative – the villages of Northamptonshire. I took an hour on my way back from visiting my Dad yesterday and popped by Fotheringhay and Apethorpe because I wanted some pictures. I don’t want to decry the Cotswolds, or to encourage a deluge of delicatessens and celebrities, but if you’re passing they are worth a look.

There is a vast choice of stone in the county and colours change as you travel through the county – from grey to gold to brown. I just looked up a reference to the stone types of the county, hoping to sound intelligent. Currently I feel like I’ve been beaten round the head with information so ” grey to gold to brown” is as good as it gets. Try here if you are prepared to risk a similar fate.

Much of the roofing is Collyweston tiling, which has been used since Roman times.

The Featured Image and second trio of photographs are Apethorpe, and the top trio are Fotheringhay, both in Northamptonshire.

The third selection of photos is also from Apethorpe – the church, the date stone from the church tower, the old village water tower and the stocks and whipping post.

There’s a Palace in Apethorpe. I know this because they recently put a brown sign up, so I thought I’d have a look.

There’s nothing to see, as the grounds were locked and have high walls. It seems it was a favourite hunting lodge of the Tudors and Stuarts (well, Elizabeth I, James I and Charles I all visited – 13 times in the 70 years between 1566 and 1636). Once every five years doesn’t seem a lot, but this was, they say, more than any other house they owned.

A few years ago it was at risk of serious damage from the elements so English Heritage persuaded the government to buy it by compulsory purchase for  £3.5 million. They then spent £8 million on urgent repairs. I’m pretty sure they could have built a new one for that.

Then they sold it for £2.5 million to a French aristocrat who is going to finish the repairs and live there. Meanwhile it will be open to the public for the next 80 years. Well, fifty days a year. Between 9.30 and 1.00 in most of July and August.

That’s a loss of £9 million.

Members of our forces have been killed and injured due to a lack of flak jackets and armoured vehicles. We  have a social care crisis. Even the Labour Party wants more police. Much as I love history and I detest politics, we need to look at our priorities.

I could have taken some better photos of the cottages, but parking is tight and it was the end of the day so time was limited and my feet were sore. In other words I was too lazy to walk for the shots. Believe me, these villages are lovely.

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Welcome to Fotheringhay!

Here’s a notice from the window of one of the cottages in Fotheringhay. I didn’t actually see it until I’d parked and got out of the car, and as I only wanted to park for two or three minutes I ignored it. By the time I walked ten yards along the road and taken three shots somebody was already bobbing about at one of the windows.

Now, I don’t want to upset anyone, and usually don’t park where I see signs like that. However, I do think that if you want guaranteed parking outside your house you really should buy one with a drive.