Tag Archives: porridge

The Porridge from Porlock

As I sat on the edge of the bed to put my socks on (yes, old age is catching up on me) I ran a scene from my imaginary life through my head. It was the one where I appear on BBC Breakfast after winning a major poetry award and impress a watching TV executive so much that I am offered a chance to have my own TV show, wandering round the countryside talking and eating in tearooms.

There would, inevitably, be a string of offers to appear in other TV work, followed by a celebrity lifestyle and a book contract. Obviously, a man who has to sit down to put his socks on isn’t going to be doing Strictly Come Dancing or I’m a Celebrity… but I’d be happy to do Celebrity Gogglebox.  When it comes to sitting round watching TV and talking rubbish, I flatter myself that I have few equals.

I was sitting in a studio, putting forward the idea that I was the Jackson Pollock of poetry, just throwing words at pieces of paper, when a sudden (and unusual) profound thought came into my mind.

“As soon as I get downstairs,” I thought, “I will write that down. There is the basis for a scholarly essay in there and it will establish me as a leading light in the poetry establishment.”

Well, that’s what it would have sounded like if I thought that way. What I actually thought was “Oooo!” That’s pretty much the reality of my thinking. If you add the word “shiny” that covers 90% of my thoughts these days. I know I’m supposed to think about sex every seven seconds according to the research, but frankly, I can’t fit it in. (Yes, I’ve been watching too many Carry On films over Christmas…)

Talking of thinking, I found this article very interesting. Before you read it, think of a white bear, and don’t click the link until you’ve finished thinking about it. When you stop thinking about the white bear and read the article, all will become clear.

Anyway, I got downstairs (another thing that I used to take for granted but which takes a bit of thought these days) and Julia was making porridge. She put sliced banana and blueberries in it because she thinks I should eat more fruit. And, as I ate the delicious fruity porridge, I realised that I had forgotten the rare and precious thought.

And that, so far, is the story of 2021. I had, as you can probably guess, no picture of porridge with fruit in it, so I offer a picture of plums instead.


The Cheeriness Returns

I’ve just read Lavinia Ross’s latest post, which always leaves me feeling cheerful, with its big skies, cats and wine. She has music too, but despite the recent purchase of a new computer I still don’t have sound.

While I was reading it I ate porridge with bananas and blueberries. It’s not possible to eat that without feeling cheerful either.

So, all in all, it looks like I’m in a positive frame of mind. This might be, in truth, due to the mending of my Kindle performed by Number One Son while he was here. It had filled up and I couldn’t read my new books. It has been like this for a month and it slows me down, as it’s so much easier to read on Kindle than it is to find a book, a reading lamp and my glasses. It turns out that I’ve been downloading magazines instead opf just reading them. Once we cleared them everything is working again.

We had cheese with grated black truffle for lunch yesterday. I had never had truffle before and enjoyed the experience. It was garlicky and very intense. I just looked it up on the internet and found that it may have been nutty too, and that the nutrient profile of truffles is “impressive”.  So is the price, but it was a present so I won’t comment, though I will start saving up to buy some for next Christmas.

I thought pizza was exotic when I first had it, now I’m eating truffles. The world really is a wondrous place. Of course, the way things are going I may still be eating sparrows next year, so I won’t let my happiness get out of control.

With any luck Julia may relax her grip on the Christmas cake and let me have a slice this afternoon if I whine enough. She spent three months ensuring it was in peak condition, and it is an excellent cake. Unfortunately this also makes it too good to allow me unrestricted access as I’m not regarded as a man that can be trusted with cake.

Robin on a Fence Post

Sea Buckthorn

Porridge, prunes and pomposity

It looks like the boundary issue at the bottom of the garden has been solved. It’s cost me more than it should have done, and I feel I have been “beaten” in the negotiation, but on the other hand I have emerged with my dignity and I can now use my time for doing things I enjoy.

Well, to be honest, I do enjoy winding pompous people up, but after six months it grows stale. They probably think the same thing. I am now going to attempt to re-establish the wildlife habitat at the bottom of the garden. We had blackcaps breeding and a thriving colony of frogs. Now we have a clear view into the upstairs windows of the house on the slope below. That’s why we grew the big hedge in the first place – it’s very off-putting to look across and see a neighbour in a state of undress in their bedroom. I’d much rather see blackcaps.

I am going to grow blackthorn and hawthorn and am not sure what else. They will provide bird cover, thorny security and sloes, plus privacy and a windbreak (I am aiming for about six foot tall eventually, (though we may have moved by then). I may try to get one hawthorn to tree size to replace the one that the dickhead neighbour removed – we always had nesting birds in there.

We just had prunes for breakfast. With porridge. That will cause a few perturbations north of the border, where salt and misery are the only acceptable porridge seasonings. I did the Tinker. tailor rhyme and ran out of professions. Obviously my three surplus stones represented chicken farmer, antiques dealer and gardener in my declining career trajectory. Two more stones and I could have brought it up to date with shop assistant and poet.

It’s interesting to see there are other versions, though I do agree with A A Milne that there should be more professions represented.

That’s enough for now – off for a jolly day decluttering now…


Parenting, Porridge and Pessimism

We had a lie in until just after eight and got ready without having to rush to a deadline, then, in case the luxury of the moment should spoil us, we had porridge. Without sugar.

If porridge had a family tree it wouldn’t be far from wallpaper paste on the chart, probably a second cousin, but it’s good for me. It’s full of dietary fibre, it’s economical and it helps build stoicism.

I will spare you the next few lines, but let’s say that they weren’t cheerful and the spirit of optimism has taken a holiday too. All I have left to look forward to is five and a half years of work before I retire and embark on life with some very poor pension arrangements. Stoicism is going to come in very useful.

I know I’m getting old as I’m entering the penultimate stage of parenthood. I’ve pushed them around in a pram, worried about their health, maturity, education and careers. I’m now worrying that I won’t be able to leave them anything when I die. That only leaves the final stage, where they have to worry about my health and push me around in a wheelchair. I only hope my brain lives long enough for me to appreciate the irony.

Julia has gone to town to renew her bus card. I have sorted out my car insurance details, moved stuff round to give access to the electricians, and taken waste paper out. With all the pizza menus, seed catalogues and generally useless waste I reckon I’ve just dumped a good couple of pounds of waste paper in the recycling bin.

According to the 2011 census figures there are 126,131 households in Nottingham so that’s over 252,262 pounds of waste, and that’s accumulated in just a couple of months so the annual figure will be 1,513,572 lbs of waste paper. That’s 686 metric tonnes of paper that need never have been produced.

I just looked Nottingham City Council up to see if they had figures that I could compare and they don’t. They do, however, tell me that they give out 160,000 single-use recycling bags last year. They are for people in flats. They are taking steps to end this, but it seems that it’s taken a long time to get round to it.

Apart from seeing the seals, as mentioned yesterday, I don’t have many plans for the next week. I’d better think of something fast, as worrying about death, children and recycling isn’t what I had in mind when I booked a week off.

I may give some thought to feeding ducks. What people don’t realise when they talk about “feeding ducks” is that there are people out there who will quite happily tip out a pack of white bread and then, after five minutes of laughter, will walk off leaving bread floating on the water and cluttering up the shore. The result – apart from a nutritionally dodgy meal for ducks – rats and festering bread.

One More Quick Post

I had a day off today and spent much of it trying to write. It didn’t go too well, though it could have been worse. That, could well be the motto for my life – good, but could have been better.

I also checked on the internet to see what sold in the shop, and found that one of the coins I’d listed yesterday had sold. It often seems to be the way. In fact most of today’s orders were for the cheap and cheerful end of our stock. That’s the end at which I operate.

Now, having watched the day slip away, I find it is time to take Number Two Son to work. I will return with only 40 minutes to post, so am getting it done now.  And that, I’m afraid, is why it was hardly worth your while clicking the button to visit. Sorry about that.

The final picture is my breakfast from Tuesday – overnight oats. You put oats, milk, yoghurt and fruit into a tupperware and leave it in the fridge overnight. It’s just a posh name for cold porridge. However, it does save time in the morning as I take it to work, and as I always arrive at work early I use some of that time for eating breakfast instead of starting work. On Fridays I will eat cold porridge in the garden with Julia.


Overnight Oats

Note how I’ve included the keyboard in the picture to indicate that I’m a high-powered, high-fibre thrusting executive.

Photography can be so deceptive…

The Things People Say…

I lost the remote control tonight. This was a nuisance because we’re already using the DVD remote to control the TV as I lost the TV remote some months ago.  The area around my chair is a bit of a disaster area, I admit, being piled high with my various collections, stock, notebooks, books and a stockpile of turmeric.

The good news is that No 2 Son proved not to be entirely useless and managed to find the remote control under my chair. The original remote, not the DVD remote. We haven’t a clue where that one has gone. I really do need to get a grip on decluttering.

However, that really wasn’t what I was going to write about. I was going to write about my Monday morning McDonalds experience.

After giving blood and other fluid, I still had time to kill as I didn’t want to get to work too early.

There’s really only one thing to do at that point – hit McDonalds.

I had the porridge with nothing. No jam, no syrup, no sugar. It took a bit of stirring, as it’s microwaved and was a bit crusty, but it is full of slow-release energy so has to be good for me.

As I stirred and ate I listened to the conversations around me. I’ve been cutting down on fast food recently, and when I have succumbed there have been no interesting conversations to listen to.

Today there were two.

The man behind me had had a tricky situation on Sunday night when he’d been on the sofa with his girlfriend. She had, it seems, been making inappropriate attempts on his virtue.

“…and I’d been waiting all week to watch that film.”

To my right there was another conversation going on, this time by phone.

She had clearly been going out with the person on the other end of the line for enough time for it to be steady, but she wasn’t quite comfortable.

“Why are you so mean to me?” she kept asking.

I’d be tempted to suggest that it’s because she’s whiney, needy and annoying. As she continued, she said: “It’s all new to me, being part of an emotional unit.”

Emotional unit? I presume that’s what we used to call “a couple”.

There was more too, but it seems a bit unsporting to report too much of an overheard conversation.

It’s just after 1 am now. I’m going to make sandwiches then go to bed ready for my blood test. This isn’t quite how I imagined my life developing.

Still, at least the other half of our emotional unit didn’t interfere with my TV viewing…

Second post of the day

Sorry if it seems like I’m running a bus company, no blogs for a while then two come along at the same time…

It was quite a good week last week and it mostly got steamrollered by Open Farm Sunday and the scarecrows.

We saw a red kite over Screveton for the first time in the four years we’ve been here. It was a great view too, with a really good silhouette against a beautiful blue sky (and who had left his camera in the back of the car? Yes, me.)

We had chocolate slab cake after one of the mothers made cakes for a volunteer event that was cancelled. Sadness at the cancellation was, I’m sorry to say, short-lived when I looked into the tin.

I know I lead a dull and boring life, but they are surely highlights even in the life of an exciting celebrity. Did Demi Moore see a red kite? Did anyone give Barack Obama a chocolate slab cake? Does my choice of celebrity mark me as being out of step with the modern world?

Anyway, far from the lifestyle of the rich and famous, we also had around 325 children in the activity tent over the course of Open Farm Sunday.

I was quite pleased with that – 325 kids who now know a bit more about food, farming and the environment., though I know it’s a drop in the ocean when you look at surveys like this that tell us 40% of people don’t know we grow oats in this country (I selected that one because of the next paragraph, but some of the other findings are equally worrying).

Then I started thinking about future events – it will be World  Porridge Day in  October and part of that is about Mary’s Meals – we’ve supported them in the past and they’ve just fed a million kids. A million! I’m now slightly less impressed with our 325.

However, we have another 30 coming in tomorrow (leaving me just 999, 645 of the million) and we’re doing insects and habitats with them. This calls for less blogging and more reading as I’m hopeless with insect ID.

Watch this space…



Windy weather and photographs


Windy today – most of the morning it’s been gusting between 19 and 35 kph – so it’s felt colder than the temperature suggests. As luck would have it we managed to have both doors open today at one time. Someone was holding the front door open to talk when someone else came in from the toilet and opened the back door. The result was a wind tunnel effect with instant temperature drop.

Before I had time to shout “Shut that door!” (or something similar but possibly ruder) I heard a smash as the vase of artificial sunflowers hit the floor by the front door. They’ve been an accident waiting to happen since they were put there (the blooms were too long and too big for the vase) so in a  way it’s a relief.

One group of piglets has been weaned this week, much to the relief of the mother, who was looking fit to fade away. We still have two more litters with the sow and another looking ready to farrow soon.

If a picture is worth a thousand words here’s the equivalent of a few thousand words for you, including porridge and the smoothie bike.




We had a simple breakfast this morning – just cereal and fresh fruit. It’s part of my new regime. It was a good thing I didn’t have too much because I ended up with a second breakfast as part of the National Breakfast Week campaign. The second one was porridge with fruit. I’m feeling quite virtuous at the moment. And full.

It’s a very important meal is breakfast, and it’s currently a political issue with Blackpool council becoming the first in England to provide free breakfasts for all school children. I’m not sure about this – I’m happy to see all kids getting a decent breakfast but I don’t see why the parents should be let off the hook. If you aren’t prepared to feed them you shouldn’t have kids. That’s just my view of course, not the farm view and definitely not the view of the touchy-feely modern world.


Here’s a picture of us eating porridge and a link to Mary’s meals to remind us all that some kids go to school hungry for reasons other than lazy parents.

Another day, another title

I’m struggling to think up new titles for my posts. Half of me wants to become a bit tabloid (“Great tits on the table today!” is so tempting when discussing the presence of Parus Major at the bird table.) The other half of me wants to take the easy way out with a dull title such as “Tuesday”.

The problem is that I don’t think the tabloid approach helps build a quality image, and the other approach just leads to a confusing number of posts named after days of the week.

We had a group from a MENCAP gardening group. They were out our way to collect horse manure and had arranged to drop in. We had a chat and home made mince pies, sold them a hamper and a couple of penguin tree decorations and invited them back next year for National Breakfast week.

We’re planning on having a few groups out for breakfast next year, raising some cash for Mary’s Meals and raising awareness of how important breakfast is. It’s a continuation of the work we’ve been doing on breakfasts , and a continuation of the National Porridge Day work we started last year.

The Bread Group raised £26 for Mary’s Meals last week when they did their Christmas meal, which was kind of them (as was the food they left in the fridge for me). Hopefully we will be adding to this next month, particularly as we will have the Saturday morning cafe participating for the first time.