Tag Archives: relaxation

Day 59 (Part 2)

I am sitting at the computer and am full of pizza and salad. Julia has been on holiday today and has been a whirlwind of activity. The house smells of wax polish, my desk has been tidied and, anticipating a doughnut shortage, a plate of sugary comestibles was shove in front of me on my return from work. I fear this is all part of a plot to kill me with food, but there are worse ways to go.

As I dozed gently in front of the TV she cooked the pizzas, made the coleslaw and salad and then woke me to eat just as Mastermind was starting. This is really a description of my ideal day.

The recipients of two of last night’s three submissions have acknowledged receipt of them and I am feeling relaxed. Tomorrow I must begin a determined effort to get ahead so that I don’t have to rush round so much. Slow and steady wins the race.

I’ve been looking into how to survive a nuclear war and have decided that it is too much like hard work.

Initial advice, for instance, is to run on a line perpendicular to the direction of the wind coming from the site of the explosion. Run? With my knees?

I’m also supposed to have a bug-out bag ready by the door so I am prepared for the worst. Well, I can see a problem there too. We might get twenty minutes advance warning, we might get three, depending on what internet article I read.  A bug-out bag isn’t a lot of use to a man of my age. I’m just not suited to quick exits. By the time I’ve been to the toilet, found the car keys and I’ve laced up my shoes, I’ll be lucky to make it to the car before Armageddon, let alone get to safety.

To be honest, I’m not a natural survivalist and as the only people to survive the nuclear blast are going to be politicians, civil servants and survivalists I’m not sure the post-apocalyptic world is a place I want to be.

I’m going to follow the advice I once saw on a TV programme about the battle of the Atlantic and how to prepare for bed in case you were torpedoed. An ex-Merchant seaman said that if you were on an ore carrier, they sank fast, so you went to bed fully clothed with the door of your cabin wedged open for a fast exit. If you were on a munitions ship you went to bed normally, including pyjamas, because there was no point worrying.

Wednesday – the New Saturday

Didn’t set the alarm last night – slept until 8.30, which was nice. Felt rested when I got up, which was unusual.

Baked eggs for breakfast with bacon, spring onions, cheese and black pepper. We didn’t have a delivery last week as we were out on Thursday night, so we are living off what we have. Now that the panic buying is over, Brexit is done and there are no shortages, we are working our way through the tinned tomatoes and beans. Another week or two should see us nearly done, then I will start laying in a properly planned food and toilet roll reserve. After all, just because there is nothing on the horizon it doesn’t men that there won’t be a plague, zombie apocalypse or meteor strike tomorrow…One growing trend we see in the shop is people buying silver and gold, particularly silver, because they fear for future instability. To be fair, these are people who, in general, also believe that covid is a government plot, vaccination is bad and that Bitcoin is as good as real money.

My view is that gold is a good long term investment, silver is a good, but less stable, investment and that Bitcoin is made up and is similar to the Emperor’s new clothes – as soon as someone catches a cold and finds it is all made up, the whole thing will collapse. Some people will have made big money from the credulity of others and millions of people will have financed the 21st century equivalent of the South Sea Bubble.

Vaccination, covid and Government plots are topics for another time. It’s Wednesday, which is my equivalent of the weekend, and I have things to do, which include being cheerful, ordering groceries on the internet and, of course, submitting more poetry. But first I must do the washing up. Julia has gone to get her hair done and was quite clear on me not sitting at the computer all morning.

Happy Christmas Everyone

Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, have a good day tomorrow. I’ve just been speaking to Number Two Son in Toronto. He has a couple of days of employment left until his job finishes, at which point the Canadian Government will start paying him enough for food and accommodation. He’s already on the trail of another job, so the unemployment may well be short lived.

If you judge the quality of a nation from the way it treats its lower level citizens (and let’s face it a tourist with a Geography degree and job experience at the lower end of the hospitality trade isn’t a high class immigrant) then Canada is looking pretty good. I am, of course, biased, as they are looking after him well. If he looked a touch more indigenous he might not be so lucky.

Despite my use of a stamp with traditional Christmas imagery, there has been no snow here, though there was some further north, and there were no carol singers either. However, we can still have goodwill to all mankind. Even IO can manage that for one day out of 365.

In the shop we had five parcels to do, which were, fortunately, all for UK addresses. The Royal mail has suspended a number of foreign services because they have so much mail accumulated, and so many closed borders. I’m sure that a few late parcels won’t spoil Christmas, but it’s a sign of the times when the world grinds to a halt.

A dealer came to call, and told us he’d been stopped on the way by police wanting to know the purpose of his journey. Clearly, murder, rape and robbery are all on the back-burner while they chase the real criminals. Rob the shop and they won’t even knock on your door in case they infringe your civil rights. Sneak in a quick visit to your grandma and you will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, unless you are one of the well-known exceptions.

First Official Air Mail Postcards

I was able to spend the rest of the morning researching the first scheduled air mail service in the world (September 1911 – London to Windsor) and Epps’s Cocoa, which was at one time the best selling brand in the UK. I would add links, but I don’t want to spoil you.

Epps’s Cocoa Nature Cards

Julia sends her regards too – though she’s rushing about worrying about Christmas being a “success”. We have each other, we have family, we have food, warmth and (somewhat dull) TV. We don’t really need anything more, but she always worries. I hope you all have a comfortable and unexciting day (we’ve already had too much excitement this year) and that next years shows a distinct upturn.


Writing with Spiders

Towards the end of my last post, using Classic Block in the new block editor, I ended up getting three blank screens and three error messages in the last couple of paragraphs.

I say “last couple of paragraphs” but according to the Block Editor, which seems to have  a fetish about paragraphs, the whole post was only one paragraph. It must be something about the way the block editor works that makes it all count as one paragraph, because there were definitely plenty of paragraphs in there.

At that point I contacted WP about cancelling my account. I had had enough. No matter what I think about the added button pressing or other things I could cope with that but the added random glitches and the sense that I was fighting with the machine were more than I could take.

It seemed that I was still able to cancel and get a full refund on next year.

I have the blog content downloaded.

I was going to leave an email address in one last post and make a note of various domain names and I was one key stroke away from cancelling when the helper on the chatline actually started trying to help.

The result is that I have now downloaded the plug-in version of Classic Editor. It’s not actually the last editor, but the one before that. I suspect it’s a way of really rubbing it in that those of us who want to stay retro have to suffer the indignity of being relegated to WP’s version of a spider infested dungeon.

Still, I’d rather talk to spiders than web developers…

It’s refreshing to be using a no-frills version once again, and very relaxing to sit here with something that does exactly what I want, and leaves it where I put it on the page. No random movements, no surprise tool bars or dialogue boxes, no  missing buttons and no sudden disappearances of a couple of hundred words.

This version counts my words and displays them at the bottom of the screen, and it saves automatically (which is something the other version seemed to have stopped doing some months back).

The only remaining problem I have is with WP’s management of the change.

I am not sure the change was necessary for a lot of people, who just come here to blog.

I’m not sure, from the strange faults I was getting, that it suits all set-ups (I’m still using XP and a variety of ancient bits and pieces. My computer equipment is getting on too.

I don’t like it that the new system requires more button pressing than the old one.

I don’t like having a change forced on me, particularly when I’m paying for a service.

I don’t like being told that WP are improving things for me, if only I wasn’t too stupid to appreciate it, which is the attitude that came across several times when I read a discussion thread.

Nor do I like the fact that they locked the discussion thread just before they forced me to change. I wasn’t even aware there was a programme of forced conversion until after it happened.

And I certainly don’t like that I’ve ranted my way through the last few days when I should have been writing about more interesting things.

The photographs are a bit slower than the last editor, which was bad enough, but I suppose I can get used to that. It’s only for 12 months, because I’m going to look for a new platform and start a new blog well in advance of the next renewal date.


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.


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.



Boxing Day

Number One Son cooked sausages for brunch and Julia cooked in the evening – gammon, bread sauce, roast potatoes, carrots, parsnips, brocolli and stir-fried red cabbage with apple, for those of you who like to know these things (and future researchers looking into the diet of 21st century Britain). We snacked on a few nuts, ate some Turkish Delight and I’m thinking of serving coffee and cake when I finish this post.

This evening I’ve written part of the post I keep promising about the Gibraltar £20 coin, but kept getting diverted by other things. I’m good at finding diversions.

That, apart from reading, playing Candy Crush, watching TV and pondering eternal questions like “Why am I so lazy?” has been my day.

In keeping with my theme of laziness I am now going to make the coffee, eat the cake and watch TV. Tomorrow I may well be a bit more active and open the cheese I bought for Christmas. So far, as we try to limit our over-eating, we haven’t actually had any cheese.

On Saturday I will return to work. I’m hoping that many regular customers will come to see us clutching money they have been given for Christmas.

A Change of Gear

I’m going to relax tonight. No ranting. No description of my dull day. No mention of rejection. This is Julia’s new rule. She decided she had to have a new rule to calm me down.

We were in traffic when a taxi driver, not satisfied with my progress, overtook me, sounded his horn and pulled back in front of me, causing me to brake, as there wasn’t a lot of room. I’m not sure what his problem was, as I was not, as far as I know, holding him up. I think he was just impatient.

I’m resigned to people rushing and driving badly, but I didn’t think the horn was necessary so when we caught up with him at the next hold-up (his hurrying having gained him no time at all), I positioned myself alongside and enquired as to the exact nature of his problem.

I am now in trouble for acting in an unbecoming manner, and have been ordered to calm down.

The header picture is a rugby club reflected in the wing of the car parked next to us at Tebay Services during our trip to the Lakes. The did, to answer the old chant, eat all the pies. This wasn’t their fault – the shop should have had a better stock.To be honest, it was a mixed blessing. We missed out on the excellent pies but we bought lunch elsewhere and didn’t need the normal small bank loan that shopping at Tebay normally requires.

The picture of the Small White is from the garden earlier in the week.


Small White on Red Valerian

The final picture is a poppy in the garden, still crumples as it has only just emerged from the bud. They always look like this when we leave in the morning. By the time we return home then petals have fallen. They are, in many ways, an unsatisfactory flower.

Poppy in the early morning

Poppy in the early morning

I feel calmer now…

Christmas Day

Day 79 of the Posting Challenge, or Christmas Day if you prefer. Twenty-one days to go.

After a lie in, TV, chocolate, nuts, snacks, nap and Muppets Christmas Carol I think it’s fair to say the day has gone well. We’re now watching Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special. I’ve also been looking at Michael Caine on Wikipedia and following links through a series of British character actors and dodgy 1950s films.

I’m now watching a programme on Christmas songs, eating turkey and drinking wine. It’s strange to think that I once wanted to be spritual and sophisticated.

Hope you’re all having a good holiday.


100 Posts 100 Days

Nose to the grindstone today!

Parcels, putting stuff on eBay, putting more stuff on eBay then packing more parcels. A day of symmetry if nothing else.

Fortunately I’d recharged my soul in advance – sitting in the garden with Julia for 20 minutes before setting off for the shop.

I’m setting myself some 100 day challenges, and the first one is to write 100 posts in 100 days. If I manage that, I may try to write 100 good posts in 100 days. The two things, as I’ve said before, are not necessarily the same thing.

I may post again later, but for now I’ll content myself with making sure I’ve posted today.

Holiday Time

Julia was on holiday today, a fact which she celebrated by waking up at 5am just like it was a working day. After a brief lie in she carried on the holiday frivolities with an outbreak of cleaning before making breakfast.

The woman just doesn’t know how to relax.

She could profit, in this respect, from watching how I do it.

When breakfast appeared I decided to join her.

It wasn’t quite as simple as that. It never is. First I tied my feet together whilst stepping into my pants, then I noticed I’d put my vest on back to front. Two items of clothing, two problems. Even toddlers do better than that. The process of putting my trousers on, which has often been attended by a certain amount of peril went without trouble this morning so at least something went right.

After that I did the laundry and the shopping. Reference to other blog posts that list my Sunday activities will reveal that Julia isn’t the only one who hasn’t quite got the hang of holidays.

I also managed to write up most of our visit to Cleethorpes as I need to catch up on my writing about pier visits.  That just leaves Skegness. I say that, but as you may have guessed, the holiday is likely to encompass a few pier visits and I’m likely to end the week with more of a backlog than I started with.

The trouble with my ambition to elevate procrastination to an art form is that there will always be a list of jobs to do.

I may write a haiku about procrastination, as it seems a suitably zen subject.

With any luck I’ll get round to it tomorrow…