Tag Archives: shopping

An Interesting Day

It’s been an interesting day. I suppose the title gave that away. I, of course, use the word “interesting” in the same way that a prostate exam is an interesting procedure – it grabs your attention and you suffer from flashbacks.

Just after midnight I trawled the internet looking for a supermarket with a delivery or collection slot. Number One Son had told me to try this time as they release the slots just after midnight.

There were no TESCO delivery slots in the next three weeks, so I tried Click & Collect. There was just one slot in the next three weeks – next Wednesday. What I didn’t realise when I started was that I was going to struggle quite so badly with the website (which seems very badly designed) and the speed of my ancient netbook. This meant it took me two hours to place an approximate order. I had to call it a day before getting everything right as you only have a limited time to secure the time slot.

This meant I didn’t get to bed until after 3.00, and had to get up at 8.00. I was in the queue at TESCO just before 9.00 and complaining by 9.02. It seems that there was no queue last Wednesday, but today the queue stretched around 100 yards and, despite being a slot dedicated to “the elderly” was dotted with people who were clearly in their 30s and 40s.

It also went past the door of a pharmacy and people were going in as we queued, sometimes without bothering about social distancing.

Eventually they allowed the line to move and we all went in. They seemed to have been keeping us back so they could let us go in one lot. Not sure why this is seen as better than letting us go as space became available in the shop but I’m sure that TESCO know what they are doing. (That’s an example of sarcasm, for those of you who don’t know TESCO).  The security guards asked a few people to step out of the line until “the elderly” were all in. It seems that the queue was for people of 65 and over. I was rather upset when they let me in, to be honest, do I really look over 65? I’m only 61!

It was quite easy shopping, despite a few people who can’t follow a simple arrow system or work out what six foot looks like (or two metres for you young ‘uns). It’s quite un-nerving to turn round and find someone lurking a foot away, particularly if that person is a member of staff, who definitely should know better. Yes, the staff picking internet orders from the shelves were the worst offenders.

I’m so incensed by that that I nearly used an exclamation mark. That would be two more than I normally use, and one more than I’m prepared to let by. Surprise, or indignation, is all very well, but I always feel moderation in punctuation is the way to go. Otherwise you start to look like you are writing sale placards for a shop.

It took just over an hour to buy too much food, and find that they didn’t have paracetamol or flour in stock. Again. They did have courgettes (though not many) and cauliflowers, which they didn’t have online when I tried in the early hours. On the down side, I had to have smooth peanut butter instead of crunchy and there was no decent marmalade. More for my list of First World Problems.

It was a bit annoying because I had to unload the trolley from the end of the belt. I prefer to be more organised than that – working from the middle and organising things as I go. It wasn’t even necessary – there was plenty of room for me to have moved along without getting too close to anyone. However, I suppose staff are happier if they feel in charge of their situation.

Some blossom is showing

Some blossom is showing

Looking on the really bright side – it must be annoying to still be working when the erst of us are on “holiday”.

By that time my left foot was throbbing quite badly. My feet have swollen a bit recently, with so much sitting. This means that my foot overlaps the edge of the moulded sole. After half an hour the edge starts to resemble a knife blade, rather than a shoe.

By 10.30, as I limped back to the car, I just wanted to go home to sit down and drink tea.

It was 19 degrees Centigrade (66 F) by this time, which was pleasant, but a bit warm for a man who had dressed for a cooler day. I was becoming dehydrated, as I hadn’t had a drink before leaving home. My theory is that if I don’t have a drink, I won’t need to find a toilet while I’m out. The thought of tea and a nice sit-down became more appealing as I thought about it…

So, you ask, did you give up, you appalling snowflake?

No, I didn’t. I thought of Henry V, I thought of the Thin Red Line (the real one, not the film) and I wondered what would have happened if Captain Oates had been put off by a sore foot.

If they could do it, I decided, so could I. So I battled with the air pump to inflate my tyres, topped up with diesel and went to the pharmacy. I even snatched a few photos, though they are of merely documentary value, rather than being uplifting or artistic. It didn’t seem a particularly onerous set of tasks when put it in context. The pharmacy queue was not as long as last week. It was, in fact, about five minutes, which is better than normal in non-virus times. It would have been nice if they had got things right, but you can’t have everything.

Then I went home for a cup of tea and a sit-down.

The rest of the day passed with TV, blogging, phone calls and a refreshing nap. Well, two refreshing naps, to be honest, one to catch up and one that I would have had anyway. Julia cooked tea (roast gammon, potatoes, parsnips, carrots, sprouts, squash and Yorkshire puddings with gravy) and as I finish this off she is running on the spot in the hallway as part of her fitness routine.

I think this is the first time I have written a post over 1,000 words. It’s certainly the first I’ve posted one that length without splitting it up. Sorry about the verbosity, I suspect that blogging expands to fill the available time. Is anyone else experiencing this?

 

 

 

Tales from Lockdown

“Amateurs talk about tactics, but professionals study logistics.” – Gen. Robert H. Barrow, USMC (Commandant of the Marine Corps) noted in 1980

Julia has had a lecture from Number One Son. She let something slip about her trip to hospital and he wanted to know why she hadn’t told him. I’m beginning to know what my grandparents felt like when my parents told them off for various misdemeanours (like the time we called on my grandmother and found her standing in the kitchen sink to replace a light bulb).

I have a fairly hands-off approach to the care of the elderly and, as with my child rearing, feel that they turned out well despite my neglect.

Anyway, Number One Son and his partner sent Julia flowers. That is what is in the picture. I’m not actually sure whether partner is accurate, because nobody ever tells me anything. I’m considered to be “tactless”. However, he’s been hanging round with her for several years now and she hasn’t applied for a restraining order so I deduce that they may be an item.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We bought the curtains at a car boot about 15 years ago

Then it was my turn, as he texted me to make sure we had enough food in.

Ha! Do I look like I’m going to let myself starve? I read a quote recently – you can see it at the top of the post. It applies to many other things too. The fight against coronavirus shows how important it is to have the right equipment. The food shortages show how important it is to have strong supply chains.

Anyway – I have enough food to eat well for the next two weeks. After that I will run out of bread and milk, so will have to have black tea and make porridge with water (yes, I know that’s the proper way, but I do like milk). After that I have food for two more weeks eating out of cans and packets – including Spam and canned haggis. I’m pretty sure there are enough odds and ends for a few days beyond that too, but they really don’t bear thinking about.

At the moment I still can’t get a food delivery for this month, so I’m going shopping on Wednesday morning. TESCO has a Wednesday morning slot for the elderly and infirm. If it cuts down on queuing I have no pride.

The top two pictures show the flowers and, regrettably, the Car Boot curtains we bought about 15 years ago. Garish, dated, but functional and cheap.

The other shows roasted veg (carrot, parsnip, leek and broccoli) with cauliflower and cheese sauce. I made the sauce like Welsh Rarebit, hence the yellow colouring – it’s from the mustard.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My tea tonight

 

 

The Back of the Cupboard

It is five days since I last went shopping, and we are planning a new expedition. I’m not looking forwards to it – I don’t really want to queue around the outside of the shop as they allow us to enter one at a time for a tour of the empty shelves. We have tried ordering home delivery, but can’t find a delivery slot – they are all booked up for weeks to come.

I won’t carry on with this complaint as I’ve said it all before, but I am confused as to why the shelves are still empty despite the restrictions on buying.

I feel a bit guilty about buying more food while we still have plenty, but it’s a question of quality rather than quantity. We have food, in the sense of having things to eat, but in terms of having a proper balanced diet we are nearly out of a number of staples.

To manage our food more efficiently I have been checking the backs of the cupboards. I didn’t find Narnia but I did find some mango chutney to go with my previous discoveries. I even found a tin of rice pudding whilst I was shuffling packets and counting tins.

We have, I think, enough food for three weeks, if I really push it. Unfortunately, this is only one week of balanced meals, as we are running out of fresh vegetables. It won’t include bread, as we are about to run out. Nor, soon, will it include milk, eggs, or salad. Our vegetable stew will be served without dumplings due to a lack of flour.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Happier Days…

Week Two will see us running out of fresh fruit and relying on tinned vegetables – beans, mushy peas and sweetcorn. Sadly, the fish fingers and tinned mushy peas will be served without potatoes, which are in short supply. The cheese will have gone by the end of the week. On a brighter note, we will have plenty of marmalade, though without toast to put it on this is a mixed blessing. If we have any surplus cheese biscuits I will try them with marmalade.

Week Three will see some real culinary horrors as the tinned haggis comes into play, teamed up with chick peas and lentils. I bought two tins of haggis when I was worried about Brexit but haven’t been able to face actually eating them.

Julia told me that there is a spoof email doing the rounds, and taking advantage of the fear of food shortages. It promises tins of pork, but people are advised not to open it as it’s just spam.

Sorry about that – when Julia told me I couldn’t stop laughing. We have a tin of spam on the shelf next to the haggis. We will have to see if I’m still laughing when we are reduced to eating it.

Haggis and root vegetables

Haggis and root vegetables

 

 

 

A Week I Wouldn’t Want Again (Part 2)

The day after the hospital trip we both had the day off. Julia didn’t feel like doing much so we sat at home and watched TV. Little did we realise, but within days this would become official Government advice.

After an hour I cracked and went out. I had errands to run and, as Julia pointed out, although I was trying to be solicitous and empathetic, I can be irritating in large doses. It was a bit of a strain for me too, as solicitude and empathy are not my natural territory. I tend more towards grumpy and sarcastic.

Julia decided to go to the gym while I was out, but after walking to the bus stop decided that was enough exercise for the day.

Thursday followed much the same pattern, though this time I went to work and Julia walked to the shop with a borrowed shopping trolley in search of vegetables for tea. There was still a reasonable selection of goods on the shelves, apart from toilet rolls and pasta, but we have plenty of toilet rolls and enough pasta so why worry?

There was, at that time, no sign of the Government descending into headless chicken mode, or the impending retail apocalypse.

On Friday Julia was back in hospital having a number of tests, including two brain scans which found nothing.

When she told me that, I smirked.

“You’re going to use that as a joke on the blog aren’t you?” she said. She has a low opinion of me as a humourist.

“No,” I said. “What sort of man would make light of his wife’s ill health.”

I think we all know the answer to that question.

The flowers – primroses and forget-me-nots – are from the Mencap garden. We are on holiday at the moment but nipped down just to check everything was alright.

 

A Better Sort of Day

It was a better day today.

The tree is topped, the pigeons are inspecting the result, and the neighbour across the road has said she is already missing the view. She liked it as it was. This proves you can’t please all the people all the time.

The tree fellers have done a good, tidy job, despite there being just the two of them. (If you pretend to say “tree fellers” with an Irish accent the last line will make more sense. That same accent also explains why Leicester Tigers’ Billy Twelvetrees was known as Thirty Six.)

To make things even better, they worked quickly and charged less, so it was an economical sort of day.

Work went well, starting with me getting there early and taking loads of photos for the presentation. It’s only five or six days away, depending if you count Monday as one of the days.

That click you may have heard then is the sound of tension moving up another notch…

After work I had to go shopping. I lost the stylus that goes with Julia’s tablet, and she can’t use it by using a finger tip like I do. Did I mention I lost the stylus? She did. About a dozen times a night for the last two nights. It was getting to the point where I either had to go shopping (which I don’t like) or commit murder. I’m pretty sure they don’t allow WordPress in prison so I decided to go shopping.

The first shop stocks them, but had sold out. The second didn’t stock them. The third only had one left. At this point the full horror of coronavirus struck home – when China sneezes the whole world of cheap consumer goods catches a cold. (If it develops into a pandemic, with people falling dead in the street, this will probably seems like an unfortunate turn of phrase, but at the moment it seems apposite).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Magpie, shortly after being bested by a Gull

In the car park of the first one I saw two Magpies engaging in a tug of war with a packet of crisps, and reached for my camera. By the time I had switched it on a Black-headed Gull had swooped and taken the bag. The Magpies are looking shiny, and the Gulls are developing their (chocolate brown) heads. Spring cannot be far away, despite the plunging temperatures.

I have found out why hand gel and soap is in short supply – local school head teachers have, it seems, being laying in massive stores of it. Because nothing averts a pandemic like panic buying and hand gel.

 

Now, where was I?

As far as the blog is concerned I’m eating cake in Derbyshire. In real life I am back in Nottingham, where I passed three increasingly unpleasant days at work and finally had a day of rest.

Today, Sunday, I had a lie in, read, shopped, snacked, snoozed and cooked.

As I speak, I am on the verge of serving ratatouille with Lincolnshire sausages, and also have a pan of vegetarian cottage pie filling simmering away. Tomorrow we will have the pie, with a topping of mash, and on Wednesday we will have the remains of the ratatouille, probably with a baked potato.

We used to serve Italian style sausages with the ratatouille (Italian style meaning British sausages with Italian flavoured fillings) but they cost more and didn’t taste as good as a Lincolnshire sausage.

They are also better for use in sandwiches, and tomorrow we will have sausage sandwiches for lunch.

And that, for the benefit of future researchers, is the way middle-aged  men and their wives spent their winter Sundays in the early 21st Centuries. By the early 22nd Century you will probably need a license to own a sausage, or at least pay a punitive tax, and the use of plastic wrappings will be superseded by the use of potato-starch substitutes which can be composted or used as a topping on pies.

TESCO Top Valley - an hour later

TESCO Top Valley – an hour later

While I was looking for a potato starch/plastic links I found this one. It’s one of my favourite subjects, but I wouldn’t advise reading it if you are eating. In the 22nd Century people will probably wonder why we ever thought cremation was a good idea.

Back to work.

On Thursday I was referred to as “disabled” by my co-worker. It’s funny what goes through people’s minds. We were discussing whether coin dealers would have made it to heaven in Egyptian times as we spend a lot of times destroying dreams when people ring up with a “valuable” coin. I checked this up – I think we’re OK. If you read this, it’s about doing good deeds, not necessarily about valuing coins.

We moved on to Christianity and he asked me if I thought I would still be disabled in Heaven or if all would be corrected. This was news to me, as I didn’t realise I was disabled. Anyway, as I pointed out, we don’t go to Heaven after we die, we have to wait for the general resurrection and, theologically, only need a skull and two femurs (the Skull and Crossbones) to gain eternal life, so I’m not sure a dodgy knee comes into play at any time.

I then asked him if he saw me as “disabled”. He changed the subject.

We then move on to a couple of days of him continually arguing with the shop owner about minor details of what we do. It’s like being in the middle of a divorcing couple. Fortunately I was given a set of ear plugs last week (the reason is too long and involved to explain) so on Saturday afternoon I put them in. It helped cut out some of the noise.

 

Sometimes, when there is no other subject, I take pictures of wheels.

Another Routine Sunday

I eventually prised myself from bed just after mid-morning. I had been up earlier but my back was so stiff I’d gone back to bed to get some warmth and do some straightening exercises. At that point I fell asleep and, as I say, reluctantly emerged. I’m tempted to say “like a butterfly from a chrysalis” but that wouldn’t be an entirely accurate picture.

We breakfasted on what was supposed to be smashed avocado and eggs on toast but Julia is such a gentle soul the avos were no more than moderately roughed up. It’s a shameful thing to do, offering any sort of violence to an avocado – they should really be filled with prawns and thousand island dressing. Or mayonnaise with ketchup, which is my version. However, this is the modern way and Julia likes it so who am I to complain?

After that we had toast and marmalade whilst watching The Hound of the Baskervilles. It was the 1988 TV version with Jeremy Brett. I like him as Holmes, but there are several other versions of the story which I prefer. Holmes really should be in black and white.

Then it was off to the laundry for Julia and off to the supermarket for me.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Shopping

The laundry was crowded, because it was a dull wet day. The supermarket was not crowded, but the people in it all seemed to be on a mission to get in my way.

That was the first part of then day. On our return I wrote the first 240 words in twenty minutes as I cooked pie and beans for a meal that was a mixture of late lunch and early tea.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

View from the Driving Seat

I then frittered the rest of the afternoon in front of a fire, watching quizzes, snoozing and drinking tea. No, not all at the same time.

It is now 8.00. Washing up is done, the roast vegetable as are in the oven for tonight’s meal and the ones for tomorrow are boiling as I type. We will be having gravy tonight as we eat roast veg, Lincolnshire sausages and Yorkshire puddings.

Monday night’s veg will, with the addition of last night’s rice (which is currently frozen, to avoid food poisoning) and some other bits, will provide another go at veggie burgers. I will have two on Tuesday night with ratatouille (Julia is dining out for a birthday celebration) and on Wednesday we will both have veggie burgers and ratatouille. My capacity for repetition of meals means I can happily eat the same thing for three or four days if necessary.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You could chart my life from pictures like these

The timer just went off – time for a trip to the kitchen, where mounds of steaming vegetables are waiting for me.

Later I will return to load some photos and publish the post.

The writing has taken 37 minutes according to the kitchen timers I had running at the time. I bet the photos and Tagss take at least another 20, if not more.

This blog hates me – it’s just taken twelve trouble-free minutes to do the photos and Tags. It’s trying to make me look like a liar by doing everything the easy way…