Tag Archives: shopping

The First Morning of the Rest of My Life

I think we’ve finally made the breakthrough in decluttering. It’s cost us many arguments, the serious erosion of my book mountain and, in my case, a very stiff back, but yesterday I could finally see it was beginning to look clear rather than simply redistributed, and I felt free. Well, freeish. There’s still a lot to do, but we are getting there. Even moving the car insurance is part of the new life. At one time I would have paid the exhorbitant rise simply because I don’t like change.

For those of you who noticed it, I’ll go back to my spelling of exhorbitant in a later post.

Today I dropped Julia off at work and went shopping in Lidl. I normally go to Aldi (the other budget German supermarket) but I thought I’d give a recently opened branch of Lidl the once-over. I needed a loaf of sliced bread. Bear that in mind as I describe my shopping technique.

My first stop was the bakery, where I selected four croissants for tomorrow’s breakfast, because they looked inviting. I bought two pain au chocolat because Julia likes them, a sourdough boule, a , some cobs for a sandwiches over the next couple of days, and, finally, a brown sliced loaf. I( sound very middle-class, don’t I? Apart from the fact that Lidl isn’t the natural home of the middle-classes.

It wouldn’t have been so bad if I’d stopped there, but I added sea bass (I hate fish but Julia loves it, and I’m still trying to make up for the lack of birthday presents, which are still in the post somewhere). Plus ham trimmings (which are a good, cheap sandwich filling), chocolates (see previous comment regarding birthday presents), butter (necessary for the sea bass), paracetamol (just in case of shortage) and some quinoa in microwavable pouches. Yep, definitely middle class…

I doubt I’ll go back. It was a poor shopping experience, despite the bakery. Too many customers with no masks, bossy checkout operator with no mask and a bad attitude, poor stock levels and obstruction of the aisles by staff.

I’ve also decluttered, written, drunk a bottle of Lucozade and filled the shredder, though I have stopped it before jamming it this time.

All in all, it’s not a bad morning, though I’m now starting to wonder if my new found energy is down to the psychological boost of decluttering or the 45g of sugar that the Lucozade label tells me I’ve just consumed. That’s 11 teaspoons according to the internet. Oh dear…

Speckled Wood

 

 

 

Ups and Downs

I’ve had two acceptances in the last few days, which has put me in a good mood. I’m now balanced on 50%, having had five out of my last ten submissions accepted. Last week it seemed like everything was sinking fast, with a small run of rejections but after a couple of acceptances it all looks a lot better. Such is the fragility of the writer’s ego.

Last week I was on the way out, and the frail bubble of my success was about to burst. Now I’m full of it, and full strength smugness is once again looming on the horizon.

At least I have ASDA to bring me back to earth. This week’s deliveries featured a number of items that I thought I had deleted from the order, and as a result I now have enough high fibre cereal to last until the New Year and enough ingredients to make ratatouille for a rugby team, though I’m not sure if rugby teams eat ratatouille.

Before you suggest it, the freezer is full, and has been crammed with all the extra bread that arrived.

It won’t pay off for them in the end, because I will cancel next week’s order and will do a small shop in person to buy the things we need, as we eat the last bits of this week’s order. Apart from ratatouille, my future is likely to feature quite a lot of vegetable soup.

We even got celeriac this week, after five unsuccessful attempts, which means I now have two, as I bought one on Tuesday.

One of my memories of 2020 is going to be the ups and downs of internet grocery shopping, mainly the downs, as it rarely fails to disappoint in some way. However, it does mean we don’t need to shop in a room full of coughing geriatrics and snotty kids, so it’s generally a good thing.

Study Number 1 - The Idiot

Soup and Quizzes

We had the standard soup using the bag of ready chopped veg and followed it up with a ham sandwich made using rye and sprouted grains. It was healthy and filling, though I will be adding a few stewed apples later just to top up.

I’m now blogging and watching Mastermind. I’m a bit slow tonight. I’ve often thought of applying for a TV quiz but never get round to it. This is partly because I’m lazy, but mainly because I doubt that my armchair brilliance would be repeated once I got to the studio.

It has now changed to Only Connect, as I am doing all sorts of things, apart from writing (in case you were thinking I was being slow. I’m not a great fan of the show as I don’t generally do well. However, it’s good mental exercise.

And even as I write that it ends and University Challenge starts. It’s a real quizzing fest tonight and I’m only getting away with it because Julia is distracted. Normally she puts her foot down and won’t let me watch three quizzes in a row. It’s a good night if I answer more than two or three questions. I’ve already answered three out of four, which is one more than the students. Could be a good night – sometimes I can watch a whole episode without even understanding a question. I’m now on six from eight. Things are looking up…

They are on chemistry questions now. I don’t even know what they are talking about.

Anyway, you don’t want a running commentary on me watching TV.

I just answered a chemistry question and am now doing badly at poetry. Just goes to show you never can tell.

I’m not honestly sure I have much to add. I went into two supermarkets today as I needed some specific things before we go into lockdown.  In TESCO there were three staff without masks and the spotty teenager working as a greeter kept pulling down his mask to talk to people. At Sainsbury’s the greeter didn’t even have a mask. Two staff on the tills had no mask, a manager was working with her mask pulled down under her chin and the four teenagers at the Argos counter were clustered together chatting with no masks.

No wonder we are having trouble.

Fish & Chip Friday

I must admit I woke with worries about the Cats of Salmon Brook Farm. I know they were packed and ready to move as the fires advanced, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for them all. Ideally the fires will magically die out as they get closer to the farm but I fear this may not be the case.

Julia had set her clock for 6.30 and I wasn’t able to get back to sleep, which allowed me more time to listen to the news. It seems that this country has sunk so low that even American politicians feel able to take the moral high ground from us.

I Googled “honest politician” and did find this man, so all is not yet lost. I do love this quote:

“People of Kentucky, you deserve complete honesty, so here it is. I don’t care about you. Unless you are a donor, a lobbyist who can write a big fat check, the result that you get from voting for me is negligible.”

If the Americans don’t want him, can we have him for the UK. I’d happily vote for him. As for the rest of them, I’m seriously thinking of giving up voting as it only encourages them.

We sold one thing overnight on eBay and another during the day, the second day in a row this has happened. It’s not good. We also got two stupid offers from people. I was on my best behaviour when I declined them, even though they were just wasting my time.

I then went shopping, ate chips, fell asleep in the chair and woke up just in time to post.

Signs of the Times

I’ve just had a cold sausage sandwich for lunch. It was made with seeded brown bread and Branston pickle. It was the second of the day as the first one had been so nice. The second was nicer, but I did feel guilty whilst eating it. I am, in case you hadn’t guessed, considering the idea of losing weight.

Earlier in the day I dropped Julia off at work, bought a new battery for my micrometer (better than a ruler for measuring coins and medallions), went to Hobbycraft to buy some art supplies for Julia and decided to have a ride in the countryside.

I selected the road between East Bridgford and Kneeton because it’s a pleasantly rural road which reminds me of the countryside where I grew up. Unfortunately the verges have been cut and it wasn’t a great day for plants and pollinators.

I did take some pictures of a bee and a few flies but that was about it. There were quite a lot of white butterflies about and one brown one, but nothing stopped long enough for a photo. Same goes for birds. Rural pigeons don’t sit still when people point things at them and apart from them a few swallows were the main birdlife, but again, they are a bit quick for an old man.

I will be back later to add more details and photos. Until then you can think on the curse of modern villages – the building of expensive homes that nobody local can afford. The posh new people who move in then start complaining about the noise and smells from farms. They think that the countryside is a massive playground when it’s really a factory with no roof.

This isn’t really a surprise as most of the newcomers think food comes from Waitrose rather than out of the ground.

I have just set my alarm to wake me when it is time to collect Julia. Based on last week my planned  “cup of tea in front of the TV” could be accompanied by closed eyes and snoring.

Getting Better

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This isn’t the post I said I was going to write, you’ll have to wait for that. This is the post that covers what I did today after posting the previous post and making breakfast.

We had people in on Monday to dismantle the sheds and associated ivy/brambles/honeysuckle at the back of the garden. It has been a great aid to security, privacy and wildlife over the last thirty years, including highlights such as the fox cubs and breeding blackcaps. There’s never a year goes by without at least one nest in it and this year it is great tits. It’s difficult getting anyone at the moment as everyone wants work doing after lockdown and it’s two or three weeks before they can get back to finish off. This fits in well with the great tit family which should be fledged and away by the time we destroy their habitat.

When it’s all done I’m going to plant a mixed hawthorn and blackthorn hedge, which should provide a good habitat over the coming years.

For the moment it’s left a bit of  a hole in the fence and though we’ve plugged it, it isn’t very elegant. As the house is home to a curious beagle I was going to make a better job of it today, so after breakfast I set off. I’ve just been told to increase my dose of Methatrexate to the maximum level. It seems to be working as I have use of my hands and my feet are a lot better too. However, it does mean that I worry about the effect of suppressing my immune system.

When I got to my first call in search of stout stakes and chicken wire I was presented with a queue of people which was positively festering in a shopping centre with the micro-climate of a tropical butterfly house. To be honest, it’s just the atmosphere a virus needs to spread, so I left.

The next shop I tried had a longish queue and I tried two builder’s merchants too. The queue at one of them contained more people than I’d ever seen in the shop before (I used to be in regularly when I was a jobbing gardener and it rarely had more than six people in. There were 18 in the queue. All these queues were outdoors, but after my activity on Monday when we took the shed down my knee is still a bit tender and doesn’t respond well to a lot of standing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Water Lily

Before returning home I went to Aldi where the usual bunch of idiots managed to get into my social exclusion zone, including one of the managers who entered via the exit as I was leaving and was so close I could feel their slipstream. I bought ripe avocados, which were made an excellent lunch.

After that I emailed the lady behind us to say I’d be a day or two later than planned with the fence, clipped the front hedge (I said my hands were better – I couldn’t have done this two weeks ago) and dead headed the poppies.

I tried to order the posts and wire I wanted online but, just like a supermarket, they take the order and then, as you pay, tell you that two items are out of stock. I was only ordering three items, so I wasn’t impressed.

I had to take Julia to hospital for a scan as a follow-up to the pre-lockdown episode and, when I returned there were two emails and a brown envelope for me (marked as being from the Tax Office).

The news is that the lady behind us has offered to do the patching of the fence, which will save me a lot of hassle because I’m working Thursday, Friday and Saturday. They could find no immediate fault with Julia, though they may find fault later after properly examining the results. The Tax Office want to give me £16 back, as I have over-paid.

This is all good, and a welcome lifting of the gloom that has been gathering around me over the last few months.

The second email was from a local literacy project (I emailed them last night to make sure I actually volunteered  instead of just intending to volunteer, as I so often do). They  aren’t doing much at the moment, but will be in touch when they are ready for more interviews and training.

Then, just to settle myself down after all this happiness, I spent an hour on the computer arranging tomorrow’s grocery delivery. This is an improvement on last week when I actually forgot to do it. Fortunately we had plenty in to last an extra week.

Only a few repeated photos, I have no new photos to share.

The Scent of Roasting Vegetables

As I sit and type, I can smell roasting vegetables. From the window by the computer night is coming. The cloud formations are becoming more dramatic (dark centres and glowing edges picked out by the sun) and the sky is turning a delicate pink.

There is a fresh feeling to the air, which is a pleasant relief after 24 hours of rain and flash floods. At this time last night it was almost dark as the rain clouds piled up and squeezed the daylight out.

If I ever win the lottery and am in the position to design my own house, I will build myself an office next to the kitchen. It seems to be the perfect place. This would be improved only if I could build the kitchen somewhere warm. England is a wonderful place, but it’s not the best climate for my aching bones.

I’ve just given the vegetables 15 minutes and have now put the pies in. This gives me another 20 minutes to write. I’m afraid culinary standards have fallen a bit over the last week or two. We ran out of bread this week, because we have had eight days since the last delivery, and because I am making more sandwiches now that I am back at work. Julia will be in the gardens tomorrow so she will need sandwiches too.

On the way back from work I popped into Aldi. There was no queue, though people, as usual, were not shopping well. Too many people taking too long to decide, and shopping in  an unstructured way. This isn’t shopping at an exotic tourist market, this is shopping in a budget supermarket. We aren’t spending a leisurely afternoon watching artisans at work – this is industrial style shopping. Or, to speak plainly, get in, follow the flow, fill your trolley and get out. And in particular – don’t spend ten minutes selecting a loaf of bread whilst stopping me getting to it. Buy your bread and get out of my way – I have better things to do than standing patiently and breathing your germs.

Over the last few months shopping has become, in my mind, a dangerous sport on a level with skydiving and mountaineering. Like those two activities, it is made more dangerous by stupid people. Two stick in my mind. They were talking in a gangway and making it awkward for everyone else to get round. One had a trolley crammed with things that should have had a sign that said “Welcome to Diabetes” and the other was saying “Are we allowed to bring people shopping with us now?”

I presume that was relating to the relaxation of restrictions and the formation of a “social bubble”. You can probably gauge her level of intelligence from the fact that she felt in need of assistance to take things off a shelf and put them in a trolley.

The timer has just gone. I will add broccoli now, make gravy and stun my wife with yet another example of  how to cook with minimal effort.

The picture is very much like every other picture of pie, roast veg and gravy I’ve published before. Sorry I’m not more interesting.

Food notes – yes the broccoli was a bit past its best, and don’t buy the ALDI Chicken and Ham Hock pie unless you like looking for three bits of meat in a mass of gravy. They charge a price in the upper range for a pie, but they don’t deliver. The crust is the most impressive part of it,or possibly the packaging. Definitely not the filling. This, to me, is the wrong way round.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sunset over Sherwood

ASDA Disaster!

As I said yesterday, I spent a lot of time amending my ASDA Click & Collect order. I added my payment details and ensured I had the conformation email. Everything was, as the Americans say, copacetic. Actually, from what I see on WordPress, they don’t say it. But they could do. It’s one word I wouldn’t mind them importing into English.

Things took a distinct turn for the worst when we arrived. At ASDA you park up then use their app to tell them you have arrived. A what? I don’t do apps. I did it the old-fashioned way, catching the eye of a staff member and asking for help.

As they brought the shopping across I felt a deep depression settle on me.

My order was  for over £60, including things for the stock cupboard and a few bits for neighbours. What was coming to us across the car park was a small box with just over a dozen items, including some that I’d cancelled the night before.

They had clearly not processed the new order. They had sent me an email to tell me that the order had been amended and I had, foolishly, not checked the rest of the email, which detailed the order. When I returned home and checked, the “amended order” was not, in fact, amended. It was just the old order repeated.

I won’t bore you with too much detail.

The man on the helpline (after I had spoken to three other people, including an idiot) told me it was obviously a “technical matter”, that there was no way for him to provide me with the food I had ordered and that “there’s nothing I can do,”

I will remember this in future.

In fact I will remember it in two weeks. I have another Click and Collect order with ASDA in two weeks, but I’ve also managed to get a TESCO delivery slot two days after that. It’s very tempting to cancel the ASDA order. I don’t like doing it, as I am a man of my word. On the other hand they let me down badly today and refused to make things right.

Fortunately I’ve managed to arrange things over the last month so that we have enough food to last us until the next delivery. It means we are out of mustard, short on marmalade, and low on cheese, but have plenty of toilet roll, pasta and longlife milk.

However, I’ve just been watching the news from Brazil. Their President makes Boris Johnson look like a statesman, and President Trump is an intellectual giant in comparison. In terms of counting our blessings, let’s just reflect that it could be a lot worse.

It was an an unpleasant, cold, grey day today, though it’s supposed to improve tomorrow.

And that concludes the miserable, moaning diary entry for today. I thought I’d use some rainbow photos as they are a symbol of the lockdown.

abstract abstract expressionism abstract painting acrylic paint

Photo by Steve Johnson on Pexels.com

 

 

Lockdown Diaries

My diary for yesterday – 29 April 2020. I’m writing it in the early hours of the next day after a full day of loafing. I thought I’d have a go at writing a diary so I can look back in years to come. I also means that I can moan in this one and write a soup recipe in the other post.

Despite my commitment to earlier rising I managed to roll over and go back to sleep after Julia got up. This is becoming a habit and something I need to avoid. It started as a matter of practicality  – I would let everyone else in the house use the bathroom and dress before rushing round, eating breakfast prepared by Julia and then giving her a lift to work.

It has, over the years, become less a matter of practicality and more a matter of laziness. I am also finding, with having arthritis, that it isn’t so easy to rush in a morning. I used to resemble a meercat, bright and busy, but I now move like a tectonic plate. The grating in my knees and back adds to the impression of geological motion.

My back has been particularly bad for the last three days and I’m having trouble getting around. I am using my stick even to get round the house. Last week I had trouble with my knees and ended up wearing a knee brace. I seem to be falling apart by installments.

When I finally creaked downstairs the post had already been and I had a letter about a telephone consultation with rheumatology. I’m beginning to wonder why we can’t always do it by phone, apart from blood tests and X-Rays. Later in the day I had a phone call to tell me the blood tests results were OK and I could start taking the Methotrexate. This was an exact copy of the call I had yesterday, They are trying to patch a service together using part-time staff and staff out of retirement, and there are a few rough edges. On the other hand, it’s not a great problem to get an extra phone call – it’s a lot better than not getting the results at all, which, unfortunately, has happened in the past.

The Methotrexate has several side effects, and I think I may have one of them as my stomach is giving trouble. After taking the pills last night (you take six on one day and then take a vitamin pill on the other six days) I did not feel very well. On the other hand it may be coincidence. The vitamin pills are to help counter some of the drug’s side effects. You know you have problems when you have to take pills to protect you from the other pills you are taking.

If I had my life over again I would look after my health and my money more sensibly. And my wife.

I made soup for lunch, which I have already written about.

plastic container with fruits and vegetables on green grass

Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

Later I went online and finalised my grocery order. We have a Click & Collect order to pick up tomorrow and, as it’s difficult to order groceries two weeks in advance, it needed quite a lot of alteration. You have to secure a slot as soon as it becomes available and worry about the details later.

I did put in an order two weeks ago and haven’t been able to alter it until now. The original order had 19 items and they were unable to supply five of them. I cancelled some things and added others. When I went to checkout I found four of the items were out of stock, including the flour. Twenty minutes and they were already cancelling things…

I went back to the flour to look for alternatives and there were none, However, they were still showing my original selection to be in stock. I thought I’d order it again just to check. It was out of stock when I got back to checkout. I am thinking bad thoughts about ASDA.

Six weeks after the panic buying and I still can’t buy flour. I also had trouble with eggs, baked beans and tinned chickpeas. Makes you wonder about the “robust supply chains” they claim they have.

The ASDA site even asks if you can go round the shop instead of using the delivery or collection services. To be honest, no. If I do click and collect or delivery I meet one or two people, who keep well away from me. Mathematically that’s a lot better than walking round a shop full of people who walk too close.

I’m not a great worrier, but I’ve decided on a strategy and I’m going to keep to it.

person holding silver blister pack

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

 

I rose a little earlier than usual this morning, which is part of my new plan. It is necessary, after weeks of casual slacking, to return to the world. Rising earlier will help me get more work done, and if I get up fifteen minutes earlier each day I won’t notice the gradual change. By the time I go back to work I will be rising with the lark and facing the day with fortitude. Not that we have a lot of larks in Nottingham, in the morning or, indeed, at any time of the day.

As I descended, ready for the day, the post arrived. I now have a new supply of bran for the bokashi bucket. We are producing a lot more vegetable waste these days as a result of healthy eating. As we gradually work our way through the carrots I am also peeling more – there’s something very unappetising about the skin of an aging carrot.

I will be finalising our shopping list later in the day, and carrots won’t be on it.

The second parcel contained masks. I’ve only bought ten, but I thought I’d get a few just in case. Government advice is still that we don’t need them, but this might change and it’s easier to wear a proper mask than make one from a handkerchief and two rubber bands.

face mask on blue background

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

In the evening, acting on Tootlepedal’s advice, I watched some improving TV. First I watched a painting programme, which would have been useful if I had any talent for painting. Then I did the washing up while Julia watched an Andy Warhol exhibition at the The Modern. We then sat down for two programmes about Philip Larkin. He was an interesting though slightly repellent character, but I knew that. The first programme was by someone who had known him and was quite interesting. The second was by someone who had trained as an actor before becoming an academic. That one was interesting because it showed how an academic can build a media career.

Just after midnight I checked in with TESCO, which has no delivery or collection, and ASDA, which did have a collection slot. I did some ordering then had a look at the list for our Thursday collection. It’s hard doing the shopping by remote control.