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.
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.
Classic sign photo
Perspective is everything
Cancer of 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.
One of several ex-windmills in the area
Summer Day with Wires
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I backslid yesterday morning and went shopping on the way back from the hospital. I’ve let things slip a bit on the kitchen logistics and am short of a few things. This does not include carrots. We have enough carrots to eat them every day for the next week. In fact, we are going to have to eat them every day to make sure we get through them.
Julia made tea last night. I bought a bag of beansprouts while I was in the shop because they called me as I walked past. This was one of the high points, as were the four fresh rolls, the packet of ginger biscuits and the bunch of flowers. They didn’t have any decent marmalade, I didn’t see any mustard and there was, as usual, no flour.
It was tricky shopping because it was a spur of the moment thing and I didn’t have a list. I didn’t actually forget anything, but I did fail to find a few things that were probably there, such as the mustard. It was probably somewhere in the shop but it was Aldi and the aisles are narrow so going back would entail passing too close to people. At the best of times you get too close to people in Aldi, and there were several people shopping who didn’t seem too bothered about maintaining a proper distance.
The new flowers – artistic silhouette, or badly underexposed? The blue statice is the last survivor of the previous flowers.
I probably shouldn’t have gone shopping because we could have lasted until next week, but I’m beginning to crack under the pressure of lockdown. I did want a few supplies, and I did want to get something for Julia but I also, I admit, wanted to do something normal like shopping.
As you may be able to tell from the header picture, there is a possibility that Julia is feeling the pressure too. Look past the luscious fresh vegetables and the delicious chilli tomato sauce. Where, I ask, are the noodles you would normally expect with a stir fry? It did taste good with pasta, but it was a bit of a surprise.
I think the lockdown is starting to get to all of us in different ways…
Yesterday was probably rock bottom. I simply sat round doing very little and, just after midnight, I realised that I’d failed to post. In fact, I’d failed to do anything much.
I say it’s probably rock bottom, but I can’t guarantee this – there is always the chance it could be worse. At least I was still wearing trousers. I have a couple of pairs of jogging bottoms upstairs, so there is still potential to sink further.
Today I am wearing trousers and have already accomplished more than I had done by this time yesterday.
We did pop out yesterday afternoon, going to TESCO for our Click & Collect order. The system was slightly different from the one last week. We had to travel to Toton last week. They have a small building, two men and you load your own shopping. We went to Top Valley yesterday – they have a canopy with a van parked under it, one man and he puts it in the boot for you while you sit in the car.
Click & Collect Top Valley TESCO Nottingham
It only took 20 minutes and we only had contact with one man. It’s not a bad method of shopping. However, it did have one drawback as there were several items lacking. They take your money, they confirm they have it, they clearly have it in stock, but they don’t have a system for turning this into reality.
There was no flour. There was no bread kit. There was no marmalade. I have no clue why there should be a shortage of marmalade. There was plenty last time I shopped, and plenty of variety when I shopped online. I think we are looking at a failure in substitution rather than a failure in supply.
I bought white rolls, to make bacon cobs, which arrived squashed, which was disappointing. Even worse, the Belgian buns arrived crushed. I’d bought them as a special, sticky treat and was much put out when they arrived with the icing spread all over the packaging.
It’s yet another downside of shopping by remote control.
Despite this I still checked for a delivery slot on the internet. It’s become a habit, possibly even a fixation. And, again, after several disappointments, I managed to find a delivery slot at ASDA. It’s for 5th May, which is only 5 days after my previous slot, but beggars can’t be choosers. I could, in theory, have left it for someone else, and waited to see if I could get one for the 7th. However, nobody seems to have bothered leaving one for me over the last month, and they have been buying all the flour, so I pressed the button.
It’s nice to think that the current difficulties will make us all better people but I’m not sure this is going to be the case with me. The fact that I avoided panic-buying and bought modestly for the first few weeks of the shortages did not leave me with a good feeling. I should have felt good about my self-restraint, or at least felt neutral about the whole thing. But I didn’t. I felt vulnerable, short of food, and that all the smug, well-stocked panic-buyers, were, as usual, nicely placed while the rest of us suffered. At that point, if someone had suggested a re-run of the French Revolution, I would happily have joined in.
I’m not sure, after several weeks of stocking up, we actually need any more food. The fridge is rammed, we have tins balanced on shelves and I’m struggling to use carrots quickly enough.
As I said to Julia, it’s like shopping for Christmas. Over the years I have managed to hold things back so I only buy twice the food we need for the two days, but the last few weeks have weakened my self-discipline and I have bought too much of some things. I have too many vegetables and too many tins of things like Spam, haggis and corned beef, but I don’t have enough bread or marmalade, and I ran out of English mustard last night. I forgot all about ordering more so unless I find some in the back of a cupboard I’ll have to eke out the last quarter jar of Dijon, which is OK, but doesn’t make your eyes water. Mustard isn’t as much fun without the danger.
The pictures below are basically just weeds in what passes as a front garden – a poppy that had already started to fall apart by 2pm, red valerian that is budding up, and a dandelion. When the best flowers in the garden are dandelions you realise quite how much you have let things slip.
I had a great night’s sleep last night, and woke ready for my weekly shopping trip. We travelled across town, past the empty university and arrived at the supermarket at 8.15. There was already a queue.
Fortunately we had ordered the shopping via Click & Collect and there was only one car in front of us. As we finished packing, another car drew up behind us. Annoying as it is that I can’t get another slot, you have to admit that they are working to capacity. It looks like I will be having to queue with the oldies again next week.
Government advice is that the best thing to stop coronavirus is your front door. Next best, I suppose, is collecting your shopping from a Click & Collect bay where the two staff on duty stay well away from you. Shopping, even once a week, is a very poor third in the list – despite the limits on entry, the one-way system and the supposed social distancing. Last week I estimate I had around 20 people getting far too close, which defeats the point of staying isolated all week.
I have just finished breakfast (bacon, mushroom and black pudding in white cobs). It’s not a healthy breakfast but as long as I don’t eat it every day I don’t suppose it will do me too much harm. I could have eaten high fibre cereal and brown toast (again) but there is little point in being the fittest corpse in the coronavirus ward.
The best thing is that I was so hungry I could eat it all again. There’s something that always seems so virtuous about finishing a meal and still leaving room for more. I really ought to try it more often.
I’m considering beans on toast for lunch, possibly with tomatoes and eggs, which will mean I have managed a Full English Breakfast by installments.
The picture is a much-missed Little Chef breakfast. I would have been better off photographing my own breakfast but, let’s be honest, it never seems to last long enough to give me time to fetch the camera.