Tag Archives: shopping

Cold Night, and Cake

It’s 4.30, it’s cold and I am too tight to put the heating on. So I’m going to write 250 words as quickly as I can and withdraw to the living room. I don’t mind putting the fire on in the living room because we will both be there most of the evening, which seems a much better use of the heating.

I have been looking at my submissions. There have been none in November. To be fair there wasn’t really anywhere to submit to and I did have two weeks where I was devoting most of my time to thoughts of my internal workings after my unexpected trip to hospital.

That’s where my plan ground to a halt, as Julia needed to go to the shop and I thought it was cold and dark and not the sort of night for her to be out shopping. So I drove her down to the shop. 

I’m back at the keyboard now, still cold, and still trying to write as quickly as I can. As a result of our trip to the shop we now have cake, so the kettle is one and I really want to get done as quickly as possible so I can pay proper attention to the comestibles.

So, there I am – I have done no writing in November.  I also found, when looking at the list of submissions for December, that two of them are in the wrong month – they should be in January.  I really do need to get organised.

Whilst I was in the car park I rang Julia to tell her where I was parked. The phone wouldn’t ring out. I tried my sister to see if it was just a fault with ringing Julia, but it wouldn’t ring her either. Then I tried to text. That wasn’t working either, but it did advise me there was a problem and I should insert a SIM.  This was annoying, as there is a SIM in the phone. It won’t come out until I am eventually forced to change my phone again, or until the kids sell all my possessions on eBay after the funeral.

However, as proof that I can cope with modern technology if forced, I switched it off and I switched it one again.

It worked.

Bloody useless pile of garbage. How is this an advance on my 100% dependable old Nokia? I used to empty the soil out a couple of times year, drop it regularly and never had a moments grief from it. Phones should be better now, not worse.

Night falls . . . well, to be accurate, night fell, as the photo is about 5 years old.

The Instincts of a Magpie

So soon after saying that I was rarely at a loss for a subject I find myself staring at a blank screen. The state of the screen is not mirrored by the jumble inside my head, which is as full as ever, but the mix of thoughts doesn’t have a single coherent one.

The visit to the nurse went reasonably well.

The ASDA grocery order has turned up and although there are a few substitutions they are fairly sensible. We are now officially provisioned for Christmas, apart from Yorkshire puddings. I seem to have ordered frozen batter rather than frozen puddings. They aren’t actually difficult to cook from scratch, but I’ve become lazy over the years. Plus they take up less room in our small oven. Five minutes before the end I tend to throw in the Yorkshires on top of the roasting veg and all is good. Cooking from scratch is a little trickier and you need a spare shelf in the oven, which I don’t usually have at Christmas.

I will have to keep them frozen for now (which is a nuisance as the freezer is already full) and juggle with the oven space somehow. Maybe I will cook them first then reheat them. Maybe just cook more things on top of the cooker.

Christmas is always a test of ingenuity.

Maybe we should just eat less.

A local fundraising flag

Meanwhile, despite a few setbacks on eBay I am still managing to buy. It really will be a nightmare for my family sorting all this out if I die without getting it organised. Latest purchase is a selection of Great War fundraising flags. There are some common ones in the selection, but overall it is good value. It’s one of those areas where I used to buy a few every year. Since eBay came along I could buy some every week, so I have to limit myself

The pictures are some I already own. The ones I bought today weren’t quite as nice as this. The titles are a bit random as they relate to a previous post.

Horses were popular too


Other side of the horse flag

A Deviation from Perfection

“The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men / Gang aft a-gley.”

It was one of Scotland’s greatest writers who said that. Not Tootlepedal this time, but Burns. As I said in a reply to a comment about the last post, things did not go to plan.

Recently I have started ordering pies from the supermarket because it allows me to do my normal roast veg and throw a pie in the oven at the same time. Adds a bit more variety to the menu and still keeps things quick and easy. Unfortunately, this week, I ordered frozen pies and Julia didn’t notice as she put them in the fridge. I had selected on price and not noticed the blue snowflake that denotes a frozen item. There is a lesson in this.

Instead of being 20 minutes or so, this meant that pie took nearly an hour to cook, despite being thawed. We ate late and we had a pie with floppy pastry. Not my finest hour and yet another lesson in links between price, convenience and not reading the details.

Tomorrow will be pasta bake (prepared this afternoon) then pie and veg again on Tuesday (will try to think of a way to cook the pie properly this time) then vegetable soup for Wednesday lunch using leftover roasted veg. Wednesday night we will have vegetable stew then on Thursday night I’m not sure. Number One Son will be home that night and I have run out of ideas at that point. Then we have a delivery on Wednesday night (I missed all the good Christmas delivery slots and we should be good for the holidays – just need a bit of bread and milk, and thanks to part baked baguettes, long life milk and the freezer we can probably stay indoors until 2022 if we are careful. A nice low maintenance Christmas.

Day 190

I made a mess of the on-line shopping last night – disappeared into a tour of the internet and lost my way out. It was interesting, as ever, but when I emerged and found how much time I’d wasted, I decided it was time to get some organisation in my life.

The result is that we only had a third of the shopping we wanted tonight, and it cost us £4 for not having enough in the order.

Annoyingly, something that was out of stock last night (when it was “too late to change the order”) was delivered, so obviously back in stock. And milk, which had been in stock, was now out. Annoying that there are two sets of standards at work here.

We have just spent two days sorting a customer out. He’s a regular buyer on eBay and always seems like a nice man. He had asked if we could do cheaper postage if he bought two items, and we had said yes. The problem was that we could only see one purchase. We tried all sorts of things and eventually, this morning, tactfully, I had to write and ask if he’d actually bought the second item from us. It seemed the only logical explanation after eliminating all others.

Turns out he had actually ordered the other medallion off someone else. Oh, how we laughed as we talked of notable senior moments. Took me several hours in total, as I worked to facilitate a sale of £6.50, but that’s customer service for you. And old age . . .

Day 152

I seem to have mislaid the first half of this post, but as I fell asleep at the keyboard, this is not unusual. I now have a dilemma. Start writing a new blog post at 4.30 am or straighten my aching limbs and go to be. A few years ago I didn’t even know it was possible to fall asleep sitting up, but it’s amazing what you can do if you have to. I say “have to” but in fact it’s a choice, and, let’s face it, a bad choice.

The truth is that the habit of daily blogging has taken hold and I can’t settle if I don’t write a post. It’s only 250 words after all, and that shouldn’t be difficult. Even the 250 words is a self-imposed lower limit. I could write 150 if I wanted, there is no law against it. I really ought tom be writing 500, as it seems a serious amount of wordage, but I’m lazy and I settled on 250. When I actually read a post of that length I’m always struck by how short it is anyway. IT would be difficult to write less and still call it a post. It would be more like an anecdote, or a caption.

We went to TESCO tonight to pick up the shopping – you don’t have to order so much if you use the Click and Collect service. They didn’t have the pork pie I had ordered and they hadn’t substituted anything. This is annoying as the pork pie was the basis of a couple of light salad lunches over the Jubilee Weekend. If you are having salad you really need something decent like pork pie to anchor it. I am now going to have to rethink the menu.

The photograph is a reminder that I still have to blog about eating cake at the coast. Time passes and I forget . . ,

Day 112

We had another poppy today. They seem a bit slow at the moment, but it looks like we might have a few more tomorrow. Total for the season – 2.

We used the option of picking up the shopping from TESCO tonight – you still avoid people but by picking up the minimum order is less than the delivery option. We have built up a backlog by ordering too much for the last few weeks and need to get through some of it. Carrot soup is likely to feature in our menus several time next week.

On the way we passed a strip of what was once probably woodland. It’s now just a strip of trees and weeds between a footpath and an old railway cutting that is now, I think, a nature trail/footpath/cycle path. OK, I admit I’ve never actually used it and am slightly hazy on details. However, under the trees, a wonderful sight emerges at this time of year. Bluebells. I don’t know if they are survivors from the old woodland or new foreign interlopers, but they do look nice and they always give m a lift at this time of year.

At work today I had an enquiry, which I handled with my customary tact and good humour. I do that on the first enquiry because that’s how you should be. I only start getting sharp when people tart winding me up. People can’t help being stupid or annoying or any manner of things. That’s how we are. They can’t even help it when they advise me on how to package their items properly (because it’s not as if I send over a thousand items a year safely through the post, is it? On the other hand, having told them once, I don’t see why I should have to repeat myself.

Anyway, the customer wrote back and thanked me for my reply, and noted that I clearly had a good grasp of customer service. So far, so good, though I was a little worried that this was just the start of quite a long message. Having answered his question (we didn’t have what he required) we weren’t going to take any money off him and, with time being money, it’s not cost-effective to take on a pen pal.

The gist of his letter was that after a long and successful career in retail he was in a position to advice me that what I should have said in my letter was . . .

I won’t bother to quote it all, but it hinged round us producing the items he required and giving him some for free in gratitude for his input.

At the moment I am torn. The owner has told me not to answer it. This seems rude. On the other hand, if I answer it I will probably be rude anyway.

A tricky question of modern etiquette.

Sometimes I wonder if these people are really just doing it for fun, or if it is a test from eBay.

Day 97

I’m sixty-three years old and I just did something I’ve never done before.

New things are quite common when you are young, but I honestly thought that apart from a colonoscopy I had no novel experiences left in life. I suppose there’s still bigamy and necromancy but, to be honest, I prefer a warm drink and a spot of TV.

So, you ask, what did I do? I “checked all” on my ASDA shopping and pressed the “order” button. It took about ninety seconds to do the shopping. It’s not something I normally do because it’s supposedly bad for the diversity of your diet. However, it will be three weeks since our last  ASDA order so it’s not a real duplication. Ninety seconds to do a week’s shopping, and that included selecting the time slot. I’m impressed. Of course, by the time I’ve been informed that much of it is out of stock, I suppose it will take a bit longer.

I’ve just had another poem accepted. It sounds like the magic has worn off a little when I put it like that. I sent ten off, so I also had nine rejected, but it doesn’t sound quite so impressive put like that.

On the other hand, it’s a tanka, so it’s only five lines. I suppose a proper poet would only consider it a verse. Of course, a proper poet would say “stanza”. I’m not sure when this happened, they were definitely “verses” when I was at school.

Medal for the closing of the Central Ordnance Depot 1982 – it refers to the explosion in 1918 which killed 134 people. At the time it was suggested that the factory staff should be awarded a collective VC because of the speed they returned to full production.

Finally, in a day of novelty and adventure, I’ve been asked if I can do another talk at the Numismatic Society. There are two ways that you can take this. My first thought was relief, as it shows my last one, on the Peace Medals of 1919, wasn’t too bad. My second reaction was, obviously, panic. Fortunately it’s planned for the early part of 2023 so I have  a year to prepare. As you may recall from the previous one, that’s eleven and a half months to think and two weeks to panic.

My subject is “A Hundred Years of Medallions” and will be about my attempt to form a collection of medallions – one for each year from 1900 to 2000. It’s actually 101 years, but as nobody agrees when the century starts and ends I thought I’d avoid the argument and just add an extra medallion.

Magistrates’ Court Medallion – two new courts were opened in 1996 – Nottingham and Mansfield

There’s an obvious flaw in my plan. After three years of thinking about it, I’ve only just started collecting the medallions seriously. So far I have secured 44, leaving me with 57 to go. I’ll have more by the time the talk comes round, so there will be plenty to talk about. All I need is the slides and photos.

Talking of which, I can’t remember where I put the stick with the last presentation on it, so at the moment I can’t even remember how many slides I’m going to need.

The header picture is a bronze medal designed by Paul Vincze for the 400th Anniversary of Shakespeare’s Birth. The others have titles attached.

Royal Wedding Medallion 1947 – a time of national shame at the poor quality medallions that were being produced.

Back to Normal

I went for a haircut today.  Julia’s orders. Because of my lack of dress sense she’s keen on my looking as tidy as possible in case someone mistakes me fora tramp. I was going to do my own hair (it hasn’t been done since the start of lockdown) but it can be tricky getting it right so I agreed. I haven’t actually had my hair cut by anyone else for about ten or twelve years, when I had it done on a whim while was in the barber with the kids. For some reason they would never let me cut their hair.  The time before that was about 25 years ago. It’s saved me a fortune. Anyway, after enduring a conversation that hasn’t changed a lot in the last 25 years (despite the fact it’s a different barber from the one that did my hair in that shop 25 years ago), I was then charged a price that hasn’t changed a lot in the last 25 years. To be honest, I may start going there regularly as it’s so much tidier when someone else does it. And I had my eyebrows touched up. That’s when you know you are getting old.

The nurse who took my blood this morning is the mother of a kid who went all the way through school with my kids. He joined the army when he left school, went to work on cruise ships and liked the sea so much he’s now joined the Royal Navy. Quite an adventurous life so far. It was nice to catch up.

I also went shopping. They ask you to be considerate to their staff by wearing a mask (and most people do). Sadly, two of their staff and a security guard couldn’t be bothered to wear a mask. Makes you wonder why you bother. Also makes me wonder what message they think they are sending.

I’m now going to think about trimming my beard. If I’m careful I can tidy it enough to satisfy Julia whilst leaving it long enough to scare small children.

Oh, the shopping? I bought her some flowers. And a quiche. I’m back at work tomorrow and I fancy a slice of quiche.  also bought steak. I’m going to cook tonight. Baked potato, steak, salad. Looks good, virtually no effort. That’s my sort of cookery.

Bread, Courses and Quarantine

Though I’ve had a few days which were mostly pointless, I have managed to get a bit done. I now have seven submissions waiting for decisions by editors. They are all properly prepared and sent out in the form requested, so it’s just the quality that remains to be tested.

Meanwhile I finally got on with the poetry course that stalled when they messed up the passwords just before Christmas. It doesn’t take long to put an end to a habit and it took them a couple of weeks to fix it, which was more than enough.

Last week I completed it, then started another poetry course. Unfortunately that was delayed because I noticed they had short course about Mexican Revolutionary Murals. I like Mexican Revolutionary Murals. I just finished that and will be returning to poetry once more. To be honest, they aren’t great courses, and the wiki article is much more detailed, but It’s a start. I probably wouldn’t have even looked at the article if I hadn’t spotted the course.

Today, I can. I believe, consider myself to be out of quarantine. I celebrated by going shopping and buying fresh bread. It makes things a lot easier if you can buy fresh bread between deliveries sandwich baguettes, rye sourdough, chocolate brownies

It’s an interesting word, because, like so many things, it indicates how much the modern world is a watered down version of previous centuries. Quarantine used to be a period of 40 days (it’s there if you look) but it’s been 14 through the pandemic and it’s now reduced to 10, as people are all complaining. From today the ten day hotel quarantine has started. I tried to read the details, but it’s confusing and as it doesn’t apply to me I decided not to bother. I have a head full of poetry and Mexican murals – there’s no room for anything else.

I have a simple solution to the problems of quarantine. I would simply ban international passenger flights and have done with it. We can do without them for a month or two. Next time there’s a pandemic I’d also immediately ban all flights. People who want to come home, and bring their viruses with them, can wait a couple of weeks then fly home to quarantine. I’d stick them in disused military camps, and when you run out of space I’d stick them in disused hangers or in tents.

It’s a brutal approach, I admit, but what would you prefer – some holidaymaker gets two extra weeks in a tent on Salisbury Plain or one of your elderly relatives dies?

Today’s random photos are seals – taken in the days we were allowed to visit.

Grey Seal at Donna Nook, Lincolnshire

Grey Seal at Donna Nook, Lincolnshire

Grey Seal at Donna Nook, Lincolnshire 

2,222 Posts

Yesterday, I see, brought up the number 2,222 in my stats. It is totally meaningless, but allows me to produce an easy title and gives me a quick start to the post. I don’t know about you, but if I can get the first sentence down, the rest follow. This works even with the most trivial of sentences.

It doesn’t work with “Tonight we are eating salad” or anything starting with “The Government assures me…”. There’s just no coming back from an opening like that. Anything else, though, tends to unlock the gates of blethering, if not actual creativity.

Today, I thought about going to the shop for bread, but thoughts of death and red crosses on the door persuaded me otherwise. While the new variety of Covid is on the rise it pays to be more careful. ASDA was unable to deliver sourdough last week but I’m not prepared to die in the attempt to buy one from Lidl.

This has the added benefit of stopping me buying chocolate brownies, pain au chocolat and croissants, which all tend to appear in my basket as I drift past the bread counter. However, the main benefit is in stopping me coming into contact with a shop full of people who don’t wear masks. Julia will be using public transport for the next few days while the car is in for repair, and I’m hoping that nothing bad happens as a result. It’s very noticeable that the younger, less “at risk” staff at MENCAP have all run for the hills and are “working from home”. Julia wasn’t given the option, she was just told she would be required to go in to work.

I’m not even sure they should be working in groups. Most of the clients live with family or in homes, and the rest have carers going to visit. As they have at least four times the death rate of the average population (possibly six depending on how you look at the figures) it would seem to be a good idea for them to isolate rather than mix.

So there you go. I started with 2,222, moved on to creativity, bread, Covid and differential mortality rates. That’s enough for now.

IIncluding checking on eBay, looking up a couple of things on the internet and adding a few groceries to the order (mention of ASDA reminded me) an hour has now gone and it’s time to move on to another activity.

In fact it’s time to move. I need to move round more and do some exercise.