So here we are in December, the tinsel is in the shops, people are covering their houses in lights, filling their gardens with blow-up figures and getting ready to blow their budgets with unwanted, unneeded presents, ready for being sold on Facebook and eBay early next month.
I went down the local retail park this afternoon on a trek to buy some poster paints from Hobbycraft and the place was heaving. Barely a parking space to be found and people milling around like lost ants, all on the trail of the wonderful Christmas present for long lost Aunt Ada or some such relation.
I must admit to doing pretty well all of my Christmas shopping online. I hate queuing in shops waiting for some dozy twonk at the front of the line work out how to use their card to pay or to remember their PIN number.
Still there is only 3 weeks left until the great day. Then 24 hours and it's all over. Do we feel any better afterwards, any happier? Do many of us actually remember what the hell it is we are supposed to celebrating anyway? I have my doubts....
With the new fishing season underway here in the UK on the 16th of June, I took myself down to the river yesterday morning to dip my rod in the water for the first time this term.
I am fortunate enough to live in a part of the east of England that is blessed with some lovely rivers to fish. Both the River Great Ouse and the River Ivel (a tributary of the former which passes through my home town) offer and produce some wonderful local sport.
However, before my trip to the bank, I had to go to my local tackle shop to buy my bait - a pint of maggots, made up of both red and white grubs. Noticeably the price has risen to £3.50 a pint this year, but everything else is more expensive nowadays, so why not fishing bait?
I arrived mid-morning and found a swim covered by tree growth (pictured above) which looked like a likely spot to fish. Setting up, I managed to untie the obligatory reel tangle (which always seems to happen to me) and was soon underway. It would have been difficult to fish using a float in the relevant conditions, so I decided on using a maggot feeder, with one maggot on a size 18 hook as hook bait.
I quickly hooked into my first fish of the season (a small roach), soon followed by another larger example of the same species (pictured left) weighing probably about half a pound.
In the two hours I stayed by the river, I hooked a few more roaches and a couple of tiny gudgeons (which I refer to as gonks), ending up with a very angry perch of about 8oz. There was no evidence of any chub that often patrol this section of the river, nor sadly any barbel.
So after a lovely couple of hours I packed up my gear and returned home to start planning my next trip down by the riverside.
Tight lines everybody!
Have you ever used or even had much success using seed tape?
In theory, the idea of your seeds being perfectly spaced between layers of tissue in a strip makes the process of sowing quick, easy and effective, but does it work very well?
In my experience the process is rather hit and miss and I had mixed results with poor germination.
I even experimented one year by trying to create my own tapes. I used a cheap white kitchen roll, cut into a strip with seeds stuck on at the correct space with a flour and water solution. Again the results were ok but the percentage of germination was again quite low.
So why do you ask, I hear you say? Well, when I visited that top class garden retailer (Lidl) today, I noticed they are clearing carrot and lettuce seed tape at £1 a pack. So young green fingered Tatty, always on the lookout for a bargain, snapped up a couple of packs. I also bought a bag of their compost which I have to say is not a patch on the stuff sold by their German counterparts, but here I digress.
So what results will I achieve this time? Well I'm not holding my breath, but my fingers are crossed.
Hold the front page! I can officially declare that I have retired from paid employment.
Well if the truth be known I stopped working a couple of months ago. I was totally fed up working amongst a load of idiots who had no idea about working as a team and were just hell bent on blaming everyone else for their own ineptitude. My arthritis was also causing me a lot of grief whilst on duty so I bit the bullet and decided pretty much on the spot to call it a day.
But hang on a minute I hear you cry. You are only 64 and not at retirement age yet, how are you going to survive not working?. Well luckily with a few wise pension investments over the years I am in a position to be able to hang the old boots up!
So what am I doing to keep myself busy? Well I am a keen gardener and love spending time in my veggie patch and greenhouse tending my crops. I like a bit of woodwork and I faddle around in the shed creating all sorts of strange wooden items (more about that in a future blog) and I have recently got into restoring old pieces of furniture (Money for Nothing on TV has a lot to answer for).
I love watching the pony trotting on TV and have subscribed to Racing TV to fuel my wicked passion (I was lucky to take a half price deal) and I have also taken a voluntary position with the British Red Cross which keeps me amused one day each week.
My other passion is for river angling and I intend to visit the banks of the River Great Ouse in St Neots on a regular basis when the new season gets under way in a fortnight. I may even dip my toe in the water as it were and take part in a few club matches throughout the year (something I have never done in the past).
Retirement is definitely for me – I can truly recommend it. The only problem is that there are barely enough hours in the day and I seem to be far busier than I ever was at work!
First of all I apologise for no posts being made on this blog for the last few months - this is the result of the fact I have not been in the best of health and I have had other matters to concern myself with. I will not bore you with the details, but I am currently in the best place I have been for a long while and fully intend to start contributing regularly to all my blogs.
So winter is hopefully over or more to the point, we never actually seemed to have one in the first place. Here in the East of England’ I don’t remember much in the way of frost or particularly cold weather and we certainly never saw any snow (well not in my back garden anyway).
The last week or so the barometer has been showing Very Dry, but this evening it is noticeable that it has moved slightly downwards to Fair. I was watching the weather forecast on TV where they said it will become wet and windy before this week is out.
And here I go again - going on about the weather. Why do the British have this fascination with the weather? We meet our friends in the street and it’s hello, how are you? Is a bit chilly this morning isn’t it?
Do we talk about it due to the unpredictability of the British weather? Let’s be honest here we can get pretty well anything on any given day. In days gone by the weather was a crucial subject possibly meaning the difference between life and death. As culture evolved, so did the chat about weather and became a staple topic in the country’s conversation.
According to the book by Kate Fox, “Watching the English”, one third of the country talk about the weather at any one given time, while the Scottish dialect actually has over 100 words for rain!
But it’s not only the Brit-nits who are obsessed, the Japanese are equally fascinated with the daily forecast being a similar island based nation.
So what will the weather be doing tomorrow? The best way to find out is to open the window in the morning, shove your head out and if your toupee stays in place then it is most likely fairly reasonable.
Recently a very close family member lost his life after battling a long illness. The fact that he had been suffering and is now free from all pain and discomfort is something of a blessing, but I will certainly miss him having known him all my life.
As you get older and especially at my time of life, I will be experiencing more deaths within my family and circle of friends and it is still a massive shock when someone dies however much it is expected.
But how long does the grieving process continue? The reason I ask is that after a couple of weeks I am still very upset and it still seems to be affecting me in my own day-to-day life.
It doesn’t really help that the family member made it abundantly clear that he did not want a traditional funeral. He preferred the idea of a Pure Cremation i.e. the body be cremated and returned to the family with the minimum of fuss. He then wanted a party to be organised playing the music of Pink Floyd (there really is no accounting for taste) and everyone can celebrate his life away from the gloom of a funeral.
But is this the right way to go about it. Obviously it is what he wanted so the answer is yes, but while a funeral doesn't exactly draw a line under the whole event, it gives a chance for family and friends to come to terms and move on with their own lives. I for one would find it easier to deal with.
What are your thoughts? Do you think a Pure Cremation is the way to go (sic) or should family and friends have an opportunity to grieve together?
I have spent the last week or so covering the early shift at work. That means falling out of the pit at about 4.45 and staggering to the bathroom, invariably falling over the dog who has a habit of sleeping at the bottom of the bed. She has a perfectly good bed of her own I might add in our bedroom, but lying on the floor in a cramped space is obviously far more comfortable.
Our dog, an English Foxhound cross, is a strange creature at the best of times. Today, when we went out for our walk, she managed to find a KitKat on the ground and tried to eat it. It didn’t help matters that it was still in its wrapper and suddenly there is Ruby wandering along with this chocolate bar sticking out of the side of her mouth.
For those of you about to warn me that chocolate is bad for dogs, I managed to get it away from her quite quickly, but she was not amused I can tell you. You might think she doesn’t get fed enough, well trust me, that dog does perfectly alright I can tell you! The word spoiled comes to mind.
I am convinced that if there was a doggy version of Mastermind, she would go on there in this fashion:
Your name - Ruby
Occupation - scrounging menace with a penchant for eating things I shouldn’t have
Specialised subject - getting in the bloody way!
Over the years she has found and eaten:
Along with eating anything she can get her paws on she is an expert at digging. I have had to build fences in the garden to keep her away from my plants, but it doesn’t stop her trying to get through. There are a couple of areas on the lawn that are bare of grass thanks to madam digging away at them.
She howls at the postman - the poor man has never done anything to harm her but everytime he either delivers or even just walks past the house, she goes potty at him. It is noticeable that if she walks past him when we are out she is very quiet and perfectly behaved.
Most nights she will wake me up at about Midnight wanting to go outside to excuse herself which is better than doing her business on the carpet, but it is a pain in the proverbial when you have to get up at some ungodly hour in the morning
She can be the most exasperating, annoying and naughty dog you could ever find, but she is also loving, gentle, very soppy and a very much a creature of habit. It goes without saying I wouldn’t have her any other way and I love her to bits.
Do you have a dog? Does he/she have any strange quirks or behaviour?
So I have been a bit quiet here for a while.
There’s no real reason for this except for nothing really going on at present and having little particularly of interest to write about.
Because of holidays at work I have had the pleasure of covering a couple of night shifts (I could think of other words rather than pleasure to use, but politeness forbids me). Night shifts in a petrol station are the pits! You sit there for hours on end, waiting for a customer to appear and then generally end up getting abuse thrown at you through the night hatch window when you tell them they cannot enter the shop.
It never fails to amaze me who is around during the graveyard hours. Obviously there are truck drivers who are working hard keeping the country supplied. I have had a couple of Stevenage FC players stop off on their way home, filling up their cars after a late night away match and other people in different jobs working through, but some people just seem to be driving about for no reason at all with little else to do. This is all well and good, but we are still in lockdown I thought!
The good side is that I have a decent boss who has no problem with me whiling away the hours watching films/TV programmes on my tablet. His opinion is, so long as the required work is done, he doesn’t care what you do to pass the time. It is also a bonus that I get a higher rate for working unsocial hours.
I usually cover morning shifts when it is so much busier and the time passes like a shot. One thing that does annoy me is the amount of people who still come into the shop not wearing face coverings. After a long period when we were informed by the company not to mention the fact and confront the customer, we are now.encouraged to say something to the offending individual. This is all well and good, but it generally ends up in another load of abuse and to be honest, I really can do without it. I’ve had my 1st vaccine and am hidden behind a screen which of course isn’t total safety from the virus, but it is about the best I am likely to get.
The garden is coming along well. I have built three planters from old pallet wood and now have one each now for carrots, parsnips and turnips. Carrot wise I will be growing Early Nantes 2, Berlicum and Solar Yellow varieties (I like a bit of colour); parsnips are Guernsey and turnips are the good old faithful Milan Purple Top.
I am also growing Arran Pilot first early potatoes in growbags which is an old favourite - they are probably not the best looking spuds in the world, but the taste is divine, rivalling the wonderful Jersey Royals IMHO. The downside is that they don’t keep particularly well and have to be eaten soon after being dug up. Not a problem generally in this house!
So that is about it for this bulletin. I hope everything is going well for all of you reading and please try to stay safe. Will return with more boring nonsense soon - take care everyone.
It has been an interesting week.
On Sunday I had my first Covid jab. I drove into the car park at the vaccination centre and after being part of what came across as an impressive military logistical operation, I came out with a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine having been injected into me.
Initially I felt fine. I thought maybe I would be lucky and maybe avoid the possibility of any side effects, but how wrong could I be? In the evening I suddenly started to feel strange. My limbs ached as did the area in the upper arm where I was punctured and I was suddenly dog tired.
After a night’s sleep I still felt quite rough, but I went to work and as the morning went on I thought I was beginning to feel a little better. It didn’t last however and by early afternoon I was at home feeling like I had been hit by a double decker bus. After spending most of the afternoon and evening dozing in the chair, I went to bed and slept right through to the morning. Tuesday morning, apart from the aching arm, I felt great.
In 12 weeks I will get the second dose and I believe the side effects can be worse than the first time, but I don’t care - if it means I am protected from this damn virus I’ll put up with it.
A day or so before going for the jab, I woke up on Friday morning with my left eye all bloodshot as if I’d had a pasting from both Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua at the same time. In fact the white of my eye is still looking very red and it seems as though I am getting in some early practice for next Halloween.
It is caused by a subconjunctival hemorrhage which is brought about by my hypertension and I suffer from them about once every 18 months or so. The first time I ever had one, I was rushed to Lister Hospital A&E department who very quickly told me there was nothing to worry about. Nowadays they seem to concern other people who think there must be a major problem going on while I am really not bothered.
The veg plot is going well. I have shallots and garlic planted and I have transferred some winter cabbages I have had growing in the greenhouse out into one of the beds. Inside the greenhouse I have tomato, sweet pepper, lettuce, cabbage and spring onion seedlings all sprouting.
I mentioned in the last post that I would write about the unexpected promotion I will soon be getting at work, but I’m going to hold fire on that one for now. I will explain all at a later date.
Now I must go because it’s Thursday night and I have Jay’s Virtual Pub Quiz to tune into on YouTube.
See y’all soon.
So the old back has been playing up again.
It has not been quite as bad as last time, but it has certainly caused me a bit of gyp here and there.
It probably doesn’t help with continuing the build of new veg beds at the end of the garden (which is coming on well I might add) along with constructing a fence over the other side to keep the infernal digging Ruby dog at bay. Also the humping about bags of compost and bark don’t particularly help, but I never learn and still think I am invincible! Well obviously I am not - pass the Naproxen if you would be so kind.
When we recently switched our broadband provider to Plusnet (see previous post - Bye Bye Sky Wi-Fi) ), one of the incentives to change was a £50 Mastercard. Today I used the card towards buying a brand new Black and Decker mini circular saw which I am sure I am going to have great fun with. I tried it out when I got it home just slicing up some old wood and MDF and I have to say I am suitably impressed. I like the 2 handles which seem to me to give a more precise cut.
We also had problems with our old fridge/freezer this week. We noticed that it didn’t seem particularly cold at the top of the fridge and I thought I could detect a bit of a pong coming from inside, so I was dispatched down to Wilko’s to buy a fridge thermometer. When checking the temperature the reading was around the 11°C mark. According to the UK foods standards agency the ideal fridge temperature is 8°C and below, but suggests that it is kept between 1 and 5°C.
After clearing all orifices of any deposits and keeping an eye on the temperature for a couple of days, it was obvious that it wasn’t changing so we came to the conclusion that it was time to replace the offending old appliance. Looking back on old paperwork (yes I am sad enough to keep old documents), we noticed that we have had the fridge for 14 years which we really cannot complain about, so we decided to bite the bullet and buy a new one.
The new fridge was delivered yesterday afternoon and it certainly looks good sitting in the corner of the kitchen. It is probably a bit larger than its predecessor, but otherwise is very similar. The obvious difference is that it is stainless steel grey in colour as opposed to being a fitted unit inside an MDF door (we wanted to get away from the fitted kitchen look) and the change is quite striking and pleasing to the eye. If it lasts 14 years, like the last one, we’ll be more than happy.
That wasn’t the end of my spending splurge this week either. I was having a look at Facebook Marketplace and came across a listing for a garden vacuum/leaf blower for the exorbitant cost of a fiver. Fully working, the only problem with it is there is a hole in the bag. It looks like it has been left in a shed at some stage and mice or something similar have had a little nibble. But Mrs G says she is able to mend it, so it’s “happy days” all round. I tried it out after collecting it and it works a treat.
So that is all for another week. In the next post I will write about the promotion I will be getting at work in a couple of weeks. For someone who no more harbours any ambition for climbing the ladder, this opportunity has come as something of a surprise coming after an off the cuff comment I made to my boss a few weeks ago.
Have a good week.