Wednesday, August 29, 2012

2012 - 61

See Side

Text message I sent to Roger in reply to his message regarding travel arrangements for the quiz on Tuesday 28th August: "I don't care. I am standing in the see." His reply was, "Sounds surreal." In a way it was...

[I texted someone a couple of months ago while I was in A&E and said I thought I had a long 'weight' ahead of me. Perhaps I'm going senile?]

We decided to go to Heacham last week and stuck to it when we saw that Tuesday was going to be the last day of summer. We're still not used to this school holidays lark and I figured it wouldn't be that bad. After all, it was a Tuesday. How bad could it be?

Actually, it wasn't really that bad. It took us 2 hours and 33 minutes to get there. Google Directions had said 2 hours and 29 minutes, but I stopped to get some fuel. We hit traffic a few times, but the only real tension was from it being the longest I've been in a car for ages without smoking. The wife noticed that I was slightly... impatient... at times...

I like Heacham. I'd live there at a push (but I say that about most places I like); but it is a little touristy. Lots of caravans and chavs who think the Wash is the real sea. There's a lot of mud as the picture on the left, taken the first time we took the Retarded Muppets to the coast. It should be noted that four years on from this photo being taken it was the same three dogs that accompanied me on the 1½ mile trek to the actual sea (the tide was out and this is the Wash); the orange dog - Lexy - who is absent from this photo, was also absent from the adventure on Tuesday. Oh, she considered it. She followed me and the other three half way down the beach before deciding that she'd rather stay in the sand dunes with her mum...

The really crazy thing about that trek to the sea wasn't the fact the sea, when I finally got to it, was really quite warm - warm enough to swim in probably - but the speed in which the tide came in. It comes in at roughly the same speed as a 50 year old man walking.

We retired to the Fox & Hounds, home of the Fox Brewery and had a couple of pints (well, I did). We both like the Fox, it's a friendly pub (most of the time), quite cheap and likes dogs (with the usual exemptions). Two pints later and we headed back to South Beach to give the dogs another 45 minutes on the beach before heading home. It's the summer holidays, so there was always going to be some families on the beach. We don't really have a problem with Lexy, Ness or Murray; they usually give humans a wide berth. Marley, however, is a tart and loves people - positively adores them - and especially loves people with food (they are the best). As a result, we need to keep Marley under close control or she returns to her former life as a sneak thief and general bad girl.

We made our way down to the sea - the tide was well and truly in by now - and Marley was far too preoccupied with the sea to notice people. That was until she finally decided that she was utterly exhausted (she had been going at it all day). So she wandered up the beach and we followed. However, she didn't really want to take any notice of me, especially as I was holding her lead. There was far too much going on to be put on her lead. So what followed was the slightly hilarious (to those watching) spectacle of a grown man wearing shorts charging after a wet dog who was not going to be constrained.

I finally caught her in a tent, eating the rest of some family's lunch. Mortified? Fucking right I was. I didn't know what to say or where to put my face (well, I did, but that's another story for a completely different audience).

The journey home was peaceful and took a fraction under two hours; every one was knackered and I had exceptionally dirty feet.

Now, it is raining and I am going to buy some new school trousers, which means going to places that make me break out in cold sweats. More later...

Later... I now have two pairs of troosers and a new wiper blade. Rock on!!!

Magic Missing

I appreciate that me going on about the Game of Thrones books is a bit like me going on about minority SF television from the USA, but the latest thing to bug me about the book series in comparison to the TV series is the lack of magic from HBO's offering. This strikes me as sensible by TV execs but ultimately problematic (or it should be) because if my interpretation is accurate, the entire world of aGoT is built on old magic and much of the political intrigue is also rooted in this world's magical past. Maybe HBO wants to get every one hooked before really unleashing lots of special effects and slightly fairy story fantasy?

One other observation about the books is how unrelentingly grim they are. This isn't about heroes and villains as much as how much misery can you inflict upon a group of people. Even victories are laced with venom and you could argue that it kind of mirrors real life and I would argue that the suicide rate would be through the roof if that were the case. I've laughed three times in three books and two of those were in the first half of the first book. All three incidents of joviality were brought forth by Tyrion Lannister; other than that it has just been horrid for everyone...

F*ckbook Wag

I've been screwed; which appears to be an appropriate description to something I'm slightly puzzled by. I've also upset someone; upset them or said something that has led them to direct an Internet barrel of monkeys at me.

It started with a catalogue from that company who specialise in incontinence. Or at least that's what I hope was the start, because I have had a lot of stuff arrive either through my door or in my in-box over the last two weeks. I've not really paid too much attention to it, but the amount of hearing aid pamphlets, pooh pants brochures and Saga holiday catalogues seems to have escalated, well, started in abundance. My email accounts - which makes me think it's someone playing silly buggers - are all getting the same shit and they're not being filtered out by spam filters, they're addressed to my email addresses only - or three of them to be precise - the Yahoo one, the gmail one and the virtually defunct Virgin Media one (the only POP3 address).

I've also noticed I seem to be getting loads and loads of stuff from websites - famous and unfamiliar - and I've had at least 7 requests in the last few days asking me if I have clicked the subscribe button on certain pages; which I haven't and as these are coming to my Yahoo account, I have to draw the conclusion that someone is attempting to subscribe me to things and has succeeded with a number of things, including Fuckbook and another anonymous singles or swingers website. I have already unsubscribed from these places and been appalled, but three days after I apparently disconnected myself from these sites; 'my profile' - incidentally quite hilariously made up - is still there asking for bi-sexual orgies; dominant women and kinky sex. The thing is it's quite funny, unless it happens to be you; and just how can these places set up an account without asking for confirmation? I just got this email welcoming me to the sites and have since had no end of probably imaginary girls offering me things which I can only discover what they are if I upgrade to a premium service, even after I unsubscribed (although I was told that it might take up to 48 hours for my request to be processed, which I find hilarious, unless it's done manually by a man who is hardly ever there)...

So, if you happen to be on one of these sites and see me, it isn't me, I'm not looking for any of the things it suggests I am (although the idea of a really dominant woman is... quite... ahem...) and you should be ashamed of yourselves for looking in the first place, unless you're single and/or desperate.

Moving on...

Almost There...

We're almost at the end of what has been a really enjoyable and, I hate to say this, far too short a summer holiday. I'm positive I could have done more. I didn't do half the things I wanted to do and in a strange way it has made me more determined to get a job back in the old world I used to inhabit before I ventured into education. I love the holidays, but I think I love them a little too much. Going back to work on Monday is going to be hard and I will hold colleagues in contempt if they say they got bored or didn't like the length.

So, why would I want to go back to 4 or 5 weeks holiday a year when I can have 13? Good question. Probably the money, followed by more control over those weeks and finally being able to holiday in September (whatever the weather). I also need to get another job because this one amplifies my disdain towards the passage of time. Think about it; my life is essentially split into blocks of 6 and once you start thinking about this you start looking forward to the week or two weeks at the end of it; so you are essentially watching your life unfold in front of you with more... clarity than if you were doing anything else. Perhaps it's an existential thing; something that is perceived by each different person in a different way or perhaps I'm just running out of time to procrastinate? I just hope (but don't hope) that the 6 weeks of work go as fast as the 6 weeks of holiday.

Oh and speaking of holidays, the picture, above, is of part of the waterfall in the Wood of Cree that I talked about while I was in Scotland; I've been meaning to post a few of the pics from the last couple of days, but have never got around to it...

Blah to the Nth Degree

Following on from that bit above; it's Thursday. 10:24am. The wife is considering doing the charity shops; I can't look at the shed roof (well, technically, I can look at the shed roof, what I can't do is try to repair it because it is wet and rotten and I'm not going up ladders without the wife) and apart from doing some house work (which I'll do anyway) all I have left as options for the day is either read more of my book or write a little more of my story. Or I could watch something on TV, like one of the films I downloaded back in early July just in case I got bored during the holidays and needed to fill a couple of hours.

The thing is, if this was three weeks ago, I would have spent an hour deciding what to do before possibly doing it. Now, because August is disappearing faster than a rabbit down a wolf, it's suddenly become the most pressing question/dichotomy since the last one. Just writing this is a perverse form of the procrastination I've occasionally gone on about; but the procrastination is itself quite an art form; it's like I can justify not doing anything by at least having a good think about it. Can you see my dilemma? Don't worry if you can't, I'm already struggling to understand what I'm writing about and contemplating deleting the last two paragraphs.

Spud Bashing

A couple of weeks ago, someone posted on this blog asking me about potatoes and throwing an interesting theory at me. As most regular readers of this will attest, I am a potato snob and I have occasionally been vocal about the piss poor quality of potatoes available in supermarkets. 'Ian B' pointed out that the drop in quality briefly mentioned in my rant about washing of spuds to make them more 'buyer friendly' and that this, in some way, helps the spud deteriorate in a way it wouldn't normally. It's all here:, which, incidentally, is the only glass onion that isn't a list of recipes (I have also changed my mind about a lot of the entries in it, especially Wiljas, which are bloody awful and could be awful because of this reason).

This all happened a few weeks ago and for reasons we don't have to go into I just happen to have a couple of places bookmarked in my browser that are, um, potato related. (You know, some people have comics websites bookmarked, so go be judgemental at them, why don't you!) I will admit to having investigated trying to buy some rarer varieties of spud to grow in my little veg patch and as a result, over the years I've indulged in some general potato nerdiness with some of the growers, sellers and people who, like me, feel spuds have lost something over the last couple of decades.

I get this urge sometimes to be a journalist again and I sent an email off to the three places I have dealt with in the past, all asking if they thought this could be the reason why spuds quality has deteriorated over the years. I got the first reply almost instantly and that essentially supported the questions I asked without going into any detail and was slightly vague - she basically said, 'yeah, I agree with you' when I wanted her to a) explain why it was right and b) maybe, you know, offer some suggestions. The other two didn't reply and I forgot all about them, the idea of writing a spud blog entry about washed potatoes being rubbish slowly disappeared into the fuzziness of the last three weeks.

Then, I'd say quite remarkably, but in reality it was just a little coincidentally, I got replies from the other two growers. It seems that the two of them have been talking to each other... Could it be that I'd, you know, spotted something that no one else had thought about? One of the growers said that he rarely gets feedback on the quality of his product, mainly because he supplies the people who supply the supermarkets, but my question made him think because friends of his had been talking about the drop in quality of potatoes; or more specifically, people he met who found out he worked in potatoes. So he asked the people he supplied - the farmers and market gardeners - and that was why it took him so long to get back to me. His email had arrived in my other contact's in-box a couple of days after mine, which made him hold back on his answer to me.

The seed potato grower's feedback was the same as the grower's - just anecdotal. There appeared to be no negative or positive feedback from the major supermarkets (but to be fair, none of the people I was talking to supplies supermarkets by the ton like some growers do). Many of the people the grower spoke to heard bits and pieces but rarely anything else. This prompted me to suggest that the reason why they got almost no feedback might be because they all get their spuds pre-wash? Gordon, the grower, then made a really good point: he's never been able to understand why I've been so vehemently anti-Maris Piper, as he's always found them to be a really versatile spud and, in his opinion, a great addition to supermarkets. He grows his own. He digs them up and he either uses them or stores them, covered in earth, in a barn or a shed or a utility room. His Maris Piper potatoes never get close to a supermarket.

Why are chip shop chips consistently good all year round? Because the chip shop owner buys his spuds in bulk, in 56lb bags, covered in the field they got dug up from. There is no sunlight getting onto the tuber; all of a starchy potato's starch gets turned into sugars. The stuff that makes the best chips; the almost cream coloured, fluffy kind that remain crispy for a long time after they've come out of the fryer; gets turned into stuff that caramelises at high temperatures; making the chip a darker colour, which loses its crispness within two minutes of being removed from the pan. This might seem anal and pointless to a lot of you, but it's vitally important to a lot of people and answer me this, how many of you like dark brown soggy chips?

It appears that a throwaway comment by me could well prove to be the actual reason why potatoes in supermarkets are so crap. The people responsible for a lot of these potatoes seem to believe this is possibly the only reason; if there really are a lot of people out there who really think the quality of spuds has dropped. None of the people I spoke to disputed what I was saying, but all suggested that because there's really on anecdotal evidence, perhaps most people don't actually care what their potatoes are like.

If that's the case then I find that very sad indeed.

  • I have been listening to a MOS Chill out compilation; some band called Synaesthesia (or something like that) who weren't at all what I expected. Some Doors, some Blur and some other stuff that's slipped from my mind.
  • I expect to finish A Stink of Swabs 1 by the end of the weekend.
  • I have been watching The Inbetweeners and accepted that I should have watched it the first time around (although, would I have watched it? Or to be more precise, would I have watched it through my fingers like something mega-embarrassing is always watched?). I have also watched A Touch of Cloth which is a bit of a lot of things and is actually really funny (not all of the time, but it does have the ability to make you suddenly wonder what you're laughing at before falling into whoops of laughter again).
  • Today's blog has been sponsored by ()
  • Mantle peace.

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