Holiday Snaps (2)

The anniversary meal.

On the night of our wedding anniversary, we had booked a table at the Ice Bar, a restaurant across the street from the hotel where we were staying in a cabin in the gardens.

For our starter we both ordered the same thing, garlic mushrooms. They arrived nicely presented in a large ‘Martini’ bowl, so we thought an anniversary photo was appropriate.

It was interesting for me to see how much I had aged since the wedding day 13 years earlier. My eye-bags are now so large, I could use them as extra luggage! 🙂

(The mushrooms were delicious!)

Ukraine: Something That Affects Us All

Wherever you live, and whatever you think about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, there is one fact that we all need to be aware of.

The world has just 10 weeks’ worth of wheat stockpiled after Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine disrupted supplies from the “breadbasket of Europe”. The UN has been warned that global wheat inventories have fallen to their lowest level since 2008 as food supplies are rocked by a “one-in-a-generation occurrence”.

Not Only Food

We all know that prices are going up. Fuel, Gas, Electricity, nothing ever seems to go down. Those same price increases are beginning to impact on food prices too, as anyone who has recently done a ‘big shop’ at a supermarket will tell you.

On the 21st of March, we went to get our regular weekly shop at the huge branch of Tesco in Dereham, the supermarket we use the most. Julie came with me on that occasion, as I am still unable to drive. I had my list ready, and didn’t buy any ‘extras’, or anything on impulse. I was also only shopping for six days, not seven, as we had something in the freezer for one meal that week.

After packing everything away at the checkout, the total bill came to £97. ($128) Bearing in mind there are only two of us, that seemed a lot. On the way home, Julie remarked how much it had gone up from the previous week, and that we might have to start thinking seriously about reducing our bill by buying cheaper things.

When I got home, I decided to check the till receipt in detail, and realised that a large percentage of what we had bought was not food at all. The breakdown was something like this.

Antibacterial Spray. £1.50
Bin liners. £2.40
Liquid hand soap. £1.50
Shower/bath gel. £2.00
Toilet Rolls.
(9-pack) £5.00
Kitchen Roll.
(2-pack) £3.50
Bleach. £0.50
Toothpaste. £2.60
Deodorant Can. £1.70

Total £20.70 ($28)

That brought the shopping bill down to £76.30. ($100.50) Of course, I don’t have to buy everything on that list every week. Some of those items will last longer than seven days.

Then there was Ollie to consider, if you have a pet.

Bag of dog food pellets. £4.00
Box of Bonio Biscuits. £1.60
Treats. £2.00
Fresh chicken for his dinners. £4.50

Total £12.10 ($16)

Take that off the shopping bill, and we were left with a new total of £64.20. ($85) That is a little over £10 ($13.16) a day for food for six days for two people.
Seen like that, it is actually not that bad.

January Sunday Morning Musings From Beetley

Well for once some retribution might be due for the ‘entitled’. Prince Andrew (now just ‘Andrew’) has to fight the sexual offences allegations in court, and lost his free ride thanks to his mother. It seems more likely he will pay off the accuser, as he will not appear in court in America, so would be destined to lose the case.


The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, had to apologise to parliament for breaking the laws surrounding Covid lockdowns. That sparked speculation that he is on his way out, and in advance of the report commissioned to investigate the accusations, he has seen fit to ‘disappear’. Many of his former political allies and friends look very uncomfortable as they try to defend the indefensible in his absence.


If you read my recent post, you will know that Julie celebrated her birthday on Friday, and had a lovely day. We both enjoyed an excellent celebratory meal that evening.


Ollie’s fur has still not grown back, but he seems healthy and happy otherwise. Unfortunately, he has started to notice the antibiotic tablets in the meat we wrap them up in, and on a few occasions we have had to force them down his throat. That is distressing, but he needs to finish the course. He has to go back to the Vet next week at some stage for his treatment to be reviewed.


The time is coming for our five-yearly trimming of the Oak trees. Our neighbour thankfully took on the task of getting estimates for the work, which should happen before the end of March. This year, they varied wildly, with one company wanting to charge more than three times the estimate of two others. It is an annoying job, as it has to be done by people approved by the Council Tree Officer. He then inspects the work after. So we can’t just employ a willing man with a big saw!


The sun is out again this morning, but it is still a chilly 5C. At least no rain is forecast.


I hope you all have a wonderful Sunday. I am cooking a venison casserole for dinner tonight.


Christmas Blogging

Only a few days to go before the three-day Christmas break, and some bloggers are already disappearing from their blogs to make trips to family or preparations to receive them.

This is always a quiet time of year in the blogging community, something to be expected.

With this in mind, I would like to take this opportunity to wish a happy and peaceful Christmas to anyone who will not be around for the next week or so.

And at this time of year, let us not forget those who will not be in the mood to celebrate the festivities. Those who have lost loved ones in 2021, or are living alone without family or close friends. Widows and widowers, orphans, those suffering from depression or debilitating medical disabilities, and the many who are ill from the symptoms of Covid-19.

As we eat too much, drink a little too much, and exchange gifts, we have to remember those who have nothing to look forward to, and keep them in our thoughts.

Diet, Obesity, and Covid-19

I found this interesting article online yesterday. It is from an American source, and looks at how the administration in the USA appears to be failing to make the connection between obesity and the pandemic. The government there apparently has no visible policy on the national obesity epidemic either, or the related huge increase in Diabetes.

Nice Times (3)

As much as I enjoy living in the countryside now, I will always be a Londoner. This post is about some beloved memories of that city.

An intimate gig at the famous Soho Jazz club, Ronnie Scott’s. It finished late, and after the club closed we walked across the street and were lucky enough to get a table outside the iconic Bar Italia coffee bar. Sitting on the pavement, heated by patio heaters, drinking lukewarm espresso at inflated prices. Watching the world go by in London at night. And then I had a glass of Grappa. Fabulous.

Standing on an almost deserted Waterloo Bridge, very early in the morning. Facing east, looking at one of the best views in London as the sun rose behind Tower Bridge. I loved being a Londoner that morning.

An evening trip on The London Eye (big wheel by the river) for my 49th birthday. Disappointed that the thing faces the wrong way, so all you get to see is the dull stuff heading west out of London. Then we walked down to Gabriel’s Wharf for one of the best pizzas in the city, an English Breakfast on a pizza. As we ate, we laughed about what a let down the London Eye is.

A late drink in a pub in Smithfield Market. When we left, the meat traders were setting up, much as they had done for centuries. The end of our day was the beginning of theirs, and it felt just right.

Sitting in a car in a street just off Brick Lane, east London. I had driven to the Bagel Shop in the middle of the night and bought two salt beef bagels. My mouth was watering at the thought of eating them, so I sat and ate them in the car, instead of driving home first.

Visiting an exhibition at the Hayward Gallery, on the South Bank. I was on my own and had enjoyed the exhibition of historical propaganda posters. I had even bought some to take home and frame for my wall. (I still have them, now stored in the loft) I bought a large glass of wine from the Festival Hall terrace cafe, and sat watching the buzz of London life by the river. It was such an enjoyable experience, I had a second glass before going home.

Meeting friends at the Mar/Terra tapas bar, off Union Street, Southwark. Eight of us enjoying many small courses and lots of wine, for as long as they remained open. The owner was from Seville, and served some of the best tapas in London. A small restaurant, always full of atmosphere. A place to feel alive in.

Squirrels In The Garden

Despite having large Oak trees front and back, we never had any squirrels visiting our garden. For nine years there were only birds seen on the grass, or on the shrubs. I used to think it was because of Ollie, and that he might have chased them away. Then next door got Alfie Cat, and he was often seen prowling under our large hedges.

There were many squirrels to be seen nearby on Beetley Meadows, so I wondered if they were reluctant to cross the road to our house, though it is hardly a ‘busy’ road.

Then one day recently, Julie spotted one sitting in the garden, eating a chunk of bread I had thrown out for the birds. He/she started to visit on a daily basis, so Julie bought some peanuts in shells for him/her.

When the squirrel started to sit on the fence separating our garden from our neighbour’s, the lady who lives next door went out and bought squirrel food. She placed it in small pots on top of the fence posts, and watched as the squirrel enjoyed a feast.

Recently, I began to leave a dish of bird seed out on a small garden table. That proved to be a big hit with the birds, and increased the numbers visiting our garden. Then I saw another squirrel picking up seeds that had fallen onto the grass and eating them, at the same time as the original (larger) squirrel was eating more bread six feet away.

Yesterday, a third squirrel appeared, and we had three feeding at the same time.

I have no way of knowing if the first two are a pair, and the new arrival a youngster they have reared. They could be unrelated, just taking advantage of the easy pickings.

But it is nice to finally have squirrels in the garden.

Lockdown Excess

Lockdown life has meant little change for me, to be honest. I cannot drive that far, so I am unable to visit relatives and friends. I didn’t do that much before lockdowns, so it’s not a huge wrench.

But with lockdown comes a psychological impact. Something I hadn’t really thought about.

I might die of Covid-19. That’s a real possibility. Especially when you are almost 69 years old.

The general reaction of others to this fact has mostly been positive. Oldies like me are staying healthy, keeping fit, and even getting fitter than they were before.

My reaction has been the opposite, I’m sorry to admit. Yes, I might die. That’s okay. I am old, and have had a good life, with no serious complaints.

So I can have that cream cake on a Saturday, maybe even a doughnut on a Wednesday. Why the hell not?

And wine makes me forget the possibility of an imminent, perhaps painful death. So two more bottles over the course of a week cannot hurt, surely?

I have embraced excess, without really realising it until now. My clothes still fit, and I feel alright in general. My walks with Ollie seem harder, but that’s easily explained by the constant rains turning our dog-walking areas into quagmires that I have to trudge through in difficult conditions. Or is it that?

Commonsense tells me that I have to stop all this. I have lived through the worst of the pandemic so far, and might survive. Then it would be ironic if a medical condition caused by my route down the road of excess killed me off instead of the virus.

But still, it has been quite enjoyable. So no regrets. 🙂