Gas-holes 2: One Of These Things Is Not Like The Others

June 30, 2017

Another day, another gas disconnection. Hopefully the last one, and most certainly the most controversial.

It’s Friday, so our flourescent methane-jockeys like to knock off early. They did what was needed to the pipe this morning, and then this afternoon the “making right” team were back to finish the sterling work they started yesterday.

Basically, every single house now has a multi-coloured patio as they have replaced the flagstones they took up with pretty much anything they had lying around.

We had older, weathered, paving slabs, of a type and design that no longer exists. There are a couple of broken ones, from misadventure or falling scaffolding, but on the whole they’re fine. Now we have those and one square of new grey stone. The pamphlet regarding the gas works stated things would be put back as they were – the example photo was almost as if they’d never been. They could use our garden’s picture for a spot the difference competition.

Next door, the OCD is flickering as she now has a row of flags which include two of her original buff-coloured slabs and four new grey ones. And next door to her she’s not only got different coloured flags but they’ve swept all the excess soil into her daughter’s wendy house.

But still, they managed to knock off early having done such sterling work.

Just would have been nice if they’d reconnected the gas when they left rather than three hours (and four different people phoning) later.

Gasholes.


Gas-holes

June 29, 2017

As you know, I am not one to complain or make a fuss but holy crap the Gas Networks hole-filling team have made a massive mess.

I know it’s not entirely their fault as the rain of the last couple of days has had a lot to do with it but everyone’s garden is awash with mud.

Which is great when you have a cat who meanders in and out as she feels.

I suspect we’ll wake up covered in muddy paw prints tomorrow.

What’s really good about the mud bath is that there’s even mud in places where no mud should be – in our garden, for instance, there is mud all down the path at the bottom of the garden. Nowhere near the hole at all. Next door, where OCD reigns supreme and the lawn is immaculate it’s… well, I suspect she’s already written a letter of complaint.

In a bit of casual sexism this afternoon, one of the hole fillers knocked on the back door to ask if they could use the hose to wash the path down or, more accurately, leave the same amount of mud on the path but cover the hose in it too.

When he knocked, I opened the back door and – as he was already helping himself to the hose anyway – he launched into a “hiya lovey, I was just wondering…” before looking up and hastily rewriting his speech to include the word “mate” in place of all the lovies and sweethearts he had planned.

As he took the hose he said, “yeah, just to wash the path mate cos…” and he just looked at it and continued, “well, it is what it is, innit?”

What it is, is a fricking mess.


Lettuce Leave It

June 28, 2017

It’s not until your gas supply is cut off, and a variety of fluorescent men are in the garden pissing about with a plastic pipe while it absolutely wangs it down, that you realise how much you need all those molecules of carbon covalently bonded to hydrogen.

Today has been a strange day.

One in which I might have gone slightly mad.

For starters, the rain put a dampner on any plans for a stroll to Tesco’s for something to nom on for lunch. Or breakfast for that matter.

I had managed to overlook both of those meals yesterday when Carole text from the supermarket to ask if we needed anything.

I managed with breakfast. The freezer is home to a multitude of things – mainly, truth be told, sausages with fancy flavours. But in there lurked some crumpets, and in the fridge was the blueberry and licqorice jam which is just amazeballs.

But lunch was another matter. As tge saying goes, man cannot live on crumpets alone.

We had things to go in bread. But not the bread for it to go in. No problem, I thought, because I could make some… no, wait. Gas cooker. At best I could just look at uncooked dough rising.

I’m not proud of what happened. I went to a dark, dark place. I made a sandwich using lettuce leaves as the bread. You know, like the non-carb eaters do when they still want to fill their faces with a burger.

A couple of things I learnt – you can tell the difference betwixt lettuce and loaf. A sandwich isn’t a sandwich if it’s something between two leaves.

And secondly, you have to plan your fillings. Lettuce has not the structural integrity, or absorbption quotient of bread. Where a relish may, in part, absorb into the bread, the lettuce leaf remains curiously untainted and, some might say, slippery. You also have to balance out the weight and under no circumstances leave the leaf unsupported…

If I’d known if was going to be as much hassle as it was, I’d have just got pissed wet through walking to the shop.


Trouble Rainbows All The Way

June 27, 2017

One of the special gifts, nay super powers, that Carole and I possess is the uncanny ability to go somewhere to find an organised trip taking place. Tge most surprising of these, still, was Tong Garden Centre which we arrived at just as a coachload of people turned up.

At Harewood on Sunday – a day which should be safe from trips – it was a group if Rainbows and a group of Brownies. Who kept popping up everywhere and making their bases in stupid places like the top of steps or in doorways. And, crucially, never made any effort to move to let anyone through in much the same way as you’ll find the elderly do in supermarket doorways.

As if guiding a half-blind pensioner isn’t hard enough without having to negotiate all that bollocks as well.

The Rainbows, it later transpired, were doing it all for the coveted Harewood House badge. A fact I am all too familiar with as, while I enjoyed an ice cream and Carole and my mum went to the Himalayan garden, the Rainbows decided to meet up almost exactly where I was sitting.

Because, as I mentioned earlier, Super Powers!


Bleurgh-wood

June 26, 2017

We took my mum on a birthday outing – she turned 70 last weekend – to Harewood House. Mum hadn’t been in about ten years, for me it was much longer and Carole had never been.

I have mixed feelings about Harewood now compared to Harewood then. I want to like it, I really do. But I also can’t like it because the bits I liked have gone to the dogs a bit.

The highlight for me was always the bird garden. You can keep your stately homes with their fancy carpets and expensive knick-knacks. Give me some owls to look at and I’m super happy.

Unless they look ridiculously sad, which they sort of did.

The bird garden, it appears, is in need to a lot of TLC. The enclosures are a combination of empty, overgrown, filled with dead or dying plants and just plain tatty. It used to be a lovely place to bimble round, with the kookaburras laughing, the parrots squawking and things generally looking as if they are enjoying themselves.

Not so much now.

At one point I was in pretty close quarters with one of the parrots. There was no-one else about – just me and a parrot. The parrot climbed down until it was level with me and we just hung out. And it looked at me. Now you wouldn’t think a black beady eye could convey much, but it that bird wasn’t telling me it was miserable as sin then I am no judge of bird’s eyes.

And the farm experience that they have there… well, that’s something else. It’s as much of a farm experience when you’re there as you’re having right now. Essentially you’re kept at a safe – for safe read no incidents leading to legal action – distance from everything. If I can’t feed a goat a mixture of food pellets from my hand then that is not a farm experience in my view.

You could buy food which you the rolled down a long piece of drainpipe to feed the goats at a distance. But pfft.

Maybe that’s what the parrot was trying to warn me about…


Bear Arms

June 25, 2017

For quite a while, the bears in Yellowstone National Park were listed as endangered. There were so few that the bears that were there were trained to walk around with mirrors to make the park look twice as bear-y.

But as time has gone on the bears have been able to lay down their mirrors and get down to the business of manufacturing more bears. Something which they have done with aplomb as they are now no longer endangered.

And how is this monumental recovery celebrated?

Americans are now allowed to hunt the bears again.

Hunting was previously banned because of the miniscule amount of bears. Not for any preservation reasons but for the fact that so few bears meant it was unlikely that an American hunter would be able to bag themselves one. And as well all know, hunters live for that moment of being able to stand majestically with their foot on their kill, looking smug as if they have wrestled it to death by hand rather than shot it with a large bullet from the inside of a well-hidden box miles away.

But now that bear numbers have increased, the likelihood of seeing one just mooching about minding its own business is much greater. And because there’s a sufficient amount of them it’s now a-ok to pick them off from as far away as possible.

Because that’s really all conservation is for. Just to provide a system by which numbers of a species increase to a point arbitrarily decided by someone else to be too many.

At which point the systematic destruction of the species can begin again for, of course, the highest revenue.

Which will then be poured back into the conservation effort – mood lighting and romantic music, say, to get the animal passions flowing.

After which, it’s perfectly fine to shoot them again.

The world, to quote a Vampire Slayer’s Watcher, is doomed.


Bred

June 24, 2017

Mum asked us to pick up a few bits of shopping for her this week so, you know, she doesn’t starve to death or anything.

One of the things she asked for was a loaf of bread.

So, naturally, rather than buy her a loaf, I’ve made her far too many bread rolls for one woman with a tiny appetite. I think she’ll thank me for them.

What makes the whole thing even better than just completely ignoring mum’s requests – I stopped short of copying the TV guide from the Sky box and bought her a TV guide though – is that the rolls I have made fit in no vessel we have here.

I’ve had to put them in a large bowl and cling-film the top. Which, obviously, is exactly how I would present them on Bake Off. Beautifully shaped, uniform rolls stuffed into a mixing bowl.

I used a packet mix for the bread – only because it’s multiseed and life’s too short to source small amounts of anything with the word “seed” in it. While I was shopping for said mix, I noticed that Paul Hollywood – the king of all baked goods – has a selection of bread doughs available.

One is the “white plaited roll mix”.

Yeah, exactly my friends. Exactly.

This mix is for making plaited rolls.

Because it’s an easy mix, I assume that any roll you make plaits itself. I assume there’s none of the 4 over 1 or whatever it is.

It’s not so much a plaited roll mix as just a white bread mix with instructions on the back as to make a plaited loaf.

It’s the baking equivalent of tartan paint.

But supermarkets are filled with stuff like that. I have a soft spot for Sainsbury’s “outdoor bred pork pies.” Because there’s no finer sight in nature than that of a family of pork pies (collective term: buffet) running free, enjoying the sunshine warming their pastry and setting their jelly aquiver.

I’d love to be a pork pie farmer. Sending out the collie to round them up, getting some of the little ones ready for market in picnic season, fattening up the larger ones nearer Christmas.

It must be very rewarding.