We visited a couple of different garden centres this afternoon, to pick up some soil and some seeds.
First was Six Acres, in Costock, which is a small, independent place. We’ve been there before and had a good nose round their stock of plants. It isn’t a massive place but has a pretty good selection. This one is definitely a gardener’s garden centre.
Next, we headed up the road to the Cherry Lane Garden Centre in Bradmore. Their website boasts, “we really are more than just a Garden Centre”. A cynic could be forgiven for thinking that they are barely a garden centre at all, such is the volume of diverse other good compared to living plants to take home and put in the soil. They had a few of those but I’d say less variety than Six Acres. We came away from there with things ranging from a box of tea bags (just regular ones – it turns out they have a grocery section) and a couple of new bowls.
Seeds? Unfortunately those got forgotten. I think we’ll head to the nearer Hathern Nurseries. That’s another independent and a bit of a blend of the two although skewed more towards the plants in soil than the Christmas lights for the patio end of things and we know exactly where to find their reasonably sized seed selection.
We hadn’t previous done a lot with our front garden, which is a fairly narrow strip covered with stones, apart from removing the calla lily that was getting in the way of the path to the front door… and then multiple attempts to rout out all the tiny lily plants that kept pushing up from bits we’d missed. I think that’s all gone now and we’ve made a start on creating some small beds and doing a bit of planting.
There should be just enough time for plants to get their roots down and it should be looking good by next spring and summer.
Laptops at the ready, Jane and I both logged onto the NHS system tonight to get our booster jabs booked. Fortunately the booking system worked quite well for us, although I’m aware of people who’ve had issues, and we managed to book in for the same centre on the same date and time slot.
We’ve opted to head down to St Theo’s in Thurmaston, on this side of Leicester. Given the political mood music is that everyone eligible should be getting their booster as soon as possible I am distinctly unimpressed by the fact that we’re having to go beyond Loughborough. We’ll be fine (as long as we don’t both suffer immediate side-effects which prevent us from being able to drive home) but there are many people who are effectively being forced to take a long, expensive journey on public transport, exposing themselves to all sorts of unknown people in order to make themselves and society safer. That’s joined up thinking that rises no higher than, say, the level of Peppa the Pig.
I can understand that it isn’t possible to get vaccinations to every ‘holt and heeth’ but I would have thought that every town wouldn’t be an insurmountable challenge. The ONS identifies about 1,100 such urban areas in England (2011 Census data) with populations ranging from 5,000 to 225,000. The 50 or so English cities could probably be broken into town sized units on established boundaries such as London boroughs and, if that is too many units, small towns (population < 20,000) could possibly be removed.
Anyway, we’ll get our jabs in just over a week’s time and have done our bit. Meanwhile, we’ll also get a chance to get a handle on where St Theo’s is, a church which several people in our congregation have got connections with.
I can’t remember when self-service checkouts began to become common in UK supermarkets but I’ve tended to eschew them. Why would I want to operate the checkout and pack my bags when I could choose to support the employment of a member of staff. Then Lidl, my nearest supermarket, introduced self-checkouts in their local branch and suddenly I found myself using them most of the time. Tonight I popped into a nearby Tesco to pick up a couple of things I couldn’t get in Lidl and reflected on why I still didn’t feel drawn to the self checkouts there.
With Lidl it is partly that they operate a just-after-time model of till management. I think somebody is watching and, when queues start to build, they declare another checkout open… eventually sending a member of staff to operate it! At quiet times, which is often when I pop in, there might not be any tills operating and so the self-checkouts look like a good option for getting through quickly. I often have fewer items – a basketful that will fit in a couple of bags rather than a trolley that needs three or four bags worth of shopping. Finally, they only have a small number of self-checkouts (3 card only, 3 card or cash in my local branch) which are quite closely managed.
I think that the small scale, both of what I typically buy and the number of stations, is what has caused my brain to make a switch. It feels less like I’m doing someone out of a job in Lidl because they already run on a low but more dynamic staffing model.
Stepping back from the particular subject, it is interesting to see how just changing a couple of variables can lead to quite a different reaction.
Although I found the Inspector Dalgliesh novels by the late P.D. James sometimes took odd twists and leap in their plots I found them generally highly enjoyable. They were highly literate crime fiction and a featured a highly literate protagonist to boot. I’m coming up short trying to think of other fictional detectives who had a moonlight career as published poets.
I didn’t think much of the 1980s televisation of the series. It didn’t quite capture what I’d come to expect as the essence of the main character although that isn’t an uncommon state of affairs. Sometimes I end up accepting two parallel version of the same character (eg. the Vera Stanhope of TV and the Vera of the novels by Ann Cleeves) but it can often be a barrier. I didn’t find that the Inspector Banks on television matched my idea of what I’d gleaned from Peter Robinson’s books. Indeed, I think Roy Marsden, who was in the original TV version would have made a good fit for that role apart from the minor impediment of being rather older when the first Banks novels came out.
That is all a build up to say that I think the new Dalgliesh series on Channel 5 is an excellent piece of work. Bertie Carvel captures the sharp and sensitive inspector to a tee and the adaption flows very well. I hope this is a set up which has legs and runs further. There are quite a few more novels they could cover (only three are represented in the six episodes of the first season) and I would actually be quite interested to see what they come up with if they can get permission to take the characters off-piste from the published canon.
I came across an interesting twist on bacon this week, which I tried out for breakfast this morning. The trick is to lightly coat it in seasoned flour before putting in the pan, which gives an extra crispy crust. The results were very pleasing although I might leave out any extra salt next time I do it (pepper and pumpkin powder worked well, however).
You can see more in the video I got the idea from:
Time flies. Yesterday, I got my ‘Andles for Fawkes beer bottled up but I realised it was almost a fortnight since I started it. Normally, I find that my method is ready for bottling in just over a week but, with some DIY going on in the kitchen, it got pushed out of mind for a few days.
Anyway, all done now and I managed to get 9 bottles, hopefully without too much of the sediment transferred and landing just a little way over the target ABV (c. 4.5% rather than 3.8%). Now, I just need to forget about it for a few weeks more and it should be ready for sampling.