Category Archives: Life

How much does good pizza cost?

Like everyone else, I’m aware of the Cost Of Living Crisis — or, “recession” as we used to call it in the old days. (Much as we now say “chumocracy” instead of  “corruption” for some reason). We’re fortunate to be reasonably well off, so we don’t need to count the pennies. But I did find myself wondering whether pizza from scratch is quite such an amazing deal as I imagine.

Let’s do the numbers for a basic, and a more exotic, pizza.

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The Empty Nest: album and launch

As we approach the end of 2021, I have a pretty good idea of what my top ten albums of the year will be, for my now traditional What I’ve Been Listening To post. And one of them is an album I want to write much more about than will reasonably fit into one of the brief entries in that post. Hence today’s post:

The eagle-eyed among you will spot that this album is by my wife Fiona. That has everything to do with why I know about it at all, but absolutely nothing to do with why I love it so deeply.

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A rainbow surrounding our home

Yesterday we had an amazingly clear rainbow. And it happened at just the right time of day (4:20pm) that the sun was in just the right place that I was able to step back from the house and frame it entirely within the rainbow. Here it is, straight off the phone, with absolutely no retouching:

These are dark, dark time. But at the risk of sounding like Movie-Sam trying to encourage Movie-Frodo with greetings-card sentiments that Tolkien would never, ever have written, it does help every now and then to see something like this, almost supernaturally beautiful.

A conservatory on the cheap

Fiona and I both love the sunshine, and it’s something you don’t necessarily get a lot of in Britain. We’ve often thought that if we had the money we’d love to add a conservatory (“sunroom” for you Americans) to the house — but we never have had the money and doubt we ever will. Plus who needs all the upheaval and disruption?

Then one day it occurred to us that a conservatory is basically just a greenhouse with a sofa in it — so why not get a greenhouse and put a sofa in it? And that is exactly what we’ve done. I woke on the morning of Saturday 24th April, looked at Facebook Marketplace, and found that someone was selling a greenhouse for £2 provided we could come and collect it that day. The listing said it was missing some panes of glass, but obviously it was bargain. So I woke Fiona up and we drove 30 miles to Cheltenham, thinking it would take half an hour or so to take the greenhouse apart and load it into the car.

The greenhouse in its old location, part-way through being disassembled on a very hot day. Our vendor, who was already not getting a great deal, provided drinks including some very good beer (Adnam’s Ghost Ship).
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Hands up who enjoys feeling old!

Have I got good news for you!

First: the following albums, released in 1983, are as close to WWII as to the present day:

  • Billy Joel: An Innocent Man
  • Police: Synchronicity
  • Marillion: Script for a Jester’s Tear
  • U2: War
  • Genesis: Genesis
  • David Bowie: Let’s Dance
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Paint the whole world with a rainbow

Back on 12 December last year, we had a spectacular rainbow out behind the house — so clear it felt you could reach out and touch it. Here’s a photo of it that I took on my phone, completely unedited:

That’s all: just something beautiful for these dark times.

Pink Floyd in my home town

I recently learned that Pink Floyd played a gig in my home town, a little under a year before I was born (on 12th March 1968):

It’s a strange thought. I am 52 years old. Pink Floyd are even older. For the princely sum of nine shillings and sixpence, I could have seen them play less than a mile from the house where I grew up, if only I’d had the foresight to be born twenty years earlier.

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Lend your Internet connection to your neighbours

Do you have unmetered Internet access?

Do you have a nearby neighbour with either metered or no Internet access?

Give them your wireless password for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. (You can change it later, to lock them out when the crisis has subsided.)

At this time, access to the Internet is literally a lifesaver. Not only that: with video calls the only human interaction some people have, lots of data is a lifesaver. A connection limited to some number of Gbits per month is not going to cut it.

Making sushi for my son’s birthday

My eldest son, Daniel, just turned 22. Sushi is his favourite food, but of course we couldn’t take him to a restaurant during the Coronavirus crisis — and even in peacetime, the nearest good sushi restaurant to us is 67 miles away in Solihull. So I prepared his birthday meal.

Here, I am making the last of the nigiri — mostly salmon, some tuna. In the middle of the plate is a roll of my own invention, inspired by Peking duck pancakes in Chinese restaurants. It’s shredded chicken, sliced spring onions, hoi sin sauce and avocado. It was a big hit.

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Keep Calm but Don’t Carry On

I’m fond of the old WWII slogan Keep Calm and Carry On. It’s not just that it captures something appealingly British (yes, there are still appealing aspects to the stereotypically British character), it’s that in most circumstances it’s such excellent advice.

Keep calm, but don't carry on

These are not most circumstances.

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