Dad’s Army -v- the Panzers

Today was a holiday for Mirinda. Actually, she’s been on holiday for the last four days. This means she works on an article she’s been writing, she works in the garden but, most importantly, she doesn’t do any work work.

Each day has been planned to encounter as little stress as possible. And to supply vast quantities of joy.

To this end, today she ordered a Holly Bush brunch – eggs royale, to be exact, though with walnut bread rather than sourdough.

I had to squeeze her food requirements into my normal Tuesday jobs of working out and ringing mum. Which was fine. Though mum wasn’t. Particularly fine.

She has been put on some antipsychotic drugs which have the effect of confusing her totally. She was trying to describe a TV show to me but struggled to think of simple words. In the past, this would have made her angry and aggressive, now it just flows over her. I think she needs to be somewhere in between.

It was interesting that she only wanted to discuss what was on her TV. I introduced the usual topics which interest her (ballet, the past, our garden) but it was all about Puss in Boots and his adventures. Which was a bit dull when she couldn’t finish sentences because of her confusion over words.

Anyway, following the odd phone call, I headed into the kitchen.

I’ve never made hollandaise sauce before. I don’t remember ever poaching eggs either. Though I have opened a packet of smoked salmon on many occasions so that went very smoothly.

Actually it all went very smoothly (thank you, Delia). The salmon, egg sitting on top and the sauce over it all was delicious. As was the walnut bread with soft goats cheese on top. We ate on the terrace. It was that kind of day.

In fact, it was a hot day. The sun beat down and dried the washing lickety split…which is always excellent. We went to Farnham Heath for our daily exercise. And we discovered a mortar pit.

It is a 29mm spigot mortar or, more colourfully, the Blacker Bombard named after Lieutenant Colonel Stewart Blacker who devised them early in the war.

Installed in 1942 this one was for the Home Guard to use in order to fire at German tanks when they arrived. Needless to say, the only tanks that arrived were in around 2014 when I was walking Day-z around Bourne Woods and someone was making a film which included German tanks.

To be fair, the spot where the mortar pit was sited was excellent to cover the road where the tanks drove back in 2014. I guess the location was perfect. And you never know, had things been different, the Panzer Division could have decided to leave the main road and hit the woods.

Obviously, the gun has been removed but the pit is fascinating. It reminded me that Bob has still to write his PHD thesis on British gun emplacements. This means he will need a sub-section on anti-tank mortar emplacements. On spigots.

We were walking down a track we probably haven’t walked down before, which probably explains the mortar discovery. For a while we stood a goodly distance from a woman with a 19 year old dog.

The woman was taking the social distancing a bit far. She shouted a conversation with us which I think we could have easily heard had we been in Wiltshire while she remained in Surrey.

The dog very slowly made his way passed our girls who were intrigued. According to his loud owner, he was always one for the ladies.

Back at home we settled down to watch the National Theatre stream of One Man, Two Guvnors. We saw it back in February 2012 when it first came out. I remembered it as being the funniest thing I had ever watched on stage. I remembered correctly.

We laughed our way through the whole 2.5 hours. It was almost like being at the theatre.

Today’s tulip comes from our front garden.

It was an excellent holiday day. Back to work for Mirinda tomorrow.

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Never expose to hot vehicles

Today, the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, went into the Intensive Care Unit at St Thomas’ Hospital. His condition has not been reported but his coronavirus symptoms have not improved since he tested positive some time ago.

While I think he’s an awful politician and the worst British Prime Minister for some time, I wish him well. Anyone who takes delight in someone else’s suffering is beneath contempt.

To be fair, I haven’t seen too many people longing for his suffering but I’ve seen enough to let me know that awful people are definitely around. Ghastly types who prowl the hidden corners of the Internet, masquerading as human beings when they seem more like vomit.

Enough of that nonsense. Here in lockdown Farnham, I had a pleasant enough shopping experience as I stocked up my trolley for the next two days. What made my trip especially pleasant was the fact that the shelves have been stocked with olive oil again.

My fears from last week, as the stock of oil dropped to zero, were well and truly allayed.

Back at home I unpacked, relieved in the knowledge that my cooking and our health will both remain unaffected.

My cooking played an important role in lunch today. One the best things about my moussaka is how delicious it is for lunch the next day. We sat on the sun drenched terrace and ate like Greek gods.

Next Day Moussaka

After lunch we watched Peter and the Wolf, presented by the students of the Royal Ballet School as part of the streaming giveaways from the Royal Opera House. It was delightful. I thoroughly enjoyed it which, for someone not normally known for enjoying ballet, is remarkable.

Most of my day was spent in the garden. I lifted a few steps, I deleted some weeds, I sat a pot atop bricks. I also finished Mirinda’s tool shed.

A major part of yesterday’s job was waiting for me to complete it. I needed to add some hooks for hand tools. Given the recycled property of the shelving, it was obvious I was just going to put some screws in. (Mirinda suggested nails but the shed isn’t particularly robust so I feared using a hammer.)

I also had to attach bits of twine to the tools in order to hang them.

It was all very pleasant in the sun. The sun which came and went at regular intervals. In fact, first thing this morning, as I lay drowning in cockerpoos, it was raining. I had to turn the World Service up in order to hear it above the rain on the ceiling lantern.

Of course I went for a spin on the bike after shopping. It was while I was putting my shoes on (the pedals have nasty spikes so I have to wear runners) when I noticed the information written on the inside of the tongue.

Will they melt if I show them to the car? In summer? How come nothing happens when I’m wearing them in hot vehicles? It kept me confused for quite a while as I came up with nothing to explain this crazy instruction.

Maybe it’s just to surprise people like me who suddenly read the tongues of their shoes.

I didn’t wear them to Frensham for our daily exercise. I wore my old pair which merely has symbols on the tongue. Including a Q code, mysteriously.

There were not many people at Frensham and they all observed social distancing with a smile and a greeting. In fact, it was so empty we saw the same people as they walked in the anti-clockwise to our clockwise, around the pond.

Deserted walks are one delightful feature of lockdown. That and the weather.

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God is not happy

There may be a few tulip related posts in the coming period of lockdown. Firstly because we are NOT in the Netherlands and secondly, our tulips are starting to put in a brilliant, colourful appearance.

An odd collection of tulips that I planted in the hot border seem to be without stems. I have never seen tulips without stems before. Mirinda claims it’s the type of tulip. I have read that the temperature, rainfall and general root activity can cause a flower to open without a stem. Who knows? Other tulips in the garden are normal enough.

Just call me Stumpy!

Actually, I was very busy in the garden today. Well, at the back of the garden, really.

Ages ago we bought a tool shed and ages ago I promised to install some shelving in it to Mirinda’s exacting specifications. The shelves had to be at certain heights, for instance.

So, armed with nothing more than a tape measure, I headed to the back fence.

I managed to find enough tools in the shed that is becoming part of the conifer and set myself up by the quickly emptied tool shed. I then hunted around for some appropriate wood.

I’m a bit of a fan of Geoff Hamilton. His re-use philosophy when it comes to building things in the garden matches my desire to be environmentally responsible. I had, therefore, decided to use what I had laying about. Delightfully, I found the stupid little bit of fence that delineated the two inches owned by the Crazies.

It was perfect and, combined with two long pieces of tongue and groove flooring, was exactly what I needed to complete the entire job.

It was lovely working in the sun (the day was glorious) chopping and screwing and sawing and fixing. I had a podcast on and was lost in my own inventiveness. This probably explains why I now have a hole in the ring finger of my left hand.

I was sawing a length of the tongue and groove when a bit of the tongue split off and pierced the finger. Blood went everywhere. I applied pressure, moved the tools and timber out of the way, turned off the podcast and slowly made my way inside. Mirinda was busy on Skype (it sounded quite serious) so I figured I’d tend my own wound.

I do love Savlon gel. It works a treat. I soon had a cleaned up hole with gel and band-aid applied over it. I then went back to work.

Following lunch, we listened to Hannah Scott who gave a live three song teatime ‘concert’ on Instagram. She also had a chat with Stefano, her erstwhile cellist and good friend. It was all lovely and will be repeated for the next few Sundays.

It was then into the kitchen for me.

Mirinda asked for moussaka today so I was chained to the kitchen from 16:30 till 20:00. Fortunately I don’t mind, particularly when the results are perfect.

It was delicious and well worth the hours.

Something that made me laugh.

Today, according to the amazing statistical website, Worldometer, the country with the highest rate of coronavirus cases per 1 million is…drum roll…wait for it…VATICAN CITY! If you believe your god exists then I can only assume he’s calling you all home.

Speaking of the Worldometer, I had a flick through a few stats for various things and I noticed that, as of midday today, there had been over 3 million blog posts written. No wonder not many people read mine. That’s a hefty lot of competition.

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Cinderella kept her glass slipper

We might not be in Amsterdam at the moment but our tulips are starting to appear. Okay not the big fields of colour that we were looking forward to but, tulips nonetheless.

Oddly Lilliputian tulips

I started the day doing a bit of research. While working I had an email from Phil at the Surrey History Centre. It was regarding the research I’m doing. At the same time, he included a link to a new section that’s been added to the Surrey website. It gives Surrey residents an opportunity to describe their experiences of the virus lockdown. The idea is to create a historical resource of how Surrey residents survived isolation.

The link is here. The site gives a much better explanation of what they’re after. I’m going to add some of my own coping mechanisms eventually.

Obviously one of my coping mechanisms is to accompany Mirinda on her daily walk. It’s really more for her sake given her need for freedom.

I think that’s possibly one of the hardest things to cope with in lockdown. The reduction of personal freedom. It might be a first world problem, I don’t know, but it does feel very alien.

Today’s walk was the complete opposite of being boxed in. We went to Crondall to walk the fields in reverse.

As you can see, the weather continues perfect

Though devoid of crowds, the fields were full of skylarks, tweeting and rising, flapping away feverishly. It was amazing. And so quiet. Well, apart from the tweeting skylarks.

And the air smelled so sweet and fresh. The light even seemed clearer and brighter. It was probably my imagination but the few people we passed (at at least two metres) seemed happier and friendlier than normal.

Perhaps this awful plague will make us all nicer to each other. I have noticed a change in strangers in the park when walking to the shops. Of course, there’ll always be miserable old grumps who want to keep to themselves but I think the virus might have taken a lot of them because generally people seem genuinely friendlier.

And people are developing new ways of entertaining. Like we recorded the Talking Newspaper yesterday, places like the Hospital Club are live streaming already organised presentations. Today Mirinda booked into one one regarding website design. Tomorrow we are going to listen to a live concert by Hannah Scott on Instagram then Monday will be a stream from the National Theatre of a play.

While Mirinda enjoyed the talk, the dogs loved the walk more. Possibly even more than us as they dashed about not observing social distancing at all.

As we left Crondall, I noticed that some princess had lost her jewelled tiara and a kind person had placed it helpfully on a post. Now all little girls will have to try it one before the real princess is found.

Back at home I set to making a three course dinner to make up for the fact that we weren’t dining in Amsterdam.

I started with scallops, fried in butter with coriander, lemon juice and pistachios. Main course was venison steaks in a blueberry and tomato reduction accompanied by griddled veg. For dessert (yes, it was a carb meal) I made plum puffs. I used to make them regularly but not for ages. I haven’t forgotten how though. They were very nice.

Plum puff with a dash of double cream

The whole meal was a delicious success.

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Not sleeping in Amsterdam

Today saw the first ‘at home’ recording of the Talking Newspaper. Our Talking Newspaper that is. I have no idea whether other editions throughout the country managed to do it first. But, for us, this was quite a feat. The entire organisation and completion took under a week.

Obviously it was all spearheaded brilliantly by our technical manager, Charles. His willingness to give just about anything technical a whirl has really paid off. I truly hope our listeners manage to listen. It will require a change in access to some extent (if they have to listen online) but hopefully the familiarity of our voices and the news will, somehow, make isolation a bit more bearable.

While being stuck at home most of each day and not having access to restaurants, pubs and cafes is a bit of a wrench for us, I think it must be so much worse for the visually impaired. Or anyone with a disability.

In my makeshift studio

There were a surprisingly high number of happy news stories. I was particularly struck by the generosity and philanthropy being shown by so many people.

I was not particularly struck by the low lifes who are taking advantage of the plague for their own, nefarious, ends but that’s life, I guess. There will always be arseholes but, fortunately, at the moment at least, there appears to be more angels. In Surrey and Hants, anyway.

I had an email from Charles late in the day letting me know the recording was live. He apologised for the ‘lumps and bumps’ but, overall, was pleased with the result. For my part, it was a lot of fun and I quite liked working with Clive. Given we’re both Presenters, this doesn’t happen very often.

The recording is here if anyone reading this is interested in listening to our local news.

At the end of the recording, Charles let us know that there are another couple of readers who are willing to take part from next week. It means that Clive and I will take alternate weeks with a female reader each. Eventually, Ann, the chair of the group, wants to be a Presenter so that’ll make a good solid base of readers.

The recording (and earlier shopping) took most of the morning. In fact, it wasn’t until about 5pm that I suddenly realised we should have been on a train to the Netherlands. The only tulips we’ll be seeing this year will be mostly in our garden. Bloody virus, ruining our blooming holiday.

In the wider virus world, I discovered I know someone who has had it. Sue contracted it from her son and has only just managed to leave her bed which she took to a week ago. Being a healthy type, she is fine and just glad it’s over. She is now looking forward to Jem’s impending litter.

Our dogs, on the other hand, only look forward to walks. Today we went to Hankley, taking the old route.

Throughout the walk we saw very few people and the ones we saw were generally a long way from us. No problem with social distancing. Nearer to home, the park continues to be busy. I don’t see the sense in adding to the crowds when isolation is clearly better.

As the sun slowly set, Hankley became bathed in the warmth of twilights glow. It’s this kind of isolation which will get people through Lockdown. Taking it away would not be good.

Back at home I made salmon with a dill and walnut crust. I recorded it again – see the 12 minute video below – and Mirinda claimed it was an excellent idea. When I asked why, she shrugged and said if I caught the virus and died, she’d know how to make some Chez Gaz regular meals.

My wife, the pragmatist.

Actually, I sent a text to Starbucks Andrew earlier in the day asking if he was okay. I added that if I didn’t hear from him I’d assume he was dead and delete his number from my phone. That made him laugh.

My apologies for my head appearing at the end of the video. I only realised it was there when I published the post and now feel it can stay there.

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Shower clash

Frensham was unusually noisy this evening. Our walk wasn’t until just gone 5pm and the light was gradually going. This meant the birds were out telling each other about what they’d been up to during the day. In particular the black headed gulls (or terns) were most insistent.

Our confusion as to the type of bird making the racket is due to the descriptions posted in the bird hide. The gull and the tern both have shrieks that, phonetically at least, seem remarkably similar. It must have something to do with their black heads.

(I listened to the two calls on the RSPB website and they actually sound quite different. I can also confirm that the birds at Frensham today were black headed gulls.)

Apart from the birds, Frensham was beautifully quiet. We saw a few small family groups with (and without) dogs and we all politely kept our distance to avoid any form of contact. I would go so far as to say that it was probably the most pleasant walk around the pond I’ve ever had.

Of course the main car parks have been reduced in size with well placed logs, thereby limiting the numbers (we don’t want a repeat of Mother’s Day, after all) to a few at a time. I think the joggers we saw were probably locals though there were some cars on the side of the road and at our particular parking spot.

The pond, as usual, looked lovely, particularly when the sun decided to show up. The day was mostly cloudy with bursts of unexpected sunlight. During our walk the clouds gradually departed towards the south, leaving a lovely glow by the time we left.

Of course, the photos I took were during the cloudy bits.

The black thing is a coot making advances on another coot just out of shot. It made lots of weird clicking sounds. The sort of clicking sounds that dog trainers use. Fortunately our two weren’t trained using a clicker otherwise they would possibly have ended up in the pond.

It may have been my imagination but the air seemed to smell sweeter. It could be because of a reduction in traffic since lockdown, or it could be my more than active imagination. Whatever the cause, it all smells lovely.

Apart from our exercise, my day was spent working out what to read tomorrow (Talking Newspaper) and emailing Clive. We finally sorted out a running order and are both looking forward to tomorrow’s recording.

In another bit of exercise news, I did my full 12km on the bike today followed by a bit of workout using the resistance bands. I managed to work up quite a sweat and was totally looking forward to a good hot shower.

I raced up the stairs at my usual very slow pace and, would you believe it, for the first time in our married life, we both wanted to shower at the same time. Two toilets we have, showers there is but one. Obviously I went second.

Rather than end on that note, here’s a Frensham tree.

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Common sense missing

Today started glorious. The sun bright, the sky a deep azure blue, no planes to blight it. Okay, there was one Lear Jet streaking across the sky above our house but that was it. It was perfect for my trip to Waitrose.

And what a surprise awaited me there.

No queue, no one-in/one-out regime, just a couple of guys standing at the automatic doors and checking people were old, infirm or working for the NHS. It was as if the world had returned to normal.

I shared the shop with about 15 other people. Some of them looked a bit Borg but otherwise, it was all good. There was even one woman without a shred of common sense. Which always serves to cheer my day along.

She abandoned her shopping on the conveyor belt because she’d forgotten her shopping bags. She quickly dashed off. I saw her run by the big display windows and then, a short time later, come running back, bags in hand. She then packed her goods.

I really, really wanted to ask her why she hadn’t just packed the trolley then unpacked into the bags at her car but I couldn’t get close enough to ask.

She was the same woman who didn’t understand how queuing across the walkway betwixt aisle and checkout meant everyone else had to go around the long way to avoid her.

She then tried to leave Waitrose by the locked exit even though she’d already run out the correct way. “Force of habit,” she said. I guess her habit of bringing her shopping bags in clearly wasn’t forceful enough.

That probably makes me sound like a grumpy old man but, seriously, I just find this sort of thing entertaining. I’m rarely in a hurry and love watching other people do odd things.

These days, with social distancing and isolation in place, I have to take my odd behaviour when, how and where I can.

Back at home I took a spin on my new bike. It was most satisfactory and I thoroughly earned the shower afterwards.

After writing up my blog, I then hit the garden where I planted the lavender in the raised bed and moved the steps to make access to the Wild Flower Patch easier.

I rather cheated with the photo because the weather turned really dull late on. Instead of one when the light was awful, I took the photo tomorrow morning…a sentence which feels like I managed to bend time a bit.

Mirinda was busy in meetings up until 5:30pm so we were late going on our daily exercise walk. Today we returned to Crondall and did the big field walk.

Emma thoroughly enjoyed it. As did we all.

I made Brazilian Fish for dinner and was going to film it (for fun) but our walk had us back quite late and meant I was in a bit of a hurry. Maybe next time.

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House of Invisible Hands

Possibly the thing I miss most at the moment is the gym. And the latte afterwards. But mostly the gym. Today the loss of exercise was replaced by an unexpected parcel delivery. (Unexpected in that I didn’t know it was arriving today and not that I didn’t know I’d actually ordered it.)

I was talking to mum when it was dropped off. Mirinda took delivery by waving at the delivery driver through the window. She would have brought it in as well only it was somewhat heavy.

Having finished my call I retrieved the very big box and started removing the contents then put it together. After a short time I stood back and admired my handiwork.

So, from tomorrow morning, I shall be returning to my normal daily routine of a brisk 12km ride with the added benefit of a view of our back garden rather than a blank, magnolia coloured wall.

Of course, that’s not entirely true. I watch Spanish and Italian TV while I pedal.

I’m presently watching Elite, a Spanish series featuring a couple of actors I’ve seen in other things. It seems to be a Spanish version of the Italian series called Baby. Not that they are identical but the similarities seem a bit more than coincidence. Not that that’s a problem because it’s interesting to note the cultural and artistic differences between the two countries.

After lunch we headed up to Farnham Heath for our daily exercise.

We are very lucky to have quite a few different places to walk but I think Farnham Heath is my favourite. It reminds me of the time we spent living in Frensham (during the extension) and Day-z. The two of us spent many hours wandering around the Heath. It will always be special.

We saw very few people and even fewer dogs. There were some family groups but mostly couples and isolated singles.

Rather than take the normal big looping walk, we visited the managed coppice fields. The last time I visited, the ‘youngest’ field had just been cut. Now it looks to be about three years into the new growth.

Two coppice sections

We then headed up the big, steep hill to go and look at a couple of art installations. One is called Kindling and looks like sunflowers but the truly amazing one is like a little room made of logs. It has immovable doors that look out over the lower levels of the heath. It also has square holes in the ‘walls.’

It’s called House of Invisible Hands and was created by Walter Bailey.

The roof isn’t actually sloping. I used the wide angle function on my phone so it’s distorted.

According to Walter, it’s a shrine to the numerous unnamed people who work to maintain, grow and preserve our natural spaces. It’s also a shelter. There’s a couple of much better photographs on his website as well as more of his work.

Having completed our usual exertions, we headed home. Another day of lockdown completed.

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Domestic minor being

The Garden of One Thousand Yaps has quite a few pots in it and, it seems, they are often in the wrong place. Since the gardeners didn’t come as scheduled today, it felt only right that I should be employed moving some of them around.

Conifers onto the terrace, long limbed irritating acer from one spot to the another, scrawny looking thing into the Rat Run. Obviously I have no idea what most of them are so I have to use mostly less than technical terms. I must admit to some colourful language used at them on occasion as well.

In between work tasks, Mirinda indulged in some judicial weeding. Apparently there was lots of creeping buttercup in between the bleeding hearts and lungwort. There is now a lot less.

I had no idea but creeping buttercup is worse than bind weed. I have to say I find it difficult to believe anything could possibly be worse than my garden nemesis. I’m glad to say, I have all but eradicated the bind weed from the garden. It seems I must now start on a new enemy.

Of course I’ll first need a lesson in identification.

Having slaved away on Pot Redistribution and lunch, I then had a conference call with Charles.

Charles is the technical manager at Talking Newspaper. He and Tony emailed last week wondering whether it would be possible to record an issue for inclusion on the website. Charles claimed it could be achieved from home using a piece of software in the cloud.

I was all for it. The whole isolation thing must be so much worse for our listeners. I know they have lots of resources these days but I like to think they enjoy the regular local updates we provide. Having that cut off can’t be good.

So, under Charles’ expert guidance, I logged on and started chatting away. Tim (engineer) and Clive (another presenter) soon joined in and we were having an effective four way conversation.

I’d rigged up Mirinda’s old webcam on top of my old tripod and placed it between the laptop and my mouth. The idea was to use just the microphone.

It worked surprisingly well. Except when I laughed. That sent the needles crazy and Charles made me turn my volume down. I’ll have to be careful not to give full vent to my explosions of joy from now on.

Charles wasn’t as successful with Sue (presenter) as she failed to connect. It was assumed this was a BT issue. As Charles worked with Sue over the phone, Tim and I swapped IT stories which entertained Clive who, in his own words, is not technical at all. Mind you, when I suggested that Sue could just turn it off then back on again, Clive laughed. So he’s not entirely unknowing.

It was decided that Clive and I would get the Alton and Farnham issues of the Herald on Thursday and plan what to read. We would then reconnect on Friday and record the issue. Charles would continue with Sue as well as three other readers he’s come up with.

It would be best to have three readers of various sexes for each issue because it means different voices. Let’s hope we have a third for Friday and it’s either a woman or a high talking male.

Given my first working from home, conference call, I couldn’t go for a walk today. Mirinda took the girls to Frensham only to discover that the car parks had been blocked off with big bits of tree.

Branches spread across the entrances effectively stopped people parking and walking. She parked in our usual spot (no branches) and walked around the pond. She said it was a bit creepy not seeing many people at all. It was also remarkably quiet.

She took some video and it had all the feeling of the opening scenes of a horror film. Fortunately, a bloodied axe did not suddenly appear. Or a curdling scream.

For dinner I made minty rolly chicken and decided to film it. I have embedded the video below but warn anyone wanting to watch it that it does take over 10 minutes to play through. Note that Mirinda started her guitar practice halfway through. Also the light from the bee window changed things a bit. And my final presentation is pretty crap. Still…

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Beef and cheese

Back in 2012, during one of our regular Paris jaunts, we were introduced to the delights of beef and cheese. Actually, I found it delightful. Mirinda wasn’t so keen. It wasn’t the actual taste of beef and cheese in combination. Rather, it was the whole beef and cheese concept she had a problem with.

Shortly after the Paris trip of 2012, we had a weekend in London and visited Greenwich market. As we entered the market, at the very entrance, there was a chap selling beef and cheese in wraps. Obviously I had one. Much to Mirinda’s disgust.

The reason I’m writing about this is because today, while I was preparing the usual Chez Gaz salad, I decided to use up some roast beef slices and spread some cream cheese on them. Of course it instantly reminded me of Paris 2012.

Obviously a bit mad with Lockdown Mania, I photographed the process and stuck it up on Instagram. I have now stitched the four images together.

Simple and delicious, regardless of what my wife says.

Speaking of Mirinda, she spent a goodly amount of time in the garden today. We had an email from the gardening company saying they were in lockdown and the boys won’t be coming tomorrow. This is a real shame for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it means Gardener Dave and Stan won’t get paid and, secondly, it means I’m going to have to do their job.

Apart from the obvious joy inherent in having a garden, scrabbling about in the soil does a lot for Mirinda’s well being, so it’s not altogether a bad thing.

More well being induction was had on our one walk of the day. We went to Thursley, somewhere I haven’t been for ages. Mirinda always loves going along the boardwalks but I find them quite scary after an incident involving mossy slippage.

Not having much balance any more makes this sort of thing unpleasant. My wife, rather than force me along slippery boards, plotted out a delightful route that avoided the boardwalks almost entirely.

Of course, we started at the pond which is where the car park is, but then we branched off into the isolated depths of the heathland. We saw a few people and their dogs (and a woman on a horse) but, basically, it was social distancing at its best.

Mirinda has been this way before but not me so it was all wonderfully new and exciting. Especially the field boundary, punctuated with an exclamation mark tree and a small path worn across it.

Mirinda made a short video which will, hopefully, entertain Sharon, Jud and the Judlings while they endure their Dulwich Hill lockdown woes. They are being forced, unwillingly, to think up inventive things as a substitute for toilet paper.

When the history of this plague is written, an entire chapter should be devoted to the stupidity of the Great Toilet Paper Panic.

Trees, boundaries and the idiocy of some people aside, the best bit of the walk had to be the discovery of an ancient plough. Rusty and embedded in, what appeared to be either a rabbit warren or a small badger sett, it filled me with great joy.

How brilliant it would look in our back garden.

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