Posted on January 6, 2011 in Life, the Universe and Everything by Jay20 Comments »

Better late than never, that’s what I say!  It’s been a funny couple of days … sleep deprived on Tuesday, slept till noon Wednesday and Thursday with all the problems in time management that usually brings.  But here I am for ABC Wednesday, the letter ‘Y‘!

Now, because of the lateness and the lack of preparation, it’s going to be a bit of a cheat this week.  True to my theme of shops and shopping, for sure, but a cheat nevertheless because I’m going to be looking for yellow things in my pictures!

And to start with, a look at how those men in yellow flourescent jackets and yellow safety helmets can mess up the pedestrian traffic flow when they decide to mend … something .. in the middle of the pavement.


Well, alright.  They haven’t exactly messed anything up – yet!   But I do wonder how the HSBC bank disabled customers are going to filter into the ramp, which is just behind the working men, ya know.

Nice of that guy on the right to be wearing a yellow band on his hat, too, isn’t it?  And the lady passing to the left of our hard-working workmen is carrying a yellow bag, too!

Next up we have a view inside one of our local supermarkets.


This is a stealth photo. I’ve never actually been stopped by security and asked what the You-know-what I think I’m doing photographing innocent customers, but I live in fear, let me tell you.

Anyway.  This is the cereal aisle, and oh my!  What a lot of cheerful yellow!  Now, why is it that cereal manufacturers love yellow so much?  Is it because it’s the sunshine colour and therefore symbolic of a new day?  Is it because it’s cheerful?  Or is it simply that they’re trying desperately to wake the still-slumbering so they don’t choke on their Sunshine SuperSereal and sue?

Also inside a shop, I found this.


I know, I know. It’s a little early for Easter.  But trust me, within weeks, your supermarket shelves will be full of Easter eggs and fluffy chicks. You know it’s true.

But look closer and you’ll see why I took this photo.  Not for the yellow chicks, as it happens, but for the price label.  What are things coming to?  A price ticket which uses decimal pricing … in pounds sterling!  I haven’t seen a label which gives the price as one point anything before or since, but here we most certainly are.  The fillable eggs offered here will cost you £1.5 pounds.  Personally, I blame the graphic designer.  And also the guy (or gal) who was supposed to proof read.

Moving outside, see if you can spot the yellow in this one.


Yep, there it is, high on the wall, above the pub doorway.  The one next to Brown’s (justly famous) Pie Shop.  An ADT alarm unit.

We are also covered by ADT, by the way, who are most excellent people ready to come out to save you from fire, burglary or personal attack, whether you are at home or not, and without you even having to yell.  So I’m very familiar with that little hexagonal box.

But wait!   What is this, parked in Uppingham town square?


A most beautiful yellow Rolls Royce!  Now that’s what I call shopping in style!


Some of you will know by now that my older son has an Italian girlfriend, the lovely T. Not a girlfriend of Italian descent, but one who was actually born in Italy and until a year or so ago, had lived there all her life. It is for this reason that I am struggling to learn the language myself, since it might be nice to be able to talk to the in-laws when we finally meet. Actually, I do converse with G, her mother, via instant messenger and emails in a mixture of imperfect English and terrible Italian, sometimes (confusingly), with German or French words tossed into the mix. But that’s another story.

The lovely T spent Christmas in Italy with her family, and Son No. 1 popped over to Italy to join her for New Year. We picked them up from the airport at midnight when they came home on Tuesday, and yesterday Son No. 1 brought T round so she could open her Christmas gifts from us.

One of her presents was a gift pack of a large jar of Marmite (which she loves) and an egg cup decorated with the famous black and yellow design. Now, to understand the following, you have to realise that while the lovely T’s English is impressively good, there are still some words and idiomatic expressions which escape her.

T (in her delightful Italian accent): Ooooooooooooooh! Marmite!!

OH: You still like Marmite?

T (clutching the box to her bosom): Yes!!

OH: Oh good!

Me: I thought so!

T (Peering into the box): But … ?

OH and Son No. 1 (together): It’s an egg cup.

T: But why is it Marmite? How … ?

OH, Son No. 1 and Me (in a confusing multi-babble): You can make soldiers/you dip soldiers in/you spread Marmite on soldiers …

T: Soldiers???

OH: You dip them in the egg.

Me: The egg has to be soft boiled so the yolk is still liquid …

Son No. 1: You probably need very big eggs.

T: You might just get their head in!

T has a great sense of humour and quickly caught on that this was simply a quaint English expression, not a bizarre ritual involving the armed forces and a pterodactyl egg. And we did (eventually) explain to her that ‘soldiers’ were simply strips of bread and butter which could be dipped into the egg, with or without a thin (or even a thick black oil slick) layer of Marmite.

Luckily, Son No. 1 bought her a book called ‘Spilling the Beans on the Cat’s Pyjamas’ for Christmas which should help her out quite a lot.


When I was a child, Bank Holidays were one of those very special days when pretty much everything ground to a halt. They occurred several times a year, and though I’m not very good at equating the old holidays with the new ‘improved’ ones, I remember Easter Monday, Whitsuntide, and August Bank Holiday being among them.

As a child, growing up in London, they were intriguing. They gave us a day off school, my Dad was home from his work as a printer on one of London’s newspapers, and the city streets were silent and deserted. Taxis still plied their trade, but if I remember correctly, the buses ran on a limited Sunday schedule for those who wanted to go out for the day – and go out we did.

You see, while the banks – and therefore the workplaces – were closed, a Bank Holiday was a time to go out and have fun. And in London, in the fifties and early sixties, there was plenty of fun to be had, and even a bit of pomp and circumstance. For instance, I remember being taken to the Cart Horse Parade in … I think it was Regent’s Park, and I think it was Easter. For a horse-mad (and horse-deprived) young girl, it was a magnificent, jaw-dropping, emotional event. Huge Shires pulling drays full of wooden beer casks, hearses all decked out in black plumes and ribbons, beautiful dappled grey Percherons with plaited manes and ribboned tails pulling painted carriages driven by men in top hats and morning suits. Private carriages with high-stepping Hackney ponies, gigs with Shetlands, milk carts and grocer’s carts and even the odd rag and bone cart – all dressed up for the day with ribbons and flowers and best clothing and everyone and everything polished to within an inch of their lives.

There were a host of lesser events, of course, like Jamborees for the Scouts and Pageants for the Brownies.. there is a much cherished (and giggled over) family photo somewhere of me dressed as Peter Pan on a windswept heath somewhere, sucking a sherbet lemon and trying to stop my cape from flying away along with my hat – and no, I don’t have it here, I’m happy to say! And there’s one of my poor mother being made to climb an iron ladder stapled to the side of a slimy, weed encrusted jetty from a dingy bobbing about in the middle of the Thames wearing a full skirted summer dress and sandals – my brother was in the Sea Scouts, you see, and his Bank Holiday events involved water.

Then there was the Lord Mayor’s Show, which was started (I think) in the day of King John who graciously allowed the people to elect their own mayor but in return required that the mayor must parade through the streets from the City to Westminster once a year to swear loyalty to the crown. All dressed up in full mayoral regalia, naturally, riding in state in his official golden carriage pulled by six enormous horses, and accompanied by military marching bands. Etc. Traditionally, the coach has been pulled by brewery dray horses but this year, they’re going to be supplied by Peterborough’s Shire Horse Centre at Sacrewell – just down the road from me, because, yes, that particular tradition still going strong.

And now? I’ve just got back in from a trip to town on this Bank Holiday Monday and pretty much everywhere was open. The buses were running, the phones were ringing, the roads and pavements were bustling – even the chiropractor was open for business as I discovered when I rang them this morning before I’d realised that it was a Bank Holiday. And as far as I could tell, absolutely nothing special was going on at all.

It’s convenient when things are open when you want them, but you know what? I miss the old days of shops being closed on Sundays and Bank Holidays being little oases of peace and frivolity in the middle of the school term and the working week.

Don’t we need ‘special’ occasions anymore in our lives? What do you think – what have we lost, and what have we gained?

Posted on January 1, 2011 in Food and Drink, The Home Front by Jay11 Comments »


How many of us are saying that today, I wonder? How many stomachs are churning at the thought of cake, chocolates, Christmas cookies and fat laden meals? Oh, yes. It’s easy to say ‘I am going to eat healthily’ today, isn’t it?

Well, that’s it for me. I am tired of all the sugar and rich food. Well, OK, if my mind doesn’t believe it, my body has had more than enough. Also, I hate to admit this, but I’m not fitting into my clothes very well right now and I utterly refuse to buy any more in this size, let alone a bigger one. So, one of my resolutions is to eat healthily and lose some weight. Again.

What else? Dust off the treadmill I suppose, although my aches and pains have been helping to keep me off it since just before Christmas and I don’t know how my creaky knees and sore foot will cope.

Hmmm. Coincidence?

Not so sure.

You see, I have noticed before that if I cut out yeast, all unnecessary sugar and keep the carbs low, I don’t ache and hurt so much, but I fell off that particular wagon with a resounding crash. There is also the matter of some new pills the doc put me on … that happened at about the same time all the aching flared up again, so I’m not entirely sure they aren’t to blame … but it certainly won’t hurt me to cut out all that dross, now, will it?

Other than diet and exercise*, I must pay more attention to my Italian, get in touch with friends more often and just do more.

And that includes this blog, ladies and gentlemen. It has been sadly neglected of late, partly because I fell into the trap of taking part in two regular memes and a couple of others as and when I felt like it and out of the habit of writing properly. Original stuff, you know, like ‘Conversations with a husband’ and things like that. Stories about the lovely Sid. Real life!

So, off with the old and on with the new – throw in a cliché or two of your own, if you like, at this point – and on this first day of January 2011, I resolve to Do Better!

How about you?



* Ho hum This must be on 90% of all New Year resolution lists.