Thursday, 3 January 2019

On selecting gifts, following instructions and heeding advice.

Our children bought us a new toaster and matching kettle for Christmas. Last year they gave us kitchen knives. Are they trying to tell us something?

This latest gift is very nice, easy on the eye, metallic, shiny grey. Perhaps the offspring have noticed on previous visits that the old kettle has grown temperamental and sometimes needs a bit of persuasion, a bit of moving around on its base to encourage it switch on. Having decided on a kettle, they will then have felt the need for things, especially electrical gadgets, to match in the kitchen. And so a smart, new, four-slot toaster was added to the gift.

Of course, the only time we really, truly need a four-slot toaster is when they come to visit but that is just by the by.

Maybe I need to start dropping hints about other kitchen paraphernalia that is ob the blink! After all, I have a birthday in January! A refurbished kitchen is not beyond the bounds of possibility.

Joking aside, we do appreciate the gift. The old stuff has been cleaned up and packed away to go to a charity shop.

However, despite following the instructions about preparing the new kettle prior to use, we find that water boiled in it retains a kind of odd, faintly metallic taste. Not our cup of tea at all!

So Phil googled it, as you do. Any problem, head for the internet and seek a solution. Lo and behold: boil a kettle of water, as a couple of teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda and leave to stand overnight! A solution so easily found that it must be a common problem. Next problem: no bicarb! We considered what are loosely referred to as ‘health salts’ but they list other ingredients. So the solution will have to wait until the next time one of us strolls out into the village.

Had I realised earlier that there was a problem, I could have popped into Boots the Chemist while I was out and about returning or renewing library books (and incidentally paying a grand total of 15 pen e in overdue books fines) and hunting for decent apples (i.e. Coxes Orange Pippins - the best apples there are) on the local indoor market. One of my usual sources of good apples is the Wednesday market in Uppermill but I was busy doing other stuff yesterday. The fruit and veg man there tells me, over and over again, that his apples come from Kent. Okay, that’s fine! Recently he told me that one of the consequences if the hot summer of 2018 is that the apples ripened more quickly than usual, providing a bumper early crop, but that he does not expect them to keep as well as in cooler years. He does not expect them to be around far into the New Year.

This is not good news! But who knew that a bit of sunshine could have such consequences?

We have been watching Billy Connolly, AKA the Big Yin in a new series on television. I read somewhere that he is aware of approaching his sell-by date, suffering from Parkinson’s for the last five years or so. His TV series seems to be tracing his life story from his childhood in Glasgow, progressing to learning to be a welder in the shipyards and being advised that if her really had a dream of making his living as a folk singer with his banjo, he should grasp the dream in both hands, give up the day job and give showbiz a whirl.

But I never knew he teamed up with Gerry Rafferty, another hero (two for the price of one!), doing his own idiosyncratic brand of standup in between Mr Rafferty’s songs, until they both decided to go their own way.

And the rest is very amusing history!

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