29 January 2012

Good morning to you all after a fairly decent week in beautiful, downtown Byfield. The early part of the week was unseasonably mild which must be why I spotted the first snowdrops of the season on Friday. That was the day, of course, when we also had our first snow of the year – a tiny smattering which was gone by lunchtime but the temperatures have fallen and we are being promised more typically winter weather in the days to come.

On Fridays Penelope usually arises while the sky is still dark, makes just enough noise to ensure that I am wide awake and unable to go back to sleep and then makes her way to the gym in town for a leisurely early morning swim. Then, she potters around in town and often visits a friend until I join her for a yoga session at a more reasonable time in the morning. When yoga finished we had a short “discussion” as to which of us was going to dash to the supermarket while the other made his/her leisurely way home. As you will have guessed, I “lost” the discussion and so made my way to Tesco to join what turned out to be Pensioner Friday.

What I want to know is why didn’t I get the memo? Shopping at Tesco is never a particularly relaxing and enjoyable experience but last Friday, for some reason, it was jammed to the gunnels with old age pensioners. Every aisle I turned down was crammed with shopping carts being driven erratically or parked haphazardly by silver-haired pensioners as they scanned the shelves looking for their items. And, of course, they don’t hear you coming up behind them and clearly they don’t see you as their attention is focused on the shelves of produce. So, unless one resorts to shouting or pushing them out of the way, one is compelled to conduct one’s shopping at a “leisurely” pace. What should have been a ten minute excursion turned out to take nearly an hour as we all shuffled along in slow motion.

Still, I’m old too now so I felt right at home.

Happy BirthdayI mentioned last time that we had Pen’s father’s birthday celebrations last Saturday – Oz turned 90 and we had quite a gathering. Oz’s cousin Bryan and his wife Ena came from St Albans and then there was the usual crowd of Butlerites. So many, in fact, that we had to have a “kids” table and an “adults” table.

Pen had been busy preparing for several days and we ended up with a feast worthy of a nonagenarian. After a starter of shrimp cakes with a lime chili sauce, we moved on to slow-roasted sticky back belly pork which was exceedingly excellent. There were more vegetable offerings than one generally sees in a greengrocers as well as a generous helping of pigs in blankets. For some reason, we only got through one of the three desserts which had been prepared and the cheese board and biscuits never materialised either – everyone was just too stuffed! My contribution to the festivities? I did prepare some liquorice ice cream which complemented the carrot cake/birthday cake very well but, for the most part, my principle contribution was to stay out of Penny’s way, a task which I am pleased to report I performed to perfection. You can find the menu here.

As some of you will know, I have been known to rant from time to time about various subjects. One topic which I have been known to become fairly excited about is the way in which insurance companies try just about every tactic to either under pay for your insured losses or to deny altogether that the insurance policy you’ve been paying premiums on for years and years is in any sense intended to protect you from any sort of loss or damage.

Many of you will remember our interaction with our buildings insurer who claimed that the clause in the policy indicating that they would pay for the repair of damage caused by leaking pipes did not really mean that they would pay for damage caused by leaking pipes.

All I can say is that following an article I ran across on the BBC web site, I rest my case.

Insurers undervalue wrecked vehicles, ombudsman claims

With the obvious exception of my good friend Chip, insurance agents are clearly on a par with lawyers and politicians. You can read all about it here.

And finally, just because I found it highly amusing, the following was in the Guardian yesterday morning from Joe Berger & Pascal Wyse:

Blind Tasting

Love to you all,

Greg