Lately I have been purchasing coconuts with the weekly shopping. From my youth and as far back as I can remember I loved coconuts. In my adult years I cannot remember when if ever I purchased a whole coconut but have purchased many coconut products, that is food. Having said that I do even now have coconut shampoo and conditioner in my bathroom! I love the taste and the smell of coconut. E on the other hand despises it. I remember mom giving us coconut mixed with cocoa powder and sugar as children and she even made ‘coconut ice’ at home (a sweet or candy). I often purchased that too when young and as an adult I would purchase that as well as a candy bar called ‘Bounty’. Those products are not really things we should be eating often as they are filled with sweetened condensed milk and sugar, not good for the teeth or the waistline! I sometimes purchase unsweetened desiccated coconut for use in baking cakes. When I bake those I have to bake an alternative for E, one made with coffee or chocolate perhaps else she would feel left out. So the most difficult part of opening a coconut is breaking open the outer shell. In fact coconuts bought in shops only have the one shell, the outer one is stripped off before it is shipped. Nevertheless the shell that remains is difficult to remove without some sturdy equipment. My dad used to hit them with a hammer which did work but usually left pieces all over the place unless it was wrapped up beforehand. The ‘milk’ (simply flavoured water) is lost unless a hole is drilled to drain it. Fortunately we have a metalworking vice down in the cellar workshop and I have been holding the coconut in it whilst I drilled two holes at opposite ends. I then drain the milk into a glass through one of the holes. The other hole is simply there to allow air in to aid the draining. Once that is done I slowly crush the encapsulated nut in order to break the hard shell. If done slowly the breaking can be controlled and there is no need to use a hammer! The broken shell is then easy to remove but it usually comes off in large pieces. On Monday a couple of weeks back I followed the method as described and expected to end up with large broken pieces of with the nut still stuck to the pieces. It didn’t happen, it came out of the shell in one piece! In all my life I had never seen a complete nut bare of its inner shell but here is the proof….
Of course it didn’t stay that way long for I broke it up into bite-sized pieces to nibble at. I must be (coco) nuts!
A couple of months ago I had to pay the doctor a routine visit for a fungal infection on my big toes. Whilst there she advised I have another blood check but as I wasn’t at that time due for such a test she post-dated it. On Friday (27 th) I visited the nurse at the surgery to give a blood sample and as it was for lipid levels I couldn’t eat anything for twelve hours prior to the sample being given. It turned out that I hadn’t eaten for seventeen hours by the time I was at the surgery. Naturally I was feeling quite hungry on my return home. Even so I didn’t eat more than I would normally do at breakfast (break-fast). As the appointment was for eight-fifty the first thing I ate was at breakfast time, though a little belated breakfast time for me. The danger in fasting is the temptation to over-indulge when the fast is over. It sets the trend for more overeating and we end up putting on weight. If we eat too much at a sitting our stomach stretches to accommodate the food so that at the next meal we feel the need to fill it too much once more else we still feel hungry. If our stomach is full we feel satisfied therefore it is sensible to eat small amounts frequently rather than gorging down large quantities which stretch the stomach. Obviously the type of food we eat is important too if we are to feel satisfied. In today’s society, here in the UK at least, we are faced with encouraging signs to eat more instead of eating sensibly. A point in question, I have found that most of the ‘fish and chip’ shops I have visited throughout my life encourage us to eat more by supplying larger portions of chips than we actually want. When I have asked for a smaller portion I find the person serving me has difficulty in doing that. It is as if they have to give large portions to justify the prices they charge. Why not supply smaller portions at a lower price for those who want them? If there is someone with me, like E for instance, we buy one portion and share and even then there is often too much in the portion. Is it any wonder people are becoming overweight when because they receive larger portions they feel the need to eat it all? It would seem a waste otherwise wouldn’t it? Feeling hungry is one thing but feeling a large waist is another!
I wasn’t out of action for very long after I had damaged my little finger, only one day in fact but I didn’t resume my work on the pit until the day after that. I don’t know about you but I find certain foods affect my gut and I suffer from re-flux and wind problems if I eat them though strangely not every time. I love fish and on Wednesday evening I had mackerel. It is a particularly strong in flavour and is one of those foods which cause me to burp a lot after eating it. It isn’t my favourite fish by a long way, in fact it is pretty much at the bottom of the table. Sea bass and rainbow trout are favourites with me though I don’t often eat them. I suffered a lot after eating that fish on Wednesday and it followed through to almost lunchtime on Thursday. However it wasn’t just the fish causing me problems but also the muesli I had at breakfast. I usually eat muesli with fruit or porridge with fruit at breakfast and they have little side effect as long as I don’t do any work which requires bending. If I do then it can upset my tummy. Most of the time I don’t start working for an hour or two after eating breakfast. Anyhow I decided I had to push ahead with the pit project and I got this far before finally taking a break for a late lunch.
The slope turned out almost perfect but I had to fill in a few places where trapped air had caused one or two dimples in the concrete (top picture). I relaid five stone tiles at the far end of the pit as seen in the bottom picture. The space on the left is that concrete block I mentioned in previous posts. It is extremely hard but I managed to chip away at it in order to get it below the floor tiles. I won’t bother spending more time on it but at least I can cement over it now. Before the work started it was a couple of inches above the floor level. After lunch I assembled and installed the hand rail.
If there is one thing you could say about beans it is that they really let you know who your friends are! I refer to the following day after eating them of course but we’ll not explore that. It has become somewhat of a small tradition with me that I have beans on toast on Christmas day instead of a roast dinner with turkey (or some other unfortunate bird), roasted potatoes, vegetables and all the trimmings that come with a Christmas dinner.
What is so special about a Christmas dinner anyway? Many folk have roasted dinners every week which are not any different from a Christmas dinner. The real difference is probably the company with which the meal is shared, this is what makes it special. For myself I no longer eat Christmas dinner. One reason, probably the main reason is I have no-one with which to share it but there are other reasons too, I don’t really want to stuff myself silly with a large roast dinner. The tendency is to eat far more than we should on such occasions and that habit I am happy to forego. I spend Christmas day, that is the afternoon and early evening alone. E spends the day with her mom and brother and some members of the family. I am never invited just as her sister now isn’t either. This doesn’t bother me and it doesn’t matter as I don’t celebrate the day as they do anyway. So much for the love we are supposed to be showing to others at this and any other time of the year. The secular Christmas should have no meaning to a Christian except maybe to have an opportunity to witness. So as long as I can have my beans on toast, with a fried egg or two on top I am happy. Why did Christmas get hi-jacked by the secular world? They saw it as an opportunity to revel, to party and to have a good time (nothing wrong with all that) but it lacks endurance, it simply doesn’t last and at the end of the day (literally) doesn’t really satisfy completely for if it did there wouldn’t be a reason to do it all over again. Having Jesus as your Saviour however does satisfy because that lasts forever.
Do you ever wake up in the morning with the idea in your head that you’ll do something intended, a plan of some sort but as the morning and the day progresses it all goes awry. Nothing ventured nothing gained can apply to many things and I know this has been the theme in my life from time to time. I might have it in my head to do something completely different from my normal routine or carry on working on one of my projects or not but then things change and I do nothing. Later I might regret it. Well this was my lot on Saturday. On Friday as my readers will know from that day’s post, I worked on the heating system in our house. On refilling the system I found that one of the radiators I had been working on, the one in the top room, seemed not to be filling up with water and a couple more on the floor below were taking a lot of time to vent too. I decided to leave working on the system for another time. After working on it most of the day I was tired and had an early night. I slept soundly and didn’t wake until after eight. It was after ten before I got downstairs for a light breakfast. I resisted all ideas of continuing with working on the heating system. What did I want to do? Well that was the problem, I didn’t know, I couldn’t think of anything I might want to do. I let the morning drift on until lunch time when I decided to prepare a meal. I like making vegetable stew, making it up as I go along but after making so many of them I now have a standard version. Ingredients start with a large bell pepper, a large onion both chopped but not too small, in fact a little chunky, a few cloves of garlic freshly chopped too then all lightly fried in olive oil or similar. Pre-cookeddiced chicken pieces are added and lightly fried. Once the frying session is finished I add a small can of carrots and the salted water they are in followed by frozen garden peas and sometimes sweetcorn too. Once they have heated through I add some hot water to the desired amount together with two chicken stock cubes, black pepper and salt to taste. I leave to simmer for fifteen to twenty minutes and it is ready for the table. Sometimes I make enough for a couple of meals as I did this time, leaving the excess in the covered pan it was cooked in to be reheated the next day. I never freeze this type of food as freezing causes an alteration in taste if frozen too long. It is always nicer cooked and eaten fresh. This type of meal gives me at least four of my ‘five a day‘ vegetables or fruit and is full of vitamins and minerals and hardly any fat. On any given day though I usually have ten to twelve of my ‘five a day’! I eat lots of fruit. This may be why I look far younger than I am or at least keeping that way for I don’t think I have ever looked my age. It is healthy eating whichever way you look at it. Frozen prepacked ready meals are not for me. Anyway that took some time out of my day as did peeling and cooking some fresh pears afterward. I planned to go for a short walk but then the heavens opened and we had some heavy rainfall. I gave up on the idea and that is the way the rest of the day turned out. There was always tomorrow.
PS…….The heating system settled down all by itself. When I vented the radiators again on Monday afternoon I found there was very little air in them! Phew!
I have been enjoying some extra time in bed recently for a change. Usually I am up early each day with work in mind. Old habits die-hard they say and that is so true for me. Having spent years getting up early it is difficult to do otherwise except if I have been working that hard I need the extra sleep. I wouldn’t have it any other way and I wonder why people would choose to waste the day lying in bed. Anyway it was Sunday, a time for leisure and a break from work but I had to do something. It wasn’t that good on Sunday morning as far as the weather was concerned so I remained indoors. I decided I would bake some scones as I hadn’t baked scones for quite some time. I had been baking cakes instead! It doesn’t take long to bake scones, no more than ten to fifteen minutes and even the preparation should take no longer. In all they can be made in about thirty minutes. It was almost noon by the time I had them baked and cooled down enough to bag and store them. I hadn’t had breakfast but only a banana and a fruit drink so I was ready for a meal. Each day I set myself the goal of eating at least eight to ten of the recommended ‘five a day‘ items of fruit and vegetables to maintain good health but I usually eat twice that amount and sometimes more every day. The powers that be now tell us that the five a day recommendation is the minimum we should aim for. I have always eaten plenty of fruit and vegetables throughout my life but I have also eaten lots of foods considered to be non beneficial too! Over recent years I have cut out most of the unhealthy things I once ate. I am not sure where scones fall on the spectrum but I am sure they are quite harmless. Anyway E and I will enjoy eating them, in fact not long after I had made them E had one. She was about to have a snack before taking her mom to see another of her mom’s friends a few miles away and she ate one of them. I wouldn’t eat one until after my lunch.
I was talking about my working week in a previous post and how much I was looking forward to having three days free to myself for a change. I got my wish, well so far that is as I am writing this on Friday evening. Friday would be the most likely day whereby I might get work but I had other ideas and was determined to avoid it for I knew I would most definitely not be working on Saturday or Sunday and if I could do the same on Friday it would be mission accomplished. I had to go to the clinic to have a blood sample taken first thing in the morning and on my return home I made a detour to the village so that I could buy some blueberries and also deposit some money in the bank. E does the weekly shopping on a Thursday but hadn’t been able to buy some blueberries where she usually does her shopping and wouldn’t have visited the village to try to purchase them. There are four places in the village that sell fruit and vegetables and I checked them out to find the best deal before buying some whilst I waited for the bank to open. I had accumulated a lot of cash and needed to get it out of my purse. In three week’s time that particular branch of the bank will be closing down and I will have to travel into town in future to make deposits. On my way back to the van I stepped into the chemist store to see if the prescription the doctor had forwarded on Tuesday morning had been processed. Usually we are told to wait four days to collect any prescriptions unless there is an immediate need for treatment but I was lucky, the prescription was ready for collection. I drove home to have some breakfast and it was still only 9.15. My blood sample required a fast of at least twelve hours before it could be taken and consequently I had not eaten for fourteen hours. The rest of the morning I simply relaxed and did very little. It was around two-thirty I decided to drive somewhere for a late lunch. I drove to my local pub which has had a little refurbishment carried out in recent weeks to accommodate more dining tables for I wanted to see what they had done and have a meal in the process. Unfortunately there was little free space, unusual for the time of day, so I left and drove off to another eatery a few miles away. This place is much larger and caters for those wanting something from the menu or something from the help-yourself carvery. I chose the carvery but as I approached the servery a large family of people got there before me and I had to wait quite some time before getting served. I was in no hurry of course. The chef was very surprised that I had asked for only one small slice of turkey and no Yorkshire Pudding but only wanted mainly vegetables. Many choose to have a pudding or two and several slices of the various meats on offer as well as a heap of vegetables! I am not so greedy. The vegetables were absolutely delicious, especially the carrots but I didn’t choose any potatoes to go with them. I chose only to have a soda water with my meal and when I had finished the waitress came over and asked if I was going to order a dessert. I wasn’t. I paid the bill and left for home. It had been a change from having to cook the meal myself as I hadn’t dined out for several weeks so it was by way of a treat too. The last time had been with E but this time I dined alone. I much prefer to dine with company but at the moment that isn’t possible. During the meal someone phoned me and asked if I was available to do an urgent job but I told them I wasn’t available until Monday, besides I was still eating my vegetables!
I’ll wager you will be thinking when reading this post that it is all about shopping but although the subject is a part of the post the post is actually about a dream I had in the small hours of Monday morning. For the first time in quite a long time I found myself out shopping with E and we were loading up a shopping trolley with frozen foods of all types but mainly confectionery and bread. As we tried to leave the store we discovered more ‘special offers’ on sale and added these to the trolley. E wanted to stand around and chat but I was impatient and just wanted to get the goods safely in our vehicle and drive home to store it before it began to thaw. Finally we were both outside but it was dark as though it was in the middle of the night. I know some stores are open for twenty-four hours so it wasn’t surprising to find ourselves out shopping at that hour, even so it was unusual. It was a warm night too and therefore all the more important we didn’t hang about. For some reason the car park wasn’t outside the store, it was a car park surrounding an establishment where I once worked! I couldn’t figure out why that was. I couldn’t figure out why our vehicle wasn’t actually ours but that belonging to our eldest son who handed us the keys as we came to load the food in the boot (trunk). Although it was a large vehicle, one you might expect to have a large rear compartment, it didn’t, in fact the opening to the small boot was small too and we found it difficult to get the trays into it. I couldn’t understand why the food was on trays, especially the confectionery but that didn’t matter to E who just squeezed everything in, squashing everything in the process. However, we couldn’t close the lid and I was getting more and more irritated by E’s lack of concern or interest. I am not sure what the outcome was in all of this for at that time I woke up.
E walked up the road to post a letter on Saturday afternoon and had seen a builder loading bricks on to his trailer outside another house and had chatted with him. When she arrived back home she told me that a builder was going to call in to give us a quote for the building work we plan for our proposed garden toilet. We have asked her nephew to give us a quote but he is that busy he hasn’t done so. He has promised to do the necessary structural repairs to our son’s new house in the near future so we will not press him to work here. I was going to do most of the work myself now anyway but as she had asked this builder to give us a quote I may ask him to do it instead. Anyway he called by a few minutes later and looked at the job. His rough estimate sounded very favourable so if his formal quote is similar I may allow him to do it together with rebuilding that part of the garden wall which needs repairing behind the ‘mound’. Sunday was a really lovely day though just a tad windy at times for my liking. It was warm and sunny with end to end blur skies. Our youngest son had spent the weekend here with us, that is when he actually stopped long enough! He and his girlfriend are waiting to sign the documents enabling them to finally move into their first house. If my readers remember they had moved out of the apartment they were renting some weeks ago and only for the fact that a friend of his had allowed them to use the top floor of his house they would have had nowhere to live. They have been paying £100 per week though for the privilege which is only fair. Well he told me that they will be able to sign those documents on Monday, that is the Monday just passed. I hope everything goes well for them. He has left his car on our driveway until he can sell it on as I explained in a recent post. He asked us if he could have his lunch before 1 o’clock thinking we might have been having a roast dinner which we sometimes do. However we hadn’t planned and didn’t actually have a joint of meat anyway but we did have plenty of meats suitable for cooking on a barbecue, so that’s what we did. The weather was ideal for a barbecue. Last year we didn’t use the barbecue much but so far this year we have used it a number of times. Although I like eating barbecued food I didn’t each much this time. About an hour later our son drove back to Manchester and we went indoors for a short while. E was restless and she told me that she wanted to post some mail and then go to a supermarket to purchase some bedding plants for the garden. She asked if I would like to go too. I wasn’t feeling up to it but I said I would go with her and off we went. They have a large garden centre to the rear of the store which is stocked with all sorts of plants and trees and E soon had a few plants in the trolley. We were back home within the hour. Normally we would have used the Dobbies garden centre but as it was a Sunday afternoon they had closed for the rest of the day. I think they remain open for just four hours on a Sunday. By the time we got home I was feeling very tired and drained of energy. I was thinking the reason for that was that I have been working too much lately but in reality after my evening meal I felt invigorated. It appears that all I needed was an energy input! So my conclusion was wrong after all.
I was surprised that my electrical work picked up this past week and gave me little time to spare to carry on with the work we have left to do around the now diminished mound in the rear garden. What time I had I used to erect our new flagpole. As I write the first few lines of this post on Friday evening the only time I now have left this week will be tomorrow but even then I cannot dedicate all day to do it. I have to make the most of the time whilst the weather remains fine if I want to see the work done. Fortunately there is no deadline to meet! I am enjoying my life at the moment and am just happy that I have plenty to do to fill my time. Because the weather has been so fine and warm I gave up the idea of working around the mound unless I could put in a couple of hours early in the morning whilst it was still cool but as I didn’t wish to get up too early on Saturday it was a non-starter. I did have plans to re-bed one of the natural stone slabs that were laid over the old broken steps approaching the front door a few years ago as it had become loose. So that is what I did first on Saturday morning. The slab measures something like 800mm by 190mm and 20mm deep so was easy to handle. I lifted it effortlessly down to the step below as the mortar beneath it hadn’t gripped it properly. I removed the old mortar which offered little resistance and cleaned the area. I mixed some new mortar, relaid the slab and filled in the joints before covering that side of the steps with a sheet of plywood to keep the heat of the sun from drying it out too quickly. I left it there all day until the sun had moved low enough to have little effect. After I had laid the step I mixed more mortar and laid some of the large natural stones we had dug out of the mound in the rear garden around the base of the flagpole to cover the exposed concrete base to blend in with the surrounding stones. Once that was finished I set about filling in some of the holes that had appeared between the concrete paving stones which make up the drive to one of the garages. The guy who laid the driveway some years ago hadn’t set the slabs properly and some of them have become loose. There is an excellent foundation beneath that driveway, hardcore covered with paving slabs then covered again with more paving slabs. However I think the top layer of slabs were not laid on a complete bed of mortar so that there is much unfilled space beneath them. I think at some point some of those slabs will need lifting and re-bedded in the future. I don’t know why some people cut corners when doing a job, especially as I was paying him by the hour and supplying all the materials at the time. Anyhow by the time I had done all that work it was fast approaching lunchtime and I stopped for a break. E went out around 1 o’clock for her monthly meeting and didn’t return home until 5 o’clock when we decided to have a barbecue. Whilst she was out I spent a couple of hours transferring tools and materials out of my old toolbox which had become crammed with all sorts of stuff and into the four new toolboxes I had bought on Friday. Whilst E and I were at the electrical supplier’s store I saw this set of toolboxes on sale for a mere £15 plus vat. The largest was about the same size as my old box, the next size down fitted neatly inside that box whilst a third box fitted inside the second. The fourth box was small enough to fit inside the third. Buying them meant that I could split my equipment into different boxes so that I didn’t have to carry everything in the one box as quite often I don’t need all of my tools at once or even at all! There was little time left in the afternoon after I had done that so I sat and played the guitar for a while before E returned home and we had that barbecue.