Achieved so far today

  1. 2 doz orange biscuits made, half covered in dark chocolate
  2. 2 doz choloate biscuits ditto, two broken when switching oven shelves, dipped half in rich milk chocolate
  3. One small fire started

No. 3 was a natural result of leaving a baking sheet with parchment on it on the stove top while I set the chocolate to melt and then nipped upstairs for a minute. Came back down and the corner was just beginning to catch nicely. Muppet.

Once the topping has set I face the interesting conundrum of how to pack the buggers in a Parcelforce-proof fashion.

What, you didn’t think I was going to eat that lot myself, did you?



I didn’t know you had my address, but I call that a very kind gesture.

How did you know that I managed to burn some slices of black pudding earlier and am feeling very depressed about cooking?

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But do you have all our addresses?

Nowt as exciting here - one brown soda loaf and about to start on soup, when I can decide what to make (aka unearthed whatever ingredients are mouldering at the back of the cupboard)


Postal biscuits not beyond bounds of possibility given:

  • proof of principle by these batches arriving in the Marches and the Central belt respectively still in biscuit form, rather than having been reduced to their constituent atoms
  • time to recover from packing the blasted things - a tricky business as it turned out
  • ditto from doing battle with our charming local post office
  • addresses of them as wants

Commiserations to Fanta wrt frazzled black pudding. Disappointing, rather.


Gus, may I commend to your attention ? You have to pay via paypal checkout (a credit card will work), but you can buy postage on-line and then just drop the thing off at your local post office, which gives them fewer chances to be a pain.

(Or there’s MyHermes, but I assume you want them to arrive.)


Thank you Hedgers.
It’s their attempt to upsell one to registered (?) - singed for, anyway - post and then the sulky interrogation as to the precise nature of the contents that annoy me. Those, and the other customers :rage:

Most of them, anyway. In the run-up to a Christmas I was there with my parcel in a long queue and the auld lad behind me got chatting. He was posting stuff for his granddaughter and her flatmate and was greatly looking forward to telling the countron when asked that his parcels contained bombs. Bathbombs. I was through and done before he got called forward, unfortunately, so I don’t know how that one played out.


Are we back to Fanta’s rather blacker than intended puddings?


I think Gus must be referring to her own conflagration started earlier.

Neither can compare with my sister’s plastic melting on top of the stove incident which had shreds of black plastic hanging from the ceiling. Oops, that’s supposed to be our little secret but you won’t tell, will you?


This is the point at which I might reasonably talk about the perils of burning soap.


Well go on, then.
Agog, I am.


What does that smell like? Bad, I imagine. Burning tallow. (Is soap made with tallow nowadays?) Can’t imagine that would be good.


The Soap incident was an example of how saving thirty pence can be Expensive.

I once decided to do as my old mum used to, and collect the shards of soap left at the end of each bar, then boil them up and have a soap gel in a jar for use in the kitchen.

I had got as far as putting about two dozen collected ends-of-bar into an old saucepan to boil when my old mum rang.

After a while I noticed that the sun had gone in. A short while later I realised that it looked black outside the kitchen windows but not outside the other ones I could see which pointed in the same direction.

At that point I uttered a sharp noise, made an excuse to my mother, put down the phone and went to see what on earth was going on. I went in that way you do when you know absolutely that this is a disaster, and you don’t really want to know how bad, only it will get even worse if you don’t.

Did you know that when soap is in flames, it forms greasy airborne flakes which settle on everything the smoke touches?

Every surface in the kitchen that was more than just over three foot from the floor, that is, everything above the level of the upper edge of the saucepan, (including every work surface, everything on them all including a loaf of bread to half way down it, and the hob, and the washing machine, and the walls, and the windows, and the ceiling, but luckily not the insides of the cupboards, which were all closed) was covered in sooty black grease, which was well-nigh impossible to wash off. In the end we spent several thousand pounds having the kitchen rebuilt, because it was never going to be hygienic to cook there again.

And all to save thirty pence or so on soap… Luckily we had not had the kitchen redone that year: we were saving up for it and planning when it all got taken out of our hands.

– Not very long later, while we were still working out exactly what we wanted in the kitchen, the roof of the house tried to come off in sections, and the outer skin of one wall fell down as a result, and then the whole kitchen (which was stuck onto the back of the house and turned out to have no foundations of any sort, just lino on top of those red builders’ tiles over Bristol earth) collapsed in on itself during the work on the rest of it, so one way and another we had done well to wait. It was still a bit of a shock to the system.


Crumbs! I can’t think of any domestic disaster I have ever experienced which came close to that.

This is the nearest I can get. My sister had a pipe come loose upstairs with the result that several bathtubs full of water emptied unknown to them into the cavity between the floor of the bathroom and the ceiling of the living room below. Then the plaster gave way. Their stereo player was drenched, as was the carpet and the whole room had to be re-plastered and re-painted. Luckily the insurance company stumped up without argument.

Here’s the amusing part. My late brother-in-law used to work at Wallace and Wallace, the auctioneers, in Lewes. When he told the story of this mishap to his colleagues, adding proudly that they had quickly moved the living room furniture out of the way as soon as they saw the water pouring down from the ceiling, they roared with derisive laughter. He was given to understand that in Lewes, no stranger to floods, the custom was to move everything that might be a bit worn and shabby into the way of the water so as to be able to make a claim for a new one.

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Ah. So burning soap has a rather similar effect - I suppose it would, really - to spontaneous human combustion.

Bleak House, chap 32.
“Ah!” returns Mr Guppy. “See how the soot’s falling. See here, on my arm! See again, on the table here! Confound the stuff, it won’t blow off — smears, like black fat!” …

“Fah! Here’s more of this hateful soot hanging about,” says he. “Let us open the window a bit, and get a mouthful of air. It’s too close.” …

Mr Guppy sitting on the window-sill, nodding his head and balancing all these possibilities in his mind, continues thoughtfully to tap it, and clasp it, and measure it with his hand, until he hastily draws his hand away.

“What, in the Devil’s name,” he says, “is this! Look at my fingers!”

A thick, yellow liquor defiles them, which is offensive to the touch and sight, and more offensive to the smell. A stagnant, sickening oil, with some natural repulsion in it that makes them both shudder. …

And yet look here — and look here! When he brings the candle, here, from the corner of the window-sill, it slowly drips and creeps away down the bricks; here, lies in a little thick nauseous pool. …

There is a very little fire left in the grate, but there is a smouldering suffocating vapour in the room, and a dark greasy coating on the walls and ceiling. The chairs and table, and the bottle so rarely absent from the table, all stand as usual.

_Y_our major collapse, though - and coo, er, crikey, must have been a horrible shock, that - is out of Little Dorrit.

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Depends which bit of Lewes!

Up by the castle there is land would be above water if sea-level went up a hundred feet. It would be a highly defensible island, in fact.

I lived for a year in Spence’s Lane, which would certainly have been inundated early on as the water rose. Back in those days there was nothing between our back garden and the river except some rather fox-haunted water meadows.

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I arranged a roofer to come and explain
i. Why we were getting drips in both our office and our conservatory
ii. How he was going to fix it
iii… & how much of our hard-earned it was going to cost

Then asked about him replacing our Soffits & guttering

Then had a builder round to discuss removing some God-awful pebble-dashing around our house and replacing with rendering, suitably painted.

Following which a P&D to discuss removing 30yr old wall-chip paper on our 25 yard long hallway, both sides … & the plasterer to replace the inevitable loss when that is removed.

Got £189 back from a Chinese Restaurant in Manchester who managed to bill our party of 8 for a banquet x 8 AND for the food items individually as well.

Finalised out the purchase of my brand new (get the new-car smell) Merc. I pick it up on Friday. Plus the sale of my current Passat with 176,000 on it … biggest issue; finding the blooming transfer documents.

Confirmed the3 piece suite to be re-upholstered for probably more £ than getting a new one…

Did the Saturday Big-Shop which we missed by being away over the weekend. Cooked a piece of beef and then made tea (dinner to you Southern types).

Watched University Challenge (I competed in 3 shows in my day) and got more points than the whole Birmingham team. Then was bored by Broadchurch taking so long to get going.

Apart from that a quiet day. A tad expensive though.


I am merely getting on with the Reporter’s “Archers Who’s Who”, which costs nothing but brain and electricity. The roof being replaced was last month.

I do not envy you, no, not even the new Merc, for I have got a Mini so ner.

Have you moved in recently, or something? Or has the wood-chip finally driven you mad after lo these many years?

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The latter. We’ve been here 20 years. It’s always irritated me but life in general has always got in the way …and cost … and that one job will lead to another.

Plus the sure knowledge that it will take a huge amount of time & effort to do AND if any steam is used, which it will be, the plaster will pop. The pro’ yesterday said a minimum of 3 days. It would take me twice that, if not more. We’ve done the bathrooms and 4 bedrooms previously (with the above result), the hall always seemed put-offable.

After this there’ll be the dining room and office. They can wait for now.

We’ve put off a new boiler & new radiators … and a new hall carpet. It’s like a set of dominos really. So we’ve decided to go for it.


Makes sense. My old Ma used to say that if you hadn’t dealt with anything that niggled in a new house within the first six months you were there you had better learn to live with it, because you’d probably still be thinking about changing it some time twenty years later. Sounds as if she was about right!

Though in fact I lost patience with having a pale fawn carpet in a large main room with one outside door, one door into the garage, two doors into other bits of the house and the stairs leading up out of it, after only about four years of constant cleaning, and eventually bit the bullet and installed a bamboo floor instead after only five. That was a job and a half, but I moved all the furniture to one side of the room, did that side and then moved everything onto the new floor there and did the other side, and it doesn’t look too bad.


“It doesn’t look too bad”


It looks bloody brilliant…

Am ok with vinyl flooring, & a whizz with carpet tiles, but the ‘proper’ stuff…


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