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Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Yes, I've a got a carrier bag and NO, I don't want a damn Nectar card.

Dear young man behind the checkout of my local Sainsburys' Local store. You know me. I am the person who sometimes shops in your store but rarely for anything other than a bottle of wine or a bottle of beer. Your company is too expensive and the stock levels in the 'convenience store' are inconveniently limited. As you don't seem to listen to me  I must write to you in this format. STOP asking the same damn questions EVERY time I come to your till! Let's remind ourselves of what you say to me.

Shop assistant "I'm sorry to keep you waiting."

Me "You haven't, there was no one else in the queue."

Shop assistant " Well, I'm sorry to keep you waiting."

Me "Right."

Phil puts his bottle of beer on the counter to pay.

Shop assistant "I'm sorry to have kept you waiting. Is that everything?"

Me "Well yes, I would have brought other things to the counter if it wasn't."

Shop assistant "Would you like a carrier bag?"

Me "No, orange doesn't suit me but if you have a carrier pigeon I might give in and say yes."

Shop assistant "Pardon?"

Me "Just being witty. Being silly. Amusing. Look, can I just pay for this and go please?"

Shop assistant "Do you have a Nectar card?" (This is about the twentieth time he's asked me in three months.)

Me "No thank you. I did succumb once and kept getting phone calls from Sainsburys trying to sell me things over the phone because I was stupid enough not to tick the box that would have stopped marketing calls. "

Shop assistant "Did you read the Nectar Collector rules?"

Me "Probably not."

Shop assistant "It is important that you read the Nectar Collector rules and the small print."

Me  (getting fractious and thirsty) "Well I couldn't read the Nectar Collector rules because the type is so ridiculously small that an ant with very strong glasses would give up trying! Also I work at a supermarket and get 10% discount and points. So why would I want a Nectar card?"

Shop assistant "Just doing my job Sir and you did apply for one Sir!"

Me " And I would JUST like to pay for my beer please."

Shop assistant " Do you need a carrier bag Sir?"

Me "What?" ( the polite 'pardons' have now flown out of the shop door.)

Shop assistant "Would you like one of our free carrier bags?"

Me "Here's £2.20 for the beer. No carrier bag."

Shop assistant "Would you like a receipt?"

Me  (loosing it) " I tell you what I would bloody like! I would like you to stop asking me the same fecking robotic questions every time I come to this till. Look at me! Look at me and take a photo if you like. Middle aged man, balding, goatee beard, tired after a long day at work, wears a green coat and a grey hat, is usually polite and understanding, named Phil. Likes beer and wine and sometimes buys couscous. Quite a regular customer. Lives around the corner although he has never been in shopping in his pyjamas. Yet.

Got that? Good. Now, instead of 'Think 21' think 'nice guy, bit nutty' but I don't have to ask him if needs a Nectar card ALL THE TIME!!!!"

Shop assistant (hand poised over alarm bell) "Right. Sorry to have kept you waiting."

News Flash: The Sainsburys Local store in the village of Ruddington was attacked earlier today. A man carrying a giant home made replica Nectar card and wearing an orange carrier bag over his head was seen on CCTV footage viciously trying to demolish one of the tills. He was last seen running away screaming the phrase " I just wanted the bloody beer!!!"

PS: If you want an illuminating read check this book out.

Maybe we'll all be kinder to the check out men and women.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

A trip down memory lane

Yesterday I took a trip to the first place I ever learnt the skills of butchery way back in 1971 aged fifteen. The butcher's shop belonged to a Mrs Bosworth at the time and is now owned by Barry Fitch and his sons. The business is located in a place called Little Eaton - a village on the outskirts of Derby. Mr Fitch and his staff were very welcoming as I turned up out of the blue asking to be shown around the premises in order to gather together some details for a proposed book I am writing about my years in the butchery trade - off and on - throughout my life so far. The proposed book will concentrate on amusing stories and be chock full of 1970s and 1980s detail.

I took along my camera and Dictaphone and had a thoroughly enjoyable day exploring my past and relishing a day in the Derbyshire countryside. I did a lot of talking to myself collecting fine audio details on my country walks and was utterly delighted when I got given a paper bag from Bosworth's that they would have used in the 1960s. Check out the phone number and put you penny in slot A. Some of you may be too young to understand the last reference. Such is life!

As well as making forty-six audio recordings I also took a lot of photos around the shop and in the village and found a phone box with books in it and met two very handsome baby cows in a field. There was a street called The Town, a derelict old house that looked haunted and the old village Post Office was a dank boarded up shell of a building with ripped out postboxes and tatty green baize in the window - the sort that greengrocers pretend is grass.

More Derbyshire walks for me in the future! And, Mr Fitch the cornish pasty was superb, thanks.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Oy Veh! Mushy cornflakes with hot milk and an avalance of sugar and frogmen free in the cornlfakes.

My dear old Dad would have been mega confused with this blog post. He liked his daily breakfast  hot and simple, a deep bowl of Kellogg's Cornflakes smothered in sugar and drowned in hot milk. Some for him and some for Misty the cat. I always found his habit of chewing the cornflake mush and passing remnants on to the family cat a bit disgusting  way back in the early 1980s, but hey ho.
As a child of the 1960s I remember the freebies better than the Cornflakes themselves. In one of the previous post I've already mentioned the free toy soldiers but I have another stronger memory of the Kellogg's packets, free masks. Surprisingly I couldn't find any images of the animal masks that you could cut out and construct freely from the back of Kelloggs' Cornflakes packets. I loved them and got terribly confused with the instructions advising 'slip tab A into the back of tab D after folding twice in a complicated origami way etc.' I also remember the less complicated gift of a free frogman toy with every pack of Cornflakes and a submarine that rose and fell to the top and bottom of whatever watery grave you wanted to construct from things in the kitchen.

My step sisters and I would delight in fighting over the Variety packs of  Kellogg's products most days when they appeared on the dining room tables. Happy Days!

Incidently, when I typed in 'variety pack' into Google search for images I got lots that weren't quite what I was looking for, including: Variety packs of Trojan 'groovy sensations' condoms and Groovy Grayola Crayons in multiple colours.

Not Cornflakes

Also, on the offical Kelloggs website, I was offered exciting chances to link onto a variety of food options including: Vegetarian, Vegan, Kosher certified, Halhal certified, Low sodium and Gluten free cornflakes. What would me deceased, dear old Dad, Bob Lowe,  think of that. Bless him!

Dad from beyond: Cornflakes IS Cornflakes for God's sake!  Ooops, sorry God, no offence! And by the way, Misty is with me and enjoying heaven. He appreciates endless rock salmon and mushy hot cornflakes, tons of fussing and no fleas or worms, or vets.

As for Misty the cat... well! I think of old Misty in his mortal existence. This sweet natured cat just liked something moist, free, and sugary and a real contrast or alternative to a constant diet of smelly rock salmon from Derby Market Hall. Then, who I am to judge such things? Certainly not a desperate, sugar fixated, cat begging at the family table. Lol.

Monday, 9 January 2012

skirt and kidney stew with Guinness

Feeling in the mood for some winter warmth today I made myself a stew from beef skirt, lambs kidneys, beef stock, flat leaved parsely, carrots, new potatoes, mushrooms, garlic, shallot onions, horse radish sauce, lots of pepper and salt, Guinness and finally some suet dumplings and green beans. Yum yum!

There's enough left for three more meals. Want some?

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

'And the rain, it raineth every day' time for a Belgian beer.

It’s been raining on and off today with 60 mile an hour gales so most of my day off has been spent indoors doing a bit of clothes washing, a bit of cleaning and a quick puddle dodging, falling branch evading, nip out to the local Co-Op to get something for tea and other bathroom related shopping – alright – bog rolls. Oooh, you have to lower the tone!

I also purchased a couple of wheat beers which led me to remembering a delightful weekend away in May 2010 when I went to Norwich for a much needed holiday from signing on and job seeking back then. It rained a lot that weekend too but it didn’t spoil my fun. The Adam and Eve pub and the Belgian Monk were two pubs I found as I trudged around the wet cobbled streets in search of adventures, beer, sustenance and photo opportunities, in places with quirky names like, Tombland.

Sunday lunch at the Adam and Eve
How can you fail to like a city that has an area called Tombland?  I found the Adam and Eve pub near the delightful river walk and had a wonderful Sunday dinner of steak and kidney pudding and Spotted Dick there, but the most memorable pub visit was to the Belgian Monk. Like the song New York New York, it was so good I went twice.
Amongst lots of delightful things in the characterful city of Norwich, I discovered this pub in which, should I ever want to move there, I think I would become a very regular visitor. As I said, this pub was called The Belgian Monk and it serves a fantastic array of Belgian beers. According to the beer menu the owners 'go to great lengths to ensure that a varied amount of Belgian beers are available by travelling to Belgium three times a month and enjoy exclusivity from four smaller regional Belgian breweries thus offering beers that are not available anywhere else in the UK.'
I spent two happy evenings in this packed but tiny pub enjoying some fruit beers and Belgian Pilsner and watched, with enormous envy as some student regulars wolfed down big cones of frites (Frieten) and steaming plies of freshly cooked mussels (Mosselen) in their shells. At the time of my visit I was unemployed so I had to watch the pennies, big time. What a shame, as the food looked fab.

The main beers that they sell are Grimbergen Abbey Beer, Belgian Pilsner, Belgian regional specialities, Fruit beers (eighteen at the last count), Guest beers and Low Alcohol beers.  They range between 2.6% and 12% abv and I love their names, mostly Belgian and some French.

The very look and sound of the beer names appeal to me never mind how they taste. Some examples would include: Maes Pils, Sparta Pils, Cuvee de Ciney Bruin, Judas, Ter Dolen Blond. But, to me, the fruit beers have the most exotic sounding names.

Fruit beers: Mort Subite Gueuze, Mort Subite Framboise Extreme, Lindemans Appel, St Louis Peche, Bosbier, Ter Dolen Kriek, Cherish Frambozen, Klokke Rolland, Celis White, Piraat, Gulden Draak, Zwyntje, Monks Café Flemish sour ale, Augustijn, Mea Culpa Blond, Spitfire.

Guest beers: Omer, Hopus, La Chouffe,  McChouffe, Tripel Karmelite, Kwak, Delerium Tremens, Palm, Rochefort, Orval, Bush Blond, Bush Amber, Cuvee de Trolls, DeKoninck.

Apparently, again, according to the beer menu, if you ask for a bollekje, they won’t be offended and they offer a variety of tasty blondes, some stronger than others. Well!! When's the next train?

part of the interior of the Belgian Monk pub
Each of the beers is brewed without pasteurisation and is second fermented in either the bottle or keg. They are ‘living’ beers, strong and easily drinkable. The establishment also does a variety of red, rose, white and sparkling wines and very scrummy food.
Today, I went on their website,, to see what food items they offer and was going to list a few with descriptions for your delectation. However, for a real taste of what this fantastic pub offers you need to check it out yourself by clicking on the link, then the second link for food. It’s like being abroad – except you can understand the menu – and it looks very affordable and mouth wateringly good, and Belgian!

Norwich Cathedral
I may have to go back to Norwich one day (perhaps Delia Smith will invite me) and enjoy this wonderful pub in the heart of Norfolk and maybe, just maybe, another Sunday lunch at the Adam and Eve as well as some Belgian fare at the Belgian Monk.

Adam and Eve pub. Norwich. UK.

Back at the time of my visit I wrote a professional  review for Simonseeks travel website. I would certainly recommend the guest house I stayed in and the lovely city itself.