I will start with a rant to get it off my chest.
Having had an (unusually) significant birthday, I registered to receive my pension (a detailed process, grab a coffee and allow ten minutes or so). Once submitted, the confirmation went straight into my junk inbox. The next contact I had was a text, three weeks later, saying they’ll send me a letter. I’m hoping it doesn’t ask for more information (or tell me they now only deal with claims via Facebook or some such). Good job I’m not reliant on this. Nowhere to go and spend it anyway. (Sob).
All the years I worked, including holiday jobs when a student, I paid my ‘stamp’ in order to get a pension when I retired at the official age of 60 years. I even paid when I was ‘not working’ due to my pregnancy and George’s birth. I say ‘not working’ as, being freelance, I received a phone call from my bank manager asking me for a cash flow forecast: I’m not sure he’d heard the excuse of “I’ll get back to you, I’m in labour at the moment” before! In 2016 (a YEAR AFTER I should have received my State Pension) I checked and yes, I’d paid enough to receive the full pension. Then, late in 2020, I was advised to check again as they’d changed the rules. Oh, didn’t we tell you? You need to pay more if you want the full pension. Working out that if I lived for a couple of years it would be worthwhile for the extra, I paid up. Let’s hope I’m still blogging in 2023. You don’t have to keep reading if you get bored, I won’t mind.
The cause of all this was, yes, my 66th birthday. The eagle-eyed of you might have spotted that in one of the photos on the last Blog Post. I’ve just looked to see if January 10th celebrates anything and found out that it’s “Peculiar People Day”. No need to comment.
Last year I was living it up in Airlie Beach (see Blog Post 67 dated 10th January 2020). This time, I’m glad to say MBB were able to celebrate with me. One of my presents was wrapped in a most peculiar way, with a picture of our dear leader. This was a big clue, as inside was The Times from my actual birthday! No mention of me (well, I was born abroad*). Also, of course, it wouldn’t be in that day’s paper, I should have been given the next few to see if I did appear. I suspect not.
It has a very different appearance, small ads on the front page and no pictures, although there are black and white pictures inside. It cost 4d for 12 pages (Four pence, when there were 12 pennies in a shilling and 20 shillings in a pound. One shilling became 5p. How’s your maths?). Births, marriages and deaths are on the front page, together with situations vacant and personal notices. How about “Dog Lover Essential. Lady offered large, comfortably furnished bed-sitting room and kitchenette, in exchange help with two Afghan Hounds”. Or “Elderly gentlefolk welcomed in large country house; warmth, comfort, good food; own poultry and produce; from 6gns (guineas, each worth £1 and one shilling) weekly; own furniture if desired”. Or possibly my favourite “Can anyone recommend first-rate Manservant to cook and take entire charge of bachelor flat in London?” Where’s Jeeves when you need him, eh?
In the theatre section, you could go and see The Mousetrap (or two other Agatha Christie plays), The King and I, The Marvellous Story of Puss In Boots, and many others I’ve never heard of. At the cinema was Pinocchio, Belles of St Trinian’s or Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. A restaurant advertised SCAMPI, must have been something special in those days. News in brief really is that, two or three lines. One of the items is “F. Trueman, aged 23, the Yorkshire and England bowler, is to marry Miss Enid Chapman”. I remember him!
And to remind us that nothing is new, a report of a measles epidemic in Greenland, 1000 cases and two deaths from pneumonia connected to the measles.
JD cooked us a wonderful supper including lobster. The dogs ate the legs (right word?) with no ill effects at the end so very little went to waste. JD has warned the three of us not to expect such a feast too often.
George and Yangzi gave me an unreal bouquet of flowers, it was in fact made of (delicious) cupcakes! I did have a real bouquet from one of the family. You can see them both somewhere in this Post. As I mentioned in Post 115 dated 12th January 2021, Christmas 2020 kept on giving. A very late present was a box of spices with an accompanying cookery book. How to be a legend in my own time?
Referring back to today’s title, I recently cooked a meal using up a jar of green (now black) peppercorns in brine (now dried salt), finally finished a mere 25 years after their expiry of 1996. I think this wins the antiquity stakes (see Blog Post 89 dated 22nd April 2020). I also made Tarte au citron with mascarpone left over from before Christmas (instead of cream) and limes as well as lemons, all found in the dark recesses of the fridge. See the header for this inelegant presentation (complete with wizened nectarine). Despite all this, we are still alive! It might go some way to explaining why I’m not allowed to cook very often though.
You also saw some pieces of the 1000 piece jigsaw in Post 115. These are very small and it was over 67 cm (two feet) in diameter. I managed to finish it but had to cheat. If you look very carefully at the photo in the earlier post you might notice numbers on the back of each piece. Even so, it took me weeks to finish.
I received a comment on my last blog: Please look at the teenager cocktail again (2 x vodka, 1 x peach schnapps) but instead of lemonade, try topping it up with champagne garnished with three raspberries (my pal’s Christmas Eve cocktail for several years). I didn’t have raspberries around so I added some redcurrants from the freezer (I’m slowly emptying it) and yes, a delicious cocktail!
The next official ingredient is Pisco. I bought this to make a Beagle cocktail (see Blog Post 102 dated 11th August 2020) but as we’ve done that, I need another recipe. Ah, I’m sure Dean would find this one fun: Paddington Bear Martini. I don’t have a PB to decorate it, what can I find? See the final photo today for the answer.
The Prada Cup (lead-in to the America’s Cup) has been continuing in Auckland, just looking at all those people sitting so close together is weird! INEOS UK won the first four races and so are through to the Prada Cup. USA managed to get their yacht repaired and raced against Italy to see who would challenge INEOS: the Italians won the first four races, so from February 13th it will be Italy vs the UK in the best of seven and the US sailors have gone home. If they’ve any sense they’ll find a way to stay in New Zealand but life doesn’t always let you do what you want.
Whoever wins the next set of races will win the actual Prada Cup, plus they will challenge New Zealand for the America’s Cup, in early March. No exciting videos this time, I’m afraid the Italy/USA races were not as gripping as the ones I gave you last time.
In the Vendée Globe, the first eleven or so have finished, the winner was not the first boat in due to the time allowance to four yachts for going to rescue Escoffier (see Blog Post 113 dated 7th December 2020). Boris Herrmann, hoping to be the first non-Frenchman to win, was going great guns until almost the last day, when he collided with a fishing trawler and sustained some damage. Not serious, just enough to slow him down. Instead, Yannick Bestaven came first on the podium, taking just over 80 days, with Charlie Dalin second (although he managed to come into port first, he had no time allowance as he’d not had to divert). Our two remaining sailors (Pip Hare and Miranda Merron) are still racing their way home, in 20th and 23rd places, both back on the right side of the Equator.
*: Old joke: have you ever fancied being abroad? No, I’ve always wanted to stay a man. Not sure this sort of joke is allowed now, I’m sure it will offend some denomination or other. Maybe I’ll keep off the jokes!