Posts Tagged ‘shop’

One hello and one goodbye

Let’s start with the goodbye first. It’s a goodbye to my faithful little HTC phone. I have had lots of happy times with it. It has served me well for time telling, text messaging, phone calling, photograph taking, WordPress posting, Facebook checking and many other exciting things.

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It was my first phone with a big screen. Previously, I’d been all into the clicky-buttons phones, sniffing haughtily at these ‘fancy new phones’ that were like mini computers. Just get a computer, thought I.

Well! I needed an upgrade as my clicky-buttons phone was caving in from oldness. The extremely young looking boy in the shop convinced me to get a big-screen phone. And it was like a revolution in my mind! What’s this? I can play music? And watch YouTube? And see when there are comments on my blog? And check emails? And play a game where you kind of tip the phone up and a little ball rolls around? Epic!

I was immediately converted. I jumped into the big-screen-phone gang with both feet.

And then, um, I, um, I kept dropping it. Um. Yeh. And it slowly got less and less efficient. And I kept needing photographs of every. little. thing. And it started going really slowly because I had taken a thousand million hundred photos (approx.). And I had had it for over two years which, in phone years, is, like, I dunno, a million years or something?

On Thursday, it was time to address this issue. This old-battered-phone issue. I went in the shop prepared for a lot of chitchat and signing things. Ten minutes later, I emerged with a beautiful slick Samsung SomethingOrOther which I love. I don’t have the history that I have with my HTC but the early signs of love are brewing in my heart for this new beautiful Samsung.

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Now for the hello. It’s a big hello to the new Whole Foods in town.

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I tried, people! I tried to be like, “Urgh! Whole Foods! They’re so big and take-over-the-world-y.” But then I went in there and I quite liked it. I was mighty confused about what to get for lunch because there was so much being thrown at me. I could have hot/cold/salad/soup/burger/burrito/fruit/biscuits. I just didn’t know where to look. I picked up a yoghurt after a while and wandered around like a lost child trying to find my friend.

I scoffed at their silly signs about how much they’d done in the local community since arriving and complained about the limited seating.

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Then this rush of warm fuzziness rose up as if from nowhere and I realised I was loving the new Whole Foods. I very nearly bought one of their shopping bags made from recycled materials because I was so caught up in the moment. The staff were smiley and cuddly, like baby pandas. And the food looked wonderful. And the people in the fruit section were trying to offer me samples of their freshly whizzed smoothies.

And now, unfortunately, I love the new Whole Foods. Dammit.

Random acts of kindness

On Saturday, Danda and I went to Brighton and whilst pottering about, we saw a Lush shop. Lush shops smell amazing. You always know there’s one nearby cause you can smell it before you see it. I then always have to go in and poke around and pick things up and smell them.

Whilst poking around and picking things up and smelling them, a shop assistant came over and mentioned that the shampoo bar thing I was looking at is the one she uses.

“I had this shampoo bar once,” I told her. “I also had one of those moisturiser bars over there once. I was a poor student and I’d really splashed out by getting them. They smelled amazing and I was really excited. I was away from home, I forget where I was. I had a shower that evening and used both. But then I left the next morning and left them behind….. I’ve never really got over that.”

“I can see it’s really traumatised you,” she said.

“It did,” I said. “It was 7 years ago now and I still think about it.”

I wandered off and looked vaguely at face masks and bath bombs and ended up buying something small for a friend. Since the incident where I left the shampoo and moisturiser behind, I’ve not bought anything from Lush for myself. It’s like I can’t be trusted with it.

After I got home that evening, I was emptying my bag out and I found the paper bag with the little present in I’d bought for my friend. But there was something else in the bag too.

I guessed it was just a little sample thing so I opened it… And there was a moisturiser bar in there. I couldn’t work it out until I saw a little card stuck on the bag.

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How brilliant is that?!

Doing the Big Shop (Ham House style)

Yesterday was harvest day at Ham House. The day before, the kitchen staff had given the gardeners the shopping list and yesterday, bright and early, the shopping started to be delivered…

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…fresh from the ground! Have I showed you all the Ham House kitchen garden? I can’t remember if I’ve talked about it much before. Anyway, here’s some photos of the ‘supermarket’ where we get our vegetables and herbs and fruit.

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One of the most noticeable differences of working in a kitchen where the produce is fresh and  organic and homegrown, is the time it takes to get the food kitchen-ready.

The raspberries still have teeny tiny bugs wiggling around trying to eat a bit before they get washed off.

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The sorrel takes f o r e v e r to get dry. Even after a pat-dry, a spin and an air dry, each leaf still needs dabbing with dry paper…

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The green and purple beans have a kind of sticky furry layer on the outside that dirt refuses to come out of…

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The red orache has a shiny veneer on the leaves that makes it hard to figure out whether it’s still wet or not and so requires a sort through and a feel of every single leaf…

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The nasturtiums, on the other hand, are easy as pie. They arrive pretty clean anyway. Give em a rinse, spin em, they’re good to go.

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It took a good few hours but eventually all the perishable green leafy salad stuff was in the kitchen fridge, all the big vegetables had been washed and the kitchen staff were steadily getting them sliced and chopped and ready for the weekend’s meals and all the more durable greens were in a box of water waiting for their chance to shine in a quiche.

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From left to right, we have a huge marrow, some lovely out-of-shape carrots, round yellow cucumbers, long green cucumbers and a cauliflower. In the box of greenery we have lovage, chard, cavolo nero, sage and kale.

And that is how we do the Big Shop at Ham House.

Things I learned at Waltham Place

1. Chickens lay eggs when it’s sunny. They’re like solar panels. They only work with sunshine. In the winter, they don’t lay because there is no sun. They are designed to have a break for a few months of the year. Battery farmed chickens are kept indoors with the lights on so that they will lay all year round. That is why they die sooner. They are not being given a break while it is winter. That’s also why the yolks in battery farmed eggs are all pale and yellowy, cause the chickens are quite weak and their diet isn’t very natural. The farmers give them commercially produced feed so their eggs are not as good quality.

2. During the time when it is sunny, chickens lay eggs all the time, regardless of the presence of a male to fertilise. That is the difference between just eggs and potential baby chickens. When there’s a potential baby chicken in an egg, after being laid, the chicken has to ‘go broody’ and sit on it for 24 days, turning it every day. If the chicken lays the egg but then potters off outside and leaves the egg, it will not become a chicken. At Waltham Place, these are the eggs they then take for cooking with. This eases any guilt I may have felt about eating scrambled baby chickens on toast for breakfast.

3. Buttermilk is not the liquid that gets squeezed out of the butter once you have finished churning it. As a butter-maker myself, I had it on good authority that this was buttermilk and so used it in recipes which asked me for it. Who looks stupid now, hey?

4. My Living Responsibly project looks so feeble in comparison to the self-sufficiency at Waltham Place. The air miles on the food I usually buy are ridiculous! I shall make an effort, at least a couple of times after April when the farm shop opens, to go over there and buy things. That way I know the food miles are minuscule, compared with my fruit and vegetables flown in from different continents. I will also make an effort to look on the packets and buy as locally as possible.

5. I want a chicken in my garden.

6. A cow would be good too, for the milk. Milk from the shop will feel like a poor compromise now.

7. Cows from different regions have different personalities! It’s true. The Jersey cows which are new to Waltham Place are apparently a lot more ‘protective’ of their young than the local ones.

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A Valentine’s mix-up

Yesterday, I finished work at 3pm and decided I’d potter into town and get some ideas for Valentine’s Day. Unusually for me, I didn’t have anything planned. Now I’m a girl who loves to plan a surprise. Any occasion. I’ll get started on plans months in advance. I love it.

So Valentine’s Day was on the horizon and, for some unknown reason, I just didn’t get round to planning anything. I’m ok at last minute so it wasn’t a major problem but I was a little surprised. That’s why I decided to wander around town for a while looking for ideas yesterday. I thought I could form a plan whilst seeing things to get inspiration. 

I went into the fancy, preppy Jack Wills and perused the sock section. I visited Molten Brown and smelled the many shower gels. I looked at the photo frames in Zara Home, the jumpers in Crew Clothing and the books in Waterstone’s. Eventually, whilst wandering around M&S, I decided on a nice pair of pyjamas (that I will inevitably steal and start wearing within a week) and, remembering that it is just Valentine’s and not a full on birthday or anything, restrained myself enough to just decide to buy some chocolates to go with the pyjamas.

I headed straight for my favourite chocolate shop. It is called William Curley’s and is a haven of chocolatey goodness. It has won awards. It runs chocolate cookery courses daily. Its chocolates are flavoured with the delicate tastes of Scottish heather and Richmond Park honey. It is phenomenally good quality. I always put a little something from William Curley’s on the side of birthday gifts.

Danda called while I was on my way there and asked me where I was.

“O, just in Waitrose,” said I, sneakily. For I am very sneaky sometimes. “I’m getting us some dinner.”

“Brilliant. I’ve been at the garage all afternoon. The gears on the taxi broke. The mechanic just got finished and I’m driving back. Do you fancy going to the cinema tonight?”

“That sounds great. Call me when you get here.”

I hurried to William Curley’s, for I would have to get home and hide the presents before Danda got back or it would ruin the surprise. Turning into the little lane, I started to imagine what chocolate I would pick for him. I pushed open the door, stepped into the shop and looked up…..

…. At Danda!

There was a moment of recognition as we both realised what had happened. He was at the till paying and just suddenly said, “Get out!” pointing wildly at the door, at which I turned on my heel and fled, laughing uncontrollably.

O well. There goes the surprise! And now I have to think of a new plan for the chocolate part of the present, as I obviously didn’t get any. Maybe a hug will do?

What’s UP?

It’s Wednesday and time for my regular guest Blogger to take over while I have a day off. Enjoy.

If someone says those two words to you how do you answer? I suppose it depends on what you think they mean? Do you interpret them as someone who is caring about your situation and wants to put an arm round you to comfort you? Or do you maybe see them as a kind of rebuke in which someone is trying to ask why you apparently can’t do something they thought you should be able to do? It’s all in the intonation of the voice as the words are spoken isn’t it?

Today I’m using these words a different way – to ask what is the word UP all about. In its basic sense it means “toward a higher place or state”. It’s the opposite of down. Let’s look at some of the many ways the word UP has come to be used and maybe ask yourself why when, in many cases, it could quite simply be left out:

1. Why do we wake UP?

2. At a meeting why does a subject come UP?

3. Why do we say to people, “Speak UP”?

4. Why are candidates UP for election and elected officials UP for re-election?

5. Why is it UP to someone to write UP a report on a meeting?

6. Why do we call UP (or ring UP) our friends?

7. Why do we say that we can brighten UP a room?

8. Why do we polish UP something (table, car, silver)?

9. Why do we warm UP leftover food and clean UP the kitchen?

10. Why do we lock UP the house?

11. Why do people fix UP an old car or machinery?

12. We say people stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite & think UP excuses

13. We say to be dressed is one thing but to be dressed UP is something special

14. Confusingly we say that a drain had to be opened UP because it had got blocked UP.

15. Why do we open UP a shop in the morning & close it UP at night?

16. Why do we move UP in a queue or sidle UP to someone when we are moving horizontally?

17. Why do we call a raid on a shop a hold UP or a stick UP?

18. Why do we fill UP the tank in our car with petrol/gas when we could just fill it?

19. When the sun comes out, after bad weather, we say it is clearing UP

20. Why do we often call a cooked breakfast a fry UP? And get told to eat UP our food?

21. Why do we brush UP on our knowledge of a subject?

22. Why can we sit UP when we’re actually sitting down?

23. Why can we look something UP in a book when we’re looking down at it?

24. Why do we drive UP the road or lane (or even the wall)?

25. Why do we dig UP plants/flowers in our garden when we’re obviously digging down?

In many, but not all, of those examples it is just as easy to miss the “UP” out and the meaning is still clear. We can just as easily “wake” as “wake up”, “warm” food as “warm up” food and so on.

I suppose you could say that we’re a bit mixed UP about UP. It takes UP a lot of space in a dictionary definition. If you’re UP to it you can try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used. It will, though, take UP a lot of your time, but if you don’t give UP, you may wind UP with lots more than just the few I’ve given. Have a think of more examples as there must be many more than the 25 I’ve given.

I could go on and but I’ll wrap it UP now because my time is UP and it’s time to shut UP!

As I collected the different meanings I put them into a Word document so I could save them. And you know what I called the file don’t you? – “What’s UP.doc”. Now tell me what was that rabbit’s name again?

So then, what’s UP? – I’ll let you decide.

“PAPRIKA LAMB!”

Yesterday I was at work. My colleague and I were just hanging around looking for things to do as it was a bit quiet. We had a little look in the fridge of homemade food and saw a stew of some sort. We didn’t know for definite what it was, as the paprika lamb and the pork goulash often look quite similar. There was only one thing for it – the taste test (I sometimes have to do this on the cake, purely in the interests of the customer, you understand..). It tasted like pork. So we put a label on it and got on with other stuff.

Then the world arrived and wanted a sandwich. And they wanted things heated up and they wanted coffees and they wanted to buy this and that. So we woke ourselves up a little and got into ‘military mode.’ I was heating, wrapping, toasting and washing dishes in the kitchen. My colleague was making coffee, taking payments, taking orders and bagging things up in front of the shop. Due to this intensity of action, there was less time for niceties.

I would tear out of kitchen at 100 miles an hour, yelling “CALIFORNIAN CLUB SANDWICH!”  and thrust it at the first person who looked up. “THANKS! HAVE A GOOD DAY!” I would yell, with equal ferocity, before disappearing back into the kitchen to deal with the next order. I’m not sure whether they felt I really meant that last statement…

Anyway, there were pans on hobs all over the place, heating soups and stews and whatever else found its way to me. At one point, I noticed something on a hob which had finished heating. I whipped out the rice, which was also finished and got it ready for take-out. I picked it up and raced out into the shop. I had forgotten how hot it was. My fingers started noticing the heat. Ignore it, I thought. Get the food out now, nurse the cuts and burns later.

I rushed into the shop at some speed, given the finger-burning situation and shouted, “PAPRIKA LAMB!”

…. There was no reaction. What was wrong with these people? My fingers are burning here, OW OW! Pay attention. It must be someone’s.

“PAPRIKA LAMB!” shouted the crazy kitchen lady, again.

Again, no reaction. Some people were talking in the corner and I presumed it must be one of them. Why aren’t they listening out for their food? I thought, impatiently.

“DID ANYONE ORDER A PAPRIKA LAMB WITH RICE TO TAKE AWAY?!” I yelled, raising my voice to get their attention. They all looked briefly at me, shook their heads, then went back to their conversation.

My patience was running low by this point. I needed to get back into the kitchen, I was busy and important, couldn’t these people tell?! Someone needs to take this paprika lamb from me. I tried again.

“PAPRIKA LAMB!”

Nothing. I turned to my colleague, who was making a coffee, and asked her, “Do you know who’s paprika lamb this is?”

(Has anyone else spotted the mistake yet?)

She said (wait for it…..), she said, “O, is that the pork goulash?”

Yes. Yes, it is. Because we don’t have paprika lamb, do we….

A pause. I figure out how to deal with the situation.

“Is anyone waiting for pork goulash?” I said, voice lowered significantly.

The man in front of me stepped forward, thanked me and took his pork goulash…..

Crazy kitchen lady returned to her kitchen cave at the back of the shop and quietly got on with the next order…..