Monday, 18 January 2016

Excess packaging, flat rate delivery charges and desert island music

                                                 A sunny morning in the nearby woods


The photo has nothing to do with the blog post, but it's one of my favourites, a reminder of sunny days last week when a quick walk in the woods on the way back from the village shop was a nice way to start the day.

I'm starting though with a gripe, well, two actually, as you may be able to tell from the title of the post.

Why oh why do firms use so much packaging? I ordered two bars of handmade soap, a treat for myself, two bars which would have easily fitted into a paperback-sized padded envelope. But they came in a box measuring about twelve inches by eight inches by five inches, full of polystyrene wotsits. I don't know the biodegradable properties of these wotsits, but that's beside the point. They were totally unnecessary, it was way too much packaging for two small items like the soap bars. And this isn't the only example, I could go on to tell you about small items my other half ordered for his model railway, that come in way-too-big boxes, that could again have fitted into small padded envelopes. Presumably these companies find it cheaper to just order one size fits all cardboard boxes?But what a waste, in more ways than one.

Then there's the flat rate postage, again over the top. Items that could be sent for just over a pound yet you have to pay anything from £3.50 to a fiver for delivery. No doubt there are some who will say it's the price you pay for online shopping, but if this is the only way, the best way, to do your shopping, is it fair to have to pay over the top for the privilege?

OK, little rant over, now for something jollier.

A friend and I had been discussing Desert Island Discs and decided to try and do our own version. do you know, it was incredibly hard. Take the music choices for instance... so much music I absolutely love, but some I wouldn't choose because it makes me sad.... the Pearl Fishers Duet by Bizet for example, makes the hairs on my neck stand on end, makes my eyes fill up as it was my late father's favourite piece of classical music and formed part of the background to my teenage life. Then there's Harry Nillsons' 'Without You', another song which affects me deeply on an emotional level as it was 'our song' for my late husband and I, married in 1972 with such hopes, ended four years later when he collapsed and died from a brain haemorrhage.

No, the music would have to be uplifting in some way. So there would be three classical tracks.... Samuel Barber's 'Adagio for Strings', Rachmaninoff's Concerto No. 2 (the music from 'Brief Encounter'), and a piece by Pachabel which I have forgotten the name of now. There would also have to be 'Rockin' all over the world' by Status Quo because that always gets me dancing, and if it was a small desert island there wouldn't be much scope for walking - and I can't swim. Something by Chris Rea is a must, but there are so many favourite tracks it's hard to pick one - though definitely not 'Driving home for Christmas' as this might make me miss home too much. 'La Mer' sung by Bobby Darin is one for the list too, as is something by Sinatra - again hard to choose one track, but possibly 'I've got you under my skin'. 'Tears dry on their own' by Amy Winehouse another definite. And I'd have to have something Tamla, but goodness, there's dozens of favourites, if not hundreds. Maybe  a bit of Northern Soul, possibly Millie Jackson, anything that again would get me moving to the music and lift my mood. Shame you can only pick such a small number, but it does concentrate the mind! But don't get me started on the book choice.....

How about you, could you pick your favourite music?

Thanks, as ever for reading, you happy few!

Friday, 1 January 2016

And so another year begins.


New Year's Day, blue skies and sunshine, and only the second frost of the winter. The first was back in November, when we were all fooled into thinking Winter was beginning so out with the summery bedding, on with the thicker duvet. Of course, it didn't last and by mid-December there were nights so unseasonably warm we were kicking off the heavy duvet. But a nice crisp morning, perfect for a walk in Sandringham woods. Not many people about, no doubt sleeping off last night's excesses. I suppose there were some parties, somewhere, but our neighbours aren't the party types, hunkering down in their homes and seeing in the New Year in their own, quiet way. We were asleep!!!

How do you spend this first day of the New Year I wonder? Do you have certain rituals? For many it's the time to take down the old calendars and hang the new, which is what I do, transferring birthdays for the year and medical appointments for the next couple of months. Not for me days marked with such as 'lunch out', 'meeting so-and-so for coffee', 'dinner at the pub'. These days it's definitely non-exciting/interesting stuff. But such is life, you adapt to how it turns out, and if it's not as you expected or hoped, then so be it. If it can be changed, then change it. If not, go with the flow.

As friends know, that's those who read this but never leave comments, I am not one for resolutions. I have Good Intentions, which seem less important in a way, things that it's OK not to see to fruition. Whereas resolutions put you under stress in a way, and then disappointment when you fail to keep them. I have one friend, and I'm sure it's the same for you, who after confessing to excesses over the Festive period, is determined this year to start a diet and fitness regime and stick to it. How many times have I heard that! Even said it myself in the past, but now accept that the best I can hope for is weight maintenance. She said that there were going to be no more treats when she and I chatted last week, now that's changed to treats only at the weekend! 

Anyway, my Good Intentions this year include learning to knit socks properly, ie on small circular needles as opposed to a normal pair of needles. I read Lucy at Attic 24's blog and she mentioned Winwick Mum and her book of knitting socks, which has had some excellent reviews on Amazon, so I've treated myself to that, the first book of 2016, but as anyone who knows me will tell you, it won't be the last!

I also intend reading a poem a day from 'Poems for Life', doing more sketching, and spending more time in the garden as soon as I can.

You see, nothing too strenuous or stress-inducing. And no doubt I'll think of something else I would like to do, something achievable, because that's surely the secret to having resolutions and intentions, making them achievable and realistic which means you're more likely to succeed perhaps?

Happy New Year!