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The story begins at Day 1. The short version: I ruptured knee ligaments skiing, and am experiencing life with dramatically-reduced mobility. Today: shopping!

Day 8 )
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The weekend before last, I was seized with a sudden whim to have treacle pudding[*] to follow Sunday dinner. Although I'm sure I've been involved in pudding-making with the mother, I think I mostly did the fancy string-and-greaseproof-paper part at the end rather than actual cooking, so didn't have a favourite recipe.

The BBC is usually a good bet, so I took this recipe as a starting point. The executive summary is: put treacle in pudding bowl, top with 4/4/8 sponge mixture, do the fancy string-and-greaseproof-paper part (instructions in recipe), and steam for a couple of hours. Sorted.

Pudding! )

[*] Just to make sure we're all on the same page: a treacle pudding is a steamed sponge pudding made with golden syrup. If you're reading in America, then my understanding is that there's no direct equivalent of golden syrup. Recipes I've found direct you to mix two parts corn syrup two one part molasses, but most of them also recommend you scour your local shops for the proper stuff first.
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Note for Americans: I live in the UK, where customer service is regarded as (at best) an optional extra.

Today I was in the card shop, Scribbler, buying a birthday card in rather a hurry.

Did I want a bag, asked the lady behind the counter.

No, but I would quite like the loan of a pen if she wouldn't mind.

She didn't mind. She asked if I wanted her to dispose of the card's plastic wrapping, and handed me my unwrapped card with a nice pen and a useful clipboard to provide a flat surface to write on. The clipboard even had an attached bit of paper for practice scribbling.

So hurrah! Well done Scribbler on High Holborn.
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I'm the sort of anti-social type who sits at my desk all day with headphones on. The lovely pair of Sennheisers I bought well over a decade ago were looking rather shabby by the time I started newJob so they have been promoted sideways to be headphones-plugged-into-the-piano at home. I set off to buy some new ones.

Now, the last pair came from a tiny little audio shop in Reading. They let me faff about trying headphones on for an hour or more, checking whether I could still hear someone talking to me when wearing them, checking that my music didn't leak out to annoy colleagues. Sadly, that shop shut years ago. And the model of headphones is discontinued. Since almost all headphones are uncomfortable for me, there's no way I'm buying without trying. Where does one go to try on headphones these days?

Everywhere! )
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I'm sure I have dozens of LJ posts stacked up in the back of my head, but now that I am sitting at a computer with ten minutes to spare, I can't remember any of them. So, you may have my thoughts on jeans.

Jean Genie )
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Yesterday, I invited people to play Be Surprised By The Price of Confectionery. And many of you did, thank you.

The Answers, or Your Chance To Be Surprised )
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Shall we play a game?

It's called Be Surprised By The Price of Confectionery )
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So, that time has come. The time when you accept that your mobile phone is not long for this world, and you need to sort out a replacement.

Unfortunately, the phone I want does not exist.

I want a high-end Android device which is physically small )

Current working plan is to backup all the data from my existing phone, do a factory reset, and hope that'll clear it up enough to let me squeeze a few more months' use out of it while I try to make a decision, and hope some new phones come out.
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At the weekend, while not frolicking in record shops or climbing trees, I did a lot of cooking.

And before that, I did a lot of shopping.

Vegetables within! )
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My Christmas present from [livejournal.com profile] ebee this year was a voucher for a "Reading Spa". This is a bibliophiliac experience at the lovely Mr B's Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath. And not, as I first guessed, a spa in Reading.

So, I trundled down to Ebee's on Thursday evening, and on Friday we got ourselves up and down the M4 to Bath. The M4 wasn't in a very good temper so we arrived a little later than expected, but figured we had just enough time to squeeze in lunch if we could locate some form of eatery near the bookshop.

Step forward Wild Cafe, who furnished us with a most excellent lunch. They were friendly, and helpful, and had the sort of menu where you read it thinking: I'll have that... no, wait, that... or that! I had potted brown crab on toast with (at my request, having observed they were still serving breakfast) two poached eggs on it. Nowt fancy, but if you make that with nice crab, nice eggs and nice bread it's awsome.

I've never been to Mr B's before: it's exactly the kind of bookshop I wish would profilerate. They describe themselves as "a curated bookshop". Being far too tiny to have any hope of competing with the Waterstone's across the road, they go for sourcing unusual books you may not have heard of. If anyone else has fond memories of the QI bookshop in Oxford, then it's a bit like that.

Having grown up with the serendipity of second-hand bookshops, I've always found new shops disappointing. Sure if you go in with a goal, you can find it, buy it and leave. Which is useful. But I rarely find inspiration there for things I didn't know I wanted. But what the likes of Mr B's provides is the fun of browsing... oh look, that's got a nice cover... I've never heard of that guy... I didn't know she had a new book out! A nice selection of books, mostly displayed covers-out to tempt you.

Anyway, I settled myself down into a large, squashy chair in front of the fire[*]. With a big mug of tea and a frankly epic piece of chocolate and brazil nut cake. And a nice chap called Ed sat in the next chair and started asking me about the books I liked. And the books I didn't like. And what I did or didn't look for in a book. And after a bit, he scooted off and came back with a big stack of books.

He ran through them, enthusing about each of them, and we chatted about them and wandered off into reminiscing about favourite books, and then he came back with another big stack. Ed was charming, and entertaining, and spectacularly well informed about books. (The only time I mentioned an author he didn't know all about was Lois McMaster Bujold, [livejournal.com profile] lathany's recommendation for my new year booklist. I'm pretty sure he took it as a personal slight, too :)

Eventually, I was left in my comfy chair to fish through the stacks and pick out the ones I wanted to keep. Which was hard. I don't really feel I have a favourite genre, or style, or setting. Mostly if someone says "this is a good book", I'll trust them. And Ed had said that about every last one[**]. I whittled it down by a mixture of inclination, determination to read books I might not normally go for, and caprice.

And I went downstairs and scooped up Ebee, who'd also succumbed to the lures of the shop and collected her own big stack of books. And we chatted with the staff some more, and headed off laden down, into an extremely sunny and pleasant Bath. We squeezed in some more tea, and all in all it was a thoroughly excellent day.

Of course, the downside of all this book-related frivolity was revealed to me on Saturday morning. I have more books than is reasonable for someone with my level of bookshelf ownership (and my level of bookshelf ownership is dictated by the quantity of available wall). Accordingly, I girded my loins. Here is the out tray:

Stacks of books waiting to be taken to Oxfam

And here, for those interested, is the in tray:

Ten shiny new books

(The shelves, of course, don't look any less full. How does that happen?)

In summary: Mr B's is lovely, and anyone stuck for a present for a booklover should consider a book spa voucher ;)

[*] In their "Bibliotherapy Room". Which also contains a tiny booth which you can hire - complete with headphones, tea, and cake - for "uninterrupted reading" at £3.50 for half an hour.

[**] I think he went through about 25 books, of which only two turned out to be books I already knew. Both of which I love.
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OK, so a little while back I asked you lovely, helpful people for some boardgame recommendations. I was after a present for some friends, and the suggestions were many and varied.

I went shopping )

Anyway, the short version: thank you all for your assistance, Tzolk'in appears to be a winner, and Eclectic Games is an excellent emporium staffed by helpful people :)
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In between Christmas and New Year, I...

Was off work, and quite enjoyed myself )

And today I was back at work. First Great Western celebrated this momentous event by putting my ticket price up and cancelling the train I was hoping to catch. My bike expressed its distaste at having been locked up by itself for a fortnight by hiding an enormous quantity of water in its saddle, then carefully disgorging it while I rode to work.
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A while ago, the mother (who reads the business pages and pays attention) mentioned in passing that Tesco was going to ditch its long-running Value brand. The red, white and blue packaging which saw me through my days as a poverty-stricken student was to be retired and something new (and as yet unspecified) was to take its place.

Valued Opinions )
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At the weekend, I was trawling the aisles of Sainbury's. And, while it wasn't what I was looking for, their own-brand "Cooks Ingredients" range turned out to be exactly what I wanted.

In effect, it's packets of cooked meat - nowt hugely inspiring there, you'd think. But actually, they're packets of shredded ham hock, shredded beef brisket, shredded cooked chicken... in fact, they're packets of leftovers. Which is great, because sometimes you want the leftovers without having had what is referred to in our household as the firstovers.

Obviously, if you want shredded ham hock then the ideal thing is to have already had a meal or two involving ham hock that week - it's probably nicer, and it's very probably cheaper. However if, for some reason, you have failed to have the requisite foresight then being able to buy leftovers is a very good idea indeed.
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I need a little shopping advice.

I often wake up, in the night, with dreadful cramp in my legs. This is not pleasant. Some time ago, someone recommended drinking one of those modern-fangled isotonic-flavoured electrolye-ridden buzzword-compliant sports drinks before going to bed.

I bought a drum of lemon-flavoured powder from (I think) Boots and... hey presto! Miracles were worked, and my legs did not tie themselves into excruciating knots in the night.

Enter a second friend, who assured me that the water was the important part and that I was merely paying for the caché of sports drinks unnecessarily. So, this summer (cramp seems to be a summer problem, for me) I stuck to drinking water before bed. Friend2 was wrong. It does not have the same effect.

So, off to Boots I went. And then to Superdrug, Holland & Barrett, Tesco... Nope. No one sells the damn stuff any more. According to Boots' website, they do still sell drums of mixable powder but they now only do orange flavour. Also, I have yet to catch a branch which actually stocks the damn stuff (and the website is out of stock, too).

Can anyone recommend a powdered sports drink which is (a) cheap and (b) available in something non-orange? I only require the re-hydration parts, not the energy parts, since I'll be drinking it before bed. For preference I'd like something available in high street shops, since I don't think my ego will permit me to become the sort of person who orders highly specialised sports beverages off t'internet.

Either that, or I'll just have to settle for squash made up with homebrew ORS. Which might work, but would probably taste nasty.
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I have just put an entire trolleysworth of shopping through a self-service checkout in Tesco, without once putting that which was unexpected in the bagging area. I was not beeped at, remonstrated with, warned or menaced by the machine. It did not summon members of staff at arbitrary moments. I even persuaded it to let me purchase the vacuum pack of smoked mackerel whose barcode didn't scan.

I am made of 24-carat, armour-plated righteous WIN.
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Newsflash! Science can save you money!

I take glucosamine tablets, because I have lots of joint problems. I don't know whether it does any good, but it seemed like a worthwhile idea. I'm running out of pills.

Just before popping out to the shops, I idly went to Wikipedia to read up about glucosamine. Among other things, I have discovered that according to a Cochrane review, it doesn't do much (although they were looking more at effects on athritis). So maybe I won't bother.

If, in a few weeks time, bits of me are hurting more, I may go back to taking them because I'm willing to pay a few quid for a possibly placebo-based effect. If not, hurrah, money saved.
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When I popped to Tesco last, I noticed several things which are intended to show the customer how seriously they are taking people's need to spend less. Many items have little flags showing them as "discount brands", the special offers seem to be on basics rather than on exciting new lines, and they have an example trolley by the door.

Exemplary shopping )

Please note this post was brough to you without the words "current", "financial" and "climate". That's fast becoming one of those phrases that you hear so often it's rendered meaningless. Beware the new CFCs.

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