Being Seriously Bullied By The Canal & River Trust Ltd to Cruise More during a Pandemic, from Neighbourhood to Neighbourhood…

Messing about in boats is great…but messing about those who live aboard us something else….the post that follows is, I think, self explanatory. One man’s exasperated end of tether response to a threat to ruin his life.

The Diesel-Electric Elephant Company.

The Canal & River Trust Ltd tell me that I may have “trouble renewing my boat licence” because I haven’t cruised enough in the period May 2020 to December 2020… Trouble from them that is.

In seven months of restrictions because of You Know What I’ve cruised nearly seventy miles over a twelve mile range (between three local service areas/my support bubbly-group marina chandlery). Had they but been polite enough to wait out the full year they would have had their silly, self-declared, unilaterally decided, wholly arbitrary minimum and much more, this in spite of the &etc, but no, they insist that their “spotters” have only clocked me less than 3 kilometres distant in that whole period and it’s threat threat threat. This would be the “spotters” who have either been on furlough (to save C&RT money) or who have been on reduced rounds because the pandemic legal restrictions meant…

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Nae Haggis the Nicht?

Burns Night, the twenty fifth of January, is upon us again and Scots at home and abroad will be gathering to toast the Immortal Memory of the Ayrshire poet whom Scots have elevated as the exemplar of the national virtues…..the love of freedom, of equality and amity.

We don’t always live up to the ideals, but Burns Night, like Hogmanay is the reminder that we could do better!

So all over the world, Scots foregather to celebrate in song, poetry and whisky while awaiting the piper to lead in the national dish, that epitome of hamely fare…the haggis, accompanied by its neeps and tatties.

Haggis On A Silver Plater

Apostrophised as ‘Great Chieftain o’ the puddin’- race’, it is ritually disembowelled by the master of ceremonies and divided among the faithful, who fall to with a will.

A word of warning. If you do not know what goes to make up a haggis, do not ask. Should you do so you run the risk of being subject to a very old Scots joke involving King James IV, a miller and the Scots dialect of the time, known as ‘Wha’s intilt?’

Furthermore, if of a delicate disposition it is best you remain in ignorance.

I wrote ‘ all over the world’, but, post Brexit, the haggis can no longer penetrate the defenses of Stalag Europe – unless tinned.

France, as usual, is at the bottom of this dastardly deed.

So keen to punish the U.K. for its departure from the E.U.’s protectionist bosom that it forgets its history in respect of the Scots.

We used to have reciprocal rights of citizenship from the reign of Francois I until 1903 when the French revoked it…..we were their fifth column in their wars against Emgland….are they grateful? Non!

All that is in the past, one might say, but, anecdotally, in my time in France being a Scot gave one kudos….we were the auld alliance. How much that survives among younger French I have no idea but it is clear that it survives not at all in the mind of President Macron and his clique of macronies.

We are an obsolecence.

.So what is a Scot in France to do?

Make it yourself? Need access to sheep, goodness only knows how many regulations, inspections and forms unless ignore all of above and bugger on regardless until denounced.

Buy the French versions? Tripoux d’Auvergne? Pieds et paquets? The dreaded andouillette?

I don’t think so.

Remember the later verses of the ode to the haggis…

Is there that owre his French ragout,
Or olio that wad staw a sow,
Or fricassee wad mak her spew
Wi perfect scunner,
Looks down wi sneering, scornfu view
On sic a dinner?

Poor devil! see him owre his trash,
As feckless as a wither’d rash,
His spindle shank a guid whip-lash,
His nieve a nit;
Thro bloody flood or field to dash,
O how unfit!

Seems to sum up President Macron in one…who would not appreciate the song that should be the national anthem in the place if the dirge that is Flower of Scotland.

Rip Off Costa Rica

Many and various are the rip offs in this country…mostly institutionalised and designed to rob the average citizen to the advantage of the government. Nothing new there….

However, there is another type of rip off which really annoys me…

Foreign goods from non Spanish language countries being sold in Costa Rica require an additional label which describes the contents and, of course, its dubious nutritional value.

Fine.

Heaven forfend that the native population should buy a food item in ignorance of its nature. Despite the fact that to import any foodstuff into Costa Rica requires bureaucracy beyond belief, it is still a good idea that the housewife knows what she is buying.

Not fine, however….

At the application of labels institution…wherever that is…and by whom or by what machine it is done, why is it that the additional label inevitably covers the instructions for use?

Not only that…but the label is particularly adhesive…..

You can try softening it in water…no chance.

Then you try to scrape it off using a knife or your nails…..delicate work and likely to take away the underlying label, the one with the with the instructions, at the same time.

Eventually you either give up altogether or, if of a persistent temperament, try to decipher as much as you can,and then either abandon all hope or open the jar anyway and make the best fist of it that you can.

We do not buy much by way of jars and cans, but Leo had spotted a jar of Jamaican curry mix which he fancied trying, so into the basket it went and, in due course, was exhumed from same to enliven some chicken which I planned to use for lunch.

Then followed the ritual of softening and scraping until I could just about work out that you did not use the whole jar, though quite how much remained concealed….that you browned the chicken and then added the sauce….and by the fact that that was the last line visible indicated to me that you added no water.

Chicken browned, about a third of the jar’s contents added, stirred, covered and, after a bit of thought, cooked on low heat.

On the table, rice served and finally the chcken curry….the sauce thick about the meat.

I thought it would enliven the chicken…..it certainly enlivened us!

Ye Gods and little fishes! It all but lifted Leo out of his wheelchair!

After a mad rush for dry bread to subdue the blaze and a mango to calm things down Leo said

‘I think we’ll look for a jar where the sticker covers the front label next time….We might not know what it is, but at least we will know how to cook it.’