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Coffee

Flat WhiteLook at this.

Gorgeous isn’t it?

This isn’t my photo, but the coffee I had this morning in Manchester looked just like this.

And it was strong, seriously wizzy strong!

I’d gone to a place called Northern Tea Power in the Northern Quarter.

I go there often if I’m in Manchester. I’m probably twice as old as the next oldest person there, but I guess because I dress OK, not like some of my old duffer mates, they don’t seem to mind.

This baby is called a flat white, which to my mind was just a normal coffee with milk, but no, this is made is a very deliberate way, folding the frothed milk into the coffee in a way that makes it super smooth.

I just wish that this place would do a breakfast that’s more than just toast. I like TeaCup around the corner for that. Scrambled eggs – my favourite, especially as I don’t eat bacon any more.

I brought one of the lads down to Manchester today for a job interview. And so I have the next few hours to drift around, and try not to spend too much money!

Church in the hills

When I was leading up to retirement I had these big ideas that I was going to be out doing stuff every single day.

Before I finished work they held these session to help us get prepared for the shock of not working. And we all laughed, five other blokes and me who all started there at about the same time. We couldn’t wait to be out, and we thought that life on the outside of work would be a doodle.

But we were wrong.

It’s weird.

You really do have to plan what you’re going to do each day, or otherwise you just do nothing, and that leaves you feeling depressed as you know your years are closing in on you, but you’re not making the most of them.

Anyway today I borrowed a dog – there are always dogs around here waiting for the joy of a long walk – and headed off to the bottom of the Peaks for a walk in an area I used to go to a lot as a boy. I parked at the head of the Goyt, and soon came across this lovely little shrine or chapel type thing.

And now I feel like the day was worthwhile, I’m tired, but that’s to be expected. And I gave Jess back to her mum having had the best walk she has had in years I suspect.

Jess’s mum is rather nice – don’t be surprised if I make something of a habit of my long walks!

Goyt Chapel small

Easy Airport Transfers

After spending years begging friends and family to take me to the airport for business flights and pleasure I have now discovered how I should have been doing it – Airport Transfers.co.uk take all the pain away, and it’s not just in this country, pretty much wherever you want to go you’ll be able to use them.

I put our lad in touch with them last week and he’s dead chuffed, and it saves the embarrassment of having to give the family or friends money which you know they need, but which also they try not to take. And it doesn’t matter if the plane is late, they’ll wait.

So what of the weather then? The airport transfers thing came up in conversation in the pub when everyone was talking about their trips to the sun, but those who have been away these last two weeks haven’t had any better than here I can’t imagine.

Just think what it would have been like to be in Cornwall last week on the beach – perfect, and I bet it was empty too, it is most of the time other than in July and August. Just a load of Germans doing their recce for their next invasion while posing as tourists. I hope they take that in the humour it was intended to convey!

Talking of the pub. It’s a comedy night at The Beech tonight and so I’d best pull my finger out and get down there.

 

Brilliant Cash Handling

Years ago, like nearly half a century  ago, I worked for Nat West Bank.

I went there straight from school, partly as a result of doing badly in my A levels – my predicted three Bs turned into a B and two Es. I could have told them that would have happened, I was otherwise mentally engaged! And partly because i didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do, either at university, or in work.

I did a management development programme for three years before jacking it in and heading off to Middlesex Poly.

Anyway, back then there were note counting machines. We didn’t use them as they were new and untrusted and so everyone had to become proficient at counting large volumes of notes by hand. But they existed. That’s the sense of this post.

Yesterday I went into a branch of HSBC to pay in a wad of notes.

There was a long queue, and a fellow came long to ask me to use the machines. Now I always use the machines to pay in cheques, and I love the little receipt you get with a photocopy of the cheque and paying in slip, but I’d never even realised that there is now a decent machine to pay notes in with.

I just keyed in my sort code and account number, stuffed a large wad of notes into the hopper, and off it went. It counted them, spat a few back that were folded, but waited for me to unfold them and pop them back in. It offered me a figure which was bang on, and hey presto, the money was in my account.

The only question is – how come it has taken over forty years to deliver that technology from the back office to the front? Well, I guess a lot has to do with what I said up front – we didn’t use it because it was new and so we didn’t trust it.

 

Tribute to The Doors

Hey I just found out that Ray Manzarek of the legendary LA band The Doors died last week. I’ve immediately gone and put the LA Woman album on, and I’ve used the LP, not anything I may have on my PC. Even though I haven’t played the actual album in years I know where all the scratches are and it’s kinda comforting to hear them. How strange it is to admit that after I remember being so excited about digital technology and Cds when they came out. I was about 40 I guess and I had plenty of cash then, I bought several CD players in a row as a new one would come out full of promise of delivering better than its predecessor. And now, twenty five years later I’m lusting after vinyl again – how funny is that? Putting LA Woman on is such a blast from the past. i want to crack open a bottle of Jim Beam, skin up a spliff and get in the mood. Christ – imagine the kids hearing the old man saying that! And as I typed that Jim sang “See me change, I’m a changeling” I love a blast of synchronicity with my reminiscences. So Ray’s gone. Well that’s a shame, not that I bought any of his solo stuff, but it just makes you feel a bit closer to the grave yourself as those you once adored pop away. Cheers Ray, and thanks for all the tunes.

Genius delivery service

The modern world seems to shut down opportunities for employment at a hell of a rate as more things go digital, or automated, and manual intervention is needed less and less.

But then interesting things happen too.

Apparently the Post Office is making more money than it ever has, not because stamps have become so bloody expensive, although they have. No, letter deliveries are at their lowest in modern times, but because of online ordering which has pretty much wiped out the high street for all but the richest towns. And likewise other delivery services have popped into existence to service businesses such as eBay where you might win a bidding war for a new pair of hi fi speakers, and then wonder how on earth you’ll get them from deepest Dartford to delightful Darlington.

I’ve just come across a eBay delivery company and they’re going to do pretty much just that for me. It’s dead easy and a heck of a lot cheaper than the other option I had in mind, which was to drive down to Dartford to collect them. They are 80’s B&O beauties.

The only thing is I would have liked to have tried them and given them a good prod before I handed over my cash, but the guy I’m buying from sounds like he knows what he is talking about.

I like them for their looks as much as anything else anyway, so I’m just hoping they’ll sound as good as I remember them doing when I used to pester shops for demos years ago.

 

Robin Hoods Bay

Getting away for the weekend is a lovely thing to do and we still see it as a treat, even though as a pretty much retired couple we could take off whenever we feel like it.

This past weekend we headed off to Robin Hood’s Bay on the east coast and rented a cottage for six of us, that’s the in-laws too.

Funny old place Robin Hoods Bay. the cottages are lovely and being at the seaside is always brilliant, but it’s just a shame that it’s the east coast where the sea so often just looks a bit grim. Still, that didn’t deter us from having a top old time.

The trip was for a wonderful old lady’s 90th birthday and family had come from all over the place, including her son from Canada. Poor fellow confided in us that even though he has lived in Canada longer than he did in England, his mother still hasn’t forgiven him for going.

The high point for me was a hard but brilliant walk along the less obvious beach to the north of the town. It involved clambering over all sorts of rocks and boulders, many of which were fascinating as they held fossils of all sorts of ancient creatures. The first fossil you see is an amazing experience, but then before long you will have seen so many that one has to be truly special for you to stop and share it with the gang.

Our cottage needed some work, but it was very comfortable and spacious, and best of all you could pretty much roll out of the door and down the hill a hundred yards to the beach.

Blinking tired today though. I reckon I’ll be off to bed soon.

Not too old to get a hangover!

I’m always hoping that I have become older with the compensation of also becoming wiser.

But I’m not sure!

Hiros came up for the night last night. He’s going to meet clients in Darlo today and so it was a good excuse to get together again.

Having had such excellent food down in Manchester I decided that the only think I could do was to cook a curry from scratch, and I ended up doing three. I made a keema peas, minced lamb with muttar – or peas, I did sag paneer, which is cheese and spinach, and then the main dish was a slow cooked lamb rogan. All in all it was quite excellent even though I say it myself.

The trouble was I had told Hiros that I was going to made curry, so he brought beers, lots and lots of beers. All different, all strong and all completely delicious.

We probably only had five pints in all, but some of them were eight and nine percenters, and even though we drank water too I woke up feeling rotten this morning. It’s the first proper hangover I have had in ages and I know I should know better. The funny thing is that I’m actually quite enjoying doing nothing as it takes its toll. A cup of tea out in the garden, back in for a lie on the sofa. It takes some beating!

Getting the cash flowing

I love it when the youngsters ask me questions and I can help out, either through experience, or from having the time to do some trawling through the web to find the answers for them.

Right now I’m looking at how I can help my younger brother get the cash flow issues sorted with his business. He is doing well, in three years he has gone from just surviving to supporting a few staff as well, but his trouble is that the gap between invoicing and getting paid means that he goes quite heavily overdrawn each month meaning that sometimes he doesn’t take any money from the business for several months at a time.

It’s a crazy situation as he’s properly successful, yet lives as if he’s broke all the time.

I’ve been looking at Touch Financial factoring advice and working out for him whether credit factoring, or discounting as it’s often called, would be right for his business. Basically it means that he gets his invoices paid almost straight away when he writes them, then the factoring business chases them up. He’ll pay a few per cent as a fee, but that has to be worth it, it’s probably less expensive than his overdraft anyway.

I expect that I’ll get roped in to actually getting it all signed up and underway, but he’ll pay me a bit so that’s OK.

Aladdins

I went down to Manchester last night to meet an old friend. Well. Actually a young friend who I have known for a long time.

Hiros once reported to me, and then got given my job after I fell out with the boss to such a degree that I basically had to leave the company.

I didn’t resent Hiros getting the job. In fact I helped him a lot in the first months, getting him the right contacts, even checking some of his work for him.

Now, from time to time me meet up and banter feverishly for a few hours, ideally over dinner. We vow to repeat the performance within a couple of months, but in fact it is nearly always six or more before we get together again.

Last night we went to Aladdin’s on the border between Withington and Didsbury.

aladdin

We ate wonderful Syrian food served by two pretty Syrian girls who knew how to smile at the customers. They didn’t flirt, just said everything with their beautiful near black eyes, and intriguing accents. If we hadn’t gone so long without seeing each other then I’, sure we would have chatted to them a little, got their views on the conflict back home, and maybe took recommendations for our dinner. But as it was we hardly looked up from our conversation that was falling over itself in an effort to keep up and keep the stories coming.

I think my favourite Middle Eastern Food  is babba ganosh, no idea how it is supposed to be spelt – but it sounds like what I have put here.

And we finished with the lovely Turkish coffees thick with fine ground coffee, rose water and cinnamon. Hiros will be staying up here with us in a couple of nights. And unusual double date – I can’t offer him anything as exotic I’m afraid.