Monday, 18th October, 2021

[Day 581]

We knew that a band of rain was due to sweep across the country and so it proved. The rain was not particularly intense but enough to stop a normal sit down in the park. So Meg and I went together to pick up our daily newspaper and then swung back towards the park where we headed, as might be anticipated, for the bandstand. We imagined that this would be full of joggers and dog walkers but in the event, we had the whole bandstand to ourselves. Meg was seated in the middle of this on our three legged stool (which we take to act as a small improvided table as it is so light) and I juggled with the comestibles trusting that Meg would not make a sudden lurch to the left or right which, on a three-legged stool, might deposit her on the floor. Then we made for home so I could get on with a range of domestic jobs – principally getting on the phone to organise or reorganise various payments. Firstly, I managed to get the car booked in for a service and that was very easy. The next client along was the online delivery firm Ocado which I had used about a year early in the early stages of the pandemic but not recently. I managed to cancel my subscription to their services – incidentally, isn’t it interesting that to sign up for things takes only a few ‘clicks’ and is all too easy – whereas to cancel a service takes a phone call and is certainly not a prominent option on the organisation’s website. But this experience ended OK as well because I did get through to a friendly person who accepted my cancellation and even said they would return the small payment that had somehow crept onto their system (despite an out-of—date card) which was fine by now. After lunch, I was due to tackle ‘the big one’ because I have had a feeling that I am paying too much for my landline and feel the need to reduce the costs to an acceptable minimum. When I did get onto BT, I asked to be put through to their ‘retentions department’ and threaten to cancel my account altogether. My bills were higher than usual because I was on an unlimited tariff (which I didn’t realise) so I got this put right by getting put on to a minimal tariff. Then I was transferred to a different department to explain why my bills seemed to be doubling compared with last March but for no apparent reason. The explanation seemed rational but irrational at the same time – my bills last year might appear low because I had built up some credit which lowered the quarterly bill but as the quarters rolled by so the credit expired and the bills increased. Then I asked where the credit had come from and how it got built up and the explanation seemed arcane. However, I have now simplified my payment system to a single, direct debit system which avoids the problem of BT estimating my bills, charging me against that estimate and other weird and wonderful accounting methods which do not appear to be particularly transparent. However, by the end of the afternoon I got myself in the situation where I wanted to be which was lower bills for the same service and a more transparent insight into how my bills get calculated. In the fullness of time, I may try and get my broadband and fixed line systems aligned when they are each up for renewal provided always that I can keep my landline number which is on countless lists by now.

Later on this evening, it was my chance to put my newly acquired SoupMaker into use, now tht I have found out how to actually use it. The recipe I had downloaded from the net indicated that I should use four parsnips but did not specify their weight. I had bought some enormous parsnips from Waitrose the other day so I decided to peel 1½ of them and parboiled this as I suspected that it might be left a bit too chunky of I put them in absolutely raw. The recipe called for some sautéd onion as well as some Granny Smith apples – the apples were no problem as I now have plenty of those. And so I started on my first soupmaking venture – after some huffing, puffing and blending my first results were ready in about 25 minutes. The results were even better than I had anticipated as the result was very ‘creamy’ and piping hot and we really enjoyed our very first meal. I had prepared too much parsnip and apple as initially I looked as though I was going to exceed the ‘maximum’ limits so I swiftly divided my prepared veg into two tranches. No doubt tomorrow (carrot and coriander?) I will be able to make much faster progress than even today.