Mr Knitter

String Chaos For The Converted…

I bought a set of Tozo earphones from Amazon, great price and to be honest, a great pair for music listening. I did want a pair of Apple Airpods, but really £199 is outrageous, to the point of beyond reasonable, and I am an Apple Boy! The said earphones/earbuds fit nicely, worked perfectly for a week, then a few cutouts that I thought could be due to interference, but being Bluetooth I thought this should not happen as my large headphones/cans are Bluetooth and connected to my iMac and work like a dream, granted they cost a lot more than these little earphones, but the principle is the same, it should work without dropouts.

Move on 7 weeks later (yesterday) I decided to wear them out whilst walking the dogs. They were quite frankly appalling. The right one, which is the main connection dropped out every 10 or 15 seconds, just for about a quarter of a second, but the left one which is connected again via its Bluetooth to the right one was constantly dropping out, to the point where there were more dropouts than there was music. In the end, I turned them off and pocketed them and walked in silence with the dogs.

Last night I went on to return them, and the window was shut for returns. So, to the help section and chat to an Amazon person about returning them for a refund. He (Amazon employee) had to think about whether they should be returned, but before I had chance to spout the consumer rights act he relented but decided to do as Amazon does best, throw a spanner in the works. The earbuds have rechargeable batteries in them, and as such are subject to certain EU laws (EU fuckery), but Amazon read this return of goods with batteries incorrectly, and deem that they cannot arrange for return of the goods and the consumer has to pay for them to go back, as they “cannot produce a paid return label”, which turned out to be a complete lie. They state that only UPS and DHL can carry goods with batteries in them, again I later find out was another lie. To make matters worse this dickhead decided that I had to use UPS and he would send me a UPS label so that it could go back that way, but again I had to pay for the return (legally Amazon have to pay for the return, not me). After what felt like the whole night dealing with dickhead arguing my rights, he decided to leave the conversation.

I printed off the label and this morning took it to the shop in the village that happens to take UPS parcels. However, the label and barcode was generic and not a UPS one. The lady was very nice and apologised that she could not do anything and advised I speak to Amazon to get the right label. Knowing that he was full of shit and did not know his job, I went to the Post Office and asked the postmaster there if this item could be sent. He smiled and said that anything with a battery enclosed within it can be sent by Royal Mail and that the Amazon guy does not have a clue, or just “couldn’t be arsed” which is very apparent now. The postmaster also told me that they Amazon can do a postpaid label with the hazard sign and that I should not be paying for this. The said that EU regulations state that if it is a battery on its own, i.e. a laptop battery, then no, it has to go via a carrier, but if it is within an item, like my earphones, then it has a place to discharge to and is safe to send.

I got home and put in a call to Amazon and the guy I spoke to acknowledged that I should not have to pay for it and whilst on to him email the receipt and he would refund me the postage. I did my part, and he arranged for the refund.

Usually, I get emails confirming what went on and I am given the option to rate the person I dealt with, but alas the guy last night ensured that did not come my way, otherwise I would have given him big fat zeros.

I sometimes wonder if there is a mark on my account that says “he dared to complain back in 2013, so fuck him over as much as you can. Maybe I am becoming pessimistic in my old age, or maybe, just maybe I am right.

I keep meaning to do a post, and then something comes up, and later I realise that I didn’t do my post, and think I will do it now, but manage somehow to get myself sidetracked and BOOM! Forgot to post again. I do not know what is going on with me. So, forgive me for my tardiness!

Fish…

Since last we “spoke” as it were, I finally got rid of my large tank in the lounge. Part of me was glad to get rid of it, and part of me was sad to see it go. The fish love their new smaller home and my Cameroon shrimp seems happy too. Although it was a great tank it took up quite a lot of room, being so massive. We have a unit that we moved into one of the halls when we got the tank, so that is now back in the lounge. My thoughts for getting rid of the tank was to move the smaller tank onto the said unit and get another small tank and finally do a nano reef tank. However, the cost of doing a reef tank is high. I have found a nano tank I like which is £150, but then I need a skimmer and a heater so that’s another £90. Add sand, live rock and all the other bits I need to get it started and I am close to £500 without even adding fish or coral. So, before I take the plunge I have downloaded and printed a book on the subject and intend to read it in full before I decided on what to do. Having spoken to a few people the jury really is out. Some say it is easier than tropical, some say get a large tank as a nano can have problems being small, and others rave on about nano tanks, so there is no real help chatting to others LOL.

I bought an external 12-litre canister filter for my other large tank which works like a treat, but today I added on an extra 2-litre filter canister to that. In essence, water is drawn out of the tank to the small sub canister then passed into the large canister and finally put back into the other end of the tank. I did manage to make a bit of a watery mess as I had not fastened one of the inlet pipes properly oops! I had lost a few fish over the last few weeks, so thought the canister filter would help sort the water quality out. It has UV inside so sterilises the water as it filters. The lighting I have on the tank also decided to die, only 6 weeks after it being exchanged after the first one died after 4 months. Thankfully the aquatic centre where I get most of my equipment and livestock were very understanding and spoke to Fluval who admitted there was a problem that they have now sorted out and to exchange it for me.

Dogs…

Harper with her Birthday monkey

It was Harpers 5th Birthday on Sunday. As always we took them to McDonald’s for hamburgers, then to the pet store so Harper could pick a toy, which this year was a rather large monkey, and two packs of balls. Needless to say, they both had a great time.

Knitting…

Thought about it, even mentally made a pattern for a hat for winter, but that was it, but it’s the thought that counts, isn’t it?

Books…

I was reading The Massacre of Mankind which is a sequel to War of the Worlds and in the end, I gave up as it was so slow and the author was trying to write in the style of H. G. Wells but failed page after page. As most of my readers will know I love classical literature, so have no problem with ancient writing and old English, but this bad, if he had written it in current English it would have been a good read.

Outings…

I went to a joint Christening and Communion party a few weeks ago, got very drunk and had a ball.

Last week we went to Delamere Forest again, which for some reason driving there we managed to take all the wrong turns. I came off the motorway/highway onto the expressway in order to go over the Mersey Gateway Bridge, which when you get to the end of the expressway is straight over the roundabout, however, when you follow this, you end up in an industrial estate and nowhere near the bridge. It would seem the directions for the bridge do not exist, and when you get to the end of said expressway you turn left and ignore the signs. But as I managed to turn the wrong was we ended up back on the motorway heading in the direction of home. Time though was on our hands. My satnav said we would get there at 11:15 when we left home and although I managed to go on a long diversion of 20 minutes we got there at 11:22 thus proving that time travel can be achieved.

Education…

The degree is now on hold. I was so undecided about doing it that I thought it best to put the thought to one side until I was 100% committed to doing it.

General…

After returning from Ireland I had tests and a cardiac assessment done. My blood results came back reporting a lack of vitamin D, which is about right living so far north and the general lack of sun. But I also did not have enough of the good cholesterol either, but this could be due to coeliacs disease. The doctors’ office suggestion was to take vitamin D tablets and eat more oily fish etc. Luckily I found a company that sells vitamins on Amazon and they do a vitamin D that is 4000iu, and when you buy a product they thank you by letting you pick another one for free. I decided on Hemp oil tablets as they are for omega 3 and 6, so that’s the bloods sorted.

The scarecrow festival came and went, and I managed to take exactly zero photos of it. I mean, what is the point of having a great camera, living in the country, and having festivals if I do not record it? Answers on a postcard, please!

We bought new garden furniture, namely a table, chairs and a parasol, just in time for the monsoon season to hit us. Yes, my luck/timing really is in at the moment.

I have managed to have a few barbeques lately, between showers that is.

I finally took the leap into meditation after dipping my toes off and on into it over the last few weeks. I have joined Headspace for a year, and am finding it quite good and just have to add it into my daily routine.

In other news, I had a puncture in one of the rear tyres on the car.

So, how are you all?

I have spent the weekend baking bread. Yesterday I baked a country malt loaf and binned it as it had the density of a black hole. Today I decided to do another malted loaf, the result is the ball-shaped one above, and I also made a sourdough loaf, on the right.

If I am truthful, neither rose the way they should have. I thought that maybe the yeast was dead, but after activating the yeast on its own rather than adding it directly to the flour I thought it would rise better, but no, it is a football size loaf weighing about 3 tonnes. The sourdough, however, is a bit of an odd one as it rose one side but not the other. But the good news is that my sourdough starter smell fantastic, and exactly the way it should do, sharp, sour and it’s bubbly, that’s one in the bag that I am counting. I have not tasted them as yet, but am hoping beyond all hope that they are good. Something inside says not though.

The thing which is odd, I used to bake bread all the time and never ever had a problem, everything worked, everything looked good, and tasted fantastic. This last attempt is making me wonder what I am doing wrong. Hell, I can make some of the finest French pastries, and I have made every type of bread successfully. I am at a loss. But, not to be defeated, I will keep going but will get some fresh yeast rather than dried.

Okay, since starting this post and now, I have just tasted the sourdough bread, and it was okay in taste, not the full sourdough taste, but not bad, the crust was crisp, there were air holes in the bread itself, but not enough, and unfortunately it was too dense, which means back to the drawing board.

So far, so good. This is 12 hours after the first feeding, near trebled in size, lots of bubbles. This morning, day three I gave it its second feeding and left it in the warmth of the kitchen, it is rising which is great. Hopefully, by the weekend, I will be able to bake some bread.

However, as it is barbeque weather I may bake a loaf on it today, we will see how I feel after sitting in the sun for an hour LOL

Oh, did I mention, day three without rain, and temperatures 24c, not exactly the heatwave promised, but I am definitely not complaining as it is just right.

Last year I decided to try my hand at making sourdough bread. Although the bread looked okay it was, in layman’s terms, it was crap. Although there was a rise in my bread basket, I had used normal flour to line it, so it stuck, and alas it lost its aeration and rise when I had to drag it out of the banneton. The other problem was the high heat I had to get the oven, as my sourdough book gave a temperature beyond the reaches of it.

The other day I was reading the tweets from Dan who makes bread all the time, but he was baking it on his BBQ, yep, turns out the best place for it. After a chat with him over it, I thought I would try his method of baking. My bbq has a temp gauge that goes to 1000 f, so I can get to whatever temperature I need. He is a fountain of knowledge and uses his bbq for all kinds of baking, which I will be trying out.

I have used rye flour as the base of the starter as this usually yields a good start for natural yeast, mixed with warm water. Tomorrow when I feed it I will be using organic stone milled flour rather than blade cut/ground flour.

Fingers crossed this time it will be a success.

The Starter has started!

I have been thinking the last few weeks about taking another degree. The one I have my eyes on at the moment is Astronomy and Planetary Science. But I am still looking to see if anything else grips my attention. I was looking at the arts too, but nothing really jumps out as yet. I love history, but again I am not too sure if that’s what I want to do. It is a 6-year commitment, therefore, I have to think hard. The next enrolment is September for October start or January for February start. Again, plenty of time to decide if this is the route I want to follow.

I was also looking at the options for doing a masters after. I would love to get a doctorate, but I think as I am close to 50 I will be quite old when I did this, so this may not be an option.

As yet I am not too sure if I will do it. This afternoon I spoke to one of the university advisors who gave me a few things to think about but all in all, saw no reason for me not to do it. The next step is to go through the perspective and full course details and then sort out the financial side.

Again, not too sure, so taking the Tim Gunn approach and “leaving it in my basket” and coming back to it at a later date.

I have moaned before about the rain, but it seems relentless and has followed us to Northern Ireland. Every day it’s raining, then the sun comes out for about 30 minutes along with every dog walker, then rain, rain, and more bloody rain. Yesterday, I decided to go to the town park and walk around the 56-acre lake with the girls. The rain had stopped for about 20 minutes, and I thought all looked good. Dropping M off at the home first. I drove down Windsor Ave, pulled into a parking space by the gates, and the rain started, only a few drops. I thought it would light spits, but as I was about to get out, the heavens opened, but not just rain, hailstones and giant raindrops, and it battered down for about 10 minutes solid. Eventually stopping I got the dogs out and we did our 3.5km walk, getting back to the car for it to hammer down again.

I got back to M’s dad’s house and it was dry there, no rain at all, this is only 1.75 miles away, WTF! Then later that evening as mentioned in a previous post it pissed down again whilst the car roof was open. Thankfully the heat of the day has finally dried the seat out.

This morning, I took the dogs to Craigavon North Lake for a walk and, wouldn’t you know, it started raining as we drove there, thankfully stopping for us to walk in it. Again it has been on and off all day. Currently, there are huge black and dark grey storm clouds in every direction, so I am not holding much hope to it ever ending.

The thing that really gets me is that looking at the cameras back home, the sun is shining, there is not a cloud in the sky, it looks like a lovely day, and has done for the past few days. On checking the thermometers (yes we are that advance) the temperature is 22.3 degrees in the garden, so very pleasant. However, on checking the weather forecast, Saturday when we head for home, the weather improves here, and back home the rain starts, basically, the crap weather is following us, like the cloud above Charlie Brown.

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