I need a Routine. Before writing this article, I decided to look up the word in various dictionaries. It quickly became a grammar lesson, depending on whether ‘routine’ was used as a noun or an adjective. It also apparently has many synonyms.
The Thesaurus lists eighty-three synonyms, including ‘grind’. I’ve heard people exclaim “What a grind!” talking about a particular job and the daily grind describes a routine, paid or unpaid, which is disliked intensely. The words, pattern, habit, cycle, are also among those cited.
My head was slowly starting to spin, may be as a result of Christmas overindulgence, or due to the recent lack of routine, caused by the holiday period. I have put up the Calendar for 2021, with events marked on it, which can be described as routine happenings. These include dental and other health checks, done as usual precautions.
So, job done, until the date on the Calendar shows that it is time to arrange an appointment, remember someone’s birthday, or start the countdown to next Christmas. Preparations for cards, decorations, presents, food are all done in a particular order, spread out across December.
It doesn’t feel like Christmastime to me without some shiny decorations, and this takes time and organisation, even if it’s only opening a box taken from the top of a cupboard.
It goes without saying that I am an inveterate list writer, when it comes to my weekly routine. Days are set for shopping, laundry, housework, and personal care. Any extra job will have to be fitted in around these essential activities.
Here I have to confess that I find it necessary to write a daily list! In my defence, this is done in the cause of flexibility. It may be that a particular day becomes overloaded with tasks and by keeping track, I can cross off a job or move it forward to another day.
The great advantage of the list is that simply writing something down can sometimes accomplish the task, in that it can be moved forward indefinitely! It can quietly go on the “Eventually Forget” list. It is wise to accept that not everything can be remembered or accomplished.
May be “Making A List” would have been a better title for this article, although for me, making a list is a routine activity, so I’ll stick with Routine.
A routine is possible without a list and I take my hat off to those people who can self -organise without one.
The case of Terry Waite is an extreme example of someone who managed this. When taken hostage in Lebanon in 1987, he was held in darkness and solitary confinement, and survived with mental health intact, after five years captivity.
How many people outside of their sleeping routine wake up, having lost track of time and wonder if it is morning or night? A quick glance at the clock soon puts this right. This was not an option for Waite and he had to construct a routine, around the times his captors brought in meals.
Without a watch or writing materials, he says that he wrote a book in his head and composed poetry. The irritations of everyday life pale in significance to this challenge and place in perspective the discombobulation caused by disruptions to routine.
In the nineteen sixties I worked in London stores. Worked as an Insurance Clerk in the City of London during the nineteen seventies. Divorced in the nineteen nineties. Now I am a retired Civil Servant, managing home and garden and escaping onto social media whenever possible.
Winston Churchill stated that it was necessary to have at least three hobbies to gain full mental benefit from them,
“Change is the master key. A man can wear out a particular part of his mind by constantly using it and tiring it …. the tired part of the mind can be rested and strengthened, not merely by rest, but by using other parts. It is not enough to merely switch off the lights, which play upon the main and ordinary field of interest, a new field of interest must be illuminated ….” Churchill He also said “If it wasn’t for painting, I couldn’t live. I couldn’t bear the strain of things” He also enjoyed card games, listening to music and reading.
In the current pandemic, people are sometimes using their enforced leisure to take up new and existing hobbies. The Merrian Webster dictionary confirms Churchill’s experiences, by defining a hobby as ” a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation.”
My hobbies have included writing poetry and acrylic painting, but my main hobby these days is Instagram. I find it extremely relaxing to scroll down the screen, knowing that I will largely be presented with the posts of people I have chosen to follow. There are also sponsored posts, which may lead to finding a new person. Instagram has enabled me to travel the world, seeing photos and videos taken by people across the globe. There are wonderful mountains, lakes and sunsets as well as historic buildings to enjoy. Sportspeople, artists, politicians, and of course, celebrities are also present! There is something for every taste.
I have managed to post over three thousand photos over the last two years, largely without leaving my house and garden! In 1996 I did a short six-week course in “How to Paint and Draw” at the local Further Education Centre. At the end of the course, I remember the teacher saying that ” from now on you will all see things in a new way ” I think that this has influenced my photography, enabling me to see a picture in things, that I would once have thought insignificant. To my mind a patch of moss or a lawn full of dandelions are worthy of a shot.
In the New Year, Instagram can on request, produce the top nine photographs taken by the photographer during the past year. These are selected according to the number of “likes” each photograph has attracted. The selection does not always please people, who sometimes make up collages of their own top nine!
I have noticed that people do not often repost the work of other people, which I regularly do, of course crediting the photographer. Very rarely do people object and are generally pleased by the appreciation of their work. However, this habit has resulted in few of my own efforts reaching the Instagram Top Nine. This does not bother me greatly, because I know that I can post my own selection, which will be seen by the dozen or so people, who regularly follow my work. An added bonus of Instagram is that people can have nice conversations about the photographs posted and it is a “kinder gentler” forum than twitter! If you are looking for a hobby, the last thing you need is aggro!
Now your dog doesn’t have to look at you with envy while your are eating your ice cream and you don’t have to feel guilty. Ben & Jerry have launched two flavours for their new line of ice cream for dogs:Pontch’s Mix and Rosie’s Batch, both names after two employees dogs.
Ben & Jerry started in 1978 founded by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield allows dogs in the office and therefore they play a big role in this company.
Pontch’s Mix has peanut butter and pretzel while Rosie’s Batch has pumpkin and mini cookies. As dogs are lactose intolerant these ice cream don’t contain dairy products but use sunflower butter which is easily digested by our canine friends. The recipes were created with the help of vets and experts in dogs nutrition.
Unfortunately for the time being these dogs treats are only available in the US but hopefully they might come to delight British dogs soon.
The phrase dates back to 1943 when the Big Spring Herald newspaper in Texas encouraged people to use the word to induce a smile when having a photograph taken. Prior to that date, people were encouraged to look serious in photographs, and the word “Prunes” was used, which produced a tight closed mouth. Regardless of its use in photography, there are many reasons to smile when thinking of cheese.
What other food has the variety and versatility of cheese? There are one thousand eight hundred types of cheese in the world and almost as many ways of classifying them. Starting with Cheddar, this is the most popular cheese in the UK, claiming 51% of the market. It is also the second most popular cheese in the USA, the most popular being Mortzarella. Cheddar is named after the town in Somerset where it was first produced. Cheddar cheese is now produced commercially worldwide. Only West Country Farmhouse Cheddar, uses local milk, and since 2007, is a protected brand.
Imagine you are making up a cheeseboard. In my case I would of course, knowing its popularity, choose Cheddar. Then I would choose another English cheese, Stilton. This can only be produced in Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, since a law was passed in 1993, protecting products made from traditional recipes, in a particular area. Such a cheese is Yorkshire Wensleydale, a mild cheese traditionally enjoyed with fruitcake. A third cheese I would add to my cheeseboard is Boursin, a soft creamy cheese, originally flavoured with garlic and herbs. This was first produced in 1957 by Francois Boursin in Normandy, France.
Finally, I would choose Edam, a semi hard cheese with a low-fat content. This Dutch cheese was the world’s most popular cheese in the fourteenth and eighteen centuries. There are a wide variety of biscuits sold that are made to compliment cheeses, so I would make a selection of these available. A cheeseboard, apart from the enjoyment of the cheeses, can make up for any culinary deficiencies in the preceding courses at a dinner table!
Apart from fine dining, there is also that great social event, the Wine and Cheese Party, where guests are able to help themselves to the perfect combination of wine and cheese. There is no need for people on a low-fat diet to miss out on cheese. Cottage Cheese, with zero fat content contains as much calcium as full fat cheese and is delicious with fruit. A very small piece of full fat cheese, the size of a small matchbox is sufficient for daily calcium requirements, and unless the diet is very strict, enables the sampling of the cheeses.
Cheese can be used in many ways in cooking. Just heat up the grill for a cheese toasty, or mix with pasta or rice, or use as a topping for a Jacket Potato. As well as being versatile, commercially produced Cheddar is also relatively cheap! A £2 slab will produce a variety of meals for several days, requiring very little preparation. I am tempted to say it has often saved my bacon!
Finally, there is a cheese, which is likely to raise a smile, but which I have never tasted. It is called “Stinking Bishop” It apparently has a distinctive odour, but the name derives from the Stinking Bishop Pear, which provides the Perry, used in the production process. (The Pear itself derived its name from a nineteenth century famer Frederich Bishop, who gained the name of “Stinking Bishop” due to his eccentric behaviour.) Made from the milk of Gloucestershire cattle, only twenty tons are produced each year and it is not on sale in supermarkets. It is a handmade cheese and may be found in Harrods, or Fortnum’s, or artisan grocery shops. It can also be purchased online from Charles Martell & Son Ltd estd 1972, Cheesemakers and Distillers.