My Retirement Week (7)

This was the week of Black Friday which I was thoroughly sick of by Monday. Even Johnson’s Cleaners (where I used to drop off my shirts for ironing) sent me a “Black Friday” offer. I mean, are school tuck shops in on the act? Churches? Brothels?

nigella jpg

You’re a what in the kitchen?

Brothels. Hmmm. I see that Nigella is on TV. There’s an old saying that every man wants a wife who is a cook in the kitchen and a whore in bed. Nigella seems to be trying to turn that on it’s head. And anyway it’s not true. What every right-thinking man wants is Delia in the kitchen. End of story. I wrote last week that November is made for curries. I forgot to mention that it’s also made for warm, hearty soups, and if there’s one recipe I will fight to the death for, it’s Delia’s version of lentil and bacon. I cannot go through a week in winter without it. (Just watch you don’t pour in a big tin of chopped tomatoes, you only need half one.)

I like to browse a few travel blogs, sometimes just for the pictures of sunnier climes, and one of my favourites with some great photography from the American West is Wheeling It. This week, however, Nina posted a reflective note about the Darker Side of Blogging, which was really interesting for anyone who blogs regularly or is thinking about it. Another blog I follow, Julie and Jason’s Our Tour posted several photos of sunny Spain, although seemingly sleeping in an RV can be pretty cold at this time of year, even on the Costa del Sol.

The winter weather also had me thinking about buying decent footwear for walking as I need to keep up my Fitbit’s 10,000 steps a day. I have a pair of excellent shoes that I bought years ago, Brasher Countrymasters, but the padded heel at the back of the shoe (not the sole) has gone all weak and mushy. It’s quite irritating to walk with, feels not unlike as if your sock has rolled up within your shoe. Being frugal, however, I thought I’d see if I can find a cobbler – remember them? – who might be able to repair this. Do real ones still exist though?

Talking about winter, Captain Scott was once asked that within his band of men, how many were equipped to take on the leadership role if he were to die en route to the antarctic.
“One in twenty”, he replied.
“Is that an approximate or exact number?” he was further questioned.
I find this rule applies to other things. About one in twenty books I read I’d recommend to others as a must buy. One in twenty films is a must see. Same for box sets. And, having written the paragraph above, recipes. So I’m pleased to wholeheartedly recommend to you a book I’m reading this week that might be the one in twenty : Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. Trust me on this, and put it on your Santa list. And I’ll try to let you know when I think I’ve written my one in twenty blog post that’s worth reading. Bear in mind, however, that this might mean I could write two hundred and then do ten in a row.

9 thoughts on “My Retirement Week (7)

  1. We have a real cobbler with quite a steady business so it seems, as well as 2-3 others who do keys and whatnot as well in our minuscule cathedral city. The real cobbler (he’s a leatherworker too) is super snobby though, if your shoes were a bit cheap to begin with he tells you off and says you should buy an expensive pair that will last many years and he’ll keep re-soling them for you, otherwise the uppers will not last long enough… at least he does a decent job out of it. On that note, we bought a much more expensive pair of shoes (loake’s simple brogues with a leather sole) for my husband last year and the uppers look almost as good as new. They are a 1-in-20 shoe brand that I’d recommend to all your fellows.



  2. The “1 in 20” hit home for me yesterday….I signed up for NetFlixx (do you have that in the U.K.?) for their one month of free streaming movies and….could not find a single one (from 100s) that I wanted to waste 2 hours on.

    I’m thankful they had an option for a larger selection of “by mail DVDs” that were in addition to their streaming choices….so I ordered a few that were on my “list-to-watch-one-day”.

    I will take a chance on your book recommendation. So far, you’ve done me well with your podcast recommendations. 🙂


  3. The only loakes that are decent quality are the 1880s and a few others made in England. If they aren’t you’ve probably spent £150 for something made in India…

    The English climate is harsh on leather soled shoes because of the dampness and the frequent salting of the roads and pavement in India

    I have spent decades experimenting with trying to get leather shoes to survive water and salt, many because I have to wear nice shoes and a serious suit to sell expensive services and I don’t drive much

    I would suggest:

    – shoe quality is worthless if the shoes are going to be soaked every day especially in salted water

    – a well chosen pair of quality rejected seconds from a good shoe maker (uk/Spanish/French) is much better value than a new pair made in India, vietnam etc. In the uk is much easier to source seconds made in the uk obvs

    – think about either having a rotation of two or more shoes so they have time to dry out or one pair in the office and another pair at home for travelling to meetings and wear a rubber soled boot or trainers to/from work

    – rubber patches on leather shoes aren’t going to stop the shoe from getting water damaged. Just change your shoes


  4. Thanks for that Darker Side of Blogging link – very interesting and I can relate to many of the points made.

    Not sure about the 1 in 20 rule though – for me, I think it’s probably closer to 1 in 10.

    As for cobblers, about 8 years ago, I took a pair of boots into a local shoe repair/key cutter.

    Instead of just resoling the boots and taking my money, the old chap gave me some friendly advice on how to look after them properly because apparently, they were well made and ‘deserved’ to be cared for. I still have and wear them now.


  5. Cobblers!!! I remember inheriting a pair of leather boots from my Aunt and she had been getting them resoled every so many years. I did the same until the cobbler said he could not do so any more and they were well and truly dead. That was over 20 years of wear. Today, I live in trail shoes and boots, my current walking boots have been going strong for 10 years and I keep cleaning and reproofing them to keep them going for as long as possible.

    Like the fitbit, I use this too for walking and try to keep to the 10,000 step daily goal, plus my bike trips to keep activity levels up. I will enjoy reading your referenced links ( books and blogs) 🙂


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