The Great Frozen Pollock Scam

A parable for our times.

I have been rumbled: as of yesterday, the Great Waitrose Frozen Pollock Scam is, officially, over.

It all started out – as such things often do – with the opportunity to get something for nothing, or at least for very little.

Back in the day, life was simple: in our rural economy, the cats would occasionally get a treat, a pack of frozen pollock fillets from Waitrose, at £2.99 a pack. And, whilst that remained a luxury, all was well.

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Spice Miscalculation

It’s the Fourth of July so, to celebrate our independence from those turbulent colonials, I’m making that staple of Imperial India – a Kedgeree – for supper this evening.

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The Coming of the Beavers

Whilst English Nature and Scottish Natural Heritage spend large amounts of time and money swithering over the reintroduction of Eurasian Beavers (Castor fiber) to the UK, no-one seems to have bothered to tell the animals themselves that they’re supposed to be a tightly controlled experiment that can be eradicated at any time.

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A Camping Ban, Hoorah!

Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park is extending the Loch Lomond lochside wild camping ban to the rest of the lochs  in the Park. This is, unequivocally, A Good Thing.

Unfortunately, there’s been  rather a disappointing and unconsidered ‘rent-a-quote’ level response from, amongst others,  Andrea Partridge of The Mountaineering Council of Scotland, something that definitely called for a response…

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Beset by Fools…

So, this evening we were heading home – conditions moderately crappy, but all was well, until we reached the Pass of Leny, where we joined the back of a long and unhappy queue. After half an hour of thumb-twiddling, a stroll to the front revealed that: one articulated lorry had got stuck on the rise to the blind ridge; the following lorry driver (see photo for registration number), rather than thinking, “He’s stuck, I’m driving a similar vehicle, so I’ll wait and see what happens”, thought, “it can’t happen to me” and went to overtake, on the rise to said blind brow. Of course, he a) slid into the vehicle he was overtaking b) got wedged between that and the roadside barrier and c) blocked the road completely. It was just luck that no-one went head-on into him.

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Renovation of the Year

Yes, really. We’ve been judged, voted upon and are winners of the 2014 Daily Telegraph/Homebuilding & Renovating UK Renovation of the Year.  Which is nice and we have an impressively heavy glass trophy and some rather nice photographs by Nigel Rigg to remind us of this.

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There. Or thereabouts.


It’s taken us six years, but we’re there. Actually I’d say we’re three months from finishing and probably will be for several years, but all the basics are in place, remaining work being the painting of woodwork and one bedroom, the tiling of one of the bathrooms and the rectification of various minor-but-annoying balls-ups by the main contractor.

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Recycled Warmth

The last piece of the insulation jigsaw went in today: 27 bags of Warmcel recycled newspaper-based insulation, blown into the floor of the new master bedroom. This room sits above the unheated stable and tack room, now our garage and plant room, so when we used this room as our living room, it was perennially freezing unless we had storage heater, radiator and the log burner on, full blast. With the heat pump now in the plant room, we also needed better sound insulation between the floors – the pump isn’t particularly noisy but the buzzing of the compressor would definitely not aid a good night’s sleep.

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Pass the Anthracite…

Our renewable energy (lack of) saga drags on. Using our own records and technical audits from both BRE UK and a new supplier recommended by Danfoss, we’ve been able to demonstrate that our original renewable systems supplier, MMAXX Ltd, and their managing director, Neil McFarlane, had neither the competence to take on the work in the first place nor the integrity to admit it and either turn down the project or bring in people who did know what they were doing. That’s led to more than a year of non-functioning systems, damage to our property and a system that has so far provided neither the heat nor hot water specified and required. It’s also failing to deliver the promised savings or environmental benefits.

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Stoves Online

Our woodburning stove in the kitchen, replacing a very old and burned out multifuel stove,  is a Woodfire 12i, sourced from Stoves Online ( The first one they sent was damaged in transit – whether by their courier or by MMAXX Ltd we don’t know (MMAXX didn’t check it over on arrival at their depot, unpacked it then brought it up dumped in the back of a van, so I know where my money goes) – but Stoves Online were unfailingly helpful and courteous over arranging the replacement.

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