Lee Rotbart

Posts Tagged ‘timing’

De-briefing breakfast

In Preparations in London on December 6, 2010 at 1:51 pm

After seemingly endless discussions about how to do the best full English breakfast ever, Danny and I finally put our theories to the test and did brekkie for 4 unsuspecting guinea-pigs on Sunday.

Preparation involved an in-depth discussion, and internet search, on how to grill tomatoes and mushrooms (yes, I too was surprised to learn that there are actually recipes for grilling tomatoes); and a midnight shop at Tescos, where late-night shelf stackers must have been surprised to see a highly animated couple debate the merits of different types of tomatoes and mushrooms well into Saturday morning.

I might take this opportunity to add that never was there a better time to do this shop. Free of screaming kids and harassed parents, rushed singletons in the 5-a-day fruit and veg section, snogging couples hovering around the ice cream area, and trolleys piled high with the weekly shop, Tescos is a different place. Staff are friendly, or just pleased to have someone to talk to, queues are non-existent, no one tuts behind me as I slow down to check out the reduced items shelf, and Danny and I can pick up a million packets of bacon without getting shoved out the way by other shoppers. It was a joy and one of the best ideas we’ve had in a long time.

Sunday morning dawned and I was awake with the birds (birds sleep in on a Sunday) in anticipation of what was going to be the best breakfast ever made. I was basing this rather grand statement on the fact that the night before, during our dress rehearsal, I’d managed to poach an egg (a special thanks must go to Mr Hugo Woolley). Fresh from this monumental achievement I figured that everything else was just timing.

Hustling my parents out the door to walk the dog, ignoring beautifully sarcastic comments from my father about everything from food poisoning to his thoughts on the uselessness of a tomato at breakfast, Danny and I set to work. 4 slices of slightly burnt toast, a messy grill, 5 over-poached eggs, and some very crispy bacon later, breakfast was served.

On the plus side Danny and I were still talking to each other and, to date, no one has had food poisoning; the baked beans were a resounding success, as were the sausages, and it was unanimously agreed that the quantity of food and lack of grease was right on the money. On the downside we’re a bit concerned that the breakfast looks too healthy to appeal to punters looking for a ‘good ol’ fry up’ and we definitely need more practice at doing poached eggs ‘en masse’, while half were done beautifully the other half had most definitely seen better days.

It wasn’t this:

Nor was it this:

Overall however, it was not bad for our first attempt. We have 7 more trial runs to go, with increasingly larger numbers each time and while space might be more of an issue than we first imagined, all is bang on track.

As a post script I feel duty bound to add (for all interested parties) that my father, despite all the fuss, did actually eat his tomato. I consider this a small, but significant, victory.

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Zero spatial awareness

In Living with the parents on November 29, 2010 at 5:26 pm

It recently occurred to me (no less than 3 weeks ago) that I am dating a man with zero spatial and time awareness. I probably should have recognised the signs when we first met, noticed the odd throwaway comment about how it would only take 10 minutes to get there, that he only wants to watch the football for a quick second, that he just wants to play games on my iPhone for 5 minutes, that the shop was just round the corner, and he was just going to pop to the pub for a quick pint.

The reality of the situation is that it took 45 minutes to get there, that he watched the football for an hour, that he played games on my iPhone for 20 minutes, it’s a 2 mile walk to the shop, and I found him a bit tipsy at the front door 4 pints later.

It’s lovable I suppose, and when we discuss things now I subconsciously double, triple and then add 20 minutes to any amount of time he informs me things are likely to take. That’s fine, not a problem, what makes me laugh however is the fact that despite a ton of evidence to the contrary he still continues to quote these daft figures at me and then argue when I suggest they might be anything other than accurate.

We’ve been dating 2 years in January and so you might well ask the question as to why I’m only really noticing this problem now. I guess the answer to that is that now we are in business together so it’s no longer just about getting slightly irritated by the fact that I’ve ended up doing a 2 mile hike in 4 inch heels, or nagging him to turn the football off once it’s been on for 2 hours, it has a more noticeable impact.

While I am not one to gather evidence in order to rattle off a plethora of ‘I told you sos’, I am feeling a little obligated to quote a few examples in order to illustrate the extent of the problem.

Just 3 weeks ago I found myself staring at a storage space the size of a portaloo while Danny tried to convince me that we should at least ‘try’ to get all our stuff in there before upgrading to a larger space. I kid you not, this storage room was barely big enough to house my wardrobe let alone a settee, a disassembled double bed, a chest of drawers, 6 chairs, a table, and all our boxes of stuff. I stared at him in disbelief as he started indicating the height of the room and discussing how we would just pile things up to fit it all in. It’s neither here nor there that Danny and I (at our tallest) stand no more than 5’5″ but it certainly doesn’t help, and that room was certainly not big enough.

At my insistence that I wasn’t even prepared to try and squeeze everything in, we upgraded to a larger room and I can’t help but add that, even then, it was only just the right size. As if to demonstrate that point, we briefly debated trying to retrieve something yesterday but decided against it just in case, when we opened the door, everything fell out.

Not one to admit a weakness in understanding spacial capacities, Danny then proceeded to tell me I was being ridiculous by asking my folks to come round and collect a bit of stuff before the final day of the move – just to ensure that we wouldn’t have to do two trips the following evening. I would add that less than 24 hours later he commented that it was a good job my parents had already taken some boxes because the car was fit to burst on that last evening and we wouldn’t have been able to fit another box in.

Gloat?? Me?? Never!

Then there’s the timing… Everything in ‘Danny’s World’ takes 5 minutes. It must be a wonderful thing – really – to do everything you need to do in just 5 minutes. Organisation – not needed thank you very much, mainly because that task will take 5 minutes. Make a list? No way, it’ll take longer to write the list than it will to re-do the bathroom which – yes, you guessed it – will only take 5 minutes. This characteristic, in turn, led to a number of interesting (and repetitive) calls to Streetcar to extend the amount of time we hired the van for, as Danny’s inital estimate that it would take 3 hours (and that was him being cautious) to move him out of his flat and into storage was nowhere near the 5 hours we ended up needing.

While this can be an increasingly irritating trait I wonder whether Danny has it easy? After all, a task may take 3 days when he’s estimated 2 hours but the absolute belief that it will take a significantly shorter amount of time must save that ‘dread’ feeling that I often get when I start contemplating a mammoth task. Erring on the side of caution I probably allow a lot of time to do even the smallest of things, worrying that if I don’t it will surely over run and impact on something else, and I can spend an awful lot of time ‘warning’ Danny that something will take a lot longer than he thinks it will.

Yes, I was indeed right about the storage space and about the capacity of my mother’s car; but I must confess that moving out of my flat did not take 6 hours, it was probably more like 2, and we didn’t really need to leave an entire week free to pack up my wardrobe, a night would have done it.

So, going forward, while I will still take his estimates and double them I should probably also halve my own. We then might – just might – manage this guest house project in a realistic and timely manner.