Thursday, 27 July 2017

Sauce for the goose

Here's a thing that's been bugging me for a while now.

I've got a pretty decent size fridge in my place. Yet the space within is constantly at a premium. I get back from Sainsbury's and I'm struggling to squeeze everything in.

Yeah, yeah, I hear you thinking, he loves his meat and cheese etc, he shouldn't buy so much. Thing is, it's not those things that are crowding out the fridge. My problem is that I'm a permanent shelf down before I've even started.

There is just no room whatsoever on the top shelf of the fridge, and I'll tell you why. It's because of all of the sauces.

Now I'm not just talking about the standard sauces we all have. Most of us have a bottle of ketchup in there and a bottle of salad cream. My kids adore ketchup and it doesn't take long to get through a bottle. No, the problem is all the other stuff.

Take mayonnaise for example. How many different types of that have we ended up with? There's standard Hellmans, Sainsbury's French Mayo, Garlic Mayo, and some other fancy version in a pretty jar I was seduced into buying for £3 off the French market last time it came to Bicester. Never gonna use it.

The list goes on. Brown Sauce, Mustard, various condiments for Sunday dinners e.g. Horseradish, Apple Sauce, Cranberry Sauce. Plus others bought for one off occasions like Barbecues e.g. Burger Sauce, Smoky Texan BBQ sauce, and many many more. I wish I could show you a picture but I'm away from home so can't at the moment. Still, just look in your own fridge, I'm sure it's a similar story.

Some of these sauces have been in there for months if not years. Every now and again I have a clear out. This is the point I discover that the Texan BBQ sauce, opened back on a distant hot August afternoon the best part of a year ago, has "Once opened, refrigerate and consume within four weeks". In the bin it goes, 95% of its contents unused. What a waste!

I'm up in Wales on holiday this week in a self-catering flat. As we're out and about most days, we've been making sandwiches to have on the beach or wherever we go. This required doing a big shop at Asda in Pwllheli on the day we arrived. And once again, my sauce problems struck.

We all like different stuff in our sandwiches. But do I really want to buy a jar of salad cream, mayo, mustard etc for just one week? Sure I can take the unused remainder home with me, but then it'll just add to the ones in the fridge at home. I could have brought some up with me, but am loathe to do that after an incident with a mayonnaise bottle a few years ago that led to embarrassing stains all over my holiday wardrobe.

Therefore I left Asda empty handed, deciding it would have to be plain sandwiches for the week. Later we went out for an evening meal and lo and behold, the answer to all my sauce woes was there, right in front of me staring me in the face. A lovely little holder, full of single serve sachets of sauces. Sadly I didn't photograph it, but it had about every type of sauce known to man in it. Here's one from this evening, slightly less choice, but pretty decent nonetheless:

Single serve sauces - where are you when I need you?

Now I know, what you're thinking. Why not scoop up the whole jar, about twenty mixed sachets and take them home - that's your sauces sorted for the week. It's not stealing, after all is it? They gave you the sauces with your meal, you're entitled to them, right?

Well, no, not really. After all they gave me the cutlery, plate and a glass too, but I wouldn't expect to waltz out with them. I guess most of us would probably admit to taking the odd pint glass from a pub in our younger days, so I imagine the odd sachet here or there (not the whole bowl) isn't seen as a hanging offence, but it still sits a little uncomfortably with me. I'm not going to confess here that I took a sachet of mustard for my ham roll tomorrow, but I guess one could have accidentally fallen into my bag. But in my defence I could say that I went without ketchup during the meal to balance it out. Conscience clear?

Just six in this restaurant, but have had many more in others.

I'm sure I'm not the only one that has this problem, so why oh why can't shops sell these single serve sachets? When I said this to my wife, she said, "yes, but you can get them in Bookers". Unfortunately that's not much good to the average person. Even if you've got a cash and carry in your town, you still need some sort of card to get in and they don't hand them out like Tesco Clubcards. Besides, you have to buy a big box of about 100 sachets at a time so you're still going to run into sell by date problems if you want a sachet of Mint Sauce perhaps four times a year.

So I repeat - why don't shops sell them? I wouldn't mind paying over the odds, volume wise, for a single use sachet. I'd rather pay 10p for 10ml of something than £1 for 250ml of something that I'm going to throw most of away. Supermarkets - you are missing a trick here. Sell us some single serve sachets! Or is this all part of your strategy to make us spend more and throw away food we don't need? If so, shame on you!

Sunday, 16 July 2017

"Ken Barlow" of Bicester in shock exit

Soap fans were up in arms last night at the news that popular character, Jason Ayres, is to be sensationally axed from long-running ITV show, Bicester.

Jason Ayres has played the role since the very first episode, and is the only original character left from when it began in May 1991. Dubbed the "Ken Barlow" of Bicester due to his longevity in the role, it seems inconceivable that the show's producers would want to get rid of him.

Ayres has come a long way since he first burst on to our screens as a fresh-faced, idealistic 21-year-old, back on that balmy spring day when Cher was at No. 1 with The Shoop Shoop Song. At the centre of many of the show's most famous storylines since, the character has been involved in all sorts of drams and scandals. But now, it seems that his story has run it's course.

Producers say they are looking for fresh blood in the show and that Ayres had become "tired" in the role. But Ayres hit back at those comments, blaming the writers for a lack of imagination.

"It's not my fault viewers are bored with my character these days" he said. "It's all down to the writers. Back in the day, they had me getting up to all sorts of shenanigans. But in the last few years, all you ever see me  doing is sitting on the sofa, eating crisps and watching telly, or rummaging around for the cheapest packet of cheese on the deli counter in Sainsbury's. It's ages since I've done anything interesting".

Ayres has already filmed his final scenes, and will leave the show at the end of August. He is also not happy with the manner of his departure.

"I was hoping to go out on some explosive storyline - like maybe getting involved with the local mafia and perishing in a spectacular shootout by the traffic lights on the Middleton Stoney Road. Or perhaps I could have saved lots of people from Bicester Village after a Jumbo Jet crashed on it, dying heroically in a touching final scene where I sacrifice myself so that others might live.

Instead, all they've got is me helping load up a removal lorry, saying cheerio to the bloke next door, and then getting in a car and driving off. It's completely unfair. Even falling into the sea, Harold Bishop style, leaving my glasses on a rock would have been better than this".

It is not all doom and gloom for Ayres, who reports he is in negotiations with the BBC for a Last Of The Summer Wine style sitcom, set in Evesham.