Updated: Aug 14
This post is not about chocolate, but about general life in Herefordshire and my view of the current events. Last week, l had to take my Peugeot 107 car to the garage in Leominster to fix it at last, but as l had a couple of chocolate parcels to post, instead of rushing to my local post office at Canon Pyon to support them (which is 5 minutes drive), l took my parcels to Leominster post office which l could do at leisure while the car was at the garage.
The Leominster post office is located at the back of the Martin's newsagent shop, so it is always amusing to glance at the cheeky birthday cards they have on display or the trash magazines, while waiting. It was only 9am, and there was already a queue of 6 people waiting to get served, and only one cashier. Not bothered by the wait, l was killing time by watching the waiting customers, as l enjoy learning about human behaviours. One older chatty lady who had arrived just before me, was standing behind another older lady with a walking frame. The chatty exclaimed when she recognised the lady in front of her, greeting her with much (loud) volubility: the frame lady responded a few words but soon turned her back on her to rest on her frame, looking away, giving obvious signs of having had enough of the friendly verbal diarrhoea. (the funny thing is l saw her in the charity shop later, and she was very chatty!) The very talkative lady hadn't noticed the lack of interest, but when she did, she carried on talking to herself out loud instead, about her bills she had to pay and having forgotten something at home, looking around her large handbag, getting things in and out.
5 people were now waiting, and a nice Indian looking family were behind me; the young daughter gave me a nice but shy smile, which is unusual for people, l am not used to random strangers smiling at me. It is very nice. The post office staff lady was keeping her calm and being very patient despite the queue of people getting longer - the Indian family behind me had given up after 15 minutes, and gone somewhere else to do their deeds.
After about 20 minutes wait, it was the talkative lady turn to get served, and she was very pleased to have someone to exchange with, at last. (oddly she didn't try chatting at me, maybe she didn't notice l was behind her) She was talking loudly at the staff lady about everything and nothing, so we could hear everything which was being said. (l didn't ask their pronouns, l am assuming they were ladies) It is then l overheard the bad news, but didn't dare asking more details myself, that this post office had just been bought by Morrissons, the supermarket giant, (of which we have one of their [censored] supermarkets at the outskirts of Leominster) and they had made redundant 3 of the staff out of the 6 this post office previously had. As a result, there would only be one cashier available at most times (l guess while the other staff did paperwork at the back, and the third one had a day off?) and it was all rather upsetting for the local community, as the waiting time would get longer and longer at busy times. The post office was going to be refitted of course, and l am only saying that, but no doubt they would soon introduce some post office self-checkouts shiny screens like they do at the supermarkets and at the large post office in Hereford, to which l went once and swore never to return, the experience was rather unreal - l felt like a senseless object in a world run by machines. As all this was being said and also heard by the people in the queue behind me who were also discussing it out loud, l was feeling sorry for Leominster to have all this staff shortage and large corporation supermarket buying off a post office, but l also felt relieved that my local post office, at the Canon Pyon Store, owned by an ex-farmer called Marcus who is a jolly character, and his wife Carol who manages the post office side, were there for us. Marcus often told me how different running a shop was, from farming and livestock, he is very amusing. l felt such sense of gratitude for my local post office listening to those 2 ladies talk, as Canon Pyon's was not being bought by some supermarket giant and was going to carry on as it had always done, till Marcus and Carol decided to retire, and to be fair, they were in age of retiring, but had not mentioned they had any plans. It is wonderful to be part of a community where you know people, you can talk to them, they may tell you news about something drastic or quirky which has happened, and they know everybody and everybody knows them. It provides a sense of security, of connection, of belonging. When l first moved into that area and started using the Canon Pyon store and post office, a good 8 years ago, it had not been easy to get a smile from Marcus, but eventually l built a very good relationship with him, particularly after taking part in the local pantomime: Marcus is one of the main actors there, and is so good at acting, with such loud voice and admirable character, everybody loves him on stage. Carol had taken some knowing as well, as she could be quite sharp at times, particularly when l arrived with too many parcels, too close to their closing time, which l had learned not to do again as she got stressed out easily, which Marcus had explained. It is so nice to get to the post office, leave the parcels there and Carol will process them, using my drop-and-go account on which l can put money online or in person, and she will keep the receipts for me till next time, if l happen to be in a rush and cannot wait for them. It is a pleasure to get into the shop, and hear a "Good morning/afternoon Alexandra!" from Marcus with his very distinct, loud voice. He said once he was usually pleased to see me because l made him laugh. l took it as a compliment. This week-end, l did have a few online orders coming in, and as l was away Sunday, l was unable to prepare them on time to get to the post office.
My friend Fletcher, who is the honey man from Presteigne whom l buy the heather honey from, had offered to take me to the heather fields again so l could look for bilberries for my Christmas ganaches. l was delighted, as it was such a beautiful experience to go there last year, and l was hoping this year l could gather more berries than l did then, being more prepared and knowledgeable about the scarcity of the berries on the bushes.
We had arranged to meet in Kington at 10am that Monday morning, where l would park and l would then come with him and open the farm gates at the top (there are a lot of gates) to get onto the beautiful hills which unfortunately, are getting slowly invaded by the bracken and the heather beetles which are killing the heather due to the ancestral burning of the land having been made outlaw by the green party and the activists (this is another story, which l may have talked about in the same heather blog last year). So, even though it is beautiful, it is also a sad sight to see the heather and bilberries may soon be history, and the beautiful hills to become bracken land. So, this morning, waking at 7am was a bit of a rush, as l had to get ready, pack my 5 parcels, and get to the post office. When l was ready to go and post them, l felt bad having to let John know l would be late, of l thought, about 5 minutes as it wouldn't take me long at the post office, as l really wanted to support Marcus and Carol instead of using the Kington post office. It was 9.40am, much later than l hoped. 5 minutes late was a bit optimistic.
When l arrived at Canon Pyon, doing my best to restrict my driving to the compulsory 30mph, and parked in front of the Canon pyon store, l thought something was odd. The vegetable and fruit stall which is usually facing the road, was on its side, backing the side of the building, and looked wrong. That vegetable trolley is always facing the same way. Marcus never puts it anywhere else.
l had a strange feeling like something wasn't right. Like, someone had died; but, nobody had. l got in, in a rush, and didn't notice the cashier, as usually it is Lucy on a Monday, but as it was a young boy, l thought it might have been their Saturday cashier who is very polite. l ran around the corner, to the post office counter... to find... ??? Two gentlemen, of Punjabi or Indian/Pakistani origin, talking to each other quietly, the older man who had a handsome beard was seemingly giving advice to the younger man, both looking at the post office screen, in a language l do not understand as l have not learned it yet. l was astonished to see them there, and l must have eyes round like saucers. After greeting them, l said "Where is Carol?" hoping to hear something of the sort: "she has gone on holiday, we are replacing her this week". But what l heard was:
"They have gone, we are taking over from today." - "Do you mean you are just taking the post office over?" - "No, the post office and the shop, the previous owners have moved out." Thinking very rapidly, to try and hide my surprise which l wasn't able to hide, thinking about the old Morrissons buying off Leominster post office, and seeing this scenario next, l asked him: "Do you own other post offices around here?" - "Yes, l own a few, like the big post office in Presteigne". Well, if he owned a few, maybe Morrissons wouldn't buy them off, yet. This came over me like a shock. l did say to him how flabbergasted l was, at not knowing that Marcus and Carol WERE retiring and had sold the shop, they had said ABSOLUTELY NOTHING and l had only seen them...early-week last week. It is childish of me to say this, but l was feeling betrayed, and abandoned, sad and upset l had not been told anything by Carol and Marcus whom l thought l knew so well, nor any of the staff they have as cashiers, whom l mostly know, also, quite well. Nobody said the shop was changing hands. l felt upset on behalf of the community (how generous of me), and thought about all the older persons who use the shop and post office regularly, having such drastic change in staff - hopefully they were in the known because l can only imagine how many people would be upset by it if they didn't know, like l was. Not because the new people were unfriendly, on the opposite they were courteous and polite; however, even though l told them l was in a rush, they were rather slow and made mistakes as they didn't understand the screen nor had heard of Drop-and-go accounts. When l gave them a card with the drop-and-go number scribbled on it, they managed to log in and found that there was £37 on it; as they processed the parcels they looked at me and said there was suddenly zero on on the account and l offered to pay them; but somehow the amount came back on and l didn't have to pay again. That was a bit odd. There was £17 left on it in the end.
l managed to say to them: "Welcome to Canon Pyon", once l got my senses back. l didn't want them to think l was a racist French person. Never mind that l could hardly understand what they were saying, behind the thick protective glass of the booth, as they spoke quietly and without much of a smile (possibly wondering themselves how they would be welcomed in such local village?) Never mind l had to wait 10 minutes for them to serve me and make Fletcher even later, (by my own fault being late and then being delayed by unforeseen events) and when l eventually got away, l got stuck behind a posh Mini car doing 35 mph on the fast road, and then a caravan car doing 30mph on the way to Kington. It was lucky l didn't end up in the ditch trying to overtake those two with my fast car. (well, it is faster than the 2CV l learned to drive on, in France) l was in such a shock, such a distressed state, l was surprised at how something so insignificant could affect me so much. This event was shocking because it was another add-on to other events and other news we are having lately. It isn't just about post offices, but about "the way the world is going".
2 weeks ago, when l went to Waitrose to buy my favourite cream for the caramel, (the favourite varying between the organic Duchy's original and the non-organic "happy cows" Tom Parker with less micro-plastics sold in glass bottles), l found out to my horror, that they had removed many staff based tills, and made an enormous area of self-serve tills, with large, expensive looking shiny screens and stainless steel surrounds. They had left 4 staffed tills, squashed at the back of the till area. There were huge queues at those staffed tills when l got there, and nobody at the new shiny screens. "Good on you, customers!", l thought to myself.
l got my cream for the caramel and managed to get fooled by Yeo Valley having changed their packaging of organic butters, from 250g to 200g: l didn't notice till l got home, that the pack was much smaller. At the time, looking at the prices, l thought it was curious that the Waitrose Duchy Original organic butter which is normally the cheapest of organic butters there, was more expensive that day. Yeo Valley was only £2.85 instead of £3.50 something for the Duchy's. Organic butter is important in caramel! With my small amount of shopping, l did get in the queue for the human, live cashiers, and stood happily behind a line of people who were also ignoring the new machines. It is one thing to replace people by robots, but when they expect the customers to do the job for them as well as them getting rid of staff, it is going too far, particularly when there is always one basket item that will not scan or which code will not get accepted by the machine, creating stress and a feeling of powerlessness, which l had experienced the very rare times l used such machines at the local Sainsburys, when l was young and foolish. (and never used again) Also, l enjoy speaking with people, even if it is just a word or two. It is human contact, it is a word exchanged, a smile if l am lucky, or even a joke or a good word. Of course, it is tiresome to be a cashier: l know as l have been one at the Planet Organic in Westbourne Grove many years ago (where l was removed from doing the tills as l kept making maths mistakes: l get in a fluster as soon as l am shown a number) and that isn't even a large supermarket, but it is tiresome all right, as they say here. Being a cashier is a job that l admire people can do with the patience they show. To have to deal with obnoxious customers, watch out for any theft or dodgy behaviour, but of course one does meet very interesting/nice people too. l enjoy cashiers. l value their effort and work. Back to Waitrose, it was my turn at last to speak to the human: so l asked the covid-masked lady cashier, after hesitation, what she thought of the "neat new look" of the till area. She looked around her and after a few instants of silence, she said: "l hate it. l don't use those, l always go to my colleagues tills." l congratulated her for being on the side of the people, and said l felt the same, that l would not use the self-serve tills, and if they got rid of people entirely l would go and shop elsewhere. l mentioned to her it was bad enough the world's governments wanting to get rid of cash and getting us all onto some digital cryptocurrency which can be turned on and off at a distance if the person whose account it is, has bought "the wrong thing" or has said something controversial "against the latest guidelines" which, and l don't mean just the country l am lucky to be living in, it seems most governments are laying latest guidelines like eggs, all going in a very curious, uniform way. [you may not like the rest of what l am writing down here. If you don't like it, just remember a few things thing: - Your friends love the Continuum Conceits chocolates. - You couldn't live without the Continuum Conceits chocolates. - You will not find the Continuum Conceits chocolates anywhere else, they are unique. If this isn't enough to counteract the coming text but need some chocolate, you can always sneak to Leominster deli or the Hereford deli and buy them there, unknown of me. And if you have to go, because you dislike me from now on, l will miss you, but l will understand and accept that we differed in opinions and you could not handle to spend your hard-earned money with someone of my temporary Résistance orientation. ]
It is best not to worry about our future, we are all getting sorted out by our caring, jet-travelling 'elites'. Soon we will be getting carbon footprint credit scores and SOCIAL CREDIT for the ones of us who still have petrol cars, or for wanting to go on an airplane to visit our relatives in a distant country. (do l need to mention l haven't been to France in 5 years, not even on donkey's back? Do l get brownie points for not having used petrol or a plane for that long?) Have you heard of the unelected WEF ('world economic forum') group with Bond Villain Klaus Schwab? In one of his famous video, he shamelessly bloats that "Our young leaders are penetrating the cabinets, in various countries": with his political puppets of which Macron and Trudeau are seemingly part. Oddly, those two characters imposed a very heavy totalitarian-like regime during the pandemic. Was it worth for the economic downfall which followed, the population's trauma, knowing a lot of our loved grandmas in retirement homes died anyway, and worse, they died in solitude, unable to see their family? And that many 'tripledVx+' also died the following year? And that the rate of heart issues has, since their pressure to "end the disease", enormously risen, particularly among the young and the athletes, but is not talked about by the mainstream media? Never mind, soon everybody will be getting digital Universal Credit, which will expire if we don't use it. What a treat! FREE money for everyone! Some of you who earn too much will have to pay it back as part of your tax, of course, so don't get too happy. All the people whose jobs have been replaced by robots and machines, can soon sit at home, in their garden (if no new housing estate has been built in there by pushy developers) and if they don't have a garden, they will be happily able to sit on their sofa reading a book, or have a lovely time pursuing some study they always wanted to do, or some delightful, exciting hobby. It sounds ideal, the human race not having to do any manual labour any longer. l can't wait till robots do all my chocolate work and l can just put my feet up and do nothing at all except meditate all day long, singing Ohms and looking holy. However, at what cost? At the cost of us still having to pay bills, and no way to make extra money to help the ends of months? At the cost of losing our voice and not being allowed to voice our opinions? We could all have free energy: Nicola Tesla who was a genius, among his many amazing discoveries, had found ways to take electricity "out of thin air" in the last century: it is all there for us. What happened to him? He died poor, and at his death, the FBI confiscated all his documents and research. Those are nowhere to be found and free energy has disappeared. There we are today, with our planet-saving electric cars they want us to have and energy prices going up. Today, to produce electricity, countries like France rely on nuclear power stations (70%! l had to look it up) , which leak various amounts of radioactive waste into rivers, changing fish sex, and with which radioactive remnants, they can make nice nuclear bombs to threaten other countries with. The electricity price is going up, they want to stop burning coal because it produces CO2, and the electric cars' batteries components are mined by slave-labour and children in African countries many of whom get injured or die in the process. Electric-everything doesn't seem the best solution to me, but who l am to declare this? Nobody. Just a chocolatier venting her frustration on her blog which may lead to her bank account being closed at some point in the future, as they will not appreciate her saying such things out loud and many people have seen their bank accounts closing without notice, including Farage, who is not my mate, but whom l am grateful it happened to as it may awaken some of us. The world state is up to us, the consumers, while we still have cash. We may vote for puppets who just follow the money and go about in private jets telling us Spain is burning down from global warming and "climate change" and then impose on us, the consumers, more taxes and more restrictions on our already mentally restricted life styles. But no pointing the fingers at large corporations, which are doing most of the damage, or multi-billionaires on their yachts and jets.
Did you know that in Greece, it has been recorded that protected woodland has been 'burned down by wildfires' and then developers have taken the opportunity to build new housing on the burned, barren land instead of planting new trees and letting Nature come back? Oh, wild fires, yes, of course my dear. We must stop carbon at all costs. With all their satellites, it is amazing they don't have them pointing at the forests to see "what" starts the wildfires and why so many start at the same time. If l was at all suspicious, l would say people are starting those fires because they have an agenda coming from above. But l am not suspicious at all. l know all is the better in the best of all possible worlds. Remind me...isn't it plants and nature which require carbon for their growth, and without carbon, we would have no life? And isn't carbon something like 0.035% of the atmosphere? The air around us being mostly being nitrogen and oxygen? Ah, but we must shield the sun at all costs. What next? Nano-metal spraying in the atmosphere, maybe. That will be exciting for those who have costly solar panels with components mined from children also in Africa. We all have an agenda, and we all have beliefs, some beliefs being more pleasant than others. Most of us want a happy life, and most of us want to see humans and nature blossom, cooperate with each other, live in peace, and be in harmony with each other, while being comfortable, having a roof and food on our table, laughing, whistling and singing, enjoying our lives and spreading love around us. Some of us have other plans and do believe we are too many on the planet. Kamala Harris, Biden's vice-president, openly said in a speech about "the need to depopulate to remedy climate change". Does that not ring an alarm bell in anyone? Who is it they want to depopulate? You? Me? The little African children? 'In the end, we, the people, are the carbon they want to reduce.' is a phrase l read a lot. After all it is all explained in Klaus Schwab's book, "the Great Reset", available at your local Amazon store. Apparently he wants 'the best' for the planet. He certainly doesn't look like he wants the best for us. If only we shared resources, there would be enough food, water and shelter for everyone. If only industrials were taxed or penalised, there would be less of their chemical pollution going into rivers and into the sea, they would make sure it was contained, duly treated and managed.
And what about the plastic problem? Yes of course they have to use the leftovers from the petro-chemical industry, our current evil (and it is), to produce the one-use plastics, but why can't they use it solely for more durable, hard wearing plastic items? What about banning supermarkets and industrials from using so much disposable plastic? Oh, but it gets "recycled"now so it is fine. (well, it gets sent to Asian countries where it mostly gets chucked in the seas, very little of it gets recycled into waste pipes and plastic buckets.)
What about getting the industrials (who only care about profit) to use compostable plastics instead, which can be made out of so many natural substances? For example, what about using Hemp, this miracle plant, which fertilises the soils when grown, fixing a lot of CO2, and requires little to no artificial treatments as it is so robust, and can be made into cloth, plastics, ropes, all sorts of other items? All without polluting the earth? Ah, but growing hemp makes no money, and it means changing all the industrial processes which takes new machinery and more unnecessary expense for us, industrials. We must use up the plastic first till it runs out and then claim bankruptcy, when it is time to change the machines to make plastics out of hemp. What about developing the bacteria and fungi they found which feed on plastic, to help clean the waters, seas and land? Ah, because those organisms could come and eat our plastic windows and plastic doors - l hadn't thought of that, you have a point. We cannot use plastic eating organisms too quickly. We must stand in our own rubbish and bare it. So, as l was saying, us little people (well, l consider myself as a "little people", you the reader may be a "big people" and have a lot of influence in the society you live in) cannot do much except vote with our wallets.
We can stand up and say "NO", when something is being imposed to us we disagree with. There are millions, billions of us. If we unite, we are mightily scary to them. However, they have done their best and keep doing their best to divide us, so we fight among ourselves about petty subject like what pronouns we may have.
There are about 10,000 "top people" who own most of the planet and tell us what to think, what to eat and how to behave. Without us, they are nothing. If we changed the money system and found a way to trade among ourselves, they would become worthless and powerless. They cannot drive a yacht themselves, they cannot even cook for themselves, never mind grow any vegetables, or kill and dress an aggressive cockerel. They make themselves sound so powerful, because of their accumulation of goods, money and 'power over us'. But they are only feeble, mortal humans, after all. (this is disregarding the stories that some of them might have scales as this is going too far for me right now, till l meet one) l may be wrong (and hopefully, l am) about many things l have talked about up here, but l keep my mind open, and when you start looking at things with an open mind instead of just swallowing the narrative on TV ("The scientists on TV have said so and so, therefore it is true and if you don't do what they say, you are selfish and unworthy") then you start realising that maybe some of those "conspiracy misinformations" have some root to them. Remember 1984 Orwell, anyone? Or the film "The Matrix"? Has anyone heard about censorship and propaganda? in the 1930's when Hitler wanted everyone to have a TV and a radio? It makes quite a lot of sense, that we are at war, and it isn't just about Ukraine, this is a war against the people of the world, a psychological one. We just do not realise it. We are too busy surviving, while being thrown at changes from all directions, old words are not allowed to be used any more, behaviours we have to change (sometimes for the better), no ground to stand on as we fear the next deadly disease coming soon, which scientists are already preparing a "miracle cure" for, even though they have not identified a 'virus' for it yet. Like all wars, when you don't follow the crowds and the narratives, and start asking questions you are not allowed to ask and will be deplatformed for even mentioning one mere word like... (l won't mention it here, haha) to me, it is obvious we are in the middle of a totalitarian oriented society, where the people is losing their freedom and voice, slowly but surely.
This is not the time to fall asleep or we will awaken with a chip in our heads and no thought of our own. Being told that 'we will own nothing and we will be happy', eating our mealworm insect burgers and vegan GMO patties, or our lab-grown immortal beef stem cells steaks, while swallowing useless pharmaceutical pills with painful side-effects and making some people very rich. l wish you eternal blessings, O awakened soul, and l will see you on the parallel universe where children and families are singing, dancing, where nature is blossoming, and the largest amount of the population of the world has escaped the dystopian cyborg future which they wanted to impose, whilst the "elites" are happily destroying the planet in their own universe, and its inhabitants and wildlife. (but those 'elites' will be ok, they will go and live on Mars with their millions, which will be very useful there) Oh, and l won't even talk about aliens... Beware of the fake ones they may try and scare us with to gain our obedience! It is coming! The White House has started disclosing a lot recently on that matter. Holograms? People in costume?? or just clones? Or maybe Sophia the robot looking like some Greys with large eyes and lazer guns. Watch out, for the only fear to fear, is fear itself. More best wishes to you, and l will keep imagining the beautiful future l want to see for all of us, and in the meantime, l will leave you and go and look after my gather of bilberries which will go in the freezer for this coming Christmas Apostles chocolates.
Did l mention l had a lovely time in the heather and bilberry hills? Fletcher was wonderful, as always, and with his bright, entertaining common sense, brought me back down to Earth and helped me forget about the sadness of losing my local post office favourite people, without their good-bye.
l am grateful to know real people, who care, and still have what is today so rare, common sense. If you are still here, l hope this text has made you rolling on the floor with laughter, if nothing else. Life is too short to be taken too seriously! All the best and thank you again for everything, A temporarily overly serious, Alexandra
PS: l do apologise for this blog going to your email, l wish l could disable that but l can't, if it wasn't the case l would blog more as l enjoy it even if it doesn't look like it - but l don't want to burden you with too many blogs every 10 minutes as when people to that to me, it makes me annoyed! Then l unsubscribe, and usually l never subscribed anyway. So, you not getting too many emails from this website is important to me. l have not asked your advice :) Totalitarian! PPS: this blog was originally written on Monday, but l stopped myself from posting it in a rash, spontaneous way then, and left it. l worked on it again yesterday and decided that if l didn't post it, l would be ashamed of myself in the future for keeping quiet, and having been a coward - when the fall which will happen among who-you-know, has happened, because it will. They will fall and the names will be told. Evil never wins. It only takes a match to brighten a fully dark room, yet it is very hard to darken a bright room and block out all the light... Plus, the more gratitude we feel, the more we attract that future where it comes tenfold back to us, and, l really truly want a beautiful future, and want yours to be it too, if you wish so yourself and don't have negative beliefs holding you back into feeling undeserving of a good outcome. The planet, to the people, in harmony, respect and joy!