Saturday, 31 March 2007

Valentine, Bangers and Mash and a Red Hoover

Emailed the toothbrush sender. Apparently it had been sent and was now being returned to sender by the post office, who did not leave a card to say they had tried to deliver. The guy is now sending it to arrive the next day at his own expense.

Went to the Ettore Sottsass exhibition. My little Valentine was there. He has designed masses of other super stuff, including this year, a carpet called 'bacteria' which looks exactly like prints of bacteria on a blue background. Great. Also saw the Colani exhibition there 'translating nature' and 25/25, designs in the last 25 years picked out by 25 designers. It was incredibly windy outside but sunny, and I found an interesting bus which goes from Tower Bridge into Covent Garden along near the river past Waterloo. I got this bus to Blackfriars, then another home.

I googled the Hoover Junior, which I had been assured was the lightest on the market, and was looking on Amazon. After a few minutes I discovered they had a red one, and since it was a reasonable price, ordered it yesterday and it arrived this morning. This is a snap of it. It is very light and has very good suction, slightly heavy in operation but eminently portable, so I am very pleased with it.

I am now recovering from sausages and mash for lunch somewhere called the Bridge House, which I fell into after the Design Museum.

Friday, 30 March 2007

Toothache, Job Stress and Window Shopping

A bit worried. I have always been a complete slut, but have managed to delude myself that since my robot cleaner has given up working I should purchase an upright lightweight slimline all floors Dyson cleaner. I am still considering this possibility.

After a fractious morning at the dentist recently, during which my new upper false teeth became firmly stuck in my mouth, causing general panic and the real possibility of having to break it in half to remove it, before it eventually came out again and was filed down a bit, and an appointment to meet our new accountant at the office, during which my complete ignorance about the running of the organisation, and worse, my total incomprehension of money matters, right down to dealing with petty cash, I was looking forward to a day off today.

I was turning over the idea of visiting the Ettore Sottsass retrospective at the Design Museum and to have a look at their Valentine typewriter in particular. I was delighted when I found this lovely red portable typewriter in a market a couple of years ago, and have become very fond of it.

Since it is pouring with rain so the thought of actually leaving the house at all has become unwelcome, I have changed the bedding instead and cleared up the kitchen a bit, but cannot bring myself to hoover the bedroom. I am definitely feeling like a geriatric Bridget Jones but with the absence of any interest in men. I am still trying to make the huge decision:whether to cab it to the Design Museum or bus it to John Lewis to look at the Dysons.

Well, I went to John Lewis. The Dyson was a disappointment, very heavy indeed. I shall now look for the lightest upright vacuum cleaner I can find. However they were selling silver Roombas so they can't be too bad. Had a look at the garden furniture and a sandwich lunch with coffee. The new restaurant 'Place to Eat' on the fifth floor was a pain, in that it was basically a canteen with lots of different counters for each type of food, presumably aimed at minimising the queues, but the crockery was very heavy white, strangely shaped and oversized, which made this tired shopper even more tired trying to carry a sandwich and coffee to a table. These were nearly all taken, and I had a table full of someone elses' rubbish, which made it difficult to get the tray onto the table. Rather stressful, but at least the coffee was OK. Next time I will pass on the sandwich.

Popped into the Thai restaurant and bar on the way home, where they had a civil partnership celebration. Helped with the tables a bit since they were panicking, but all well in time for the party to arrive. Noticed that fascinators seem to have replaced hats for these occasions, but quite successfully.

Toothbrush still not arrived.

Monday, 26 March 2007

Two Tates and a Boat

Made good use of my Tate membership card: got a bus to Tate Britain where I saw the Hogarth exhibition, which was excellent, and some more modern bits and pieces such as the Mark
Wallinger exhibit of the Brian Hawes antiwar stuff. This looked somewhat tattier in the gallery than it had looked on the grass outside the Houses of Parliament which seemed to be its more appropriate place in my humble opinion.

A few months ago my ex husband told me how he had approached Mr Hawes to congratulate him as a fellow sympathiser upon his anti-war stance, which caused a look of terror from Mr Hawes who had immediately summoned a policeman. My ex husband does look a bit dishevelled, but he explained to the copper that he had been attempting to convey only good wishes to Mr Hawes. The policeman advised him that Mr Hawes was ' a bit strange, sir' .

After seeing the artwork I had lunch at the Tate and caught the boat over in the sunshine to the Tate Modern, where I saw the Gilbert and George exhibition. This is absolutely huge, and rather a lot to take in, so may visit again.

I remember when at a local Art college we used to have lunch at the Market Cafe which was then sponsored by Gilbert and George, although we did not realise it at the time. It was a greasy spoon kind of establishment with terrific old fashioned English food - you had to arrive early to get fed: around 12pm was the best time. The form seemed to be to go straight into the kitchen and choose which of the roasts or other main courses you required then wait for Phyllis to serve you. This was followed by equally old fashioned puds with custard. I enjoyed many meals at the market cafe, the place was often full of local artists, including G & G . One day a friend of mine insisted on bringing her infant daughter, who unfortunately peed on the upholstered seat of a chair. Phyllis was horrified as it was the chair of either Gilbert or George (can't remember which). We were somewhat persona non grata after that episode.

Cooking and Minor Home Improvements

This blog is very Pooterish. I was hoping for more of a Proustian impression.......

I made an interesting dish consisting of lining a dish with streaky bacon, filling alternatively with lean mutton and cooked onions with fresh mint to the top, folding the bacon over the top and cooking in a bain marie for an hour and a half. I had to pour a lot of fat off when it was cooked, and discovered that I had not trimmed the meat well enough.

The toothbrush has still not arrived.

My son and daughter in law came around . They had bought a second bathroom storage tub with lid which looks quite smart filled with my make-up and so on. My son fixed the blind in the spare room. I now only need the curtain rail fixed in that room, and the kitchen blind fixed.

I have finally managed to contact IKEA after several weeks. I sent them an angry email and they have agreed to deliver the kitchen worktop and the missing cupboard door on 13 April. (I note this is a Friday, so unpropitious, I suspect). My son was very annoyed that I had chosen the postformed variety as his whole kitchen design depends on square edges. I think the postformed edge is fairly square, but said I would photograph the kitchen as it is with the worktop he chose so that he has a record of his uncompromised design. Of course, I have no idea when IKEA are coming to fit the new worktop, even if they achieve delivery, which is questionnable.

I have now photographed the kitchen, before which I spent at least half an hour cleaning and tidying it. It does look very smart indeed.

Looking out of my window, I noticed that the back windscreen of the car belonging to the people next door had been completely smashed. Walking back from some shopping later, I saw a large hole which looked as though someone had thrown a brick through their living room window. Rather worrying.

Saturday, 24 March 2007

Sugarpet and Rose Tattoo

My cat's test results through. My vet tells me that his diabetes is uncontrolled and that I should take him in for a full day or overnight blood tests. Since he seems quite well in himself, not losing weight, not drinking too much water, no hypos etc I am just inclined to gently increase his insulin a little while looking into home blood testing as with a human diabetic, but apparently it is illegal in UK!!!!

Then I discovered it said on the outside box of the insulin that it only kept for 28 days once started. Well, the vet had previously said it kept for a year. The insulin I had been giving him was ten months old, so not surprisingly the test was abnormal. I have been unable to clarify this with my vet, but have googled around and found an interesting site called which is a cat owner site and her view is that it probably lasts for about three months so I shall accept that pro tem. While considering doing simple home blood tests as advised on that site, which may or may not be feasible.

I am rather suspicious that all these rules are aimed at making more and more money for vets, rather than the welfare of the animals.

Went to a matinee today and saw The Rose Tattoo with Zoe Wanamaker. It was a brilliant performance and I really enjoyed it. Quite a treat. I really do like the Olivier Theatre at the National, a super space with a good atmosphere, and excellent red wine available in the foyer. Their top priced red (still under £5) is surprisingly good.

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

Cat junkies and a Strange Encounter

My cat only had to stay at the vets for an hour or two, and came back with some insulin and a packet of catnip in cat teabags. You make the tea, leave it to cool, and give to the cat. I did all this and the cat immediately threw himself onto the tea bowl, spilling it all over the floor and trying to sniff the liquid. After I had cleared up the mess, I gave him the wet mouse- shaped tea bag and he threw himself all over the floor in ecstasy for a while before ripping the whole thing to shreds.

I had also given a catnip teabag to a colleague which she put in her smart bag and forgot until later, at home in the evening, she found her cat, having torn her bag, inside her bag shredding the catnip bag. Apparently it was so excited that it later woke her up at 4.30am, demanding more catnip, unsuccessfully. I have exhausted my colleague and turned her cat into a junkie.

Today at lunch time I was wandering around the market when a quite normal-looking man came up to me to ask if I knew of a local flowershop. I pointed out two, and he said 'no, they don't have the right colours' then looked at me and said ' you are very stylish'. 'Thanks' I said nervously, before hurrying away. Apart from his strange comment to me , I wondered what the 'right' colours of flowers would have been, as both florists seemed to have a pretty complete range of colours.

I was a little unnerved and rang my colleague arranging to meet her for a therapeutic luncheon. Very good it was too, and excitingly, police turned up in two cars and arrested some people, which we viewed from the restaurant. Neither of them were the man who had accosted me, but two youths, presumably caught shoplifting.

Monday, 19 March 2007

Bizarre but Successful Restaurant Choice for Mother's Day

Mother's Day yesterday. When asked where I wished to be taken for a meal, I remembered a strange little place called the Tiroler Hut which I had once visited 35 years ago, and then discovered it still existed. This suggestion met with considerable resistance. However, my family duly arrived with a large bunch of flowers and other thoughtful purchases and the news that they had booked a table in the Tiroler Hut. Apparently it was a favourite haunt of Kate Moss!

Despite our forebodings, the food turned out to be perfectly OK. The whole place was stuck in a time warp from the sixties, which was perfect for me. My daughter-in-law said it reminded her of Twin Peaks. We ate and drank copiously and spent a really good evening. Sauerkraut was the sensible dish to eat, stuffed cabbage and apfelstrudel were all excellent, washed down with beer and apple schnapps. Interesting looking people kept arriving (we had booked early) and the place filled with quite a cosmopolitan crowd. The atmosphere was quite amusing with someone playing an electric organ at the beginning of the evening with totally naff old tunes . Just before we left another performer arrived with his accordion, so the fun was to last well into the night.

Today promises to be an ordeal. My diabetic cat (hungry, enormously fat and hard to catch) has to go to the vet for blood tests all day and I (permanently hungry and enormously fat, but easy to catch) have to go to the dentist.

Saturday, 17 March 2007

Strange Foodstuffs and Continuing Folly

The dress has arrived. It fits very well and looks OK. I may have it copied in a better material.

The wine has arrived. I used a bottle to make a coq au vin. I bought some quinoa, a rather strange Andean seed, which turns out to be quite pleasant hot or cold. I made a cold salad with quinoa and fennel which was quite good with the coq au vin. I also bought some spelt flour, which is apparently good for making bread. I will have to think about this one since I have not made bread for ages without a breadmaker. Still, with the easy quick rise yeast it should be OK.

My family came and turned my mattress and put the new mattress topper on it. Although I still toss and turn all night, sleeping seemed a bit less painful and the bed much more comfortable. Also higher, so easier to get up in the morning.

I again rather foolishly bought two tickets for a matinee of Tennessee Williams Rose Tattoo. I booked them online and they were the only two left for that performance, so hope that this time, someone will be able to come. If not the box office will probably take one back as the production is very popular.

I rang my friend last night. She sounded more cheerful about her forthcoming surgery and was pleased that she would be admitted within a week or two rather than the same day, which she felt might have indicated a more serious prognosis.

Thursday, 15 March 2007

This and That

Well, the mattress topper arrived today so will leave as advised in a well ventilated room for 12 hours before using. I am looking forward to this.

No wine, dress or electric toothbrush yet.

Took a coachload of seniors to a museum which had been described as having full disabled access. However on arrival this turned out to be some moveable ramps which had difficulty fitting a wheelchair, and there were lots of steep steps in the garden and between the garden and main building, and some inaccessible areas. Having said that, the museum was very interesting and charming, with plenty of information and a pleasant little shop.

After that, we went to lunch at a local theatre and watched a matinee before taking a coach back home. The trip went without major mishap, but I spent most of the next day de-stressing with a large glass of wine or two as there had been several near accidents during the day. We had not been helped by major roadworks narrowing the path to the museum

A friend has been to outpatients today to hear a hospital date for a total hysterectomy for a large ovarian cyst. Naturally she is very worried about this, and we are all worried about her but fortunately she has someone accompanying her to the appointment to help her focus on what is being proposed.

Sunday, 11 March 2007

Serial Shopper

Recently I have bought:

A case of red wine (with a bonus of three extra bottles of Rioja) (not yet arrived). This is to go with a recent interest in cheese of all kinds. apart from my favourite, Celtic Dream, I have not bought for years. Last time I had to keep it in a sealed tin in the garden because it smelled so strong.

A black shift dress (useful and plain) (not yet arrived). Probably a fairly sensible buy.

An electric toothbrush from Ebay( to replace my antique one). (Not yet arrived).

A memory foam mattress topper from QVC. This is because I can't turn my mattress over because it is enormously heavy. I tried the other day and knocked a glass of water all over my laminate flooring so had to mop up fast and give up the turning. (Mattress topper not yet arrived).

I am a serial shopper. But will try not to buy any more until the current orders have arrived. I rang my sister to ask her opinion of memory foam and she thought it was excellent and would help me to sleep. So here's hoping.......

Friday, 9 March 2007

IKEA rant.

Ordered a new fitted kitchen from IKEA last October to be finished before Christmas. It took many weeks to sort out the order, every screw and handle of which had to be paid for three weeks in advance of the fitting.The items had to be delivered.

I had explained that my street is very narrow to IKEA despite which they sent everything in a huge van which could not be parked.

They took it all away again and some days later sent a small van. By this time the fitter was starting work and discovered they had delivered several incorrect large items (cooker, hood) and had to take them away, so I had to await even more deliveries.

However the large door for the boiler (matching the rest of the units) never arrived. Where the worktops were joined, they started rising immediately and it was agreed to replace them with another type of worktop, as I had lost confidence in the ones I had ordered which were far from the cheapest they had. Apart from that all was well until I turned a tap on which splashed the worktop on the other side a little and it started rising immediately where it joined the edges. I informed IKEA and was told to leave it until the New Year.

Finally, now, in mid March, IKEA having incorrectly taken an order for another (wrong) worktop, I gave up trying to contact IKEA as the switchboard would not put my call through, and phoned the fitter and he said he would contact IKEA and inform them about which worktop I wanted.

I really don't think IKEA are capable of fitting kitchens and would never go to them again. I am still waiting for them to contact me about fitting the new worktop and sending me the cupboard door. Remember, this all started in early October last year! Oh well. Have found masses of complaints about IKEA on the internet. Let the buyer beware. Rant over.

Monday, 5 March 2007

Dangerous Oldies

Took a coachload of seniors to a museum recently. We had ordered coffee and buns at the start of the visit. This was self service, which made for a difficult process with slow moving people trying to clutch a coffee in one hand and a bun in the other (no trays provided) while walking to their tables.

Meanwhile a woman had put her handbag on one of the tables, not noticing the tealights in glass containers placed in the middle of the table. The handles of her bag flopped over on to the tealight and caught fire , which fortunately another senior noticed and extinguished before we had torched the whole place.

Some months earlier we had visited another museum, where one of our seniors had bumped into an insecure exhibit, causing a huge fall, including a vast amount of glass, all over the floor, but fortunately not injuring the senior.

We seem to be a little accident prone.

Where the first museum did score was that they had left folding stools discreetly placed against the walls in groups, so those who became tired on the long walk around could take a short rest. A very good plan which could well be followed by other organisations.

Sunday, 4 March 2007

Cuckoo Clock and Cooking

The cuckoo clock is now fully working, complete with cuckoo sound and echo, and sounds of waterfall. It can be turned on 'high' (haven't tried it), low, and off. It has some kind of sensor which turns it off when dark, luckily, as it is in my bedroom. I keep childishly rushing down just before the hour to see the cuckoo. I may be forced to purchase another one for the kitchen. Have seen a large white plastic one which looks ideal.

Idly looking through some recipes, I became intrigued by all the 'refrigerator desserts' in my Fanny Farmer book.

I wondered if I could make some savoury dishes which did not require cooking, which reminded me of my eighties invention of Stilton ice cream, which was basically Stilton blended with a little cream and folded into whipped cream, formed into small balls and frozen, to be served as a starter with a tomato coulis dotted about the plate. My family were appalled at the very idea, and refused to try it. However I recently heard that such dishes are now being used by the more adventurous chefs. I am wondering about the idea of cooking and pureeing different colours of peppers, and layering them with a cream cheese and freezing to form a colourful and stripy starter. Or not.

Saturday, 3 March 2007

Nothing exceeds like excess

Have learned my lesson the hard way. Had a bit of fun at the theatre leaving the spare ticket lying around in obvious places, but no one picked it up.

The play was brilliant, directed by Hytner, style of scene changes similar to the History Boys. Very modern, and very stylish, and extremely funny.

Still struggling with cuckoo clock.

My cat is trying to draw attention to himself by walking over the computer.

Friday, 2 March 2007

Free theatre ticket

I bought two theatre tickets last week for me and my sister-in-law. Unfortunately she was unable to go, so I have spent the whole week offering it to everyone I know, unsuccessfully.

I now realise I am deeply unpopular. Or nobody wants to go to the play, unlikely, as it did have brilliant reviews. However, it is a Restoration comedy, not everyone's cup of tea I suppose.

The play is on tonight. I shall make a few further attempts to give away the ticket. More about this later.

Meanwhile, am spending the afternoon attempting to assemble a cuckoo clock bought in one of many insane moments on Ebay.