Monday, 30 April 2007

Bar Shu, Pollution and The Seashell

Went out to Bar Shu in Soho with a friend. I felt full after the first two plates: hot beef pieces and smacked cucumber. With a few beers we then went on to devour pork knuckle, gong bau prawns and a dish of beans. I was more than replete, but my companion struggled on with baby squid but failed to make much of an impression on these. A delicious if very expensive meal. We then sat outside Bar Italia for a coffee and both commented on the fact that it was only the end of April, yet warm enough to sit outside in the evening with light clothes.

Just read that Elephant and Castle is officially the most polluted roundabout in London with several readings well above the limit allowed, and that the people living there would live eight years less than average because of this. Makes you sick, eh?

Just back from a great fish and chips with my Chairman and his wife. Place called the Seashell in Victoria, absolutely superb. We had a great time and had coffee in a favourite pub of theirs called the Jugged Hare just around the corner.

just discovered it is called the Seashore, the Seashell is in Lisson Grove.

Disabled and Elderly Problems, Films, Gardens and Fish and Chips

I am still quite angry about the inability to transport people to the theatre and the problems with getting them home. The couple who were delayed suggested maybe they should give up trying to go on such outings. My colleague and I discussed the matter and decided that we would have to take responsibility for getting them to these outings, even if it meant we had to hire special transport as there was no other reason why they could not enjoy an occasional theatre trip. We have had occasional problems with Dial-a-Ride, but by far the worst problems arise with Computacab, and nearly every time people attempt to use them.

I spoke to my sister in law who was still having problems with getting carers to visit her mother. I suggested the possibility of finding someone who lived locally to call in maybe three times a day and be paid privately. At present they pay £7.50 an hour to the agency. Obviously the agency would pocket some of that sum so perhaps the very poor pay reflected the type of person working for them. A private payment of say, £10 per hour, or £30 per day might attract a much more appropriate helper, such as a housewife who wanted to earn some money, and maybe job share with a friend.

Saw Neon Bible at the NFT yesterday. The story was a bit lame, believably written by a sixteen year old John Kennedy Toole (who wrote my favourite book, A Confederacy of Dunces), though some think his mother wrote the Neon Bible, but again, beautifully interpreted and filmed by Terence Davies.

I was invited to dinner tomorrow by my chairman and his wife. I was given the choice of Indian, Chinese or fish and chips, and chose fish and chips. I am looking forward to this.

Hurray, the garden furniture has come today! Have cleaned up the garden a bit to make room for it. Unfortunately I have a large climbing rose that has somehow come adrift and is dangling over the small patio space. Try as I may I cannot pin it back and am reluctant to severely prune as it is currently flowering, so I shall have to leave it for a bit. Now comes the hard part: assembling the furniture.

Saturday, 28 April 2007

Cooking and a Theatre Outing

Ocado had sent me some free white sliced 'farmhouse' bread which I had not eaten. I decided to make a bread and butter pudding, but had no dried fruit apart from a few dates - and very little sugar, apart from some hardened Barbados sugar. However, I decided I could make the pudding using a little Barbados sugar, some walnut pieces and some honey as well as the chopped dates. I made it last night and it turned out rather well.

I also cooked some pig's trotters with onions, garlic, pepper, cloves etc for at least two hours. This morning it was lightly jellied and will make a nice stock when strained.

I also cooked 2lb mutton with garlic, mushrooms, parsley, prunes, cinnamon and nutmeg for a long time on top of the cooker, and it has turned out like a kind of tagine, rather nice.

Took a group of people to see Porgy and Bess at the Savoy. The show was quite dated but very lively and with plenty of good dancing and songs. Computacab let us down by not collecting two of the disabled fares. We had to telephone them several times. At first they said they had been waiting at the venue for 6 minutes. The second time they were 'on their way'. The third time the driver was 'in the Strand'. Eventually they turned up three quarters of an hour late.The driver cheerfully admitted it was his fault as he had not bothered to look at his instructions to go to Carting Way. He had no ramp and put the wheelchair into the cab very clumsily. The theatre staff by contrast were very helpful and kept the disabled doors at the back open for us. We shall have to complain to Southwark Council about Computacabs as they have let us down on many occasions. On this occasion they also failed to pick up another wheelchair-bound lady and her helper, dashing her hopes for a rare outing to the theatre. Absolutely disgraceful. Apparently they have a contract with Southwark Council to do this work and are presumably paid large sums of money, but are obviously not fulfilling their side of the bargain.

My son and his wife have arrived back a day early. They are coming around to eat some lamb with quinoa and basmati rice for dinner. Am digging out some wine and candles etc. It is so exciting to have them back again.

Friday, 27 April 2007

Films, Theatre and Drag

I went to 'Distant Voices, Still Lives' at the NFT. This was a brilliant film. It was interesting to see the progress from the Terence Davies Trilogy. I had already seen The Long Day Closes - Terence had given a friend a small role. I met him several times at her house and found him to be a delightful man, shy and retiring. He had been interested to hear about how my neighbours and I had clubbed together to supply food to a woman in the street who had several children and a temporary financial problem. He and I enjoyed Sunday lunch at a pub here with my friends some years ago.

I had a call from a gay friend of mine who is putting on an amateur dramatic production. He wants me to do his make-up. He is having a slinky white sequinned dress made and some special size 10 ladies shoes and is going as Shirley Bassey. He is certainly slim enough but is an elderly man with a large head and heavy five o'clock shadow with a beaky nose, so the make-up will be a challenge. He is going to be fake tanned on the body and I think I will use some Rimmel dark bronzer on his face with pale pink lipstick. I shall see whether or not my son and his wife can cat sit for the night so that I can do the make up and see the show.

My colleague and I had lunch in the Hop Exchange Cellars. They do a decent Welsh rarebit, quite substantial. We then went to Patisserie Lila for a rather overpriced cake and coffee, which was quite delicious nevertheless. I had bought some pretty plants for my windowbox at the front of the house as I had let the ivy die - not watering it enough in the unseasonably hot weather.

I am collecting my new Jackie O (though I shall look more like Deirdre Barlow) style sunglasses today. My gardening furniture delivery has been postponed but may come on Monday. Tomorrow I am going to Porgy and Bess at the Savoy. On Sunday I am seeing an afternoon performance of the last Terence Davies film I shall see for a while: The Neon Bible. Also, my son and his wife are returning from Barcelona. Hurray!

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

A Bit of Culture

Just lost a blog because somehow firefox went down. Oh well.

Just back from Terence Davies Trilogy at NFT. Childhood, bullying, bullying dad, gay sexuality, Catholic guilt, mum etc (a lot of mum). His early black and white stuff. Quite took me back to Liverpool. The use of chiaroscuro, fading diptychs, window frames etc were all much in evidence, so powerfully used in later colour films.Recognised front silhouette of a nun from The Long Day Closes. Not a barrel of laughs but sensitive portayals and a few funny counterpoints.

I am now totally knackered and will go to bed.

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Sad Tales and a Night at the Theatre

my friend who had been in hospital rang to say that some borderline malignancy had been found at her operation. She said that the surgeon had been quite upbeat though, and had not suggested further treatment. Somehow the interview with the surgeon raised more questions than it answered, so she was going to await her copy of the follow up letter from the surgeon to the GP which might mention staging and so on.

She said she was concentrating on recovering from the surgery, and though surrounded by helpful visitors now, that this would drop off after the next few weeks and we should then meet up at her house for dinner. I contacted another of our group who suggested we should each cook a course of the meal which would be fun. I shall supply the pudding!

I then had a call from my ex sister in law who said that her mother had been discharged home from hospital.She had attended a case conference. She had been very impressed by her mother's treatment at the rehabilitation centre and the way the team all worked together. It had been agreed that her mother would have four visits per day from the care worker to make sure she had not fallen over and so on.

However, when she visited on the Saturday after discharge her mother said the care worker had only called twice on Friday and not at all that morning. On checking the forms, the carer had filled these in to say she had visited four times the day before and had made her mother sign for this! My sister in law waited for the carer, who eventually arrived some time later than she was due, and confronted her about this. The care worker at first stated that her mother had requested her not to come so often, which was denied. Then my sister in law stated that she had lied on the form that she had been present, and she agreed that this had been so and 'they all do it'. My ex sister in law was very angry about this and took the keys back from the carer, who flounced off in a rage and said 'you look after your mother, then'. I suggested she contact the social worker and report all this and perhaps even try to find another agency if they could not send anyone better. It is a huge worry to her, and to all of us, particularly as we get older ourselves, to hear such stories of abuse.

On a happier note, I went to see 'Landscape with Weapon' at the Cottesloe. At least two of the cast of the TV hospital series 'The Green Wing' including the rather gorgeous Julian Rhind Tutt were in this. It was a brilliant play, well acted and a very enjoyable evening. I bumped into some people I knew there, always nice when you go to the theatre alone.

Monday, 23 April 2007

Marriage and License

I was looking for my Tate membership card which seems to have disappeared when I unexpectedly came upon my parents' marriage license. It seems that on the date of their marriage in February 1940, my mother was 17 and my father 29 years old. They were married in Wolverhampton where my father was a fireman in the ATS??? and a saxophonist in some orchestra. His father was an ornamental plasterer. My mother's address was in Paignton and her father was described as a manager of a general store - actually I think he managed Woolworth's during the war, got a lot of good deals for the local convent, Stoodley Knowle, as a result of which we all obtained reduced boarding fees - rather wasted on me as I managed to get expelled - I never quite knew why except that I was a most difficult child. My younger sister however soldiered on there until the end of her schooling. My mother pleaded for me with various local schools, eventually succeeding in getting me in to a local grammar school which I left as soon as I legally could.

My son and his wife left to go to Spain for a short holiday. I do hope they are all right. I am hoping they will ring or email me soon.

Yesterday I attended the licensing of a new vicar and the church was packed. It was quite a successful event certainly in terms of attendance, and the local MP was conspicuous by his presence, as always. Also there was Jo Brand, the comedian, a friend of the new vicar. I hope this means that he has a great sense of humour, always a good quality in a vicar or anyone else.

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Houses and Gardens, Laughing Gravy and TV Again

I forced myself to go to 'Rafta, Rafta' at the National, and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a comedy with some serious points, and well acted. Came back over the walkway to the bus stop, lovely views of London and went to bed.

We visited the Geffrye Museum in East London this morning. We had very nice coffee and cakes in the At Home cafe there. The room sets were lovely, particularly the set of 20th century rooms. The gardens were very good indeed, particularly the herb garden. Bought some seeds and a dibber in the shop with some wool fat soap, a wooden door stop and a few other bits and pieces.

We had a quick lunch at the Laughing Gravy and I dashed home to meet the kitchen fitter who will inspect the kitchen work done and the problematic boiler housing cupboard.

Kitchen fitter now here. He agrees about the boiler housing and says it was made too small. He is going to organise another cupboard door and for the housing to be made larger and better fitting. He has arranged for the gas man to come tomorrow, and says someone will silicone around the hob and sink.

Went to an opening near London Bridge which was interesting, my colleague might be interested in one of the paintings and is going to mull it over. When I arrived home again my son had fixed the TV and they had put the rug back in the sitting room.Fabulous, I can now watch television.

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

No Soaps, Mess and Bad Ads

Woke up exhausted this morning having gone to bed very very early. The house is covered in dust, like nuclear fallout, greyish and fine, and everywhere.

Last night my daughter in law came around and helped clean up and put some things back. She tried to reinstall the television, and I think she did this correctly, but there is no Sky signal. I think the men might have knocked against the bit which does into the wall, but don't know what to do about this. I am definitely suffering from telly deprivation, not having been able to see the soaps I usually watch. I have continued cleaning up today. Because of the amount of dust, everthing has to be cleaned several times. I am going to see 'Rafta Rafta' at the National Theatre tonight if I have the energy. I can quite see why people do not have ceilings taken down unless it is absolutely essential. I have not been able to contact the kitchen fitters about the incorrect fitting and door to the boiler cupboard.

I have been very annoyed by television advertisements talking about 'the secret to beautiful hair' or the 'secret to perfect cooking'. I always understood that the preposition/conjunction? correctly used would be 'of' rather than 'to'. I thought perhaps it was just general dumbing down, but my son thinks it may well be a cunning invention of advertising copywriters aimed at drawing as much attention to/of their ad as possible by using a wrong word and irritating people. Well, it works.

Apart from no TV the men have not siliconed around the sink or gas hob and the man in charge of the IKEA fitting has not contacted me. The fitters thought the gas man was coming today, but I have had no official word, so am taking yet another day's annual leave in case. As I can't use the hob, I hope he turns up today.

Monday, 16 April 2007

Ceiling Time and an Adjustable Bed

They have gone. It is the next morning. My son and his wife came around last night and complained that the door to the boiler housing is the wrong size - too short and too wide. I must say I did not notice this when it was being fitted. There are a few other bits and pieces to do, but at least the major job has been done. My son and his wife cleared the sitting room for me after we had eaten a curry and watched TV for a bit. I still have stuff all over the place and the ceiling men are coming today. I think this is going to be the worst thing ever for dust and chaos, but it needs to be done.

The two guys are here: cups of tea and coffee first! At preliminary investigation the bulge in the ceiling was found to be dangling four inches below the joists. Most of the ceiling is down. It has been patched with plaster and in different places with plasterboard and just nails holding it on. The room is full of dust, the guys are covered in dust, the window has clouds of dust coming out, but fortunately they have hung 'curtains' over the doorway to minimise the amount of dust. There is a ceiling light wire which they will thread through so I can have a central light which is much needed in that room. I will need to change the switches so I can have the central one on or the wall lights separately.

They have just carried out about fifteen huge sacks of ceiling.It seems to have been patched up in ten places so it is just as well to change it. They have left the wall mouldings and they are going to patch into them.

My neighbour is complaining about dust all over his bathroom and hinting that my soundproofing might be less good with the new ceiling. If he only knew how terribly noisy he was, always running around upstairs. I have decided he does this instead of going to the gym, as it does not seem entirely normal. Mind you, I am so slow that any running is out of the question.

Escaped for lunch with my colleague. After lunch, we managed to find a wonderful adjustable bed for a client, and it is actually being delivered by the manufacturing firm tomorrow!

It is 5pm and they have had to put the central light fitting back into the ceiling since the wires have been cut off somewhere in the walls and we cannot therefore easily connect it. The room is almost ready for skimming the ceiling which is the final step. What I thought would take two days has taken only one. The main guy said it would have taken two if he had only had a young lad instead of an experienced helper.

I still have to stay at home tomorrow awaiting the gas man before I can use my hob again. They are now starting to skim the ceiling. Apparently this is really hard work. The plaster looks brownish but is apparently pink so the whole place will look revolting until redecorated. Maybe I should get the floor done soon. Very soon even.

Kitchens and Ceilings

IKEA are mailing me forms about customer satisfaction before the work is finished! My son points out that the loose wires they left on top of the cupboard are a definite fire hazard if they became disconnected. I have already pointed this out to the man in charge of the last fitting, but could not find a ladder for him to inspect them. I must remember to take the ladder down to the kitchen today for this to be done.

I am nervously awaiting the workmen this morning. I have just realised my framed Gilbert & George poster has not been taken down.

They have arrived and one said the current bad join in the kitchen is 'as good as you get' and seemed to think the bubbles at the edge on the other side were normal. All a bit worrying. They came back saying they had wrongly scratched the parking permit I gave them and asked for another. Because I have needed so many these are becoming very expensive at twenty odd quid for a pack of ten, and I cannot get any more this year apparently, so hopefully they won't take too long.They are not interested in the loose wires on top of the cupboard.

They are now trying to get the old worktop out. There is cellulose sealer everywhere except in the joint which had bubbled up, which would explain why that happened. So far they have removed half of one of the worktops. It seems that I may have to have a complete new ceiling in the sitting room. They have rung the plasterer and I am now waiting for a verdict and a price.

They have just managed to get the old worktop out. Bits are everywhere. They have put the old worktop into the van and they have gone off to make some calls and have a break. There was an incredible amount of silicon which had to be scraped out by hand and they have had to remove one of the door lintels, because the previous tops were put in before the tiles and now there is less space.

Well it seems that I do need a new ceiling and will remove the television, tables and chairs tonight. I shall expect a room full of rubble and a hellish couple of days. They are now coming (two of them) tomorrow, so we shall see. A good thing I estimated three days for all the work and arranged to take time off work. I have to take a party to the Geffrye Museum on Thursday morning, so it had better be finished by then.

One new worktop has been cut to size and is in the process of being put in. It looks quite nice. Kitchen finished with minimal tile damage. Gas man coming Wednesday to reconnect. One of the kitchen guys may be willing to do the floor in the sitting room and will quote for this.

Sunday, 15 April 2007

Yet More Ice Cream and Oldies

I bought the ingredients for Stilton ice cream, and also some foreign soft blue cheese to make a comparison. My sister had suggested making a batch with sour cream also, which I may do. I mixed everything up and put it in the freezer. It was frozen very solid when I removed it. My freezer may be too cold. Anyway I let it melt for a bit and decided the texture was a bit solid so beat two eggs whites and folded it into these and put back in the freezer. Not sure it will be creamy enough with the egg whites.

I then put a combination of fresh mashed raspberries, sugar and whipped double cream to see if it will make a satisfactory ice cream without eggs.

My ex sister-in-law rang to hear my news. She had been in Cornwall on holiday for a couple of days and had come back exhausted, but said Cornwall was a lovely place, so the break was obviously good for her.

Bought a copy of the Oldie. Two articles caught my attention: one mentioned the As You Like It coffee bar in Soho years back, which had been owned by Barrie Stacey. I had met Barrie through an actress friend of mine. The other was a Beryl Bainbridge review of A Man of Mode, which I had also seen. Ms Bainbridge had been offended by the sexual scene and seemed unhappy about the modern dress. I absolutely loved the modern dress as it was so well done and was not at all offended by the sexual scene, which seems rather normal in a Restoration comedy. Ms Bainbridge thought it was a generational thing to be offended and it might be. This led me to consider how everyone over fifty is put into the same generation by the young, yet to me, at sixty five, someone of eighty five is of the same generation of my mother and had a pre-war upbringing.

Saturday, 14 April 2007

Ice Cream, Cheap Cakes and False Teeth

Bought the Panasonic and discovered it takes three to five hours to make ice cream so useless if I was chosen for the television programme which is unlikely. I shall keep it anyway and practise with it.

I found some ballerina shoes made of very soft material which will look fine with leggings and summer dresses. I also bought some St. Tropez fake tan which I will also find useful.

My friend rang to say she had arrived home safely from hospital and was very relieved to be back. She is very fond of incredibly awful starchy cheap shop bought cakes and pies, such as pork pies and those kind of angel cakes in pink and white with artificial cream inside, so I have advised her to eat as much as she can to put on a bit of weight. She is looking forward to being well enough to go to a local cheap Chinese restaurant here with me and to eat plenty of fried rice.

My son and his wife came around in the afternoon and helped me with moving all my stuff out for the workmen. They did a sterling job, but the place looked as though it had been burgled upstairs. The police have put a leaflet through the door to say that thieves have been targeting this area which is rather worrying. I may take my laptop downstairs when I am out.

Tomorrow I shall buy some cream, eggs and Stilton to make some ice cream.

I shall also buy a file to file down my false teeth and make them a bit more wearable. I have not worn the bottom set since I had them and have been too busy to return to the dental technician. I have worked out which bits are rubbing and will attack these. If this fails they are going back to the dentist.

Friday, 13 April 2007

Successful Deliveries, Hospital Visit and Ice Cream Machines

Things are looking up: IKEA delivered the kitchen worktops and door and the toothbrush arrived through the door so my happiness is complete.

I went to see my friend in hospital. My plan to grab flowers and chocs from the shops downstairs was thwarted as she had come downstairs and was having a ciggie outside. She looked very well for someone who had undergone major surgery and was standing upright and walking normally, she was just a bit thin. However she had felt so ill her appetite had gone in the weeks before, which is probably why. She showed me the wonderful view of the Houses of Parliament, the river and London Eye from her very smart ward. She thinks she may be discharged soon and feels she could manage at home with help from her friends and getting meals delivered. We then discussed fake tans in detail.

I am slowly moving things out of the sitting room. I shall have to practise making ice cream so have been Googling machines. The choice lies between the Panasonic, a revolutionary design that, using a special battery, paddles the ice cream while in the freezer, for under £40, and the Magimix Gelato Chef, a stand alone ice cream maker my mother used to swear by, for under £250. I think I will try the Panasonic given that I normally hardly ever make ice cream and this is being purchased mainly to experiment with Stilton ice cream making.

Vanity Thy Name is Old Woman

Found a great new face product: Estee Lauder DayWear Plus. It is absolutely filled with tiny reflector bits which is why it looks an odd blueish colour. I use it instead of a moisturiser and foundation. It smells of melon. It makes your face a bit shiny but is good for evening out the tone and excellent on top of a tan. A bit pricy, but well worth it.

I have just learned how to send photos on my computer, so sent my niece a couple of pictures of my new kitchen and a photo of me. She says the one of me looks as though I might have a whip behind my back. I did think I looked a bit like a retired Madam. It might have something to do with the Dame Edna Drag Queen black glasses with the diamante top rims.

Have discovered Fake Bake. It is some extra strong stuff which you put on at night and shower off the surplus in the morning. The colour is quite satisfyingly even. If you then apply the Johnson's Holiday Skin stuff in the morning, letting it dry before dressing, it hydrates the skin as well and keeps the fake tan going. On days when nothing needs topping up, a coat of Nivea Body Satin Radiance body moisturiser adds some light reflecting pigments (goldish, v. small) which look good over the tan. This stuff also looks good on any skin, white or dark.

I wore my new slightly glittering gold jacket from Marks & Spencer yesterday and had quite a few compliments on it. I do have to say that it looks considerably better on Erin thingy (the tall dark model - probably a size 10) than it does on me in a size 28, but still. Just to bring me down to earth, my new large cream bag with tassels (from M & S again) apparently looks 'very Dolly Parton'. I was rather hoping not! It is a super bag with several sections and I can fit my Mac into it.

God, I am superficial.

Still waiting for the toothbrush.

I am slowly removing things from the sitting room and dumping them in the hall, then will have to start (horrors!)on emptying the kitchen. All must be done by Monday, (that is, if IKEA deliver the worktop and cupboard door today).

Thursday, 12 April 2007

More of the Same

Toothbrush not arrived yet. The sender says his father sent it and he is going to email me with the tracking number.

There was a meeting last night and I did not get home until 10.30pm. My daughter-in-law had fed my cat and bought him some new syringes. She had also pulled the small hazel tree out of the garden which a squirrel had planted a couple of years ago, and which had been near the pond taking up space.

I went straight to bed and went into the office this morning to write up the minutes of the meeting. My colleague had returned from her holiday and had had a wonderful time, which we discussed over a sunny lunch outside - the weather is great at the moment.

My colleague has a friend who commutes between UK and Thailand who is very handy and said if I had any work, his daily rate is excellent. I was thinking of getting the garden tidied up, maybe assembling the furniture for it, mulching the beds and getting some new large pots to put between the plants. When the ceiling is done of course I need the sitting room and hall reflooring. And then some painting and decorating so there are definitely a few days worth of work. Apparently he had been completely doing up houses in Thailand and can put his hand to absolutely everything as well as being extremely nice, so he is a bit of a 'find'. She will bring him over to have a look at what needs doing. Apparently he has stayed in her place to cat sit when they have been away. Another useful talent!

The television researcher emailed me again and wanted someone else who would also agree to audition for the programme. My colleague had invented a dish involving bananas, prawns, crab and curry which sounded revolting but apparently tastes delicious and the researcher is also interested in her. I think we have been selected as the comedy act to be put up against some seriously good cooks who have probably been selected in advance. Still, it might be fun.

Ordered a small garden table and two chairs, plus a small two seater garden bench in aluminium. I had to order white to get it all matching, but since everyone has black or anthracite, white could look pleasantly retro I think. They will be delivered in a week or two when hopefully, the kitchen has been finished.

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

Work and Space

Friday 13th is apparently the arrival day for the IKEA worktops. I had already been told this, but again IKEA rang to say this would happen. When I reminded them about the cupboard door (due in November) they knew nothing about it. It is supposed to arrive with the worktop, so we shall see.

Several emails back and forth about the fitters and they are in fact coming on Monday 16th. Also the man who is going to pin up my sitting room ceiling. I asked what i should do about emptying cupboards to put the worktops on and the head fitter told me not to worry until the guys are here.

I think I shall have to take the Tuesday off as I can't imagine all this work being finished in one day.

I am looking around the sitting room despondently at all the shelves, table, windowsill, mantelpiece, telly top, all stuffed with bowls, vases, flowers, candlesticks, clocks, jewellery, books, lamps etc. and the thought of moving all these, plus the curtains, two floor rugs, three mirrors and six pictures and finding somewhere to put it all, oh, and the table, sofa, three chairs and TV, is a bit depressing. The kitchen tops equally are totally overladen.

Why can't I be minimalist? It is not just stuff acquired over years, it is stuff bought as 'essential' at the time, then just taking up space later.

I really need to eat my credit cards and permanently lose my purse. I do constantly 'declutter' and give things away to people on my local forum and others.

Maybe it is a security blanket kind of thing, apart from the gratification of receiving items through the post or bringing them home, like presents, I maybe have some need to be surrounded by piles and piles of stuff. Oh well. I must just be a top consumer: eat too much, and just buy too much - all the time. Probably lucky that my flat is a small one.

Monday, 9 April 2007

Pussycats and Easter

Something that struck me as oddly ironic in the plus size shop Evans the other day. I was a bit tired and was looking for the usual seat near the door to rest a bit, but it had been replaced by a DJ with all his equipment, loudly playing the Pussycat Dolls hit 'Dontcha', and as I looked around, several extremely large ladies were weaving in and out of the clothes racks singing along:' dontcha wish your girlfriend was hot like me' etc. Quite funny really. The music was incredibly loud and it was quite hard to concentrate on actually choosing clothes. Mind you, given the choice it was no hardship to get out of the shop.

Oh dear, the above is probably fattist, but as a fat person I feel entitled.

Evans is a strange shop, in that sometimes they seem to have had a fresh look and manage to fill the shop with quite good clothes, and at other times the buyers appear to be both blind and desperate, with awful shiny clothes in ghastly colours.

Had Easter dinner last night with my son and his wife. We had some pata negra ham from Spain with olives and cava to start with,followed by a roast leg of lamb from the Ginger Pig at Borough Market with some rioja. Also mixed roasted vegetables, peas, and some quinoa to replace potatoes as the carb element. Quinoa is quite pleasant and nutty. We had Davidstow cheddar and Colston Bassett Stilton, and then for pudding we had coffee cake and a New Zealand dessert wine. We finished up with some experimental rhubarb ice cream which was rather like a frozen rhubarb fool. My diabetic cat enjoyed some of the ham and a bit of lamb later.

Saturday, 7 April 2007

Shopping and Arab Princesses

I had an email saying the toothbrush sender was away and his father was sending the toothbrush, so it would probably not arrive before Tuesday.

My son and his wife invited me to dinner. My son cooked his signature dish, guinea fowl in a delicious sauce served with rice. We finished with some very good Spanish dessert wine and coffee. Another late night.

My daughter-in-law had told me there was a half price Magimix food processor in Selfridges, so I shot up there this morning, but it was gone. I went past the new Primark in Oxford Street. It had been open for three days, but there were still queues all around the building. After this I bought a MAC lipstick in Russian Red, which stays on well, and went to Marks & Spencer to look at their garden furniture in the sale. There was nothing much for me, but I managed to buy some clothes and a bag.

I had lunch in their basement cafe - so much better than John Lewis, in that a girl was handing out sweets to the people waiting in the queue, the food limited to a few hot snacks, sandwiches and desserts, and served on lightweight crockery. I also had help to find a table, laden as I was with shopping. I was very impressed.

I sat next to two extraordinary
-looking women: in their thirties or early forties, speaking Arabic I think, both perfectly made up with nose jobs and lip expansion (so to speak), dark bouffant hair, and one in particular looked very impressive,with kind of pull-on platform shoes made of some elastic material in gold, covering the entire foot, gold pedal pusher cargo style pants, a greeny gold top held around the neck by an enormous chain, and what looked like a honey coloured knitted fur jacket, sunglasses the sides of which were solid diamante, and a diamante encrusted mobile phone. I could not take my eyes off her, as she drank the small milk containers before sweeping off with her friend.

My son tells me the bit above is racist, and that i don't get out enough. Well, it wasn't meant to be racist, just amazed, and I really probably don't get out enough.

I still need to buy some broccoli for lunch tomorrow, but have texted my son to ask them to buy it and slept all afternoon instead, worn out by shopping.

Thursday, 5 April 2007

Stilton Ice Cream and Old Friends

Toothbrush has still not arrived.

I will go to Borough Market today and try and get some food for Sunday lunch, or at least order something which I can pick up tomorrow.

I was emailed by a television researcher who had read a forum post I sent about my Stilton ice cream, suggesting I might like to participate in a television programme and make my dish to present to some top chefs. There would be heats all around the country and there would then be an overall winner. The idea was to find people who had some wonderful signature dish and were undiscovered cooking heroes. I pointed out that though I felt I was the possible inventor of Stilton ice cream, it had since become an actual dish, not only for a starter, but apparently, with sugar, as a pudding which had been very popular for a small dairy who 'could not make enough of the stuff'. It seems that he was looking for weird and wonderful dishes which did not actually exist, so I suspect he might have a problem finding them, as almost everything has been done already. It was fun to imagine creating my dish, or any dish, on the telly though. Unfortunately my 'signature' dishes are very simple and un-English: Sauerkraut, and Couscous, so would not have done at all.

Last night I went to dinner to meet three ex Art college friends who I had not seen for several years. Everyone had been incredibly busy: one had just been to Paris to exhibitions, and was still doing artwork; one had been project managing an entire rebuild of the back of her Georgian house, creating a rental flat in the basement and the other friend was doing huge amounts of community work in a small village in the countryside in the north of England. We ate a super roast dinner of lamb shanks followed by chocolate cake and strawberries and cream, washed down with lots of red wine and followed by coffee and cognac. We took photographs, compared cameras, and swore we would all meet again soon, and not leave such a gap between meetings. I do hope we will.

Monday, 2 April 2007

A Trip to the Zoo

The celebrity wife swap was a bit of a bore, the only opinion of any interest to me was that Paul Daniels said something about granite worktops being porous, which makes me glad I have old fashioned formica ones, having heard complaints about wooden ones. So far, no complaints from anyone about Corian.

I went to London Zoo with my daughter-in-law. It was incredibly warm and sunny for the time of year and we enjoyed seeing all the animals, particularly the new gorilla house, lots of monkeys and the otters and meerkats. We took plenty of photographs,and I was completely exhausted after an afternoon walking about. After we arrived home my son turned up from work and they had an early dinner with me.

My friend rang late in the evening to say her admission to hospital had been confirmed for the Tuesday after Easter which was four weeks from when she first saw them. We had a long chat about operations, and how weak she might or might not be after the op. I remembered going back to work too soon after a major cholecystectomy, and how painful it was just sitting in a cab, and how tired I got. At that time a friend's husband who was a judge, told me that he had taken three months off work after the same operation, and I had been rather envious.

Sunday, 1 April 2007

Glassworks, Painful False Teeth and Edwina Currie

Armed with my digital camera I went to the procession for Palm Sunday hoping to arrive at St. George's Church in time to snap the arrival of this. However I managed to arrive too late, so went on to the Leathermarket to the open day and watched someone make a glass vase: very impressive and very hot.

There was a showroom full of fabulous glass items costing from about sixty to several thousand pounds. I was tempted and bought a small vase from the not quite perfect section (it looked OK to me) for £40, which looks gorgeous on my windowsill.

I had a cup of coffee in Tas Cafe and went on to see my son and his wife. I was given more coffee and offered chocolates which I only managed to decline because my false teeth are a bit painful still. I cannot decide whether to go back to the dentist to have some more filed off them, or to purchase a file and have a bash at this myself.

My sitting room is full of black rubbish bags which I have managed to fill with magazines and the Hoover packaging which I must dispose of very soon. The room looks like a rather tragic squat. I should just die if a friend suddenly called, but this is highly unlikely.

Tonight's telly looks promising with a so called celebrity wife swap - I have to say I quite enjoyed the last one I watched, which had Edwina Currie 'married' to a very large racing pundit with apparently most disgusting habits and an oversized ego. What fun that was. I never thought I would ever feel sorry for Edwina, but I have done on two occasions: the wife swap, and her being bullied in a celebrity chef programme by some football player who has become a chef. As a woman of some mature years, his behaviour appeared very ageist. However, I understand that behaving like a pig is his stock-in-trade and of course makes excellent telly. Mind you, I suspect that Edwina cried all the way to the bank on both occasions. I do hope so anyway.