Tuesday, 30 December 2008

New Year's Eve

Oh dear - my ex turned up yesterday for his gloves and hung around for a while. He asked about New Year's Eve and New Year's Day so I told him I was going out - I may have to decamp to Lye Torng for New Year's Eve now as he tends to be a bit sneaky and turn up unexpectedly.

Madeleine is coming over on New Year's Day it seems.

My main problems at the moment are getting the catflap installed, and getting rid of the very heavy Christmas tree. I am tempted to buy a fake tree for next year - a blue fir covered in fake snow so I don't have to decorate it. Would go with the white room. And be quite minimalist.

Dorothy and Julian turned up for a short while earlier to drop off Madeleine's Christmas present in case they didn't manage to get up in time to meet up as they are hoping to on New Year's Day. I was very pleased that Dorothy found time to install the new cat flap, so Malvolio is wearing his pink diamante collar once again, though he hasn't ventured out so far.

Popped in to the Lye Torng for a quick drink and met Ellie, who had been one of the old crowd. She is working at King's and we had a drink before she went off to a party at the Ministry. Came back home to watch Father Ted.

Pimp Hat

This rather extraordinary fake leopard hat is made by Nigel Rayment who makes posh wedding hats. It does look a bit like a pimp hat though.

Roxy has had my flowers - says the roses are lovely and velvety. She is still feeling awful and is being pressed to go to at least two New Year parties, despite her illness, so is hoping the hospital will keep her in as she will be tormented by people if she goes home. I think she will stay in for a few more days anyway. After that I have suggested that if people are pestering her, she should find some nasty tasks and chores for them to do every time they ring, and they will soon stop. If they don't she could get the whole house renovated.

The new cat flap arrived today. I only hope that Dorothy will find time to fit it and remove my Christmas tree. What I really need is a good (and available) local handyman to do these things.

Monday, 29 December 2008


Wore my 'blue fox' hat today as it was so terribly cold. It fits rather tightly, but that could prove handy in windy weather.

The shopping centre had livened up marginally today but the Lye Torng is still closed. I had a coffee and read a paper in the so-called Brasserie upstairs, which was quite pleasant, and braved the wait for the hole in the wall to extract some money for Dorothy and Julian before purchasing custard, cream, hundreds and thousands and silver balls from Tesco.

I had gone back to bed after bathing this morning and every time I put an arm out, it became very cold, so was inclined to laze around and fell asleep with Malvolio on the duvet. I woke quite late, so lost about half a day.

I shall have some fish pie and peas for lunch before venturing on the trifle experiment.

Winterval Monday

I have an obsession with cutting up clementine peel and drying it, also rose petals. I usually make a pot-pourri with them, adding some cloves and other spices and refreshing occasionally with rose or neroli oil. Sometimes I keep the dried peel and add to meat casseroles in a bouquet garni. This is related to my habit of making pomanders out of oranges, tangerines, etc. which given they are both spices and citrus, is not exactly surprising.

It is very cold today. I am missing our lunch clubs and hope there will be one next week. Seems all the roads towards the Thames will be closed from either 6 or 8 on New Year's Eve, such are the crowds congregating to watch the fireworks now. I just may give it a miss as usual.

Madeleine has published some absolutely vile photographs of me at the wedding on Facebook. I look like a murderess. I felt like murdering just anyone later that evening when freezing and unable to get home.

I've had a nice message from Kath on Facebook, who is my 'new' friend.

The shopping centre at Elephant & Castle was rather dreary yesterday: people drifting aimlessly about, most shops shut between Christmas and New Year, or because it was Sunday. My usual coffee venue has been closed for ages. Woolworths is a bit tragic: bins of what look like slightly broken bits and pieces and shop stands, and people scrabbling in them for a 'bargain'. The new pound shop which has opened where the Clarks' outlet used to be is however thriving, and bursting with lots of stuff, including strange brands of food.

My fish pie was delicious, and the clementine cake also. I still haven't made the trifle, but have extracted the almond cake bases from the freezer. I think I shall involve the raspberries from the fridge, maybe some blackcurrant liqueur and some frozen winter fruits also. I shall cheat and buy Tesco's Finest custard before covering all with thick whipped cream. I shall toast some almond flakes for a topping, and am tempted to add hundreds and thousands. Just to make it look a bit silly, as any serious trifle should.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Saturday and Sunday

Me and David in Spain. Bought a pinnie like this for Dorothy.

A happy new year to my reader, and anyone else who mistakenly happens upon this blog.

My first ex turned up yesterday to thank me for the small amount of cash I had sent him and to show me his new 'Fat Face' trousers from John Lewis. He still niffed a bit and on further investigation it seems that the launderette had not seen his underwear recently. I explained slowly and carefully that he needed two sets at least of everything: one to wear and one in the laundry and he should go there at least once a week and get into this habit. We had a cup of tea and exchanged books: I gave him the Folio Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and he gave me Robert Burn's poems, which I have since discovered I can only take in very small doses because of the dialect. He also gave me a very nice card with an image from a Japanese folding screen. He mistakenly left a carrier bag behind with a very smelly pair of woollen gloves inside, which I confess to picking up with some tongs and soaking in washing powder for several hours. I shall post them back when dry.

Later I carried on cooking and made a clementine cake which looks fine. In fact it looks so good I am reluctant to cut it. I sprinkled some almond flakes over the top which helps. I also purchased some 'fish pie mix' from Tesco. I added a drained tin of tuna in olive oil, some crayfish, some spring onions,frozen peas,sliced mushrooms and cooked it all in milk. Draining the fish off I thickened the milk with cornflour, added some dill and parsley, put the fish back in and topped with mashed potato and cooked in the oven. I am rather fond of fish pie.

Friday, 26 December 2008

Boxing Day

Malvolio clawed me awake at about 5.30am, but I managed to throw him off and sleep again until 7.45am. I went to find the shopping centre closed apart from one place where I purchased some limes and lemons. On the way back home I saw a large new graffiti: 'SALUTE YOUR WOMAN' which I found quite cheering.

I breakfasted at home on Lapsang and a slice of pandoro, before doing some washing, unloading the dishwasher and refilling. I took the langoustines out of the freezer to thaw for a few hours. I shall make a potato salad, and a fresh loaf of bread.So we will be eating: lobster, langoustines, crayfish, ? smoked salmon, goose pate, cheeses, potato and tomato salad, cold ham and guinea fowl, orange and Trinidadian black cake, fruit, nuts and dates etc.

Hmmmm...I tried to defrost the lobsters overnight but they were still full of ice at 5pm today, as were the langoustines. I soaked the langoustines in some water to separate them and spread them around an oven-proof dish to thaw further while I put the oven on. The lobsters were put under running water to de-ice them, and are now soaking in tepid salt water hopefully to complete defrosting. Have just put the langoustines in the oven for 10 minutes rather than the recommended 6, just to make sure they are cooked properly. Thank goodness the lobsters are already cooked.

Julian and Dorothy turned up and we managed to eat some of the food, with long intervals between courses and relaxed in front of the TV once again until bedtime.

Christmas Day

I spent most of the day sorting things out, laying the table, cooking etc. Dorothy and Julian arrived and we had a short breakfast break before the main event, since they hadn't had any breakfast. Tea and pandoro were eaten, and Julian gave Dorothy a present of some marrons glacees which went down well. Later, Julian made a very good tomato salad which we had with some pata negra ham and a bottle of Bolly. My pheasants were rather chewy this year, and I had difficulty assembling all the vegetables, but the food was OK and we couldn't manage Christmas pudding until several hours later.

Dorothy and Julian had bought me some beautifully wrapped presents from Liberty, including some rather grand soap and body lotion, a beautiful printed silk lavender cushion, a very funny cat book and from Fortnum's, some macadamia nut chocolate biscuits in the wonderful tin with palm trees.

Dorothy does not wear scarves - apparently I made the mistake of buying one last year too! good thing I didn't buy a cashmere jumper, as Dorothy only ever wears carefully chosen T shirts. In future I think I shall just give them both money to buy whatever they like. And maybe chocs and drinks. Perhaps I will buy them some expensive champagne.

We ended up vegging out and watching TV until they left at about 10.30. They are due back on Boxing Day for tea and a relaxed evening buffet.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Christmas Eve

Today I had coffee and croissants in the Eroma cafe in Walworth Road. After that I bought some pale makeup in Boots, then staggered up to Specsavers, where I attempted to extract my prescription from them. I did not succeed. They gave me some flimsy excuse about how I could only obtain it from the branch where my eyes were tested. This was Tottenham Court Road, despite having bought two pairs of glasses from the Walworth Road branch, so they must be able to ring them for the prescription. I gave up and then picked up some Baileys.

Later I had lunch in the Lye Torng, before going home to clean the silver. I then cooked the ham.

This evening Dorothy and Julian popped in for a bit to deliver presents, advise me to get an i-phone, and unpack the new extractor they had bought me for the bathroom. It seems I need an electrician to install it. They also bought a rather good little Italian cake made from peel which we ate with a cup of tea.

Had a text from Roxy who is in the Marsden, where they drained a lot of fluid away. Must call her. I do hope they will discharge her today in time for Christmas.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

The Day Before Christmas Eve

Well, today I took Allegra Mcavedy's advice from the newspaper and went to Lidl. I first bought a paper and had a large breakfast in an excellent greasy spoon called Ozzie's in the Old Kent Road. I had egg, bubble, tomato, bacon, mushrooms, a large mug of tea and two slices of bread and marge for under a fiver.

I then purchased some crayfish in brine, two frozen lobsters and a pack of frozen langoustines. All from Lidl for just over £20. A black couple purchasing what seemed like half the shop for their large family let me go through the till first as I was buying so little. The Christmas spirit is abroad. After a warming Scotch and dry in the Lye Torng, I went home, did some more washing, dealt with the guinea fowl stock by removing the carcass from it and simmered the prunes d'Agen in Earl Grey before cooling them and putting back in alcohol.

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and I WILL clean the silver, buy some Bailey's, make some bread and cook the ham. And buy some pale powder. I rather fancy having a pale face and red lipstick. We shall see.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Another Breakfast and Shopping Trip

Malvolio on the mat.

Paid a short visit to Fenwicks. Around here, there are little rabbit warrens of tiny streets and passages with some fascinating shops. Also fairly upmarket, with Smythsons, Jo Malone, etc. Anyway I finally found a paper shop and armed with The Times, enjoyed a coffee and croissant in the basement of Fenwicks. It is a lovely shop and I found a tiny trinket or two in there. After my return I ventured into the Elephant & Castle shopping centre. I purchased some sprouts and some ice cream before having a good £6 lunch in La Bodeguita. I am never quite sure whether it is parsley or coriander sprinkled over their soups, but they always taste really appetising and fresh.

I was about to cook my fowl, when I observed it was called a 'chapon de pintade'. A bell rang somewhere, and I googled it to discover that it was a fancy guinea fowl rather than a fancy chicken. Red label, free to roam, fed 70% grain, etc. So it had better taste OK. I shall definitely freeze some of it, and eat a bit tonight.

The house is looking better as the cleaner has visited again. For the second time, she has managed to disconnect my internet by knocking things about and bumping against stuff, so I had to crawl around on the floor and put the connections right. She is incredibly clumsy.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

More Tarzan


Christmas Windowsill

I think you can just about see some of Larry Bickerton's painted balsa wood creations which he used to send out every year. The last one I received was a Houses of Parliament covered in a flurry of snow. Here's one with Tower Bridge open and a barge full of presents coming through for us. I only have about ten of these left and they decorate the house every year.

Christmas Mantelpiece

This now has a red feather burlesque fan over the top of the mirror which looks rather jaunty.

Still Shopping (But Silver Still Tarnished)

I went back to Borough Market yesterday to have a coffee and croissant for breakfast at the Brindisa tapas bar and to read my Sunday paper. After that, I wandered around the market and met Richard and Mike from Utobeer. There was a really fantastic choir singing carols, so listened for a while. I think it must have been the cathedral choir. I purchased some more Agen prunes which I shall soak in brandy or Armagnac, and a horrid looking chicken which I may cook tomorrow. Despite its looks, this chicken is apparently some wonderful creature from Les Landes, and awfully expensive at £15 per kilo. However the guy let me have it for £20, so I shall cook it slowly tonight and pass judgement. May freeze a bit for extra Christmas meat.

I had a very good green curry in Lye Torng for lunch later, and pottered about the house until at about 5.30 the place went dark and it slowly dawned upon me that we were having an electricity cut. My upstairs neighbour fortunately had some matches, so we lit a candle or two. However I was going to the candlelight carol service at St. George the Martyr, so soon blew my own candles out. The church was looking lovely, mainly lit by candlelight, and the service was very well attended, followed by wine and mince pies afterwards in the crypt. By the time I returned the electricity had been restored.

Today I intend to venture forth to Fenwicks to have a look around.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Christmas Tree

Had a vile time obtaining a tree at Borough Market: it was in a pot which made it too heavy to lift. I tried Dorothy and Julian: no answer, then remembered it had been their office party the night before. Eventually persuaded the seller to put it in a cab, and the cab driver to put it in my sitting room with heavy tipping so it ended up costing twice as much.

Later Dorothy and Julian arrived to get it into a bucket and get the decorations down, then they went off to attend two parties tonight. For some reason the lights are missing so I just went ahead without them, but added some of the fifties type candles which I may light on Christmas evening. It looks a bit bare, but very green.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Ladies Lunch

Good lunch again at Sorriso with Gillian, Jac and Tattie. Tattie has just published her first book, and Jac has written 18 books. What exalted company. Nearest I get to writing anything is this sorry blog. Oh well. Mind you, Tattie was so excited about her book I asked what it was called and where we could all buy it: apparently it is about Islamic finance and has already been marked down on Amazon to £88, even so I don't think we'll be rushing to purchase it straight away.

I have lost my black specs, so have to make do with the black diamante drag queen ones. Wore a new Igigi frock, which has a plain black skirt and georgette black and white printed top. Wore lots of pearls. I must buy some new black and maybe some white specs in the New Year, and perhaps force myself to go to the dentist.

I have to say the Montepulciano d'Abruzzo (red stuff) was fantastic value at just under £8 a bottle - more like the price one usually pays for a glass of wine. We consumed a couple of bottles and I was helped to do so by ordering some cheese.

After crashing out for a bit at home, I put some new sheets on the bed, did some washing and tidied up a bit, but much more still to do. I may venture into Selfridges or John Lewis tomorrow in a last ditch pursuit of a couple of prezzies.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Blast From the Past

Spot the Spanish cat.

Last day at the orifice. As we were getting into the taxi for lunch, I recognised the driver, who was Dan, the husband of one of my son's childhood friends, and therefore son-in-law of my friend Tim. I hadn't seen him for many years, and my colleagues Romy and Lisa sat confused in the taxi while Dan and I discussed my son, his wife, Dan's wife and children, etc. etc. Dan pressed his phone number on me before we parted and was very keen to be in touch. After that excitement, we had lunch at The Garrison, and the food was OK but not madly delicious. The interior decoration more fun than the food, and Bermondsey Street is almost trendy these days, well the nearest we get to it around here, speaking as an original West Londoner and girl-about-Chelsea.

Taxied back to work and spent the afternoon doing the Christmas party invitations which took absolute ages, and I felt rather drunk and crabby after lunch. All my aches and pains seemed to surface at once. Perhaps booze does this - I thought it was meant to dull pain though.

Romy gave me a wonderful calender thingy. This year someone had given her a similar one with shoes illustrating every day: the one she gave me had bags on it, so I shall look forward to next year.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

More wedding pics

Wedding pics

Here's a couple more pics of the church and wedding


A cheeky little grey velvet pillbox with pink floral trim.

Back to work again, the last couple of days before the Christmas break.

Sent out some cards and agenda for the January meeting - got some cheques signed and met a trustee for a Christmas drink. It's our office lunch tomorrow and we will send out the party invitations in the morning.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Shoes and Shopping Again

Here are some dancing shoes I found on Ebay.

Today I braved Selfridges in the search for Christmas presents. Texted Dorothy with a present request and had no reply so went ahead and purchased something. At least it can be changed.

Bumped into my friend Beverley there so we had a coffee and croissant for a late breakfast, after which I fell into Russell and Bromley and purchased a pair of loafers. By the time I had found nothing more in South Molton Street I staggered into a cab and returned to the safety of Southwark and had lunch in Lye Torng. I heard on the radio that there has been yet another US scam which has defrauded UK banks out of millions, or billions, can't remember which.

I shall have a further attempt to purchase a present for Julian on Friday.

Jerry Sadowitz Gig

Went to Jerry Sadowitz and realised the last time I saw him he was in his early to mid twenties and he is now 48.

Time hasn't tamed him, but I am not sure he has improved at all with age. He is probably more outrageous than he was then. In the past he seemed to spend more time developing a particular storyline or theme, so there was more suspense leading to the inevitable outrageous and unexpected conclusion, whereas now he seems to get rather quickly to the 'point'. Still, there's no one remotely like him.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Horrid Hat and Magpie Painting

This is a bit of a jaunty number: pale grey velvet with a large velvet flower, which might benefit from a veil. Most of these hats need hatpins to keep them on, or have thin elastic which goes down the back and is mainly hidden with a short hairstyle.

Tried ringing my sister Nibby this morning, but no reply. Now she has sold so many paintings she is probably too grand to sit around at home awaiting my calls. However she tells me she is working a few hours in a coffee shop which has some of her paintings on display. She is particularly excited by a rather dramatic painting of a magpie. Must remind her that they go in pairs, for luck.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Daft Hats and Sensible Slippers

Having purchased so many daft hats, I may display some of these in my blog, as a warning to my reader. Just don't buy anything at all. This hat, which is covered in bright feathers, would look fine on Audrey Hepburn, but looks total crap on me. As the hats are all very forties, fifties or sixties, I have doctored the snaps accordingly. Also with no makeup I deffo look slightly less horrendous in black and white. The only sensible things I have bought recently are a pair of red pyjamas and slippers from Land's End, very comfortable, and am tempted to buy the matching dressing gown, as I am always answering the door in a towelling robe which doesn't quite meet, or an ancient nightie.

If you are an old bat, just buy sensible stuff if you must buy anything. Let these pictures be a warning to you.

Morning After the Night Before

Got the cake out and it needed another half hour in the oven, thus totalling three and a half hours. Left it to cool in the tin.

Donned my finery to attend the very excellent SE1 Christmas party, but tragically left my new mini camera in the taxi, so that's gone. I blame Madeleine: she broke one by dropping it in her bag, so I put mine in a little pocket at the top, and it slipped out when my bag was open in the taxi. Thank goodness I still have the one Dorothy gave me, though my camera wobble will be evident on snaps from this. Anyway the dinner was great fun and I met lots of people who had been posting, including a guy who mainly lives in Dhahran, where I used to live during the sixties for a short while. This gave us plenty to discuss, including Al Khobar, now a huge town, which was a tiny village with a couple of streets of shops when I was there, and the American compound where we used to drink 'hottles' of coffee and eat pine-nut stuffed poussins for lunch - all still the same now.

When I arrived home at midnight, I poured some booze over the cake which still wasn't properly absorbed this morning, so decided to slice the cake, pour more booze on and turn the slices around to absorb more booze. Had a tiny taste, and it's a bit like a very boozy bread pudding with masses of fruit. I shall freeze the slices later today.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Dressy Frocks, Catfood and Cake

Two new Igigi dresses arrived today via UPS. They both fit well and look good.

The vet had ordered more food for Malvolio. I waited in all afternoon for the delivery, then rang the vet who said it had been collected over an hour before. They rang the taxi people who had not rung my doorbell but left it with a neighbour. I have collected the food but not had a chance to find out if she had to pay for the taxi, or whether they didn't bother to charge. Unlikely.

I have spent the afternoon making Trinidad black cake. I can't get it out of the oven until 6pm so won't know if it is any good. It is cooked for three hours in a very slow 110c oven. I will have to 'feed' it with alcohol later this evening and leave it to soak in until tomorrow. I added some black treacle to help with the colour but it is still quite pale. Perhaps it goes darker with cooking and over time with added alcohol.

I am in quite a predicament about what to buy Dorothy and Julian. They are really difficult to buy for. They have already said they don't want to see Jerry Sadowitz on Sunday so I shall go alone.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Cold Spell

Back to a couple of stormy days at work, and trying to arrange a meeting in January. We have a large party to organise for 100, doing the invitations, and a waiting list for the extra 25 or so who want to come. We purchased some raffle prizes in Eastbourne and will buy some more in the January sales.

It has been absolutely freezing for the last few days. I am doing lots of washing and Julian has offered to help me with a major declutter before Christmas, and has announced that we will be purchasing a tree on 21st December. It is the SE1 forum Christmas do this Friday and I must remember to take the knitting needles I purchased for members of the Stitch and Bitch group. Office luncheon next week.

My dresses from Igigi arrived tonight and they are really gorgeous and a perfect fit. I shall probably buy from them again.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Nightmare At Buxted Station

Well, I have survived.

Turkey & Tinsel break was fine. The weather in Eastbourne was much warmer and sunnier than in London, and everyone seemed to enjoy their stay.

The wedding blessing and reception was yesterday. Getting there was fine, but the weather had already started to worsen. By the time Madeleine and I reached the church there were a few spots of rain and it was freezing cold. Everything went well and the reception was in the Buxted Park Hotel. The staff were very helpful and had a changing room which was useful. The reception - food, service, drinks etc were excellent. The speeches were rather long by English standards, but then it was an Anglo-American union, so to speak. Then after the cake cutting it was getting very late, so I slipped out and got a taxi to the tiny station, and the nightmare started. I had to wait in the freezing cold originally for 20 minutes for the train and realised I was dying to go to the loo. Then came an announcement that the train was delayed because of deer on the line. Various announcements came at fifteen minute intervals, and finally over an hour later, it was announced that the train was cancelled. I looked desperately about but there were no cab numbers. I called and texted Madeleine to see if the hotel could give me a cab number, but no reply. Finally I called Dorothy who gave me some cab numbers, the first did not answer and neither did the second but I left a rather desperate message on the phone, and the second cab got back to me. Seemed they could not drive me to London but offered to collect me and take me to Haywards Heath, on the direct line from Brighton. I rang them back and agreed. This cost £25 but I would have happily paid twice the amount to be somewhere warm again. I had left my hat in the first taxi by mistake, so was even colder. Anyway, I eventually arrived back at London Bridge having failed to find a loo on the train, but fortunately there was one at London Bridge. I leapt into a taxi and arrived home around ten at night. My neighbour had kindly fed Malvolio. I then got a call from a stranger to say he had found my diary on the train and would post this to my office. He sounded a bit dodgy and said he would just put it into an envelope without stamps and send it. I wonder if I will see it again. I discovered several single gloves were missing this morning, and I must have dropped these in various places.

I shall absolutely never venture into the countryside again without being in a car which I am driving.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Birthday, Christmas Break and Bras

Had a good birthday: first was a greeting on my Facebook wall, then cards from friends arrived, cards from people at work, too. Romy had taken me to a lovely lunch the day before at a place we hadn't tried near London Bridge, and gave me a wonderful pashmina in shades of turquoise and a muted purple. Dorothy and Julian picked me up in a cab and took me to Haozhan in Soho for a very good meal - seems the chef came from Hakkasan and does some wonderful dishes. Afterwards I unpacked my prezzies - a lovely white pierced vase, some Chanel No 5 and some very nice little things called 'bath bees': realistic little brown 'bees' full of Royal jelly to drop in the bath, really pretty and very luxurious, all from Liberty.

Due to go Turkey and Tinselling with the punters today. I'll have to wrap up warmly as it is really cold at the moment. I also have to pack hats and clothes for the wedding on Monday.

I have found a wonderful bra seller on Ebay called Steph who sells the pretty kind of lacy bras people wear these days in absolutely gigantic (i.e my) sizes, which is a bit of a find. Also they are very cheap but well made. The only thing is they all have these wires, which I immediately take out, then they are fine. So far I have purchased a black lacy one, and a black and white, but have my eye on a couple more. I have been talking to lots of people about underwires, and they all hate them. I suppose some people must like them or they wouldn't make them.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

John Lewis and Brushes with Past Fame

I managed to change the John Lewis food processor for a more robust Magimix by paying an extra £15. However the taxi fares in both directions have made it a rather more expensive purchase. The guarantee is very good though, three years for the parts and even more - an amazing 12 years for the motor. There is also a deal for me to apply for a free couple of extra discs and a cover, so I shall do this.

While I was in John Lewis, I had mentioned only originally buying a food processor to help with a cookery programme. The customer services assistant revealed that in her native India as a young woman, she became the voice of Mickey Mouse for many years, and had a very interesting time travelling around the country and meeting people. I suppose they dubbed the cartoons into the local language. Amazing what people have done.

I was having lunch in the lye Torng today and they were playing 'Minnie the Moocher'. I mentioned that my father-in-law had enjoyed singing this to us, when one of the locals said that he had been one of the dancers backing a singer in the 80's who sang this song, I forget the name. I think it was the mother of Sunitta. Everyone seems to have a secret past!

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Club, Cake, Christmas Stamps and Closures

Lunch club today. We are going to the Wine Wharf. Unfortunately Plum can't come, so I shall miss her. However Juliet and a few others are hoping to be there.

Very tempted to make a West Indian Christmas cake called Trinidad Black Cake (recipe can be found on www.trinigourmet.com). Trouble is, I have yet to get my broken food processor replaced by John Lewis. I shall have to maybe make the effort tomorrow or on Monday, probably my last chance to do this before the Christmas rush. I had not realised that having soaked the fruit for a while in rum, that it is food processed into a kind of mush before adding to the cake, which is why the cake always tastes so smooth, yet very fruity. And very moist with the large amount of booze in it.

I purchased the Christmas stamps yesterday: they are rather feeble this year, pantomime faces and very small stamps indeed. Suitable for the credit crunch I suppose.

More talk on the radio about Woolworths and MFI, hinting that these are just the first of many high street stores to go down. If I am deprived of my shopping habit, what is left? A terrible prospect. It's all very well to tell me to fall back on my own resources. That would make the incorrect assumption that I might have some resources to fall back on.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Disappearing Past

Woolworths and MFI to go into administration and BMI in trouble. I had just been looking at an Italian tour in the Oldie mag which involved flights by BMI. Oh dear. Woolworths is a bit of a shocker though, and where I first smelled 'Soir de Paris' and 'California Poppy' and thought they were so sophisticated, along with the make-up compacts and even Ponds Cold Cream, and Ponds Vanishing Cream, a fascinating name for a cream to me. I may have also bought a diamante 'Mum' brooch in flowing script for my poor mother on Mother's Day there. And she even wore it, perhaps not outside the front door though! I always loved Woolies as a child, and spent much of my pocket money there as a small girl. It was a treasure trove for me in the post war years.

It is like having references to one's past removed, and rather sad for that.

Today's Intentions

Today I intend to go to the post office, since one now can't buy stamps to post cards abroad, say to Australia. I used to get them from W.H. Smith but now they are only selling them at the post office, unlike most other places in Europe. I may also make another pissaladiere since I have rather taken to these. For the first time in a long while I don't yet have another stock pot in progress. I shall instead rely upon cheese on toast and so on for meals. And pissaladiere when I have made it. I also intend to have an experimental bake of the almond cake without oranges but adding a small amount of almond essence. It has occurred to me that I could make a rather fine though unorthodox version of Barbadian sweetbread. This is made like an ordinary cake using ghee instead of butter, and with masses of dessicated coconut (which I normally loathe) and industrial quantities, i.e. whole bottles for three or four loaves, of both vanilla and almond essence. This cake is totally delicious, against all expectation, and was extremely popular with my late mother. I may try doing a version with just eggs,sugar and ground almonds, adding the dessicated coconut and essences, but at a future date. I will concentrate on the plain almond version pro tem.

Last night I obtained a vast number of knitting needles on Ebay, and also from the same seller, three smart pairs of leather gloves in black, tan and green, as well as a pair of unworn Betty Barclay flatties in brown, the most dubious purchase being the knitting needles. I may attempt knitting again if the winter is long, and may offer any spare needles to a stitch and bitch group - or indeed anyone else who would find them useful.

This afternoon I shall collect some of the things which will hopefully have been altered. The rest will be ready on Friday afternoon.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Image Improving But Greedy Old Tart

Was putting on the slap this morning and again admiring the new mascara. It is called 'false lash effect' or something like that by Yves Saint Laurent. In a very nice gold tube and rather pricey at £20 but had a £2 discount at John Lewis in their 20% off sale the other day. It really does separate the lashes well and dries extremely fast.

Delivery from Ocado today included the Christmas Pandoro. And a bonus free copy of The Times which I have taking to reading recently. It is similar to the News of the World in the sixties, in that it reports lots of scandals and bizarre happenings, most enjoyable. At the moment they are reporting the case of the lawyer who wrote a 'mis memoir'called 'Ugly' and being sued by her mother. Extraordinary.

I shall now stagger off and have a cappucino and croissant or two at the Elephant & Castle. Nice to have a week off, but the dreaded cleaner is coming on Thursday so I will have to find somewhere else to go for the day.

Have purchased some new mineral face powder. When I arrived home, two purchases from Ebay had arrived: some very excellent liquorice fudge (must hide it from myself or better, give it away to a liquorice lover), and a light blonde synthetic hair scrunchie, which I am happily wearing as it boosts the ancient thinning hair a bit. I was tempted to get some talons in the nail salon, but womanfully resisted.

I also wrote my first ex, who pongs a bit, a card enclosing some money as he threatens to visit his poor old mother in her rather smart nursing home. I have taken the plunge and advised him to spend the cash on a new outfit for the occasion. I am rather afraid that otherwise he may be turned away at the door, which would be a pity, or at least offend her sense of smell. We shall see. I feel a bit of a heel handing out this advice, but needs must, ends justify means, etc. etc.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Cold Weather

I have been thinking about Darius, the artist. Friends tell me I should not feel guilty, but it is hard, as we were all totally so unaware, and our lives were carrying on as normal upstairs for a week after his death. I have just discovered he was 53, born in Abadan, Iran and had a website about his work and gallery. Discussed it with Dorothy and Julian last night. Apparently the shop had to be broken into for some reason.

There was some enthusiasm for some of my less wise Ebay purchases, i.e. furs, which Julian bore away with glee in a large bag, and also found a pair of suitable gloves from my growing collection. Useful now the weather has become colder and leaves a bit more space in the house. Dorothy has managed to get my Spanish snaps into my computer, so I am tidying these up now.We were discussing Christmas and have opted for our usual very quiet celebration here. We shall have pheasant as usual, but will replace Christmas cake with the new boiled orange cake. Julian will help me find a tree, perhaps in Borough Market, and the other essential is some Pandoro, much preferred by us to the generally more popular Pannettone. I suspect some marrons glace will be required, too.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

A Sad Story

Madeleine has been and we had a long discussion about wedding wear. What she needs to find is a black or purple shrug to wear with her lovely new dress. If nothing else, a pashmina might do, though a shrug would be better.

A rather depressing call from Dorothy which confirmed my suspicions that the artist renting a shop below my office had died. Not sure how. It seems he died about a week ago, and his body was found in the basement.

On my last day in the office last week the guys renting the place next door were concerned because, unusually he had not been seen for a week. I had also missed him. Unfortunately no key was to hand so no one was able to look inside his shop. When leaving late that day, I started wondering again about him. All his work was still there so he had intended to return. I looked through the letterbox and all looked normal. I stopped to talk with the guys renting next door, who said they were worried about him, art classes had not been cancelled, people kept turning up to see him, so I said they should contact the keyholder early the following morning, or perhaps the police could open up. I kept telling myself that I was being melodramatic and imagining things. Unfortunately not. It just seems so awful that something like this could happen and for us all to be so completely unaware.

We had often passed the time of day with him and Romy had bought several of his cards and works. He will certainly be missed by everyone around.

Flights of Fancy (Maybe...)

The strange cat is back. Romy suggested locking the cat flap door at night but I keep forgetting. This morning Malvolio and I were coming upstairs and we heard something running through the catflap. It came from upstairs so I suspect is sleeping in the sitting room, where there was a dent in the cushion on the sofa.

Today I shall be wearing purple, getting into the wedding spirit and attempting to nudge myself into feeling regal and superior. Found some rather jolly purple long socks, too. I shall look for my purple, gold and green handmade chandelier earrings, which are quite imposing. I must remember to bake some bread later. Must also find some more ground almonds and eggs. I shall attempt to make the orange cake without oranges, to serve with whipped cream and raspberries, an idea Romy gave me.

The Alzheimer's thought has cheered me into thinking I shall be able to wear totally eccentric things like some mad old bat: purple dresses with puce and green silk scarves, hats with nets, fascinators during the daytime, inappropriate piles of make-up, scarlet lipstick on a white face with that really messy mascara on little pink, piggy eyes. I shan't care as the dim public laugh at me or feel sorry for me, I shall be smug and superior in my complete disregard of their reactions. Whey hey!

I always did like 'dressing up' as a child. I shall now return to this in an attempt to brighten the dull London streets, in these dark, penniless days.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy

I have been far too busy on Ebay, but have acquired lots of rather jolly cheap clothes.

Bear was telling me that his father-in-law has lost 75% of his money with the credit crunch, as his companies have gone down, so the money won't come back. Bear, on the other hand is very busy with lots of decorating jobs in leafy Surrey, no doubt engendered by people unable to sell their properties who have decided to stay put and improve their houses.

I missed the lunch club again today waiting for a rearranged delivery from Royal Mail which, of course, did not arrive at all. They are utterly hopeless. And I am very pissed off, as I was looking forward to seeing Plum.

Madeleine also has the big decision to make about wedding wear. She may come over at the weekend and we can chat about things. It seems we are both veering towards purple, so consultation may be a good idea. I have to collect two lots of clothes being altered at Elephant & Castle. The poor Columbian girl who runs the place has been working alone as her helper has skived off, so everything is a bit behind. I notice her prices have become very inflated too. I may have to do my own alterations in the future.

I really sometimes think I fill my entire life with all this nonsense because I live on my own. Maybe I have Alzheimer's and keep shopping because I keep forgetting how much shopping I have already done. The house is certainly getting rather full of stuff. Had my hair done yesterday, so the colour looks good for Christmas. I read an article about Alzheimer's the other day. It seems that it upsets the relatives much more than the victims, and if the 'sufferers' keep active and doing things, they do not deteriorate so fast and have a strong sense of wellbeing. On the other hand the relatives, who are presumably more aware of what is going on become very unhappy indeed. Maybe that is why I am not seeing so much of Dorothy and Julian. We shall see. Though poor old Dorothy has been ridiculously busy of late.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Enjoyable Luncheon

Sunday morning. Well, everything was done in time, but both friends ate like birds so I could feed an army today. I don't think it was my cooking, but given that one of them weighs 7st and the other, though much taller, 8st, I suppose this was inevitable. The Hindle Wakes, though a disaster last night, tasted fine, but is a pain to make. It did not look right as I had to totally debone it, place it on top of some of the surviving stuffing, then cover it with the lemon sauce and garnish with lemon, parsley and prunes. If I ever did make anything like it again, I would stuff the chicken with damsons mixed with a small amount of beetroot for the purply effect inside, then roast it and let it go cold before covering with the sauce. At least it would look better. Anyway.....

I now have a huge vase of birds of paradise flowers purchased by Roxy in Brixton which look extremely imposing on my table. I may take some snaps of these.

The orange cake, made by boiling two large oranges for two hours then depipping and putting in a food processor, or in my case Bamixing, then mixed with six beaten eggs, 250g sugar and 250g ground almonds before cooking at 170 for one to one and a half hours, then cooling in the tin, was absolutely fabulous, and seems pretty foolproof. Very moist and delicious. I shall definitely make this again, and try and find some other cake recipes which use ground almonds instead of flour. I think a coffee or choc cake might be good.

Have continued Ebaying, though I suspect my clothes alteration bills may be a bit high as most things need shortening to my dwarf-like proportions. I think most 17st people are fairly tall.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Hindle Wakes Disaster

Met Plum and Else at the Mudlark. Romy turned up eventually having disposed of her charges. Unfortunately Romy and I both made an awful lunch choice which turned out to be a pickle sandwich with a small amount of something like mayonnaise smeared on it. Plum sent them back to the kitchen, and they then produced a similar sandwich with more of the mayonnaise substance on it. These were described as 'Welsh rarebit sandwiches with cheddar cheese.' It was awful muck and bore no similarity to cheddar. Plum and I had a coffee at the Monmouth after I had purchased some Agen prunes in Borough Market.

Seems that Sam will drop me off at the wedding venue after the Turkey and Tinsel break in Eastbourne, so Turkey and Tinsel it will be.I am still agonising about what to wear and have gone back in time to the forties in an attempt to find something. So far I have acquired a rather boring black suit which needs the hem and sleeves altering, a black jacquard coat with a black velvet collar, several pairs of black and navy shoes, several hats and fascinators. I obtained a rather good plain navy coat as well, which will be handy anyway this winter. I had been looking for a navy coat for some time. I have also bought a cheap navy suit which may be useless, we shall see. I am getting rather carried away on the hat front, and shall probably buy a few cheap vintage hats. So far I have a rather glamorous wide-brimmed black mink, a dark blue velvet with grey faux fur brim, a flowerpot design in bright blue, and I am toying with a deeper flowerpot design which is quite ornate.

My Hindle Wakes appears to be a total disaster in that it has totally collapsed in the pan and the stuffing escaped. I think it should have been wrapped tightly in muslin before cooking. I will see if it is at all rescueable in the morning. But the pissaladiere is fine, and the orange cake looks and smells good.I shall make some more bread tomorrow, purchase the salads and ice cream and try and tidy the house up, which despite being cleaned yesterday has become a kind of hell-hole, particularly on the kitchen front, the floor being stained and greasy, sink full of dishes, and mess all over the place.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Another Breakdown and Entering

Sod's law: my john lewis food processor broke down. My suspicions about the design were realised. I had only used it about half a dozen times and it sprung apart in the middle of pureeing some cooked peas. I had a long and heated discussion with John Lewis who refused to come and collect it, so I will have to cab it in there and no doubt have another long and heated discussion while they try to palm another of their rubbishy food processors off on to me. I suppose if that is also guaranteed for a year it won't matter.

I have decided to add Hindle Wakes, which I have always fancied cooking, to Saturday's menu. It is basically a cold chicken stuffed with prunes. Then covered with a hard kind of sauce made with lemons which is spread all over the chicken. Apparently it looks quite dramatic and is a very old recipe.

Tomorrow will be cooking day, preceded by a visit to the people to get some clothes alterations made and shopping, then lunch with the Lunch Club in Borough. The lilies I bought over a week ago from Ocado to put in my sitting room are lasting very well indeed but have a rather overpowering scent.

The evening meeting due to take place last night at work was cancelled at the last minute. I had masses of good marks sandwiches, cakes, soft drinks, snacks, olives and a huge bowl of fruit. Julian suggested I tried to find a homeless shelter, and I found a place called Manna just around the corner from the office, and took them there. The people there were very pleased.

On Monday we are due to go with the punters to Polhill Garden Centre, which should be good.

I seem to be providing lodgings for another cat. Went to the loo in the middle of the night to see a furry black and white stranger scarpering from my sitting room. This also happened a few nights ago. Poor Malvolio is most put out.

Much Ebay purchasing. We shall see if it all arrives. The post office does not have a great record in this area.

My cleaner, not content with breaking my silver teapot, left the back door wide open today. Strange. I wonder if she is sick of working here.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Things To Do

Today, I have to ring a woman called Caroline Zoob. I ordered a hand embroidered lavender cushion to be sent to a nursing home in September and have just discovered it never arrived. I emailed, and today received an email from Caroline saying that she had back surgery in August and September 'just disappeared'. She has offered to send a better cushion, having run out of the original ones, by Special Delivery if I ring her mobile and confirm today as she is on her way to some home decoration exhibition.

I must also ring the vet to confirm delivery of a couple of trays of diabetic catfood for Malvolio, then remain in the flat until they arrive. Must also await the post.

Had a long chat with Dorothy last night who was playing with the wedding website and ordering a present. I ordered some cutlery from Macy's, dull but useful, and what they want.

Romy is off today with the punters. I do hope the weather perks up a bit over the next few days. At least the place they are staying in has plenty of indoor facilities and entertainment in the evening. Also, I believe, they will be going on a couple of outings if the weather permits, which should be enjoyable.

On Saturday, the vixens are coming around for a very late lunch. I shall do a green pea soup to warm them up, followed by cold bits and pieces and salad. I shall make another pissaladiere which was a great success on bonfire night, but this time with some black olives which will brighten it up. I shall cook this on Friday morning, as it is always better the next day. For pudding, I shall do some lemon possets and also provide ice cream with the wonderful PX poured generously over. Or I may do a PX trifle. We shall see. Must get some champagne, though I have plenty of red wine to follow this.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Film and Freezer

I went to 'Of Time and the City' which was very good indeed. Amazed to see Terence Davies, who did not remember me but was very taken with my Jo Malone 'Red Roses' scent and said he would immediately purchase a bottle. Afterwards reflected that I had only met him a dozen times or so, and he was a friend of friends of mine, after all.

What made this latest film so good for me is that it was so personal and dealt with change, memories and ageing. Terence's commentary was brilliant and rather caustic when dealing with religion, royalty and the Beatles.

Arrived home quite tired and listened to the many firework displays which went on all evening. Then my freezer decided to become difficult and ice up, so I have had to take everything out and leave it to defrost overnight. This means I will have to eat all the crayfish today, cook the pheasant, and cook, puree and refreeze the sprouts and the peas. I threw the salmon away as it had been in there rather a long time, and the ice cream. I had better stock up with some more pheasants, and at least there will be room for stuff in the freezer now. Though it won't be such a leisurely Sunday with all that cooking.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Day Off

I have continued purchasing from Ebay and two good pairs of shoes arrived today.

We met for lunch at the Castle Tandoori where the buffet was quite good. Three of us, including Plum, enjoyed lunch and a very long chat. Afterwards I popped in to Sensational, where Romy had mislaid a belt. The owners returned this to me and I met Romy at the Lye Torng after work, where we discussed final arrangements for next week's turkey and tinsel break, and drank a glass of cava.

Next week the lunch club will meet at the Mudlark which is somewhere near London Bridge. We must find somewhere for the Christmas lunch club as we may need to book.

Thursday, 6 November 2008


Took my quails eggs and pissaladiere to Jackie's excellent fireworks roof party. The plants have matured well and the roof terrace was looking very good. Lots of people, including Plum, her husband and the plumlets, Nomad, Jo and many others but we missed Boss St. Bloke. Anyway a good time was had by all to the extent that some of us stayed rather too late.

Back to work again today. Romy is taking the punters away for a week, then the following Monday it's Christmas shopping day at Polehill etc. etc. until Christmas.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

First Black American President

I woke up to the excitement from the radio that Barack Obama has won the battle for the presidency of the USA. Interviewees were very excited and reportedly black people were holding up photographs of their dead parents in the public festivities, so they could 'witness' the victory of the first black president of America. The result does seem quite momentous. However Obama is not due to take up office until January and one does worry about his security, given some of the extremist views in America. Hopefully, all will be well.

With all the financial problems in the world, he does not face an easy task. At least there is quite a bit of a post-election elation around. But how difficult the race question is - seemingly hundreds of black people have been emailing and ringing BBC TV this morning saying Obama wasn't black because of his white mother, then interviewees saying that if he calls himself black, that is fine. I suppose it is rather like both the whites and the Indians were prejudiced against Anglo-Indians in the past. But generally this election gives hope to many black people wherever they live in the world and hopefully Obama will be a fine example to young black people even in this country.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Waiting and more Waiting and Shopping and Cooking..

I suppose I should be grateful that the mac did not arrive, but waiting in all day and evening for it (deliveries are until 7pm) is very irritating. I have sent the delivery company an email telling them to either deliver before 8.30 or leave with neighbours as I can't keep taking days off and hanging around in the house all day. Even so, I shall stay in until about 3pm today, as I have recently spent so much time on Ebay ordering retro bags and shoes which I am now waiting to receive. I have bought: two pairs of burgundy fifties shoes, a pair of seventies pink ones with some clips which change their look, a pair of bright red seventies ones, a burgundy kelly bag, an odd looking black bag with a large crocodile on it and a rather boring looking blue dress. I suppose if I am a shopping addict, at least it is a rather cheap way of shopping.

I shall today make a pissaladiere to take to the fireworks tomorrow night, along with some hard boiled quails eggs for the children and a bottle of wine. The stockpot was excellent last night after the addition of some celery salt.

Another Bag, Stockpot, and Ghastly Mac

Another handbag arrived today. This time it was a Jane Shilton navy leather kelly bag, rather larger than the last bag. Excellent.

I have just put on yet another stockpot. This one consists of two pre-fried onions and some lamb neck chunks, then 1pt lamb stock, followed by three chopped sweet potatoes, lots of smallish carrots, about half a kilo of 'tourist' sausages chopped, one dried hot pepper from the new string brought back from Spain, two bayleaves from the garden, three cloves of garlic, a few sliced mushrooms, a couple of litres of water, a large bunch of chopped parsley and a sprig of rosemary from the garden, a teaspoon of sugar, one of those new chicken concentrated stock things advertised by Marco on the telly, a glass of red wine, I shall probably also add some smoked paprika and later, a whole sliced cabbage, etc., etc. It is now simmering happily away in the kitchen in the preserving pan, and smells quite nice. I may put in a can of tomatoes at some stage, but it smells quite good without at the moment.

I am waiting in for delivery of a mac, this time with a rather lurid furry leopard lining, which has had appalling reviews in QVC which I saw after I bought it. That wretchedly annoying Dennis Basso, with the vile voice, and horribly oily manner, holds a bizarre fascination, and I become mesmerised until he could probably sell me a used box of matches for £100. Must stop watching. What I really want is that impossible thing: a very plain navy mac with traditional raglan sleeves and thin lining, not available in a size 30 or 32. I would be happy with a fake navy drizabone from a game fair, but do not go to these any more. They used to do them in vast sizes, usually described as 'medium' and they were very fine, so unbulky. Ideal. My sister had one when she lived in the borders in a browny colour and she offered this to me. Should have taken it.

Wedding and Retro Stuff

Have been trying to persuade Dorothy to attend a large family wedding. However, it is on a Monday, and the loss of several hundred pounds is an important consideration. Perhaps Julian will come with me. I am still trying to decide what to wear, what to give, etc. etc. It is in the country which is tricky without a car, but I could book a train in advance and maybe a local taxi.

I have gone a bit retro and started purchasing fifties bags and shoes. Pity I am so enormous or I would also be buying fifties tweed suits and clothes. In my old age I am becoming sentimental about old times. Mind you, the fifties snakeskin Mappin and Webb bag which has arrived is absolutely tiny in comparison with modern bags, so not desperately practical, though, to my eyes, rather chic.

NHS Let-Down

Bad news about my friend. We had assumed that if chemo was agreed, she would be starting almost immediately. However when she spoke to them they said they were first going to refer her to the oncologists, which would take three weeks before an appointment was made in the outpatient clinic. Then goodness how long before any treatment. Since she thinks she is living on borrowed time she was somewhat stunned by this. I suggested she either present herself at the Royal Marsden or ring a specialist registrar at Tommy's since I have never heard of such a delay in someone who has been told she has serious disease. All this after waiting ten days for a scan result. Heads should roll. Everyone else I know with cancer seems to get immediate treatment, and while this is going on, immediate access to the hospital department treating them. All this despite her father being a doctor and the fact that she has worked most of her life for the NHS, which now seems to be letting her down badly.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Sorriso and La Cage

Things are looking up a bit. We had a good SE1 lunch at Sorriso,though the service was rather leisurely, and Romy turned up with the draft of the newsletter. Later, Romy managed to join me at Sensational, and purchased a couple of rather super outfits. I dashed back home and changed before setting off to the Playhouse theatre to see La Cage aux Folles, which we had missed when it was on at the Menier Chocolate Factory. It was a real treat. Amazingly Douglas Hodge, a very large butch looking actor, played Albin. I had last seen him in The Revenger's Tragedy at the National. A bit of a contrast. Actually this is not true, I mixed him up with Rory Kinnear who he slightly resembles. Anyway, the whole musical was very good indeed with some hilarious dancers and everybody came out of the theatre smiling and chatting to each other. "just what we needed after all the financial gloom and doom" one guy said to me. I had to agree.

No taxis available so came home on the tube with a lot of drunk people dressed as hospital casualties with 'wounds' and bandages. Thought it must be a stag night and then realised it was Hallowe'en. At Elephant, a circle of teenagers were sitting cross-legged on the ground, passing a bottle around. They were all dressed as ghouls of one kind or another with whited faces, blacked eyes and punked up hair.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008


A worrying call from a friend who had been treated for cancer about a year ago. She had been having gastric upsets for a while, and finally a scan was performed. No result for ten days, but finally the result was bad news, and the doctors are not sure if chemotherapy would be helpful. Makes one feel rather helpless. I shall call back in a few days when a decision will have been made, and arrange to meet.

Back to work today, and must submit our report to the Charity Commission by the end of the week. I must also send the agenda etc. for the next meeting today so it will be a very busy one. I was going to put the financial situation on the agenda, but have held back since this changes day by day, which tells me that the status quo re investments is probably a good thing for the time being.

All in all, things are rather gloomy.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Night Disturbances and Everlasting Stockpot

As it became dark quite early last night with the clocks back, there was a lot of noise from teenagers playing in the street outside, shouting and running up and down the street. Also bursts of a another very strange noise, which sounded like someone throwing gravel at a window, which may come from some new toy gun. It frightened Malvolio, who ran out of the room.

A little later my doorbell rang and when I answered a smallish boy was standing there, and asked if I could get him a tissue. I refused, and shut the door promptly.I decided this was either a ruse to get inside the house, or a dare from some other boys.

When the doorbell rang again later I was rather reluctant to answer it and asked who was there before opening it. It turned out to be a delivery man running very late. He said I should get a chain on the door or have a camera showing the person outside. Seems a good idea.

Made an excellent loaf of bread. It seems the softer the mixture, the better the bread rises, so I shall stick to making what initially seems like too soft a mixture.
I have made yet another stock pot. I am learning all the time with these, and the secret seems to be the addition of a pint or so of water every day, which stops it from becoming too concentrated. I cooked some large ravioli in it, and strained them out. I also added a chopped sweet potato and some broccoli, and ate this, again strained out, with some german sausage I had put in a couple of days before. Tonight, as the week is proceeding I will just add some macaroni and serve it with cheese, preceding this with a bowl of soup from the stockpot. It really is very similar to Carn d'Olla, if a bit more longlasting.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Return from Abroad

Well, back from sunny Spain. Couldn't keep up with Romy and friends. I really am an old woman. Romy and husband were the perfect hosts, and deserve a medal after putting up with me for a week. I think they will need a further holiday soon. Romy's village house was lovely, but the mountain roads were a bit hairy. I had not realised the climate is almost tropical, growing bananas, grapes, oranges, limes, lemons, figs, peaches, nectarines, olives, grapes, pomegranates, avocados and mangos etc. etc. etc. Seems the only thing it's not quite hot enough for is the date, though there are plenty of date palms.

We went to several local markets which were great value, a lovely shop selling Moroccan things, lots of gorgeous mountain villages with fabulous views and also visited Torre del Mar, which was very nice.

Our great booze discovery was the amazing Pedro Ximenez wine, made from the PX grape ripened to a raisin in the sun, then the wine aged in oak for five years before bottling. This is a lovely, rich sweet, wine - great poured over ice cream. I managed to find a 50cl bottle in john Lewis today for £7.50. I am trying to persuade the Lye Torng to get some and serve it poured over vanilla ice cream. They would have queues at the door.

So far I have failed to install the software which will get my snaps into my computer, so I am unable to upload or edit them. This is a shame since I took loads of snaps. I had previously forgotten to pack my camera so took my snaps with a new small camera purchased at the airport. They seemed to come out OK as the new camera seems to have some feature which stops camera shake, something I am more prone to in old age.

Dorothy and Julian were at home when I arrived back and bought some fresh food for me.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Last Minute Dash Around the House

I have finally managed to pack and organise most things. Repotted a plant today. I have found somewhere which sells the gel stuff which retains water if you put it in soil and also some kind of iron plant food which will be good for the gardenia. Have fed the fishes and filled the pond a couple of times. I hope the water level does not go too low while I am away.

I finally managed to speak to Dorothy for a few minutes last night and said to take Malvolio back to their flat and look after him if my neighbour has to go away. Otherwise my neighbour will be looking after the monster until I return.

My small case was so heavy to lug upstairs. I must remember to leave it upstairs and just bring up clothes gradually to pack it upstairs which would be easier when I go away again.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Disorganised Mentally and Financially

I was trying to organise myself, but managed to leave my jacket and keys at a coffee place today. I discovered the missing keys after passing through four shops and arriving at Tesco. I had to retrace my steps, then discovered both jacket and keys on a chair in the coffee place. Fortunately. Losing my keys two days before I go away would not have been clever.

I have emailed Dorothy to say that if my neighbour has a problem with Malvolio, he and Julian might be required to take over feeding duties. I don't suppose it will happen, but better safe.... The flat is rather a tip, though I have managed to tidy up a bit.

Talked to a neighbour about the international financial chaos. People seem to think that Gordon Brown has done the right thing and is leading the world in taking decisive action. My neighbour is worried about people losing jobs, which will be a bit of a nightmare. Not good if you lose your job then can't sell your property in order to downsize. Pity we could not get rid of the Barcelona flat, which might have helped a bit. I shall have to try and economise a bit, though this is definitely not in my nature. I have just bought a book called 'Grub Street Irregular' - hopefully my last purchase for a bit.

Just ate half a pork Penang at the Lye Torng. I am a creature of habit.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Financial Disasters

The stock market continues to plunge. I am glad I don't have any significant savings. Put another £20k of the company's money into short term treasury bonds which is probably the best place for it, short of buying gold bars, which might seem a little questionable to the Charity Commissioners.

I shall attempt to finish repaying my debts and put some money into the bank monthly afterwards to offset the mortgage. Unfortunately Dorothy tells me that Technocasa have advised against selling the Spanish flat as they only sell a couple of flats a month and people have to reduce the price considerably. I shall just have to try and get over there and make use of it. I have told Romy that she and her husband are very welcome to stay there, as I shall be staying with them in Malaga, though mine is not quite as civilised as their place, it is conveniently placed in the middle of Barcelona.

Panic Stations

Had a brief glimpse of Julian the other day but Dorothy v. elusive.

I am trying to get ready for Spain but rather thwarted by the vet. I had to ring four times today to get the catfood delivered, which apart from an SE1 lunch at Nawaz, was spent waiting for the catfood to be delivered instead of buying odds and ends and getting prescriptions for myself. Really rather annoying.

Frantically doing load after load of washing so I have clean sheets to come back to and clean clothes in my case. We have agreed to share a taxi to Gatwick as it will cost about the same as a taxi to Victoria and then the Gatwick Express. Must make sure I have enough cash to pay for it at both ends and also to leave some money for the cleaner.

Weighed in at about 18st when I had my flu jab. No wonder I can hardly creep about. I am experimenting with eating half of whatever is on my plate, going back to using semi-skimmed milk, using benecol spread instead of butter and giving up yogurt. Apart from drinking those little Yakult things once a day. I must eat more fruit and vegetables and less of everything else.

I must also remember to water the garden like mad before I go, just in case the weather is dry here. I am a bit worried about my windowboxes and the pots in the front, not to mention the fish pond, which drains quickly and is always full of leaves at this time of year. Perhaps Julian will notice it and fill it a bit if she comes to collect any post while I am away.

Fed my neighbour's little cat last night and this morning as he is away. She is feeling very thin, which is a bit worrying.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Dishwasher Disaster and More and More Pearls

Dorothy and Julian back, but apparently Julian's case was put on a later plane and had to be couriered over to their flat which didn't arrive until a day later. Rather worrying. I hope to see them soon.

The dishwasher has broken down with pools of water all over the floor. I gather that some pipe must have become disconnected but will be too busy to get someone to look at it until I get back from Spain. I also have the vet nagging at me to take Malvolio, and again, I shall not do this until I am back and able to look after him myself.

I made some silly purchases again this morning - pearls, of course. At least they are in different colours: one pink necklace, and one kind of greeny set, can't remember how the colour was described. Dementia beckons. If anyone wants to borrow pearls just come to Baglady Hall where the choice is ever-increasing.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Drunk and Disorderly

Nothing else has been broken, thank goodness. Dorothy and Julian are due back today.

Went out to lunch yesterday at Sorriso in Rockingham Street with the SE1 forum lunch club. There was an excellent attendance: about eight or nine of us. Sorriso are doing a lunchtime offer for £6.99 of soup or garlic bread or bruschetta, followed by any pasta or pizza dish plus a glass of wine. The soup was home made and excellent and the pizza fine. We all had variations of this offer and several bottles of Italian red wine and coffee.

After most people had left, after some persuasion by Ian, Plum and I went nearby to the appalling Rockingham Arms. This appeared to be half full of drunk old men, but we managed to find a table, and proceeded to drink a couple more bottles of wine. There were several drunken women singing, and one came up to Ian, saying he looked exactly like someone called Sean who had won the X-Factor in 2005. Fortunately she found someone else to target quite quickly and moved on, to Ian's relief. I had a very bland milky coffee as my alcoholic capacity is not great.

A gay couple sat at the next table and determinedly struck up a conversation with us. One of them, called Anthony, wore a very ill-fitting wig, a college type scarf and a duffel coat. He was apparently from Brixton and his father was a 'friend' of Francis Bacon. He started an age guessing thing and stated that he was born in 1976. This did rather surprise me as I would have thought he was at least 45. He was with another guy who was quite genial and smiled all the time. BSB managed to really annoy Anthony by calling him Tony, and Anthony was apparently quite rude to Plum, before asking to borrow her tobacco and papers to roll a cigarette, so she had 'words' with him.

However, Plum made some new friends on her smoking break outside who joined us and bought another bottle of wine. They worked for a company which did Sushi for parties etc, so Ian took a card in case we wanted a sushi party of our own.

I noticed that a security guard had been posted at the door at about 8pm. Suffice it to say that we started lunch at 12.30 and finished at 9.30 before going home. Quite disgraceful, but fun.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Boat Trip to Richmond and Hampton Court

We had a great trip out from Kingston. Most people turned up and we took two coaches there. The boat arrived fairly quickly and we had about half upstairs and half downstairs. They had laid the tables for lunch so no one had to move for this. The boat was the biggest from Turk's, and very comfortable. The weather was pretty decent, quite windy but not too cold and only one short shower, otherwise sunny and the trees looked beautiful changing colour. The lunch was perfect and the staff very helpful. I think we should do this again, as it is a lovely trip. I was absolutely exhausted when I arrived home though.

Some texts from Barcelona requesting bank details etc, hopefully to pay in rather than take out money. Dorothy is also seeing a selling agent, so I may not have a little flat in Spain for much longer. Perhaps it won't sell. However if Dorothy were to save the 12k p.a. paid for the mortgage on my London flat, they could have pretty luxurious holidays every year anywhere they liked, rather than having to go to Barcelona and fix things there. Something is always broken or missing and has to be replaced, so it can't be much of a holiday.

I spent ages in the bath this morning watching reflections from collections of bubbles against the side of the bath. When you burst them they create very bright reflections like flowers with feathery edges. It's my tiny mind again - I spent hours as a child watching raindrops fall down the window glass and betting secretly on which drop would reach the sill first. A bit sad really.

The cleaner was due to come today. Hid the teapot. Wonder what else has been broken?

Monday, 29 September 2008

Neurosis and Stock Pot Obsession

It seems that all is well in sunny Spain. Had a text from Dorothy after I had sent my usual"are you OK" text (I don't know how to do numbers and punctuation on the mobile).

After all these years I still have this ridiculous separation anxiety. Ever since Dorothy and Julian left for the airport I have imagined: the plane crashing/their being driven off and robbed/murdered by the cab on the way from the airport/ the flat being squatted/broken into and empty, etc. etc. etc. So I was quite relieved to receive the text from Dorothy saying 'all good here'.

I sometimes wonder if I might just be a little neurotic.

A minor disaster with the last of my stock pot, which I left on too long while filled with beans and chick peas, causing it to become stuck and slightly burned at the bottom, but not all through, so had a large bowl full to finish it on Saturday. It was a bit vile cleaning the pot though. I have since made some gazpacho which I shall finish in a day or so, before starting a new kind of stock pot adventure.

I have decided to fry some pieces of bacon and an onion or two then put some chicken stock in. I shall then put a jar of sauerkraut and a few carrots, some juniper berries, bayleaves and eventually, potatoes. I have decided that I can put some chicken pieces and some chorizo or ham pieces also. This time I shall be careful to make sure there is plenty of liquid in at all times and use a timer.When I have finished most of it I will be left with some kind of sauerkraut soup. This kind of cooking is quite suitable when you are busy and only requires a little replenishment of meat etc. and boiling for 15 minutes a day. I may however get bored with performing this ritual before the end of winter.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

The Last Supper, Scan and Dodgy Liver

Quite funny. Someone suggested a new caterer for our pensioner lunches so dutifully investigated their website. They are called The Last Supper. Their website is lastsupperltd.co.uk if you want a giggle. The graphics are fine, but the wording.....oh dear! Anyway it was quite amusing but strangely there were no sample menus. I rang them and a Dominic answered. He was surprised that I needed menus and stated that everything they did was 'bespoke'. When he heard that we would be doing a lunch for 100 pensioners in a local hall he said they might be rather expensive for our needs. When pressed further as to the actual figure, he said the price would be £70 - £80 per head! I suspect he was not longing for our custom. I agreed that this might be rather expensive and decided to revert to Heriot caterers who do Ascot lunches etc. and cater for usvvery efficiently for less than £20 per head, including all linen, glasses, silver, waitresses etc.

Had my scan and missed a good lunch. All was OK and no huge stones or tumours anywhere, but they could not exclude any tiny ones which would not be visible on a fattie like me. Also they said my liver was crap, i.e. fatty, quel surprise, but since the function has always been fine I shall not stress too much over this.

Dorothy rushed around last night to borrow my keys to the Spanish flat. I hope they manage to have a good time for the week. I am looking forward to going to Spain to Romy's place soon.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Stockpot, Spain and Stress

I have been reading about Richard Mabey's new book and decided to make a stock pot to save cooking for a week, just adding bits and pieces now and then. Boiling for 15 minutes a day will apparently keep it going and safe indefinitely, but have decided to limit it to a week. I made it last Sunday. I made another bangle for Romy. She wore them both last night and they looked very good together. I am keen to make more things but need more scrap gold/coral/turquoise/any other stone. We shall see.

Dorothy and Julian are leaving for a week in Spain on Saturday. I hope our flat is OK. I shall have a scan on Friday to examine my kidneys. I should, if all goes well, be going to Spain with Romy to visit her abode there in a couple of weeks. Apparently the temperature should be in the mid twenties, like our summer, which will be good, but I am rather suspicious so will take a woollie or two.

Still stressing a bit about getting our report in to the Charity Commission by the end of October since I will be away for a week. Our auditor is due to come to the office and look at the stuff next Tuesday, and I hope I have managed to do enough filing for him to be able to find everything he needs. Then when he has finalised the annual report our Chairman has to sign several copies before it can all go off. I keep getting nagging letters from the Charity Commission which does not help at all.

Malvolio will have to go back to the vet when I return from Spain to have his diabetes reassessed and presumably, to get some more insulin since it will be becoming out of date by then.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

SE1 Lunch and Walworth Farce

Had a good little SE1 lunch at Bumpers, but food not nearly as good as Chop House. The weather was nice and sunny and quite hot. I went to see the Walworth Farce at the Cottesloe which I thought was very good though rather strange - an Irish tale, scary but well told with a gory finish. Today my shoe rack arrived and so far I have miserably failed to assemble it. The hangers have also arrived. Royal Mail have finally managed to admit they have lost my package. Unfortunately I don't know what it was. It may have been a couple of ladles I bought from Ebay but the seller is not getting back to me so I cant find out.

I am in the Lye Torng and have been chatting with Tom, the Sun cartoonist about cats. He was amazed to hear how much Malvolio has cost recently with his vet visits.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Sad Old Bat

This week I made a desultory attempt to tidy my flat. Unfortunately Ocado arrived in the middle of this, so I immediately gave up and started cooking things from my shopping basket, including:

a) A loaf of my usual soda bread with walnut pieces, but this time including some caraway seeds. I suspect I am the only person in England who likes caraway seeds. Must remember to buy some poppy seeds.

b) A huge cauliflower. I boiled this and used about a third for lunch with some cheese sauce. The rest may be either pureed or used as a cauliflower soup, incorporating the rest of the cheese sauce.

c) Three baked apples. A huge bag of cooking apples arrived, unfortunately without the blackberries. I baked three of these and ate one with some frozen blackberry coulis I had made earlier. May eat the other two for pudding sometime. In Spain they have these cold. OK when you become used to the idea.

I left the place in a bit of a mess for the cleaner but was careful to hide my new silver teapot just in case of any further accidents.

I have been making little round shapes from aluminium which will fit around stud earrings. I have so far used recycled gold and pearls for these, as well as some copper-coloured ones with blue beads.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Good Lunch Meeting

Hola again. Malvolio made a good recovery, and had an awful committee meeting during the week, very tiresome. My ex reappeared without warning on Friday afternoon which was rather unwelcome, as I had been dozing after a very pleasant lunch with the SE1 lunch club, which had finally succeeded in meeting up at The Chop House. Plum and Boss St. Bloke and I had a delicious lunch - very successful, and would recommend the place to anyone.

We had the summer ball with the punters, new and good caterers, and a band on Saturday. On Sunday I had agreed to brave the journey to Peckham and listen to a jazz band with my ex. It was all a bit dreary, though the band was OK. I should have gone to the Mayor's Thames Festival instead, as it was a lovely day.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Busy Weekend

Poor old Malvolio. He hid in a cupboard for two days, only coming out to be fed. He has recovered quickly from his op and hid again today when he was supposed to be having a check-up, so I cancelled his appointment. I think he needs to spend a few weeks recovering from the trauma.

I went to the SE1 party on Saturday where they had an elaborate spoof 'SE1 play' which was quite amusing. The cake was excellent and I saw a few people I knew including Wendy, one of the forum posters, Ken, one of our trustees, Eileen who does our catering at parties, and I met Lee Hatts and his charming mother. Recognised a few neighbours as well.

My ex turned up as promised. He complained of social isolation so I handed him a copy of the Southwark Pensioners newsletter. He was interested in trying the computer classes. He told me his recent grand mal fit was brought on by stress because of the Iraq war which I rather doubted,but who knows? This had led him to consider his mortality and say he wanted to leave his small bits of money to Dorothy, and a musical instrument, which Dorothy could sell. He also wanted me to get another instrument to his daughter in Barcelona which I agreed to do, and a third rather special one which was handmade by a specialist he wished to leave to a serious music student. I told him I was quite well placed to do this as there are a couple of local charities who give grants and musical instruments etc to students. He was reassured to hear this and invited me to a jazz session at his local pub, the Golden Anchor, in Evelina Road next Sunday at 2pm. I said I would go if I could make it.

Dorothy is avoiding him, so I was rather embarrassed when Dorothy rang my mobile in the middle of all this, saying they were coming around to collect some post. I was hoping that they would arrive later, but just as my ex was leaving I saw them coming down the road. I made panicky faces at them, and when they saw my ex they turned around and walked off quickly. I rang Dorothy on my mobile who was not a happy bunny and said I should have told them not to come. I was rather caught on the hop, and hope my ex did not see them. Pity they didn't collect their post, as I had made a very good gazpacho and a queen of puddings.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Malvolio and the Vet

What a day. I caught Malvolio and nearly had him in his basket when he escaped. Time was getting on and he had to be at the vet surgery, so I managed to catch him once more by luring him into the kitchen where he was hoping for breakfast and grabbing him quickly. I thrust him into his basket and fortunately a cab arrived soon. Unfortunately he is still diabetic so the jabs have to continue, but now I need to replace the insulin every eight weeks.

The SE1 lunch at the Chop House was cancelled yet again, so I had a very good sizzling chicken with garlic at Lye Torng where they are gradually replacing all the chairs with some made in Thailand. They have already replaced the rather tired sofas with some Thai wooden benches.

Just had a call from the vet. They have taken out two teeth and the antibiotics have improved Malvolio's sores in the mouth corners so I shall continue with them. His food will need liquidising for a day or two and he will have anti-inflammatory pills. He will have a check up on Monday, and the following week will have to spend Monday all day at the vet having his blood sugars done to make sure he is on the right dose of insulin. What a palaver. Still, if it all makes him feel better it will be worth it.
I shall collect him in an hour or so and I expect he will be quite drowsy for the rest of the day.