Monday, 31 March 2008

Covent Garden Lunch

Realised Julian had popped in yesterday while I was out as her ebay stuff and other sites came up on the computer, which confused me until I saw she had collected some mail. I had left all my parcel debris behind in order to rush off for lunch so the evidence of all my shopping was there to see. Oh dear, now she will tell Dorothy about my purchases. At least they are quite sensible clothes, rather than cuckoo clocks and other mad things.

Pleasantly surprised by Papageno. Though not a gourmet experience, it was a two course excellent value lunch with complimentary fruit and sweets afterwards. We managed to consume quite a bit of wine, one of the Lesleys met Imelda Staunton who she knew a bit, outside on the ciggy step. We then staggered off to Covent Garden for coffee, after which we purchased some raffle prizes for the party on Monday.

Successful Clothes and Successful Lunch

Seems the spring social was not too popular, unsurprisingly.

I ordered a few more things from Land's End which have just arrived, and the dresses just need shortening, otherwise all fits and looks fine. Also a dress from La Redoute which looks great and came with a free offer of a full six piece cutlery set and picnic plates in melamine in a kind of mauve colour which will look fine for eating outside.

Out to lunch again today with Dorian. We are going to the Waterloo Brasserie. Tomorrow is the April Fool's lunch with the Telly victims at Papageno.

It was an excellent lunch, I had crab, which they now serve sensibly off ice, and we shared a super chocolate mousse and coconut meringue, plenty for two.

I collected my skirt, and handed in two dresses to be shortened which I shall pick up on Wednesday afternoon after work.

Friday, 28 March 2008

Bread and Spring Antisocial

Just made some spelt soda bread, this time with more salt. Done one load of washing too. It is good to have the flat looking decent after a good clean, but it won't last, I am afraid.

More rain outside and very dreary, though a bit warmer.

Am thinking of going to the SE1 spring social, though not sure i can bear to miss the soaps.

Forced myself out and cabbed it to the Woolpack. Got there just after seven and wished I hadn't bothered,did not see anyone from the group and the whole place was totally crowded and I had to fight my way in, then out and back into another cab home, total £15, so had a pad thai in the Lye Torng and now back home watching the rest of the soaps.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Scams and Drugs

Had a very pleasant dinner with artist friends last night. The food was good and it was great to see them again. However, things are a bit grim for one who has become a victim of a share selling scam and who has lost a huge amount of money. The talk turned to ways of decreasing commitments, and increasing one's income. Worse, another revealed that she had recently suddenly discovered in her late forties, that drug taking in her teenage years had left her with hepatitis C which will require a year of very unpleasant medicaltreatment. What a dreadful discovery, so many years later, but apparently this is not unusual as hep C can be symptomless for a long long time.

They both have lodgers in their houses to try and help with financial problems generally, and one works part time, but the one with hep C will be unable to work for the foreseeable future.

They both laughed at my experiences with telly towers, and can't wait for my to fall flat on my face in a nationwide display of idiocy - I am hoping against hope that they will decide not to transmit the programme - but if they do, at least my friends will have a well deserved giggle.

Heat Patches

Julian gave me some Nurofen heat patches recently. I put one on my back which was aching badly before i went to bed, and it was still warm in the morning. it gave fantastic relief from pain but would presumably be very expensive to use nightly. julian has also recommended Spirulina, which i may try soon.

Romy came back today from Spanish temperatures of 25 and displaying a light tan. They have painted their Spanish house outside and have been watching the kittens grow.

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Meetings, Busy and Spanish Kittens

I always forget to listen to messages on my ansaphone, but finally last night found messages from Leslie about lunch on 1st April and Kate about our meeting tonight.

It seems that we are meeting at the sister restaurant of Sarastro which I will have to google, and tonight we are meeting at Kate's studio. tomorrow is the spring social of the SE1 group, so I shall be quite busy, what with the lunch on 1st and going away on 4th for the weekend to visit Miss Bettaware.

Romy is due back today thank goodness, so will fill her in about the goings-on while she has been away dealing with the increasing kitten population of Spain. I have realised we are going to be rather busy as we have an event on very soon.

Bumped into Dorothy who is frantically busy at work as usual.

Bad Flat Price and Absent Friend

Having had inflated valuations for the flat upstairs, i.e. between £425k and £475k, I see that the upstairs flat down the road has been reduced from £400k to £350k and is still hanging around on the market. I had a look at properties locally. Strangely, the houses, one of which I turned down as being too poky, on the Scovell Estate are on the market for £525k, having been about £20k less than my flat 17 years ago.

I don't seem to be able to contact Kate, who we are supposed to be visiting tomorrow night. If she doesn't call or email, Evon and I shall meet without her.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

?All Fools Reunion Lunch - Or Not

I am a bit confused about our supposed reunion on 1st April. I understood that Lesley A was booking a box at Sarastro, but when I emailed about the time, I discovered nothing had been booked and it was not certain Lesley would be there. Karen was suggesting somewhere in Primrose Hill? and said there would only be seven or eight of us. Although I accept it would be a long lunch hour, I think Primrose Hill would be a very long way to go and have made a counter suggestion, again, of Arbutus. At least Soho is doable from our office, though we would have preferred the Boot and Flogger. We shall see. Apparently Stephen is hosting a 'musical evening' on Thursday and will be rehearsing so won't be there, which is a bit of a shame. I have said I will speak to Romy about the Primrose Hill thing. Apparently the restaurant, called l'Absinthe, is getting good press.

Monday, 24 March 2008

Pass the Parcel

I have just discovered that Ebay is the place for coloured dinner candles and paper napkins of all kinds. I really think we are being forced to shop online because of the lack of goods in normal shops and am wondering how far this will go - maybe shops will all go out of business one day.

Back to work again today - I could really do with another day off, but needs must. Besides, there will be huge piles of post waiting since I took last Thursday off.

People are talking on TV about children and parties, and how they have to supply entertainers, and also party bags after the party. I remember when Dorothy was young organising a couple of parties, and we used surprise packets that you could buy at the local stationers for a few pence. I remember doing big jars full of sweets for children to guess the number of sweets in the jar, making bean bags to throw at cans suspended on planks at childrens eye level in the garden, playing 'statues', 'pass the parcel', 'poison spot' and so on. Mind you, one party became a bit out of hand with some boys finding water pistols and squirting people, so they had to be taken for a game of football, and the girls continued with the games. I think that was the year Dorothy invited everyone in the class. After a couple of years of such mayhem - one year the wonderful ice cream cake from Marine Ices nearly melted - I decided that taking a friend or two on a special birthday outing was the way to go.

End of Easter

I spent the day filling the dishwasher and washing machine. It really has been dull outside.

Had a surprise call from Nibby who has been asked to exhibit by a friend later this year in Kangaroo Valley.

I bought a claret jug on Ebay, so shall decant my smart red wines into this at dinner. I was about to buy a sugar caster, then remembered a silver job lot I had previously bought including a dressing table jar with a silver ornate top with accidental small holes in the mouldings as it is rather worn. Tested it with some caster sugar and it is perfect. It will come into its own in the strawberry season.

It is so boring, people have started to post pretend comments which are thinly disguised ads, this time for a tea company, which I have rejected.

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Sunday Night and Monday Morning

Have rolled the pastry and covered the pie. The oven is heating up. It is now 4.30. I think Dorothy and Julian will be here between five and five thirty. I am now watching 'Fanny by Gaslight' on Film 4, having just watched 'Rock School'. A strange combination.

It is now Monday morning. Shortly after watching Fanny by Gaslight Dorothy and Julian arrived bearing a Rosemary plant, a huge easter egg and bunny. We drank cava cocktails. The lamb was delicious and the pie a success, luckily. We spent the evening drinking - they brought some very nice pudding wine, too, chatting, and occasionally checking Dorothy's online auctions. Funnily enough, considering that we only had one cocktail each, between three of us we only drank a bottle of wine and a glass each of the pudding wine. We ended up drinking coffee and nibbling truffles.

It is still cold today and I feel a very quiet day coming on, reading yesterday's papers which Dorothy and Julian were kind enough to bring me. Above is the sitting room today with egg and rabbit on the table, and it has started snowing again in a rather desultory fashion.

More Sunday

It is now 11am. The snow has stopped. This is the view from my kitchen window. I have peeled my Bramleys, cut them into big chunks and put in water and lemon juice. I cooked the lamb for 40 minutes last night and this morning, skimmed most of the fat off. I removed the meat and reduced the stock a bit. I then peeled about 15 shallots and fried them in goose fat and added some sugar until they were slightly caramelised, then added to the meat. I then added a little more seasoning, some baby carrots, new potatoes and baby turnips and cooked for another 20 minutes. I then removed the vegetables. I cooked some more carrots and turnips in a little of the stock for three minutes in the microwave. I shall add some of the vegetables and some frozen peas to these and cook them briefly in the microwave to serve with the reheated casserole. This way the vegetables will not be overcooked (apart from the potatoes, which I should have left until 20 minutes before serving) and will retain their shape and colour. I have also made some home made mint sauce: a handful of chopped mint with 2tsps sugar and half a cupful of boiling water. Stire and leave to go cold then add vinegar to taste. Just before serving the main course I shall put the sugared apples and blackberries in the oven covered with pastry, to serve with cream or ice cream for pudding.

Since I do not know when Dorothy and Julian are arriving, this could either be lunch or dinner. I suspect it may be dinner for me and lunch for them.

Happy Easter

to my reader (me) and anyone else who might come across my blog today. Malvolio has thoughtfully not woken me until 7am and I am running a bath and planning my day. I was a bit cold during the night, and there are a few snowflakes falling this morning. you can just about see some tiny blobby bits on the image above.

The snow is increasing but the flakes are very fine. Somehow it reminds me of the time, about this time of year, when I looked out of my window in Barcelona and saw snowflakes coming down. It was such a surprise, and a small child outside with his father was whooping with joy and trying to catch the snowflakes. I thought it may have been the first snow he had seen.

I have now had breakfast and am contemplating having a bath which I will need to have soon in order to ring Nibby in Kangaroo Valley at around 9am, my usual time, though she may be in Sydney with Saffron and her family for Easter. I am so looking forward to seeing Nibby again in May.

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Bits and Pieces

I have just booked a train journey to Harwich to see Miss Bettaware for the weekend at the beginning of April. She is not certain that the show is on, since the promoters have failed to promote it, but in any case I am sure we will have a good time, and I have never been to Harwich.

Today I shall have to force myself to clean the silver, which is becoming blacker and blacker. I shall have to do considerable tidying, and may well make the navarin in advance, adding in the extra vegetables at dinner tomorrow. At least I now have the pie ingredients.

I enjoyed a cooked breakfast this morning: two rashers of drycure bacon, one brown egg, some mushrooms, a couple of tiny tomatoes, all with a couple of slices of toast made from my soda bread and a cup of Lapsang Souchong. Just had a taste of my new spelt soda bread. Very nice. I put a handful of oats in this, too.

Snow is predicted for tomorrow. When I was a child, my parents bought a caravan and we went away for Easter. The next day we awoke to find the caravan surrounded by snow. I think it may have been the first and last time we used it.

The silver is clean. I had to do it twice, but it's now fine.

Just had a bright idea for the punters. Some are housebound, and I had a DVD catalogue today which was full of old TV programmes and films, some real vintage things. I don't know how much DVD players cost, but anyway, I am sure Romy can have a look into some possibilities.

Friday, 21 March 2008

Lunch, Spelt and Family Planning

Here are the other flowers.

There were masses of SE1 people at the lunch today, about 12. Also Jackie's reunited partner and his son and wife. We had some great dim sum chosen by Juanita who is Chinese, so good to have an expert present, and quite similar to the dim sum we usually have when I go there with Dorothy and Julian.

I spoke to Kate today and we are trying to arrange a meeting with our friend Evon who is having a fairly awful time now. Fixed on a date or two, so waiting to hear from Evon.

I have just put some spelt flour bread with a bit of added oats in the oven. Made it with the easy soda bread method, so we shall see. Apparently a lot of people really like the taste of spelt bread, so looking forward to it.

There has been a short but dramatic hailstorm this afternoon with thunder, despite the cold and wind. It is so like Spain. Romy texted me to say the cat had five kittens which they are observing, and there have been thunderstorms there as well. I do hope Romy will do something to stem the endless flow of kittens in Spain. She is well on the way to becoming a cat lady, surrounded by hundreds of them, and soon she won't come back to England as she will be too busy running a cat orphanage. It reminds me of an old boss of mine, Joy Mostyn who ran the London FPA at one point. She told me that when she was a child she kept a white mouse hidden in their large house. Then found several babies. After a while she said there were so many that she had to confess about the population explosion. Which would explain why she worked in Family Planning. I think I may have told this story already, but it seems appropriate.

Fake Flowers, Sunlight and Books

While I was in John Lewis yesterday, I found some mini pots of fake jonquils and also white crocuses reduced from £4.50 to £1.50 a pot. Bought three of each and put the white things in my white room and the yellow ones in the bathroom. They don't look too bad.

Suddenly the sun is out and everything looking cheerful and spring-like.

The Ship of Stars has arrived and I shall be reading this for a while, no doubt until the large Punch volume gets here. Still reading fairy stories in between. Because they are short stories they are quite good for dipping in and out, a bit like magazines.

Continuing Noise, Lunching Out and Room Options

The noise mystery continues. I only hear it in the kitchen and in the hall near the kitchen. But when I am in the kitchen it sounds as though it is coming from upstairs. I will have to consult Dorothy and Julian when I see them on Sunday.

I am waiting for the Easter shopping to arrive from Ocado, then I am due to meet the SE1 group at Dragon Castle for lunch. I am bit nervous about this as they are nearly all quite young compared with me. (Almost anyone is, really). I shall then come back and clean the silver which will be quite tedious, then start thinking about preparing for Sunday.

I shall spend some time tomorrow seeking blue candles, otherwise I shall use my pink and red or white table options, but had quite wanted to use the blue. The thing is, with a white room, just by putting a few bright things in, you can change the entire look of the room, i.e. with a deep pink rug and tablecloth and red mats and coasters, napkins and candles, it looks quite bright and cheerful. With my silver candlesticks, white linen napkins and white flowers it looks pleasantly formal, and I am also trying for a blue look, for a further change. So far I have a good mid blue tablecloth with turquoise hints, blue napkins and some blue glass. When I find some blue or turquoise candles I will be there. I may also have some cushions to blend in with these looks.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Rain, Oxford Street and Borough Market

A tiring day. Wet and windy. I got up very late and finished reading The Hill. It was quite difficult to read at first, full of 19th century Harrow expressions, snobbishness and so on. Now I know where I got some of my strange ideas as a child. Anyway it mustn't have been too bad because I was glued to it until finished.

I got my bus pass renewed for the next couple of years and went on up to Oxford Street. Found some paper table napkins in John Lewis, but could not find blue candles for my candlesticks anywhere, strangely. I am sure it is not just my imagination that you used to be able to find several colours of candles in any old shop, but not now. I then went to Borough market for some Bramley apples and herbs then did a recce of Shipp's Tearooms. Surprised that they didn't have Lapsang, so had a pot of Earl Grey, some excellent cheese sandwiches for lunch, followed by some very nice coffee cake. A couple of prizewinning punters came in and joined my table for afternoon tea, which was really good. The place was totally full and is a great success. When I was younger I always fancied having a tea room.

Heard a dreadful non PC joke on the telly told by an elderly POW talking about another: "He saved a woman from being raped once, you know" (pause) "he changed his mind". Well it made me laugh anyway.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Noise Again, Old Punch and Lunch

Back home I can still hear the noise in the kitchen. Sounds as though it is coming from upstairs.

I have just bought a bound copy of Punch for 1888 with stuff about Jack the Ripper among other things. Plenty of reading material there. The Hill has arrived. It is a paperback copy published in Amsterdam. I suspect I shall find some homoerotic hints which I had never noticed before.

My chairman was foolish enough to refuse my lunch invitation - it was his last college lecture today so I had a baked potato instead and came home with a purse full of money which may be handy over the Easter period. I have decided to go to a local forum gathering on Friday at lunch time so no doubt will spend some of the money there.

Noise and New Neighbours

The noise is driving me potty. Heard it twice in the night when I got up to go to the loo. Heard it once in the hall and once in the kitchen. This morning I heard it twice in the kitchen. I am wondering if the sophisticated new Alessi clock Dorothy and Julian bought me has an alarm to indicate that the batteries are low. Maybe I will get to the bottom of it one day. Someone kindly suggested my smoke detector might need new batteries but I don't have a smoke detector so it's not that.

My chairman's birthday today. I sent a card offering lunch unless he gets a better offer so I had better wear something respectable just in case.

The new neighbours have moved in next door. They certainly keep late hours. The lights were on and someone was pacing up and down the kitchen at 3.30am. Perhaps there is an exercise machine in there. They have also moved the small shed away from the wall to just outside the kitchen door, where it looks rather odd. Malvolio will still use it for climbing around and sitting on, no doubt.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Clothes and Mystery Noise

Picked up my altered clothes tonight and had a quick citron vodka shot at the Lye Torng on the way home.

Rather strangely, I keep hearing this weird two tone sound, which goes off once, then again later. Mainly in the kitchen and only since yesterday. I rushed around in case it was my mobile battery, my phone off the hook, or my fridge or freezer left open, but no. Asked my neighbour upstairs and he has no idea. Coincidentally some new people moved in next door yesterday and I am wondering if they have some strange electrical equipment which keeps going off. The problem is, it only does it once, so there is no time to try and locate where the noise is coming from. Then again a while later. Weird.Just been in the kitchen again and heard it three times. It seems to be coming from upstairs. I shan't be able to relax until I discover what it is.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Alterations, Theft and Impromptu Chowder

I took my jacket and skirt into the shopping centre for alteration. They will be ready to pick up after work tomorrow. At the same time I slipped into Iceland to try and buy some unsalted butter. None there. Just as I was leaving someone called my name, and it was one of the punters, who had been shopping from a disabled scooter. She had got off the scooter to fetch something from a shelf, and someone had stolen her purse from her bag. Unbelievable. Anyway she had been cheered by winning our tea for two surprise prize at the raffle and was looking forward to taking a friend to this afternoon out. I then found the butter in Tesco, but also a mix of fish pieces for a fish pie, including white fish, salmon and smoked haddock. I bought this and decided to make a kind of chowder.

This is how I did it: I fried a small shallot in butter without browning it and added a couple of drycure bacon rashers. I put this lot into a saucepan to which I added about a pint of whole milk,two bay leaves, some parsley and a couple of cloves plus a clove of garlic. I simmered it for a bit, then added the fish and a handful of frozen peas and simmered for a couple of minutes. Taking a tip from Delia, and having forgotten to buy a potato or two, I gently stirred in some instant potato. I shall let this get cold to mature, then have a bowl or two from the microwave tonight. It tastes delicious even now. A bit less hearty than a fish pie, but nice with my newly made soda bread, made just in time for St. Patrick's day.

More Bread, Great Telly and Good Clothes

Made some more soda bread. Successfully, so I never need to buy bread again. I have also found a recipe which uses spelt flour for sodabread, so will try that too.

Dorothy and Julian came around last night. The place was a bit of a mess, but Julian rushed around gathering rubbish and tidying the place. Meanwhile Dorothy fixed the TV. I can now get BBC1 and 2 and lots of other channels on digital, and ITV, channel 4 on terrestrial, but not such a good reception because of the indoor aerial. The digital channels are very good. Dorothy also fixed up the DVD player.

Now I have to think about how to dispose of the huge telly in the bedroom.

The Land's End clothes came today. Excellent quality and good fit, though I will have to have a skirt shortened and the sleeves shortened on a matching jacket. I shall definitely buy more from them and recommend them to anyone. I was particularly pleased with the tops.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

To Cook or Not to Cook

I shall have to make some more sodabread today. I found a recipe for Spelt bread in Borough Market, and since I seem to have a bag of Spelt flour lying in the cupboard, am quite tempted to make Spelt bread. I shall have to think about this as it is proper bread made with yeast which could be rather chancy given my lack of cooking skills.

I have just returned from a trip down the Walworth Road to Argos where I purchased a recommended indoor aerial. I also found a charity shop selling lots of wool, so got a couple of balls of giant wool in a creamy colour. I shall attempt to make some pom poms with them. It is a horrible day today, windy and pouring with rain. Which is why I have finished the rather inexpert pom poms, above

Saturday, 15 March 2008

The Morning After

So much for my resolutions. Even without cream, the trifle is delicious, so had two generous helpings last night. The lamb stew is good also and I will finish it today.

Met a woman from the SE1 website at the Lye Torng, she was meeting a new resident, a Pakistani accountant who was coming over after a game of squash. He had previously lived in the channels islands and was very shy. Another friend of hers turned up who was a nanny in West Square. We sat around and chatted for quite a while.

Dorothy rang to say they were coming to assemble the TV, but my neighbour wanted to come around and hear all about tellyland, and the weather was awful so they cancelled. My neighbour and I sat all evening drinking Prosecco cocktails and chatting. He goes to the theatre quite a lot, and gets tickets for a fiver from some charity source. He tells me that Southwark residents can get very cheap, maybe a fiver or so, tickets for the Old Vic if they take a recent gas or facilities bill. But the seats are right at the back at the top on a kind of bench with limited views. He is going to Speed The Plow which is apparently very good.

This morning I am a little jaded, but this did not prevent Malvolio from mounting a 6am offensive, and I am now covered in scratches.

Lamb Chops and Almost Instant Trifle

Found some lamb chops which I browned off and added with a chopped turnip, some more baby tomatoes and some mushrooms to the cabbage soup (now lamb stew). Tasted quite good but the chops were a bit tough so I am giving them another hour since they are meant to be soft. Added a couple of sprigs of mint which have worked well.

Feeling bored, and having a bit of stale madeira cake left, sliced this up, spread with raspberry jam, and put in my green glass fifties bowl. I then sliced a banana on top and added some of the rather dull looking but tasty and very boozy fruit from the rumtopf, first pouring copious amounts of the fruity rum into the bowl. I then put a packet of made up custard (all I had and reluctant to make any) on top and stuck it back in the fridge to await the purchase of some whipping cream I may crumble a few soft amaretti on it. I have decided I can't possibly eat this so shall take down to the pub for a general tasting, as the only way to get rid of it short of binning it - my childhood training stops me from doing this. Maybe I shall inflict it on my neighbour.

TV Fears and Premature End of Cabbage Soup Diet

The TV is still sitting in its wrapping. I am afraid to open it in case it is broken. Also I need to get the best possible indoor aerial to make it work, and it probably needs some kind of setting up which I can't do. Apparently it is 19" and white, with Freeview. Frighteningly light, so I have put it on the sofa in the hope that if it is not broken already, it won't get knocked over here. I wonder if these modern TVs can sit on top of the DVD thing? No doubt all will be revealed eventually.

I gave up the cabbage soup struggle last night as the soup tasted more and more vile, so I eventually added some cheese to improve it. I was also getting unbelievable wind, and some slightly nasty pains in the gut. I shall finish the horrible stuff up today, but am breakfasting on Fru-Grains (recently rediscovered in a health food shop) followed by my home made soda bread to which I added some oats, with Frank Coopers Vintage marmalade. Hooray for some real food!

Friday, 14 March 2008

Old Books, Old Cat and Old Fools

The great thing about Amazon is that you can do one click ordering. I sometimes think about books I read years ago which made an impression at the time and which are hard to get hold of now, and just get a cheap copy to check them out again. Like meeting old friends. Good value for most books anyway. I have just bought The Hill, all about Harrow friendships by Horace Annesley Vachell, and The Ship of Stars, by Quiller-Couch, both of which I read when I was extremely young. I managed to get a bargain copy of Nigella Bites, and can't wait to do the ham in coca cola, which is apparently absolutely delicious according to Romy.

Malvolio woke me up at 5.45am rather inconsiderately since it is a Saturday. I suppose I had better feed him. At least a new supply of food has arrived, including his favourite dry food, which he has missed for days.

We are still trying to sort out a reunion of kinds for the telly ten. So far we have fixed the date at Romy's suggestion for 1st April at lunchtime, but trying to decide on a restaurant. I am hopeless at decisions so have left this to others. Pity they are not keen to venture as far as the Boot and Flogger as it is such a great place and we love it. People still seem to have a difficulty with coming south of the river, though it is very near London Bridge.

Deliveries, Plumbing and Stabbing

I have now had my grocery delivery, my catfood delivery and TV delivery. My plumber has been and found the leak but he can't get behind the bath to fix it, so his colleague who is small and skinny is coming on Monday. Meanwhile he has put a washing up bowl in there, but I shall probably just shower until it is fixed.

Everybody has had problems getting to our street. A neighbour tells me that St. George's Road has been closed for hours because of a stabbing on a bus there, necessitating an air ambulance etc. Maybe I should stick to taxis and not bother about the new bus pass. Still, I'd probably get murdered by the taxi driver with my luck.

Fairy Tales

Re the Folio Society, quite forgot to mention that I have ordered several Fairy Books. I think, pink, blue, yellow and maybe red or green.

Some people call it Alzheimer's but I prefer the gentle old expression 'second childhood'.

I shall pass them on to my nephew's daughter eventually, hopefully before she is too old for this kind of thing. There has been some media debate about the end of childhood. It seems to be fixed now at eleven so I had better read fast.

I am quite looking forward to receiving the fairy stories since the illustrations look very good indeed, and among so many books, who knows I might discover a new tale I missed when a child. Or not.

I think Oscar Wilde wrote some of the best fairy stories, and also Walter de la Mare wrote some very good stories for children. They were morality tales I suppose really, but always involved magical happenings, rather like the stories of E. Nesbit, which is why they are so appealing.

Vile diet, Shopping and Bathroom Leak

Exciting! It's vegetable day today - but no sweetcorn or pulses. I have a sweet red pepper or two in the kitchen, some tiny tomatoes and some mushrooms, so I hope they will do. I seem to have put on 1lb since yesterday which is a bit strange, but will persist with the horrible diet. I suppose there is less cooking going on at least so the kitchen remains quite clean and tidy. Only the ritual reheating of the immense cauldron of soup and the awful cabbagey smell to annoy - I suspect that adding garlic was not a good idea but stuck a bit in because it is supposed to be awfully healthy - just realised I can pep up the vegetable day by eating some raw pickled garlic which is rather crunchy and not too awful when you get used to it.

I have shopping coming this morning, also a telly delivery, and also, probably this afternoon, some more food for Malvolio. I must get to the post office today or Monday to renew my bus pass.

I feel 100% improvement in my knee, though am a bit reluctant to write about this in case it tempts fate, but so far, so good. Me:1 Quacks:0.

I am such a shopaholic - bought a few summer clothes from yet another catalogue called Lands End. Looking at the catalogue which is American, it caters for the 'safe' clothes market. I shall gently age into beige.

I am also tempted to buy some of the more expensive Folio Society publications such as the facsimile Kelmscott Chaucer with £100 off but still a bit pricy at £195. A page is sent with the ad, and it really is rather splendid. I shall resist this temptation though. Particularly since the plumber is due to arrive this morning. I have been noticing a damp patch on the bathroom wall where the water comes into the bath for a while now. Something made me look at the ceiling on the room below, and yes, there is a nasty bit with cracks and dampness at the same level. I suspect the obvious leak will cost more than a pound or two to repair, annoyingly.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Traumatic Taxi Ride and More Cabbage, Ugh!

Just back from meeting friends from college. I do wish I could stop wittering on at people. They withstood the onslaught very well, however and we discussed art, our art, or lack of in my case, fellow students and so on. I passed on best wishes from several others. Left to return home and it was pouring with rain but eventually managed to get a taxi. I very rarely use seat belts, and braking very suddenly, the driver deposited me on the floor in order to avoid a collision. Slightly shaken, but protected by many layers of excess fat, I managed to crawl back onto the seat, arriving home without injury.

The cabbage soup diet really is tedious. Two bowls so far tonight, making about four so far today. May have a little more fruit. I found some rather good clementines which I shall try later.

The cleaner has been and the house is much improved. Embarrassingly though, she remade the bed which I had stripped in order to change the sheets. Oh well.

Fruit, Soup and Trips

Have purchased some fruit since today is fruit and soup day. Also posted the afternoon tea voucher raffle prizes finally after buying some stamps. Hope the punters enjoy it. I would! I really should not think about an afternoon tea with lovely sandwiches, delicious scones with jam and cream followed by home made cake when I am starting the extremely tedious cabbage soup diet. Ah well....

Strangely, I have just been asked by my employers to obtain a medical certificate to say that I am fit to take the pensioners on holiday!! Good thing the punters don't have to get these, as we would then have to stop doing holidays altogether. I don't suppose any doctor would issue a blanket certificate and this will have to be arranged privately for each trip. Shall consult the quack. Not sure where this request is coming from since the company is insured anyway.

In addition, our November meeting which had been moved because of a Turkey and Tinsel break, has now been reinstated to the original date because some trustees were apparently concerned that 'the tail was wagging the dog'. Not sure if the staff are the tail, or the punters?? The holiday had been arranged since last August. I suppose I could rush back in a cab from Hayling Island for the meeting since I have been told that my presence is definitely required (though my predecessor missed a few meetings to my certain knowledge when she took holidays) or we can try and find a suitable person to employ to help Romy, as two helpers at least are definitely needed on these trips. I shall investigate further. I have to say I am rather relieved as these breaks are very hard work, just concerned for Romy, who has to leave not only her cat, but also her husband behind in order to provide this much appreciated service. I suspect that many of the punters simply would not feel they could have these breaks without the reassurance that staff are there to provide help and support with any unforeseen problems.

Looking forward to our meeting this afternoon. No sign of my cleaner yet today, maybe she is doing a late session. Must change the sheets and arrange the fruit in a bowl. My life is like watching paint dry.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Cabbage Soup Diet Experiment

I made my version of the cabbage soup yesterday and will have days of fun on the cabbage soup diet. It seems that today is a fruit day: all fruit apart from bananas and at least one bowl of cabbage soup. Wehey - can't wait. I shall feast upon an apple or two for breakfast, if not tempted by some grapefruit. I shall weigh myself today and see if I lose the promised vast amounts of weight. We shall see.....

Old Times and Old People

Finally contacted Miss Bettaware AKA Big John, who was deeply amused by the Frinton programme and rather touched by Charles declaring his feelings. We chatted until late at night about Frinton, Clacton, my life, Miss Bettaware's life, and his new and happy relationship. He tells me they will be going to visit his sister in Cornwall for a few days in April which will make a pleasant break, and that he has been meeting his partner's family who have all become good friends. I am so pleased for him, as he has had a difficult time with the illness and death of his previous partner, then having to move away and being generally uprooted for a while.

I have toyed with the idea of living away from London, perhaps in Eastbourne, or even Devon, but though I do not have large numbers of friends here, having tried living away in Barcelona for a couple of years, I feel I would somehow miss the place. Strange in a way as my life is pretty inactive and it should not make much difference where I live. I suppose it is old age and familiar surroundings, though I was so happy a year or so ago when I revisited North Devon after thirty years, and was excited to find it almost the same. I had really expected it to have changed a lot, and was amazed to see the same old buildings, and not much new stuff. There were fewer of the strong old Devon accents about though, and the old fishermen of my youth who used to hang around the harbour in their oilskins and wellies had disappeared.

Email Back and Wonderland Frinton Charles

Strangely, my email is working again. Just in time to receive an email about meeting a couple of college pals tomorrow at the Festival Hall

Just seen Wonderland TV programme about Frinton. Guess what? Someone called Charles kept featuring in the programme who is an ex of Miss Bettaware. Seems he was in love with Miss Bettaware. Charles is a really strange guy with some deep dark secret he would not reveal to the telly people. Have been trying to ring Miss Bettaware since because I don't know if she has seen the programme

Redundant Laptop

Well, that's it. Have turned the computer off, pulled the ADSL thing and the phone thing out of the wall, reconnected it all and it STILL won't open emails. I shall try sending one to Dorothy to see if it will do that.

It will not load up 'compose mail' either. Totally hopeless.

Useless Laptop

I shall have a last attempt and pull the things out of the wall and see what happens. I now have two new emails which I can't open. Then I will dump the laptop in the rubbish bin.

Laptop Problem etc. etc.

Dorothy suggested I close down the browser. Did that, no result, so I closed down the laptop. Still with no result. I think there is something very wrong with the laptop. I shall have to wait until I am in the office again next week if I want to reopen any emails.

Sorted out the teas for two and just need to post the envelopes tomorrow. Bought lots of boring veg for the start of the cabbage soup diet tomorrow.

Apparently Julian is OK after the dental business. Let's hope the progress continues. Malvolio is purring for his supper so I had better feed him immediately.

God, now it won't even open new emails!

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Screwed Laptop and No Funwall Message

So annoying. Now my computer has gone wrong. I can open new posts and reply, but when I click on already opened posts to reopen them they will not reopen. I have tried refreshing but it doesn't work. I am now wondering if the person attempting to comment on my blog has sent a virus to my computer. I was told Macs didn't get viruses, but I am not so sure.

Also someone has apparently sent me a message to my Facebook Funwall, but it doesn't seem to have arrived there which is a real nuisance since it was from an old friend i would love to have heard from - Christine from college - who I mentioned earlier.

Teeth, Telly and Afternoon Tea for Two

Bumped into Dorothy this morning: it seems that Julian is going in today for a dental implant, which requires all sorts of care for the next few months. I wish Julian well with the procedure and aftercare.

Have a day off work on Thursday, which is needed. Tomorrow, among other things I shall deal with some filing, pay a cash pension, and purchase three surprise raffle prizes. After a lot of consideration we settled for a voucher for afternoon tea for two locally, which should be a nice little surprise outing for the winners.

Our next venture is again local, a play about safety for seniors sponsored by Southwark Council. We will be offering a snack lunch and some music, too.

They tried to deliver the TV today and left a note, but I have now told them to deliver it on Friday, and I hope they come in the morning as I am having a grocery delivery and will also order some food for Malvolio since he has run out of dry food snacks.

Diet Looming

I will have to stop cooking since I don't have any diners!

Perhaps now is the time to go on the modified cabbage soup diet sent to me by Dorothy, translated from Japanese, which at least makes it amusing in parts. Apparently the sender lost 2.5kilos in the first four days, which of course would be water weight.

Of course I shall have to finish the boeuf bourgignonne and the trifle AND the pears first. Not to mention the soda bread loaf. Oh dear, it could be a while, then.

It seems that all proposed diets are beset by left-over food problems. The strong minded would chuck the lot in the bin, which of course is why they don't need to go on a diet.

I can't bear to throw away all the very nice food I have cooked. I shall plan to start in a couple of days by which time most of it will have been consumed. Perhaps a week or so of relative abstinence might be a good thing before Easter.

Pretend Blog Comments, Plants and Health Grumbles

Someone who shall be nameless keeps submitting comments to my blog which are completely irrelevant. On Googling the nameless one, it becomes apparent that it is an ad for some stupid game, and also submits the same meaningless comment to other blogs which publish them. I don't mind advertising if it is relevant and pays me, but will not publish pretend 'comments' which are simply ads. So there!

My lily is blooming well. I have brought in my broken Amaryllis as it appears to have yet another tiny shoot, which will probably come to nothing, but I live in hopes. Otherwise it will have to be planted outside along with the lily when it has finished blooming.

Unfortunately I think the quacks may be right in part about my failing leg. It was getting so much better when I twisted it again yesterday, so is obviously quite unstable and prone to problems. However, in general it has been much improved by lying on the other side, though unfortunately that is the side with the bad hip, which wakes me up frequently during the night. I suspect this blog is getting more and more medical which will make it an even more boring read (and write). Hard fromage, reader - if indeed there is one by now!

Monday, 10 March 2008

Bread and Leg - Again

I must be bored. I have just made some more soda bread, this time a smaller loaf but with the addition of some oats. Then carried away, I made some potato bread. Not tasted it yet as it is cooling down but the soda bread looks better than last time.

The soda bread tastes fine but the potato bread is a bit soggy and rather dull, though it may be meant to be like that. I shall however throw it away.

My leg was fine all day but somehow twisted it again tonight. It does seem to twist rather randomly, but hopefully not too badly this time.

Dull Day Off

Just made the pears in vanilla and maple syrup. You peel, core and half pears then simmer in water and sugar for about fifteen minutes then drain them and put in the oven for an hour after pouring maple syrup (about 4 tablespoons) and a couple of drops of vanilla over the top.You can turn them if you like. Serve cold with cream or ice cream. Very nice, but I will add a little cinnamon next time. Made quite a nice trifle with bananas and madeira cake soaked in a lot of alcohol including some Beaumes de Venise and some rum from my rumtopf. I shall be eating this for days. I must really make a one serving size when trying new recipes.

It is still pouring with rain outside and I have not been out to renew my bus pass. I seem to do nothing but cook or lie about watching TV and falling asleep.

Storms and Facebook Friends

We were supposed to have terrible storms last night, but certainly they have held off here until this morning. It is very windy outside and there has been a bit of rain, but it may get worse during the course of the day. I have not yet inspected for any outside damage in the garden.

Just had an email from an old friend from college who has just joined Facebook. Christine is a great girl who at various points has renovated cottages including underpinning, bred Rotweillers, been a racing driver, been a racing car engineer, a gardener, brought up a couple of kids, been a fashion designer etc etc, AND done a degree in Fine Art. She is now in the country renovating some property and has a moat around her house/castle. As she says, a bit different for a girl from Holloway. I now have three friends from college on Facebook. Would be good to have some more.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Modern Tellies and Champagne Cocktails

Madeleine tells me that her modern telly works with an indoor digital aerial costing £25 from Peter Jones. I shall try and discover the actual make and purchase one. When the TV arrives. I must sally forth and get the newspapers and hopefully, some black knee high socks from Marks.

I must be an alcoholic. I am really looking forward to some champagne cocktails when the angustura arrives. I even have some sugar lumps ready, and some brandy.Or maybe it is that it is so long since I had them, and it all reminds me of when I met my first husband in Paris when he was up at Oxford. We drank plenty of them then, but my real eye opener was one day at the Randolph in Oxford, when I had to meet him and some French millionaire types for 'lunch'. At the time I worked at the OUP and had a one hour break. We started to drink, and drink, then I had to apologise and go back to work after three or four champagne cocktails, missing lunch, which apparently started very late indeed and went on all afternoon into the early evening. I didn't get much done that afternoon.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Theatre Matinee, My Cat and Cooking Again

Just back from'Legal Fictions' with Edward Fox at the Savoy. The first play was a two hander, and was rather too long, but made up for by the second play, which was good fun, though rather old fashioned. The acting and scenery were good and we hope our punters all enjoyed it.

Malvolio is pleased to see me - possibly due to feeding time, but is throwing himself at me and purring satisfactorily - he really does sing for his supper.

I have just made some rather good boeuf Bourgignonne. I also did a grocery order to be delivered on Friday morning from Tesco, who stock both maple syrup and Angostura bitters. I shall soon be able to make champagne cocktails and am trying to persuade Dorian to do these at the Lye Torng since they are so easy to make.

Found Keys and Telly Problems

Found a set of keys for them, so after a chat and a cup of tea they went home. They tell me they have bought me a white telly, which will go well with my room. It also has freeview. Apparently I could get someone to put an aerial up outside for around £200. I have never found anyone to do this in the past, but may try again. I am a bit worried that someone might interfere with the aerial actually, since my sky dish suddenly became useless and I wasn't sure if that had happened since a neighbour was always complaining about the noise from my telly, so it may not be worth the trouble. Perhaps I should revisit cable TV. Or I may settle for the current bad reception.

Friday, 7 March 2008

Lost Keys

just had a call from Dorothy and Julian who have locked themselves out. Have been trying to find a key to their flat. I have two or three sets of keys and one of these may be theirs. They will arrive shortly and stay for the night if none of the keys are good, but will have to get a locksmith in the morning.

TV , brioche and posset

I misread Dorothy's email. It seems the telly is coming after 10th, not 10am today! It is now 3.45 so I have wasted the whole day. Not entirely though. I have attempted and failed to make a souffle without following a recipe. I used normal flour instead of cornflour for the souffle mix and too much so it came out like a brioche. I seem to have a built in objection to following recipes. In the same way I made lemon posset using whipping rather than double cream and cooking just until the sugar melted rather than for three minutes. However this does appear to have worked. I think it is an indestructible pudding which any fool could make. However, Romy's email today about the most functional English word, beginning with 's' and ending with 't', seems rather timely and appropriate to this day. Am now washing sheets from spare bed.

Friday morning - Lilies, New TV and Broken Maple Syrup Bottle

A lovely sunny day outside. The lilies Leslie B brought to dinner are now blooming, a pale pink colour. Together with the Mother's Day flowers brought by Dorothy and Julian, I am feeling quite spoiled. I cannot find my camera, but when I do will take some snaps of these - found it again - here they are.

The trouble with having telly cameras etc. all over your house is that you tend to stow everything away, and it takes ages to find things again.

Ocado dropped the shopping into my kitchen today. They managed to save the eggs, but unfortunately when I unpacked, the maple syrup bottle had broken and spilled all over the floor, my worktop and two stools, the bottom of a bag of flour and my clothes. Took ages to clear it all up. Annoying as the maple syrup was to cook some pears in, so will have to rapidly purchase more. Will also have to go on a hunt for Angostura bitters, since Ocado don't sell it, and I have redeveloped a taste for champagne cocktails, which get you drunk very quickly at the beginning of an evening, so you can hold back on the wine for the rest of the night. If you want to.

Dorothy emailed me to say a new television would arrive some time after ten from Amazon. No doubt at about 5.45pm, but we will see. Dorothy and Julian have kindly ordered this, so when it comes I will have to purchase a new indoor aerial. Perhaps it will save my left leg since I will now be able to watch TV upstairs instead of all twisted around on my bed.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Leg Slightly Better

Dorothy and Julian are offering to change my sleeping arrangements and swap my bedroom and living room. As I was limping around so badly on Sunday, poor Julian was imagining that this was the beginning of a rapid decline in my ability to move at all. As my leg is now recovering and my diagnosis rather than the quacks appears to be correct, I have suggested moving the TV into the sitting room instead, or even buying a new, smaller TV for the living room. They will have a look and see if there is something they can find me.

Romy is due to disappear to Spain next week so we have spent the day stuffing envelopes with holiday offers for the punters which we shall send out soon. We are due for a theatre matinee visit on Saturday, which should be good.

To my amazement, received a mother's day card from my first husband, inscribed 'with love, affection and respect' - a bit of a surprise, but rather sweet.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Leg, Victim Reunion and Word from Nephew

Actually managed to get the bus into work, but fell by the wayside at lunch time after walking to the bank, so went home in the afternoon and lifted the offending leg back onto the bed. I really think it is improving though, and so does Romy, so the quacks may be wrong, not for the first time in my case.

Heard from some of my new telly victim pals about a possible reunion. Romy suggested All Fool's Day, which seems appropriate. We shall see.

My nephew emailed and says he has a new job and may manage to make it to the metropolis for a meeting, possibly with Dorothy and Julian also. May put my new found cooking skills to the test, possibly. Hopefully my leg will improve in the meantime. Still doing washing from last week. May come to the end of it tomorrow with the bedding still to do.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Exit Legs (Almost)

Finally saw the local quack about the tiresome leg. No offer of an orthopaedic opinion or further investigation. Apparently both legs can work perfectly well, then one leg gives up the ghost, and then, following the extra work it has to do, the other one does. Goodbye legs. I was given a prescription for some anti inflammatories and some gastric drug to counteract the side effects of the anti inflammatory drugs. As far as I know, there is no inflammation or swelling. It also occurred to me that if these drugs killed the pain I might make what I see as the injury, worse. Might try the osteopaths next. Was offered a couple of weeks off but I can sit around at work as well as I can sit around at home.

I shall amuse myself by considering buying a bungalow in the country and ordering a mobility scooter when the inevitable happens, sooner rather than later, it would seem, according to medical opinion. Some people get to have physio or see an orthopaedic surgeon. Must be my age I suppose. Family medicine really has gone downhill in this country. I seem to remember a distant period when we had a family doctor and home visits 'just to check we were OK'.

Monday, 3 March 2008

Annoying Leg Again

I slept at the other end of my bed today and my leg was much better, but I was too tired to go to the doctor anyway. I was having a rest this afternoon, and the phone rang, so moved over to answer it and twisted my knee again, so I can now hardly move again. It is very painful even trying to get around the house, but I am due to go to work tomorrow. Perhaps it will be OK when I have slept at the bottom of my bed again tonight. I think Dorothy was a bit annoyed when I didn't take a message as the phone was for some web application and may have been employment for Dorothy, but I had been asleep and was in too much pain from twisting my leg while answering the phone.

It is 4.35pm and Malvolio is already pacing up and down this table, ready to eat again. I shall have to order more catfood as he is running out of dry catfood.

About to go to bed. I have rested the leg most of the day and I hope that resting it overnight will help things for tomorrow.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Knee Done In Again but Great Mum's Day Dinner.

Well, had lunch and a drinkie at the Lye Torng and Andrew kindly bought me a paper to read. Later I went home for a rest and wrenched my knee turning on the bed to answer a call from Miss Bettawear, who is fine and dandy. However my knee is now much worse. When Dorothy and Julian arrived, bearing a gift of a wonderful burr coffee grinder, some chocs and some gorgeous flowers, Dorothy examined the correspondance I had received, discovering that the address is an accommodation address used by lots of companies and people, and thinks the whole letter is a scam, but will seek further views. They give a google email address and he thinks they should be reported to google and the police.

We cabbed over to Bar Shu and had a most delicious dinner of pork knuckle, gong bau prawns, gong bau chicken, rice and green beens and tea to drink, which was very good indeed. I am now back and intending to relax for the rest of the evening, while they socialise elsewhere.

Is My Flat Still My Own?

On re-reading the Indigo letter, at the bottom it says that ' to ensure we can resolve this issue before 2008-02-27 we would need to hear from you in the next 2-3 days. Of course I have not been opening my post and am now wondering whether indeed my house has been repossessed in absentio by mistake in some court! The date must have come from somewhere and sounds as though it would be the date of a hearing. You are not safe in your own? home these days, though I suspect I would have received some communication about a court hearing, apart from this letter! We shall see. No one has arrived yet with crowbars to prise me out, though I may considering hiring some musclebound security guards to safeguard my front door. Malvolio will mount a rearguard defence against all comers.

Will risk nipping out and buying the Sunday papers now.

Nibby and Nasty Letter

Had a long chat with Nibby in Oz today. She is fascinated by Tellyland Tales and can't wait to see a vid of it all, though I have warned her that she may have to share her house in Oz with me once it is out. She gave me an excellent recipe for macaroons which I shall attempt in the near future, cooking them on little piles of almond powder because she can't get hold of rice paper, and piercing the tops alternately with almonds and little pieces of crystallised ginger. I may try this, and some other flavoured macaroons, such as lemon macaroons etc. We shall see.

I have had a strange communication from one Filter Parkes, of Indigo Property Solutions, at 27 Old Gloucester Street, London WC1N 3XX. The letter is headed "Re: Your forthcoming repossession hearing" and carries on with offers of advice and help to "allow you to stay in your home". Unbelievable. Good thing I am not of a nervous disposition. Mind you I shall check with my mortgage company on Monday, who have always had their full payments to date and never complained as far as I am aware. I suspect that this disgraceful company send mailshots on spec to unsuspecting householders and occasionally find one with a repossession hearing pending. I certainly don't expect to receive this threatening kind of mail and may take legal advice, as I consider that anyone of advanced age or with a medical condition could be at risk of a heart attack when opening such post.

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Done Up Like A Kipper

Home at last. Should not reveal any more about telly events, but in fact we haven't actually signed a contract yet. The last thing to happen is that Romy and I were told that there was going to be a public vote and that we should appeal to be voted for. This was as well as the votes of the contestants where we almost achieved the coveted wooden spoon. I may have to emigrate after the show airs, if it ever does. I realised shortly after the first dinner that I had been set up by tellyland, as all the other hosts or partners had catering experience, except one other. Still, it was good to show some straightforward home cooking. Also we were the only people to fly the flag for cava, champagne being the standard drink in the other households. I may however make some cava cocktails when I buy some Angustura bitters.

Suffice it to say I can hardly walk now, my left knee having worn out almost completely, and today I am recovering from three hours sleep.

Dorothy and Julian will come and see me for Mother's Day tomorrow when I hope to be slightly recovered, but I fear it will be some time before I am back to normal physically.

Had a long chat with Madeleine, who rang, eager for news, then fell asleep in the middle of the conversation.