Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Internet Problems and Impending Telly Disgrace

Hello - back again. No internet at home so went to Lye torng, but they have changed their ISP or whatever to Thai Bar, which had a most unfortunate and caused my laptop to give up the ghost. However, i took it home and it eventually charged up and worked again, but no internet anywhere, now really.

Dorothy and Julian arrived at about 9pm on sunday to put my curtain rail up, but I had not expected them and was unable to find the fittings, so this idea was abandoned. We had a nice cup of tea and they helped tidy up a bit, finding my long lost video under the spare bed.

Unfortunately the telly show is coming out soon starting on 19th May at 3pm on ITV but not certain which town they are doing first so there may be a brief calm before my inevitable infamy and submission to general oppobrium ( I think that's how you spell it). That very same day we are having a musical event locally, but I may have to take my portable telly in order to witness my fall from grace. Actually it is spelled 'opprobrium', apparently.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Food Ad Nauseam

Here's another shadow, this time reflected across my laptop.

Woke up rather late this morning. Had a coffee in the Latino place with a little round cake thing for breakfast while reading the Observer for a bit. It was a bit drizzly so sat around the house reading more before deciding to come to the Lye Torng for lunch. I have just had a glass of chenin blanc, which is quite harmless and not unpleasant, and a very good prawn green curry. The place is quite empty apart from one other regular, and serves as a private dining room which is great for me, but not so good for the proprietors. I don't think the SE1 lunch club are interested in it, which is a pity, as I feel the food makes up for the lack of other diners. I must say when I went to the Tai Tip Mein at Elephant I did not recover from the stomach upset for a week or so.

Last night I had some coq au vin with a little rice. Very good. Followed by my sweet wine posset. Watched a very silly but funny film called 'What Women Want' which was ideal after an excess of dinner.

I have undertaken to give lunch on 26th May to at least two fellow telly victims and their families. It will be a buffet and it seems that Karen is afraid of starving and is already threatening to start baking. I hope the weather is fine and people can wander into the garden with their glasses etc. and the smokers can smoke.

I am trying to think of what to take Nibby to in the way of galleries. I think the National Portrait Gallery is a must, and maybe Anselm Kiefer and Bob and Roberta Wilson. Not sure if anything is coming on at the Hayward, will look it up. South Bank will be a good visit anyway and maybe we can have a look at some evening performance there. Borough Market on Friday morning will be a good visit, and perhaps Covent Garden.

Saturday, 26 April 2008

No More Hoodia, US Trip for Romy and More Food

This rather odd image is of shadows from the plants in my windowbox on my blind.

It is now Saturday. I have stopped the Hoodia as it was giving me weird dreams and I am not sure it did not contain some unknown stimulant as it made me feel warm and odd and probably raised my blood pressure, apart from the enormous appetite, which was becoming worse.

Romy has arranged to rush off to America to meet her long-losts, and is currently sunning herself in Spain for a few more days before returning to the fray on Tuesday. We are going on the Bluebell Railway with two coaches full on 1st May. I always remember May morning at Oxford with the Magdalen tower songs, the punts and the Morris men. About 40 years ago.

No internet at home yet again. Bought a few more clothes from Land's End which should do me for the summer. I will have to clear out some older stuff. My neighbour commented on the lovely smell coming from my kitchen. I made a kind of coq au vin with some chicken breasts. First I cut up about four rashers of dry cured streaky bacon into one inch lengths before frying until crisp then removed then to a casserole. I then fried a couple of chopped onions in the fat, then added a bit more oil and added the chicken breasts cut into about three sections per breast. I then put the meat and onions in the casserole, sprinkled a little flour into the frying pan, then added some water, herbs etc to make a stock into which I put three large cloves of garlic, some parsley, some rosemary and some concentrated chicken stock. Following the advice of my friend Miss Bettaware I also added a teaspoonful of made up English mustard and the same of tomato puree. Adding a few miniature carrots (Chantenay) for colour, and a few baby mushrooms on top, I simmered with the lid on and the stock in for 20 minutes. Later I shall drain off the liquid and reduce before serving. I may serve it with rice.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Mas Basura Again

Julian came around last night and managed to fill four huge bags with stuff culled from the garden and chopped up my christmas tree, so the garden now looks twice the size. I cleaned out the pond fountain and this is now working. Julian also fixed the blind in the sitting room and watered the plants outside so my environment is much improved. All I need now is to have the curtain rail put up and to clear out the wardrobe in the spare room as Nibby will be here in a couple of weeks.

I keep taking the Hoodia as advised, but my appetite is increasing enormously. At four bits of fudge after dinner last night.

Washing machine is working excellently so will do a bit more tonight.

Monday, 21 April 2008


The Hoodia is giving me a phenomenal appetite, worryingly, but I shall persist. Last night made a tray of fudge - no recipe of course - just a large tablespoon of crunchy peanut butter, 2tbsps cocoa 3 cups sugar, large lump butter and 3tbsps cream heated up and stirred for ages. Had not set by this morning so put back into pan, emptied a bar of cooking choc and another cup of icing sugar into it, stirred for a bit, emptied some spanish toasted almonds onto buttered tin, and poured the smooth thick mixture in. Looks as though it will set.

Oh dearie me.

Due to finish the sauerkraut, now soup, for lunch with a bit of soda bread.

The guys have been and plumbed in the new machine. They had some fudge and pronounced it delicious. I may be speaking too soon, but all looks OK with the machine.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Stuff and Nonsense

I hope Dorothy will manage to put the curtain rail up in Sally's room before she arrives. Also I cannot move the blind up in my sitting room as the mechanism has come off the rail and it is stuck down, which means I can't water my window box outside.

I hear that John Prescott has bulimia. Reminded me that I keep forgetting to take the Hoodia, which has to be taken one to half an hour before eating. The last time I remembered was lunchtime yesterday. I shall persist because it takes a month to kick in apparently. Found my cardigan today ferreted away under another pile of clothes.

Dorian a bit depressed when I went in for a bloody Mary today. It seems the diva, happily away for a couple of weeks, is due back on Wednesday which will no doubt complicate his life.

Fell asleep during the TV awards last night. I hope the washing machine turns up today.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

More of Less

Dorothy and Julian came around last night. They had bought me some antibiotics and some absinthe from Spain. They also came bearing cheeses and cold bits and pieces, so we spread a picnic on the table and had a bottle of hearty red wine with it. My poor old sauerkraut was ignored so I will have to finish it today.

It seems that Dorothy had planned to change my washing machine for a built in IKEA model as soon as mine bit the dust and was irritated that I had bought the Bosch. Julian pointed out that my kitchen was so untidy that what I put in there really didn't matter!

Funny for a non cook: I am giving culinary tips to a bachelor in Lye Torng, Ray, who I have advised on the cooking of venison and who is now going to try the very easy lemon posset, though typically he had bought lemon in a bottle. I advised him to go for a fresh lemon in the recipe which he says he will now do. I wonder.

Lunch, Baby Cakes and return of internet

We had a good lunch in Waterloo Brasserie. After a Bellini each, Dorian started with gravadlax which was apparently fine, then we both went for coq au vin with a glass of red wine. We finished up sharing a berry crumble with ice cream and some decent coffee.

I now feel rather tired. I shall go home and have a rest, then make some more soda bread.

I have used the Victorian style cake mould to make some tiny sponge fairy cakes and sprinkled icing sugar over them. I had halved the amount of flour so they are quite buttery. Very pretty. I have also made some more soda bread, omitting the butter as I did last time, which seems to improve it a bit.

My internet is suddenly back after a week. Good, I can surf at home.

Loss, Lunch and Sauerkraut Again

Mavis very perky this morning. Her owner is due back at lunchtime today.

I have somehow managed to lose my new Land's End cardigan thingy which I recall bringing back home in a red carrier bag on Thursday. However I do not have it now so will have to research my movements on that evening. Nuisance as I was going to wear it today with the newly altered matching skirt.

Today Dorian and I are doing a lunch offer of two courses and a Bellini at the Waterloo Brasserie. Hope it's OK. They have emailed me and rang me this morning to remind me which is a bit worrying. Not sure if this is routine or if they are desperate. Not everyone is even up by 11am on a Saturday. Hmmm..

I bought a packet containing an onion, two carrots, a parsnip and two turnips. I browned some sliced onions in bacon fat and added the chopped onion then some stock and white wine and the other vegetables, a bit of gin and some drained sauerkraut and arranged some chopped frankfurters and potatoes on top and cooked for a while. The result was OK but I found that more potatoes and seasoning were required so added a bayleaf, more pepper and a bit more stock, cooked for another 30 minutes and the result was excellent imho. Anyway I keep eating bowls of this and it will certainly last until Sunday night. Pity I am lunching out in a way, but a change of diet will probably be beneficial.

Friday, 18 April 2008

Stop Press - Mavis Getting Better

In case my reader is pining away with worry about my neighbour's cat, Mavis, the news is that she seems to be getting better.

But the other day she had taking to ignoring her poo station and performing on the upstairs carpet, discovered by Rosie yesterday, when she was cleaning his flat. Rosie thought Mavis was missing her owner. However, when I examined her poo station it was over-replete with poo, so using my own Malvolio's shit shovel as there was none upstairs, removed the offensive pieces which lurked so uninvitingly among the kitty litter.

I have been grooming Mavis, and she is now much smaller due to the disappearance of excess fur. She is also getting rather skittish, which I take to be a sign of recovery.

Let Me Bore You - Again

I am without internet at home so posting and reading etc. in Lye Torng. Today I am nibbling some Thai dim sum, v. nice.

A couple of eventful days: Dorothy and Julian now back from sorting the complicated electricity problem and arranging contents insurance in Barcelona, me dealing with the sale of 90 freeholds in Surrey which involved lots of last minute hitches and complications, not entirely over yet, and me asking Romy at least twice to pass the arsenic during an evening meeting. Meetings are proving quite indigestable.Or is it 'ible'?

Howsomever, as they used to say in Devon - MOMENTOUS news for Romy with far flung rellies suddenly surfacing. Very exciting indeed and so like my own surprise about this time last year discovering sisters, cousins, aunts etc. Weird coincidence, but all thanks to modern communications. Hopefully more of this later.

ITV pestering me for recipes which I sent. The programme is currently on course for mid May, probably the week we are in France for Monday and Tuesday. I may not return from France. We shall see.

Also, collected my new skirts, nicely altered, today. I ordered a wonderful Victorian style minicake or choccie mould from the Museum Collection which arrived this morning. It looks too good to use, but I can't wait to hurl a bit of cake mix into it just to see if the deep moulded patterns come through, though knowing my cooking they will all stick. We shall see. My cleaner Rosie also reappeared yesterday, so it was good to come back to a nearly pristine flat.

Nibby is due to arrive in two or three weeks and I am very excited about this. I also achieved the purchase of a new washing machine, a Bosch, due to be installed on Monday afternoon

Monday, 14 April 2008

Mavis and Malvolio

Mavis, my neighbour's sick cat is eating as much as she can, just leaving a few dry bits and is quite lively. I have brushed her every day and removed huge amounts of hair from her back. Shall have another go at her today. She really is a sweet little thing, and very pretty.

My neighbour said I could use his washing machine so will wash a few sheets today when I go up to feed Mavis later. I have tried to clean her bed a bit, but this was rather difficult as it is fluffy fake sheepskin and comes off when I brush the hairs off. Something washable might be a better option. Will look around. Malvolio generally lies on a bed on top of a wool stole, which being a cream colour, shows the filth rather effectually. Reminds me I may put this in the washing machine too, after brushing the hairs off.

Malvolio has taken to being rather whingy today, so will have to keep an eye on him.

One Thing and Another

Eventually found the Vietnamese restaurant and had a good meal and meeting with my college pals last night. Arrived home really late.

Text from Dorothy requesting Spanish bank details. It seems that there has been an electric problem in the building and my electric box thing is very dangerously wired up in an odd way - and apparently there is some question that someone has been wiring in to it and stealing my electricity as the bills have been very high, considering there is hardly ever anyone there. Poor Dorothy and Julian have had a horrible time there dealing with all this and insurance for the flat, and haven't had any relaxation, just all the stress caused by these problems - then straight back to work on Wednesday after getting back on Tuesday night.

The latest scam at Tesco is to advertise a promotional low price, then charge the full price at the till because they haven't put the promotional price in the tills. I nearly fell foul of this but fortunately explained before paying that the item was supposed to be cheaper,was told it was being sold at the full price, so just did not buy it. Apparently thousands of these so-called promotions could go through without the customer checking the price. It may be a mistake, but the staff were not at all interested in changing things or reporting it when I pointed it out. Makes you sick, doesn't it?

Took my two new skirts in for shortening today and will collect them on Friday. I was complimented on one of my new dresses last night, so have decided that Lands End is a goer for future orders. I may lash out on some bathers for the summer.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Delhi Belly, Ice Cream Sucess and Nibby's Impending Arrival

I am suffering a bit. Maybe it was the Tai Tip Mein lunch. Vietnamese tonight with college friends. Good luck!

After my success with lemon posset, I discovered that you can make quick ice cream with slightly beaten double cream, adding runny honey instead of sugar, and adding other stuff such as chopped ginger in syrup or whatever. I whipped the cream a bit, added the honey, crumbled a few soft amaretti in and added the juice of a lemon. It freezes without granulating after a couple of hours, ideal for a dinner party.

Spoke to Roxy last night who is a bit depressed about the property market. We have vowed to have another meeting soon.

Nibby is excited about coming to England. I shall talk to Romy about the possibility of her giving us a hand with the punters on the French trip if there are any seats available. If not, she will spend a day or two in Oxford. I am hoping to meet her at Heathrow when she arrives in the country. Maybe Dorothy and Julian will be able to come too, as it is quite easy by tube.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Good Lunch and Trivia

Lunch club a success, food basic but plentiful and the place quite crowded. When I arrived home there was a parcel from Lands End with a couple of linen shirts and a couple of skirts which I shall get shortened today. The quality is really good with the linen skirt seams oversewn with tape.

Tried to get Nibby on the phone today but no luck. She may have left for Canada, but will try again tomorrow and have emailed Pierre to ask when she is expected. Have also emailed Bear.

I am also supposed to be catsitting my neighbour's sick cat from today, but have had no further information about the blood tests, emergency numbers etc. and don't know what time he is leaving so will stay at home until he leaves.

It's the London Marathon tomorrow. I am supposed to be having a Vietnamese meal with college pals in Spitalfields but don't know whether it is lunchtime or evening. I hope it is in the evening as the transport should be OK by then.

Dear me, if you are buying euros, the value appears to be almost one to one, i.e. if you change £100 to euros, you get from 120 to 140 euros, not great. Dorothy and Julian must be feeling the strain.

Friday, 11 April 2008

Claret Jug and Red and White Room

Finally, the claret jug sent over two weeks ago arrived after i managed to speak to a human in Mandela Way. Wrapped against a nuclear attack it arrived in one piece and I shall pour red wine from it.

Talking of red, I have been having a bit of fun this morning transforming with a few bits to a red and white room, above.

It is supposed to be the lunch club today at the Tai Tip Mein, a rather worrying looking edifice attached to the outside of the Elephant and Castle shopping centre. Safety in numbers, hopefully.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Fat Pig and Noisy Parrots

Malvolio posing.

I was a bit horrified when i checked my weight: 17 stone today. Will check again next week. So far the Hoodia has not depressed my appetite - quite the reverse. Maybe it takes a while to build up in the body. We shall see.

Some birds were making rather a racket in the garden. I looked out and saw three or four smallish birds and occasional flashes of greeny yellow. I think they may have been rather small parakeets, not nearly as cute as the ones in Barcelona, but a bit flash, always together and quite noisy.

Broken Washing Machine and Sick Cat

This is my room in black and white with my fifties tea tray on the table. Malvolio on the sofa.

Bit of a drama. Put some washing in the machine, and when it was spinning dry it started making an awful noise as though it had bricks inside. Finally when it finished I went to open in and masses of smoke came belching out. I called the fire brigade and pulled the plug out. However by the time they arrived the thing had died down and it was obviously the friction of the broken drum causing excessive heat as I discovered when i pulled the clothes out which were covered in tiny burned marks. Handwashing for a while I suspect. There seem to be dramas all round at the moment. I do hope Dorothy and Julian are OK in Barcelona.

Also, my neighbour's cat Mavis has become ill and may have a thyroid problem or something more serious, which is a bit of a worry as he is going away on Saturday for a week and I will be looking after her. He has taken her for blood tests today which they are rushing through for him.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Fat, Flat and No Cleaner

I really am gullible - I sent off for some rather expensive Hoodia Gordonii to use as an appetite depressant in what will no doubt be yet another vain attempt to shed some weight. Ha ha, but I shall experiment for a week or so, unless the stuff makes me feel ill in which case I shall abandon it fast, as one doesn't know what is actually in the capsule, unregulated as these things are. I shall weigh myself this morning, and check my weight at the end of the week.

Dorothy and Julian are staying in one of the flats owned by my friend Derek in Barcelona while they check the reason for the non-existence of electricity in my flat. It is really turning out to be a working holiday. Meanwhile my ex brother in law is trying to find a flat to stay in for a few days later in the year. I said my flat did not have his essential requirement - a coffee machine - and that he should consider one of Derek's very superior flats in the smartest part of Barcelona.

Being unused to having a cleaner, I decided I had to spend this morning tidying my flat which is in a frightful mess, before the cleaner arrived later today. However, when I returned last night I found a note to say she had 'done her back in' and would not be putting in an appearance today. I was slightly relieved, but am wondering how long this condition will last.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Lovely Ring and Domestic Disasters

Shane 'the voice' Hampsheir serenading a senior.

Julian rang tonight to say the ruby ring had arrived and that it was wonderful. Julian has yet to check if the ruby is a genuine natural one, but loves the ring anyway. Connie from the local news forum has a gorgeous bright pinky red ring which is apparently rubellite. Very lovely it is, too.

My chairman and his wife both have terrible flu. A lot of people seem to have this at the moment. I think my antibiotics though not able to attack the virus, seem to have stopped the chest infection from progressing.

More bad luck for Dorothy and Julian, due to go to Barcelona tomorrow. There is apparently no electricity in the flat, though I have paid the bills. They will stay in a hotel while trying to sort this out.

I have been making more soda bread tonight.Earlier, I came in from work and was a bit thirsty so grabbed a large bottle of lemonade. Just as I released the old-fashioned top, it fizzed up and squirted all over my clothes, the kitchen floor and the tops. At that moment the doorbell went. It was Ocado, delivering my groceries. Rather bad timing as they had to dump my stuff in the hall. I spent ages cleaning the sticky stuff from the floor before I could unpack the groceries, and also had to change and wash my clothes. I really don't know where I found the energy to make the bread.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Guilt and Infidelity

Another snap of baby George with Miss Bettaware and John.

I think Malvolio has become jealous. He cannot know of my infidelity, but seems to have a second sense and eyes me warily. Or maybe I am just feeling guilty, as well I might. But who could resist the fabulous George?

A very successful day, starting with Dangerous Theatre in Christ Church, followed by lunch, then the very gorgeous Shane Hampsheir regaling us with song and nearly being assaulted by several overenthusiastic punters, afternoon tea and a little raffle. We have promised to tie some punters to their chairs next time. Addison Lee were excellent with the transport, and we have booked to go to Shane's concert on 13 July with a coachload of punters, so fun all round!

In Love Again

I am in love. I managed to take a slow train from Liverpool Street to Harwich International on Friday, passing through some lovely countryside and places with strange names like Wrabness. They seemed to have sent me a first class booking, which was very comfortable indeed, with a mini carriage and I had four seats and a table to myself. The two Johns met me and we got back to their house for a lovely cup of tea.

Their house is rented, but is the best rented place I have ever seen. Completely modern, it was built about eight years ago, and I had my own bathroom and a lovely large bedroom. There was a decent sized garden, which will please Miss Bettaware. After dinner at home we went to Frinton to meet Charles, who has been largely ostracised since his appearance on TV. Margaret, the sad woman in the show, has been happy as people have travelled miles to purchase bits from her shop and meet her. Charles is rather delighting in the current notoriety, which is however already beginning to wear off. He was delighted to see us, and will visit Miss Bettaware and John in their new residence soon.

But why am I in love? Who is the object of my affections? He is a wonderful huge black rabbit (shown above), Miss Bettaware and John's 'baby'. He is apparently a French Lop, and has huge hanging ears, a huge head and the softest fur ever. He is only a baby, but is due to grow to weigh 10kg. He lives in the garden in a hutch. However he has the run of the garden in the daytime, and spends plenty of time in the house. He is called George, and is gorgeous. We spent hours playing with him.

On Saturday we had lunch in a hotel called The Tower, which was quite ornate and interesting. The food was OK, but Miss Bettaware's lamb shank was a bit dry, apparently. We then had a drive around Harwich and I saw some very pretty properties all under £200,000. Actually I did not dare look around one which I loved which was very near Miss Bettaware. It looked like a little two storey gatehouse, totally made of traditional stone, in front of an old church, and only £165,000. I knew I would have been more than tempted. Impulse buying of clothes is one thing, properties quite another.

On Sunday we found a super little pub for lunch: The Cross Inn, at Horsley Cross, near Manningtree. I thought it would make a great venue for a pub lunch for the punters, so took a card.

Getting back to London was difficult as we discovered there were all sorts of railway works, so Miss Bettaware drove me to Mark's Tey to catch the train.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Medication and Malvolio

This is a collage I did some while ago with Julian. I am quite fond of it still.

Got into the office for most of the day and did a few bits and pieces which had to be done. I had found some Klaricid Unidia and took one of those, which I am sure will help prevent a chest infection, or clear it up quickly. I was feeling fairly bad, but think it is because I am so unused to having coughs and colds and 'flu-like symptoms that I had forgotten what it was like. Temperature normal this morning so shall carry on taking the pills. I had not changed the time on my bedside clock, so when Malvolio started attacking me I thought it was 5.15am instead of 6.15am. As usual, he was right about the time.

Julian rang me about some jewels purchased from Ebay. I have asked her to show them to me when they arrive and also asked if she or Dorothy could buy me some more antibiotics and some absinthe from Spain.

I am now just concentrating on recovering a bit before my weekend away, and buying a few more raffle prizes, too.

Sick Old Woman

I felt a bit cold and not entirely well yesterday. By the end of the afternoon i knew I was ill. had a bad night with a fever and awoke at 4am. Tortured for a bit by Malvolio but managed to sleep for another hour.

I am feeling quite bad this morning but will attempt to get into the office later. The problem is that we are coming to the end of the property sale, apparently expected next week, which gives me masses of work to do and very little time to do it in. To make things worse I am due to go away for the weekend on Friday, and on Monday we have a long planned event all day for the punters so the time frame is quite problematic, especially with this cold or whatever i have. I just hope I don't get a chest infection which usually lasts for weeks and turns into pneumonia. I may have a few antibiotics around which I shall look out. May also ask Dorothy to obtain some when in Barcelona for a future back-up since they are so hard to obtain in the UK.