Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Westward Ho!

We're off today! Malvolio being fed by my neighbour and have overwatered the garden but it will probably still resemble a desert on my return.

I shall be meeting long losts on Sunday evening in Torquay. Ice cream maker arrived last night, only one ordered item not arrived yet but I am hoping a neighbour will take it in for me in my absence.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Easy-Yo, Impending Journey and Big Breakfast

The replacement Easy-Yo has arrived and I have a litre of Greek yoghourt this morning!

It really is fantastically easy to make and I am so pleased I bought it. Apparently it comes from New Zealand and nearly 50% of the population there own one. Not surprised.

We have been preparing for our journey to Bristol and Devon which starts tomorrow. Unfortunately I have had a very adverse weather forecast from Weather Action but we can only hope for the best. We have a boat trip in Bristol and a theatre trip in Torquay, which should be interesting.

I bought some frozen mixed 'summer fruits', widely available in most supermarkets. I also made up some muesli from raw porridge oats mixed with dried cranberries, raisins, a few small nuts and seeds and greatly improved by some almond flakes browned in a frying pan and added when cold. My latest breakfast consists of a couple of tablespoons of summer fruits thawed overnight in the fridge, added to three of the muesli mix, a little milk and now, a large cup of yoghourt which is very filling and delicious. Yesterday I missed lunch and did not get very hungry - though I did eat a couple of Romy's American 'moose droppings'!

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Hopeless Royal Mail

I had a red card from Royal Mail on Tuesday because I was out. Rang them and arranged redelivery for Saturday. Another card on Thursday (not sure if it was the same item) so again, rang to rearrange delivery for Saturday.

Today is Saturday. I waited in until 2.15 and no delivery. Royal Mail is a nightmare.
Makes you sick, doesn't it?

P.S. The delivery finally arrived with the post - after 4pm!

Wildlife and Honours

Romy has had a wonderful break and is already back and working away at dealing with business, including arranging more holidays, days out, and a summer newsletter.

We went to Woburn to see the wildlife again yesterday. It was a mixed day, with some sun and some showers. Everyone enjoyed the lunch provided, and most amusement was provided by the monkeys, who jumped onto the coach, and several cars in front of us. An excellent outing.

While out i had a very unexpected call from a friend, telling me about some music event in Exhibition Road today, but it does look a bit dismal outside. He also told me that a colleague who was best man at my sister's wedding has been knighted in the birthday honours. Must tell Nibby that this guy (known as Sid the Sod in his youth) has been elevated to such great heights.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Early Wednesday Morning

Went down Borough Road past a cafe where a girl was smoking a hookah. Unusual for this area.

Malvolio has been rather sweet recently, hanging around when required and not torturing me too much in the mornings when waking me up. I am singularly devoid of scratches. Perhaps he is becoming more sedate in his old age.

Not much luck with the sprouting, but the mixed beans have at last partially sprouted. I think I may have to purchase a proper sprouter.

I had a long chat with my friend Kate, who can't decide whether to go to Australia for a few weeks later this year to stay with her son and his girlfriend. They are going around the world and spending a few months there. I said that if she was in Sydney she should get in touch with my niece and Nibby. In any event we shall both go to the Cy Twombly exhibition at the Tate and to the Portrait Gallery later in July.

Madeleine rang and we had a long chat. She was a bit concerned about my recent fit of depression, which we both agreed was probably a post-telly anticlimax. I also think it was a bit hormonal because I stopped HRT about a couple of years ago and have become physically much more feeble since. Am thinking of restarting it, but we shall see.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Boring Old Woman

collected my jewels which cost £200 to repair. Of course they had to rethread them twice and add some very large pearls. The earrings now look much better without the outside chain rims - nice and plain. The man in the shop was admiring my gold bangle and asked if I was a designer.

I have found a wonderful thing from Scott's of Stow which is like a sandwich toaster. I saw it on CDWM yesterday and was immediately impressed. Basically you put little balls of dough in it and it makes 12 little pastry boats (round shaped) in three minutes. Multiply this if you have a large party and fill with various things - simple and home made. I immediately ordered one and shall experiment with this.

I am still trying to sprout things - not much to see so far, but this morning purchased some mung and some aduki beans and will lash out on a sprouter if all else fails. I must get some compost and a couple of containers in which to plant my lettuce and beets. Maybe I will do this when I get back from Devon at the beginning of July.

Sunday, 15 June 2008


Another comfortable night with my new pillows.

Rang Nibby this morning. Talked about the garden and she tells me that thinning out vegetable seedlings and eating them are a good idea, and that Pauline in Canada used to let beetroots grow to small bulbs about thumb size and then cook them and serve with cream and horseradish. May well try this.The little salad seeds I planted have shot up, so will thin them a bit soon. May also try sprouting a few seeds for salad - apparently all you need is a jam jar and a clean popsock. Soak them for a few hours in water, then strain the water off then refill with water and rinse a couple of times a day. Mung beans are apparently the quickest, taking about three days, but apparently you can sprout any kind of seed. I feel a new hobby coming on.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Had a little fun with the Bamix - mixed some skimmed milk into a kind of foamy cream then changed the fitting and decimated some frozen fruit which I mixed up with the 'cream' and it made a lovely fruit puree, ate a bit and froze the rest. I made some more 'cream' and added to coffee for a very easy cappucino.

Watched the trooping of the colour on telly and tried taking a few snaps which of course didn't come out very well. See above.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Shipp's Sunk

Some bad news about Shipp's tearooms. They have been closed down because they have not organised a change of user. Shipp's must be complete idiots - they had a super tearoom in a fantastic position with even more business since Roast stopped doing afternoon teas. Fortunately I had not yet purchased the 'tea for two' voucher for a surprise prize for one of the punters. They are getting lots of publicity which is pointless since the whole thing is their own fault. Makes you sick, doesn't it?

Friday 13th

Guess what? No Easy Yo. However, the Bamix arrived last night which is very exciting, and today two wonderful if expensive pillows arrived. They are 75 per cent down, and have an inner casing filled with feathers for firmness. They are absolutely splendid. I shall get a couple more.

A good lunch again at Lye Torng with Juliet, Ian, Jo and someone whose name I didn't catch with a tiny baby. I am not mad about babies, but this one was very cute.

My neighbour is giving me a plant stand for the garden which will be handy. His terrace is looking good with lots of new plants.

My dress was not ready so will collect tomorrow. On Monday I will collect my jewels which have finally been repaired at great expense.

Most annoying - I spent ages doing a complicated alteration on a skirt with two layers, only to discover that my iron does not turn on. The wall socket is OK so it must be a fuse so shall dismantle the plug and have a look. I really do need an iron so will have to purchase another if it is broken. Pity, as it is rather a good one which I can use as cordless and heats up (or did) very quickly.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Spend, Eat, Spend

Finally couldn't stand it any longer and rang Dorothy. It seems they have both been very busy and Julian has an interview today, but all is well with them, thank goodness.

I bought some rather moribund looking peonies being sold cheaply in Tesco. They were in very firm buds which didn't look as though they would open but I put them outside in a vase in the hot sun the other day and they are now opening and looking rather gorgeous.

Saw the quack last night about my compulsory letter saying I am fit to travel with the punters. She was highly dubious about the whole thing and felt I was being discriminated against and that I should complain to my employer. However, in the end she agreed to provide the letter which I shall pick up today and the company will pay for it.

Made a fairly decent paella last night with a couple of bits of chicken, but small bits of wing and drumstick are best in paella. It always tastes good though, somehow. Maybe it was the large amount of red wine I consumed with it.

Oh dear, I have been purchasing again. It is definitely a sign of neurosis. This time I have bought a Bamix mixer stick thing. It is very powerful and I shall now be able to make Leslie's white bean cappucino from my House Guest experience. I am hoping it will be one of my more useful buys.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008


Hmmm - no Easy Yo yet. Bought some hair fastening thingies as my current ones are getting a bit dingy and, for some reason, also bought a white dress????????????What is happening????????????? Still awaiting the l'occitane stuff I originally ordered before Nibby arrived.

Weird, weird, dreams last night involving a lot of claustrophobia - must have been tangled up in the duvet. Malvolio crawled up beside me to calm me down which was very pleasant and helpful.

Strange bus driver tonight. He drove extremely slowly and managed to antagonise most of the passengers who started telling him to get a move on, which naturally made him drive more slowly still. He stopped a long way short of my bus stop. After alighting, I looked back and he was still parked there. Then he drove extremely slowly to the actual stop, where some suckers got on. They may be home by midnight. Perhaps he was having a breakdown.

Seeking inspiration for surprise raffle prizes, with some internet help I organised a home chiropody visit for a disabled client, and lunch for two with a glass of wine overlooking the Thames for another. I have yet to organise an afternoon tea for two for the last punter.

No word for ages from Dorothy and Julian. This seems to coincide with my telly outing. Perhaps they have fallen out with me.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Fake Tan and Lemonade

Just found a good fake tan. Two disadvantages are that it puts glittery stuff on your skin as it colours it slightly when you put it on, and worse, it is sticky. However if you can stand it, the colour is fairly deep and even and looks quite real the next day, once you have showered the glitter stuff off. It's called l'Oreal Sublime Bronze tanning gel in a brown tube. Once it is a decent colour you just need to top it up maybe once or twice a week. Result!

Made an appointment to see a quack next week to obtain a medical certificate to say I am fit enough to go on holiday with the punters. Also I notice they have doubled my dose of diuretics for the past three or four prescriptions, which I think is a mistake since they have not mentioned this to me and when I was taking this amount before they told me that the half dose had the maximum effect on blood pressure rate , so reduced it. We shall see.

Cleaned silver, which may need another go, and made some more walnut bread. The gazpacho improves on keeping in the fridge overnight. Perhaps, as it is cold, it gives more time for things like garlic to blend in well.

To make some very mild pleasant lemon drink. Slice up a lemon and place in a 1pt container with sugar to taste, and if wished, a fresh bayleaf. Fill with boiling water. Leave and after an hour or so remove the fruit etc and press the rest of the juice through a strainer back into the liquid. Chill and serve with ice.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Food , Flowers and Garden Umbrella

Not enough blue cheese in the quiche, otherwise fine, but really needs the extra cheese. Made belgian beer tart from an internet recipe which turned out oversweet and not nearly beery enough. Made an excellent gazpacho today which was very refreshing in this hot weather.

My neighbour gave me a lovely bunch of flowers yesterday as a thanks for looking after Mavis. They look quite beautiful and it was a really nice surprise.

Went to Lye Torng to read my papers and had a quite good lamb Penang for lunch. Did a little shopping in Tesco and was collared by one of the punters who had seen us on the TV and says it was a shame we didn't win. I also found a rather good light blue garden parasol for £4.49 in Woolies. Unfortunately I threw my umbrella base away when I had the telly people around so will have to find another.

Looking forward to receiving the Easy Yo maker. I remember my first husband used to make a fabulous moussaka topped with a mixture of yoghourt and egg. It had been given him by a Greek heiress apparently.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Quiet Life

It is now Saturday. I found more of the Dovell family online but the mystery about my great aunt Joan remains: I had always understood that she had died in the 1970's, but according to the internet, her name was Harriet John Dovell (not Joan) and she died in the 1990's which means she reached a great age considering the TB meningitis which had laid her low in the 1950's. I had not seen her since then, when I was a child, but her sister, my grandmother Kathleen, had sent reports on her.

Made another good walnut loaf, this time with half plain flour and half spelt. I also made the very excellent quiche (I normally dislike quiche) with parmesan in the pastry and made with blue cheese and cream. The fried topping of walnuts fried in butter with a couple of cloves of garlic chopped small and a handful of chopped parsley, also fried, is what seems to make it so delicious. Pity I don't have some tasters!

The lavender plants arrived yesterday. Three looked a bit black but I planted them nonetheless. We shall see if they grow. Some clothes arrived from Land's End, but no yoghourt maker yet.

I went to the SE1 lunch club and met Plum and Juliet and someone else (I am not good with names) and we had a very pleasant lunch at the Royal Oak. This is fairly close to the office and would be a good option when Romy and I fancy a change since the food is pretty good.

Today I plan to collect my sofa cushions from the dry cleaners and take a dress to be shortened. Otherwise I can be quite lazy, though if I had the energy I would be going through the flat turning out rubbish, cleaning frantically, etc. This will probably never happen.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Blah blah blah

Wednesday, and Bear has DVD'd my telly shame to send to relatives worldwide, the little swine. Absolutely vile weather, but it has perked up a bit today.

Some Easy-Yo Greek yoghourt mixes arrived yesterday, but no sign of the yoghourt maker and other bits I have ordered. No sign of the lavender plants either.

My neighbour has agreed to feed Malvolio in the morning while I am away, and Julian will do the evenings. At least this arrangement covers June. For the other three or four weeks I shall have to find someone to go with them under Romy's supervision. I really need someone nice and easygoing who gets on with older people, who is fit enough to push the odd wheelchair occasionally and is without home ties. I rang a so-called 'care' agency today to discuss our requirements and they did not return the call so we may have to advertise unless Romy has any brighter ideas.

Made a vast minestrone, which would have been fine had not the outside cabbage leaves, though thinly sliced, been as tough as hell. May be forced to fish them out if I can be bothered. Otherwise it was very nice. And will be, for some time. May have to freeze a bit of it. I must buy some plastic freezer containers.

The pearl repair people rang today and are going to sort the necklaces out and file the earrings. Apparently the workshop had been too busy before. They will ring back when they are done.

Monday, 2 June 2008

No Pearls and Telly Bollocks

Spoke to Nibby recently. She uses pine nuts and also macadamia nuts, in breadmaking. She says the macadamia nuts go soft when being cooked and slice OK. She wants me to email the recipe for the walnut bread.

Had a very annoying trip to Gray's where they said they had restrung my pearls. However after spending a vast amount of money on a taxi, when I got there the knots were so small that the pearls were still too short so I will have to have another four pearls put on each necklace. They had also forgotten to file the chain edges off the mabe pearl earrings so I had to come back empty-handed.

Julian did not like my fellow contestants on House Guest, apart from Stephen who was nice to me about my house and cooking. Julian was also taken in by the bit where they showed Lesley T sitting about alone for ages while Romy and I chatted. This was of course fabricated to make the programme more 'interesting' rather like the publicity about a guest having to 'share a bed with Fetish the cat'. All bollocks of course. People felt I should have given Lesley B a much lower mark for not getting up in the morning and leaving all her mess from the night before. Some blogs have commented on the fact that Stephen did not use his own flat, and paid Daisy as a chef. Also that Karen's daughter was also a chef. This week has started in an interesting way with some Swansea people, giving very low marks for the overnight stay.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Again, On the Plus Side

When I made some more bread, I had run out of wholemeal flour and had only plain white, so I made it with this, then included half a cup of porridge oats and two handfuls of walnut pieces. This turned out very well indeed, and was a wholemeal kind of colour, due to the presence of the walnut pieces, and is absolutely delicious with either sweet or savoury toppings. My potage Crecy was also very good with it.

I also purchased some Ojon hair stuff which includes a body cream from QVC, and all this turns out to be excellent.

I also heard about a place on the river called the Anchor which apparently does an excellent Sunday lunch, which I have been seeking around here for some time. Must locate the place.

I am feeding my neighbour's cat while he is away. She is such a cute cat: black with white paws, tummy and parts of face - and she is tiny. She has a special diet to which I stir in a couple of dessertspoons of water as she doesn't seem to drink much otherwise. She is called Mavis and was quite ill recently, but is now pretty cheerful and eating like a horse, thank goodness.

Looming Depression

I was feeling extremely depressed last night so I rang Dorothy, who is trying to escape work problems for the weekend, after rows and problems. After googling a few methods of suicide, the favourite of which is apparently to take a drug overdose of easily available drugs washed down with alcohol, and not finding this very exciting, I decided to look on the positive side - which seemed to mainly consist of the Friday lunch club, which would give me something to look forward to, and to meet some new people.

I knew I was becoming a bit 'down' when I started rapidly making purchases from the shopping channel: some strange hollow glass bulbs with tubes, which you fill with water and upend into flower containers so that you can water gradually from the roots. I ordered two lots of four, so I now have lots of glass bulbs bubbling away as the water pours into the earth, a bit pointless with the rain, but may be handy during a dry summer. I also purchased a few lavender plants which have not yet arrived, and an Easy Yo yoghourt maker, plus some extra sachets of the powder which apparently does not contain the emulsifiers in shop bought yoghourt and tastes very good. Given that you can use the stuff for making dressings, putting in potatoes, etc etc, these may be fun to try.

I am also toying with the idea of growing vegetables. I would start with tomatoes but with my recent allergic experience might try some herbs and maybe some potatoes instead.