Tuesday, 28 October 2008


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

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

All in all, things are rather gloomy.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Night Disturbances and Everlasting Stockpot

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Return from Abroad

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 13 October 2008

Last Minute Dash Around the House

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

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

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

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Disorganised Mentally and Financially

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

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

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

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

Friday, 10 October 2008

Financial Disasters

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

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

Panic Stations

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 6 October 2008

Dishwasher Disaster and More and More Pearls

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

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

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

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Drunk and Disorderly

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Boat Trip to Richmond and Hampton Court

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

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

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

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