Tuesday, 30 December 2008

New Year's Eve

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

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

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

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

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

Pimp Hat

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

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

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

Monday, 29 December 2008


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

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

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

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

Winterval Monday

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Saturday and Sunday

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

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

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

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

Friday, 26 December 2008

Boxing Day

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

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

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

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

Christmas Day

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Christmas Eve

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

The Day Before Christmas Eve

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

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

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

Monday, 22 December 2008

Another Breakfast and Shopping Trip

Malvolio on the mat.

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

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

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

Sunday, 21 December 2008

More Tarzan


Christmas Windowsill

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

Christmas Mantelpiece

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

Still Shopping (But Silver Still Tarnished)

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

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

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

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Christmas Tree

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

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

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Ladies Lunch

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Blast From the Past

Spot the Spanish cat.

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

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

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

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

More wedding pics

Wedding pics

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


A cheeky little grey velvet pillbox with pink floral trim.

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

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

Monday, 15 December 2008

Shoes and Shopping Again

Here are some dancing shoes I found on Ebay.

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

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

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

Jerry Sadowitz Gig

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

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

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Horrid Hat and Magpie Painting

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

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

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Daft Hats and Sensible Slippers

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

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

Morning After the Night Before

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

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

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

Friday, 12 December 2008

Dressy Frocks, Catfood and Cake

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Cold Spell

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

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

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

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Nightmare At Buxted Station

Well, I have survived.

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

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

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

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Birthday, Christmas Break and Bras

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

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

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