Sunday, 31 May 2009

Big Art , Soup and The Bells

Watched Big Art, which showed public involvement in the artworks in various towns. Amazing monumental sculpture by Jaume Plensa on top of a slag heap in a former mining town. Really wonderful, apparently slagged off by Janet Street-Porter, but what does she know?

Made a soup from the remains of a roast chicken, lemon, potato and cauli with cheese sauce. Very pleasant but there's so much I will have to freeze it.

They are whingeing about the bells of St George the Martyr in the SE1 forum. Apparently they have been ringing loudly for two hours at a time at frequent intervals. Something to do with Whitsun. I used to lie in bed early in the morning when I was in Barcelona, hearing various bells around the town strike the hour. I remember thinking how this had gone on for hundreds of years, and felt some connection with the past, as well as knowing the right time. I don't remember them ringing for hours. I lived near Sagrada Familia, and on various festivals, particular songs were played on the bells. People seem unused to church bells in England, which is a shame. Probably most of the bells in Barcelona were electronic, to be ringing at all hours anyway.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Rash Times

Good to see that Diversity won BGT.

Today the rash is more prominent - it's all over my arms and abdomen and chest. Red bumps which itch like mad. Googling, seems like an allergic rash. I did start a new bottle of Glucosamine on Friday. I have stopped this, in case it is the culprit. I doubt it, as I have been taking it for five weeks, but there may be a problem with the new batch. Either that or baked beans, which I haven't eaten for ages, but started having with breakfast. Wracking my brains to think of anything else, but apart from the strawberries, nothing comes to mind. The only other thing is Calgon, which I have been putting in the washing machine to soften clothes. Hmmmm. Read a couple of articles implying it might be the Calgon, as others have had the same problem. It may have to go.

Saturday Afternoon and Evening

Newspaper and a Bloody Mary at Lye Torng. Put the orange cake in the oven. Sunning myself for a few minutes I noticed that I was covered in a rash all over my arms. Strange. I wonder if I have become allergic to strawberries - a well-known allergen.

Had a tuna snack thing with some chopped Iceberg lettuce for lunch. I've made some onion soup with Stilton for tonight.

The orange cake has come out very well. It may not look that good, the outside is always dark, but the inside is a lovely pale orange colour, and it smells and tastes divine. I shall freeze most of it. At some stage I am thinking of making raspberries in wine jelly. The one I had in the Boot & Flogger recently was really good and looked excellent in a champagne flute. Supposed to be really easy but I can somehow make anything go wrong. We shall see.

Final of BGT tonight. Actually it has become a bit boring so I shall be glad to see the last of it.

The 'Cleaner'

This is my attempt at the 'cleaner'. I have started to use much more white to mix my colours. The paintings are still pretty crude, but I kind of like them that way.

When I was invited to meet his family, a whole host of them were gathered around the table outside in a square near a cafe. 'Welcome to my people' he said, introducing them all. Seems he had lived with about eight women and had masses of children, many of who were present. He was rather like a Spanish Godfather, obviously respected by all around.

Friday, 29 May 2009

BGT Last Semifinal

I really am pathetic, watching BGT. The best acts were on the first night. The worst acts are on tonight. I enjoyed the Dream Bears who were very funny, particularly the 'wardrobe problem' Simon pointed out after the end. Then a singing child, Holly, was overtaken by nerves trying to sing 'Edelweiss' and broke down twice,eventually abandoning the performance. Simon promised to find time to let her perform again later. Oh dear, someone is playing an illuminated guitar, with a not brilliant voice. He looks like a bank clerk. He was followed by a very good break dancing boy called Aidan Davis. Then a Welsh guy with an extraordinary falsetto voice singing 'Barcelona'. I can't imagine who will get through - for me the best was probably the break dancing boy, Aidan. I am sure the Bears will not get through, but they were probably the next best.

Paul Potts, the first ever winner, came back to sing before the results.

Great. Aidan, the break dancer is the first finalist. The second is the blubbing child, Holly. Predictable really, but not sure how Holly will hold out tomorrow night. I may even watch it.

Bread and Cakes

Well, the cake is fab. Almost impossible to get out of the tin, should have lined with baking parchment or used a loose bottomed tin. Sliced it in the tin, and after the first crumbly disaster slice, used a cake slicer to carefully remove the rest, and froze it. The bread looks absolutely terrific. Oranges boiled so will do orange and almond cake tomorrow for freezing.

Early evening

Just put the oranges on to boil. Then made a flourless choc cake - google it on recipe 4956. It comes out a bit like a brick, but is soft inside. And very chocolaty. So far I have sliced it in the tin and left it to cool further. It is rather delicious. I have put the bread in. This time I have made it with white flour, a few walnuts, milk with lemon juice, baking powder, salt, a lump of butter and a handful of porridge oats. We shall see. I shall report back if either/both of these are OK. I shall now watch Come Dine.


Lovely sunny day. Took my dresses in for alteration. Ocado shopping arrived with a free Times - glad they are keeping that up. Had the statutory green chicken curry at Lye Torng after an excellent Bloody Mary.

I need to make some more bread today. I am keeping up the protein breakfast with scrambled egg and a couple of streaky rashers fried until hard, then put between some kitchen roll before breaking up and sprinkling over the egg, and the compulsory baked beans. Also the Look What We Found people have an offer of sausage and bacon breakfasts by post with a 25% discount. I quite like their stuff, very suitable for singles who don't really like cooking, so I may get a few of these.

I shall also have to do some orange boiling today. I have decided to make some more orange cake to slice and freeze, since Julian ate the last of the lemon ones. The house will smell gorgeous with the boiling oranges. I may even keep the liquid and put it in a squirty bottle as an air freshener - thrifty or what!

I am attempting another painting - this time of a rather sinister guy in Spain known as a 'cleaner'. Apparently you give him a call if you have just murdered someone and are in a bit of a panic about it, and he comes and sorts things out, so to speak. Needless to say he is retained by a firm of lawyers, which could be handy.

Thursday, 28 May 2009


Dorothy and Julian off to Spain for a long weekend to go to a music festival today.

Bought some more glucosamine since this seems to be a success.

I must take four dresses to the sempstress at the shopping centre. They are far too long. One has a rather difficult frilly bit which may need extra work, and one has a lining so no doubt will be more expensive to do. Groceries from Ocado arriving in the morning so I will set off when I have received those.

There was an interesting programme on TV last night, describing 10 ways to lose weight. The presenter was shown to have hidden fat around his organs on investigation, though he didn't look overweight. There were some of the usual ideas such as using smaller plates, an interesting one about eating soup rather than solids, and this stays in the stomach for longer, stopping hunger. There was a good discovery that eating more low fat dairy makes one burn more fat for some reason, and one I alread knew, that eating protein fills you up for longer. There was an interesting fact about exercise, that although you don't burn too many calories initially for exercise, the effect carries on after you finish and when you are asleep for I think about 12 hours. They counted calories consumed, and an actress who thought she ate 1500 calories actually ate more than 3000 per day. Also Amy Lame was encouraged to just keep active in the house, by walking about while on the phone, rather than sitting down etc, saving trips to the gym. Oh, and eating a good breakfast with protein, though they used baked beans to add protein, added to a piece of toast covered in scrambled eggs with mushrooms, staved off hunger for hours longer than anything else. All this was backed up by experiments to demonstrate the validity of the methods. Quite interesting that they gave a cinema audience either large or small tubs of popcorn. Everyone ate everything in the both tubs, showing people tend to eat whatever they are given. Hmmm....... food for thought.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Sale of Headless Asparagus

At East Street Market last Sunday I saw something odd - they were selling bunches of asparagus with the tips missing! I wonder if these had been purchased for special recipes by a restaurant and the rest was being sold to flavour soups etc. Reminded me of the serving of mushroom stalks to other ranks in Army canteens while the caps went to the officer's dining rooms. Strange.

Reader's Digest - Must Buy!

Blast from the past - just received one of those big yellow envelopes with lots of 'urgent - time sensitive' and other stickers all over from the Reader's Digest, urging me to subscribed and win a quarter of a million, plus a car, a TV etc. etc. Before throwing it away I did the fatal thing and read the letter. I have to say it's cheap: £14.99 for a year's subscription, apparently 64% off. Which will win? My love for a bargain and absolutely anything to read, or the shame of anyone seeing a Reader's Digest in my flat, confirming my utterly lowbrow status? Love for a bargain, definitely! I shall stick the application slips in the 'yes' envelope and send them off.

When I went to a convent for a few years as a small child I became addicted to Reader's Digest. All the nuns read it avidly. I was always 'increasing my word power' and reading short, sensational articles. Absolutely perfect loo stuff (for reading, I mean). Absolutely can't wait for the first little retro copy to drop through my letterbox. Even if I don't win the money, car, TV etc.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

May Ball

Nightmare. Arrived at the venue - no caterers. Punters started arriving, then the theatre troupe. Just as the performance was about to begin the caterers arrived, and laid up the tables just in time. Of course, because we had used them before, I rather foolishly trusted them to turn up, and when they didn't, Romy had to go to directory enquiries to get their number. Remind me to be better organised next time. A good turnout and everyone seemed to enjoy the day. We had two short raffles, and people loved the prizes. Two new singers: a local girl Rebecca (above), a soul singer with a lovely voice, and Fletcher, up from Eastbourne, a consummate professional who went down very well with the ladies. And one of the gents, it has to be said. Great fun was had by all, and sighs of relief from us at the end.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Bank Holiday Monday

Had a coffee at Elephant this morning. Came back to meet Madeleine and we went off for dim sum at Dragon Castle. She had had a bad morning with family business, so it was good to relax for a while. We came back and she had a look at my studio and we went into the garden but it was too hot to stay there.

Julian rang. They are going to Spain on Thursday for a few days, back on Monday. I do hope they enjoy themselves as they are always so busy and need a break.

Gave up on the doll painting - I think it was rather uninspiring and works better as a snap. What interested me about it was that it seemed to me like a real doll that a child would play with rather than the dolls bought to sit on a shelf.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Yet Another Oldie Portrait

This was done from a snap of my stepfather taken years ago. He would turn in his grave, as it looks nothing like him. He does look quite chirpy, though.

Sunday Outing

For the first time for months, forced myself to go to East Street market. Had a wander around M & S but it's a very small one with nothing interesting. Managed to find a couple of cheap tops then staggered into the most vile pub to sit down and have a diet coke. Only £1. As I sat and drank a man kept going to a counter near me and producing items in plastic bags which he was selling to various punters. Then a sad looking young woman came and asked me if I wanted some M & S ham, which I declined. The place appeared to be a bit of a thieve's kitchen. I left and fetched up in a place called the 'Beaten Path' which was rather cleaner. I had a perfectly edible if not very upmarket roast chicken lunch, with Aunt Bessie's roast potatoes, a yorkshire pudding, some mash, too much gravy, and on another plate, carrots, cabbage and cauliflower. Masses to eat and very good value for £6.99. It is boiling hot today so it was a relief to get out of the sun for a bit.

Friday, 22 May 2009


Listening to an interesting interview with the Times music critic about Benjamin Britten and Aldeburgh, descriptions of the countryside and sea reminded me of a holiday in my childhood spent there. Not that I have any high cultural memories: my main recollections were burning the ironing board by leaving the travel iron switched on, and my mother and I having fits of giggles in a changing room. I was trying on bathing suits, and we found a perfectly awful one with a kind of skirt which looked very funny indeed. The sight of this set us off until we were both in helpless hysterics, much to the bewilderment of the poor shop owner. Aldeburgh was very small and villagey, with a local baker. We used to collect freshly made rolls every day for breakfast with coffee. The house was by the seafront, so the sea views were splendid. The ironing board incident probably prevented us from being invited back there.

Fab and Easy Choc Pudding

4oz SR flour,1 tablespoon melted butter, 4fl oz milk, few drops vanilla essence,2 heaped dessertspoons cocoa. Mix up and put milk in. Heat oven to 190c, grease 2pt casserole with butter. Add more milk if it seems too stiff, then put mixture in dish. Meanwhile mix 1 heaped tablespoon cocoa with 4oz brown or white sugar and 6oz boiling water. Stir well and pour over mixture, put in oven 50 mins. Should serve 4-6.

Eat with cream or ice cream. These unlikely ingredients make one of those choc puds with thick liquid choc sauce underneath. Weird but delicious - came from Lucy O'Brien in the Times Secret Recipes. It really works. Not very PC.

I shall be doing an onion and cheese pie and shall publish if it works.

Thor's Day

More shopping. We may have overdone it a bit, so Romy suggested three small raffles between performers, which is a good idea as some people have to leave early.

My Dead Sea Magik shampoo bottle reads: 'we blend mud, salt and mineral extracts from the depths of the Dead Sea to deeply hydrate, and soothe your body and mind. Enjoy'.
It could well be that my mind needs hydrating. I am just hoping the shampoo does not seep through into my brain.

Just seen some children reciting 'I must go down to the sea again' on telly. Took me right back to my youth. This was a well known poem to recite, along with 'Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness', 'Macavity the mystery cat' 'Cargoes', etc. I seem to remember trying to learn 'The Ryme of the Ancient Mariner' with a certain lack of success. It was rather long.

Having to recite poems in front of the class, and at assembly, occasionally in front of the whole school, did train children not only to learn, but also to perform. No bad thing.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Shop, shop, shop

My right foot is horribly swollen still. I am raising it when at home which I hope may eventually help, also toying with the idea of increasing my diuretic dose for a while to see if it works. Will think about it.

We bought some raffle prizes today, and had lunch near Fenchurch Street at Loch Fyne. Quite a pleasant fish pie which was rather good. The staff were rather over-attentive an keen to remove plates before we had finished. Tried to shop in House of Fraser. I haven't walked so far for ages, despite it being downhill, and when we arrived the music was deafening. Romy grabbed a couple of things and we legged it into a cab for a rapid escape. We may or may not make more purchases tomorrow. We shall see. We may try and get a bottle or two and maybe some biscuits or chocs.

A few summer T shirts from lands End arrived today with some useful canvas pumps, which will be better when the foot swelling has subsided a bit. Also some navy cargo pants, which will be a good addition to the now dwindling wardrobe.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Swollen Foot and Ankle

After lunch yesterday I went to my GP but couldn't see anyone until Friday. So I decided to go to Minor Injuries at Guy's. My pulses in the leg are apparently fine, and there are no totally obvious signs of DVT but they could not exclude it. Because they only deal with minor injuries they could not investigate it further and suggested I went back to the GP. They suggested that possibly all the swelling from the knee had not quite disappeared and the residual liquid had descended to the ankle, so that was what might be causing the swelling in the ankle and foot on one side. Slightly reassured, I will just hope it eventually goes away. However, since they were keen for me to visit the GP to exclude a DVT I find it a bit worrying that hospitals do not follow through these things from their own clinics. When I worked in a hospital and had a few leg pains, the consultant sent me straight to the emergency department and they urgently did tests then and there.

Things definitely aren't what they used to be.


from a photograph. Just can't get skin right.


This is the sister of the boy. A bit mucky, but hey, I started again! She looks rather doll-like.

Oldie Vitamin D

Was reading a health article about a study in China I think. Anyway it was a large study of old people and apparently they tend not to get enough vitamin D. Apparently can help avoid heart conditions, diabetes and I think Alzheimer's (can't remember!). Nibby tells me that they have discovered in Australia that everyone is so paranoid about skin cancer that they put a huge amount of sunblock on and don't get the vitamin D from the sun.

Anyway, apart from making a bit of an effort to get some sun, I have decided to go for the oily fish. Being a cheapskate, I decided that sardines on toast are the thing. As well as fresh salmon and all kinds of other fish. Waitrose now do these two kinds of sardine in olive oil, one with chilis and one with lemon, both delicious. Hyacinthe Parmentier also do some with herbes de Provence and extra virgin oliver oil at a rather higher price (but more in the tin).

I like them mashed up and put on toast, then grilled for a bit. Alternately, the old fashioned French 'hors d'oeuvres variees' which consists of a couple of drained sardines straight out of the tin, a halved hard boiled egg and a finely sliced tomato, with a couple of lettuce leaves, drizzed with olive oil, seasoned with salt and sprinkled with parsley. A 'different' summer starter.

No, I am not being paid by Waitrose (more's the pity).

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Quiet Day

This is my latest effort from a photograph - a boy in a sailor suit who did not want to be photographed.

Had a word with Nibby who is not looking forward to being deserted by her daughter and family. She is beginning to establish herself as an artist and should stay there, especially as she loves it so much. She was telling me that she is starting to grow some weird thing called finger limes I think. They grow things which look like citrus fingers, but inside look like caviar with lots of little round seeds which you can put into dishes and which release bursts of lime flavour when eaten. Reminds me of something I had in Szechuan food not long ago which Dorothy said was Szechuan peppercorns. So I am rather confused.

Bought a few cheapish canvases. Lunch at Lye Torng. It was sunny but very windy outside. I think my right foot is rather larger than the left so may force myself to go to Guy's tomorrow. I suppose it could be a DVT but I am rather worried it might be the start of lymphoedema. I do hope not, as I really don't fancy that one little bit. Not that I am keen on a DVT either.

Started painting again. Still crap, but I sense a marginal improvement. We shall see.

There are still huge piles of clothes to sort out before I can start on the kitchen cupboards.

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Early Sunday Morning

Oh dear, spent all last evening watching Eurovision. Country after country desperately leaping about without restraint, vying for the dubious honour of winning. Ridiculously expensive and flashy sets in the main. Lots of slapperish looking girls and boys looking like rent boys.

The most scary bit was during the voting when they let huge rectangular containers down from the ceiling, which turned out to be mini swimming pools full of water and a couple of swimmers, and tilted from side to side, forcing the swimmers from one end to the other. I was terrified that something would break, bringing the lot down on the audience, but fortunately this didn't happen.

We came fifth, no doubt largely due to Andrew Lloyd Webber's presence at the piano like a genial gnome. Our singer was okay, but the dress looked a bit cheap. Norway was a fairly predictable winner and Iceland was good, so deserved wins there. At least we didn't come last again.Fortunately, it is all a rather hazy memory this morning.

Malvolio like a purring, circling shark this morning, waiting to be fed, having nudged me awake rather early. At least he waited until after 6am.


Still recovering. Making bread today. Treated myself to a little ice cream with PX poured over. Nectar. Malvolio has improved. He is being quite sociable today and had a taste of ice cream, which he enjoyed.

Washed some towels in Calgon which had no effect. Maybe you have to do it a few times for it to work. Purchased a few T shirts and some cargo pants from Land's End. Just found the chocs from St. Floran which I meant to give to Julian and Dorothy, so hope they come around soon when my brain is in gear. I will fill a few more bags with rubbish this weekend and gradually move them out.

I really want to do some painting but have been rather discouraged by recent efforts. Still it has to be done some time.

Friday, 15 May 2009

More and More Stuff

Working Wednesday with evening meeting - didn't arrive home until 11.30 which is a bit of a record. Have been exhausted ever since. Went in on Thursday and left a bit early. Trouble is, I was totally knackered on Thursday evening and again this morning when James arrived to do his stuff.

He bore away two huge bags of old clothes before starting on the garden, making great progress with the pond area. Meanwhile I emptied the hoover. I had found a note from the cleaner saying she did not know how to empty it. Since she has been cleaning for over a year, I realised that it might be a little overful, as proved to be the case. I wish she had mentioned it earlier.

Anyway after the dusty opening in the garden, I carried on bagging up clothes and ended up with three more bags from the garden and four more bags from the house. James disposed of these for me. The place is beginning to improve a little. Then the meter reader man arrived and I discovered all the things I had thrust into the hall cupboard and had to remove these for the meter to be read. I am now exhausted again and fell asleep for an hour or two this afternoon.

I do hope poor old Romy is feeling better. She certainly has overdone things in the last week or two.

I shall carry on clearing things out. I cannot believe that the place is still crammed with unwanted glasses, mugs, picnic cutlery and plates, still more clothes and masses of rubbish in cupboards

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Mad Old Bat and Knee Injury Revelations

Uneventful day at the orifice. Don't know if I mentioned that someone leaving is taking us to the Reform Club for a farewell lunch. Not sure if we denizens of Elephant & Castle are normally frequenters of such a grand place, but looking forward to it - just a couple of days after our next dinner party at which I shall be supplying the main course wine. This could be tricky as the food is Chinese. Shall investigate Chinese wines.

Poor Romy has been struck down by a mystery virus. I hope she will be sensible and stay at home for the rest of the week.

Arrived home to find evidence of my continued decline in the form of several parcels purchased in moments of insanity, to wit: a pink and red spotted towel, a chartreuse and white spotted towel, a fuchsia plain small towel, a fifties bright green tablecloth, a backscratcher (really useful) and a pair of matching cushion covers in country rose and green patchwork print fabric. Fortunately all this stuff is small and folds up, apart from the backscratcher which has been tried and enjoyed by me and Malvolio.

Am still travelling by taxi. Tonight's driver was a young man who had football injuries and had had three knee ops. He seemed to understand the exact pain I had been having and thought I had a torn ligament. He also agreed that the glucosamide would be very effective and also knew players who used the knee straps with magnets which worked, so altogether a useful trip!

Monday, 11 May 2009

Large Woman Small Life

Had my hair cut and recoloured today. Picked up a bottle of El Barquero PX from John Lewis on the way home.

Malvolio is still in my bad books. I hope he does not attempt any further vandalism tonight. I refuse to put everything away because I have an ASBO cat.

Work again tomorrow. Am trying to impress on Dorian how important it is for him to attend the meeting on Wednesday night in the absence of our treasurer. It will be deeply embarrassing if we don't have a quorum since we have a speaker coming.

I need to have another sort through my clothes. After that I must go through the stuff in the kitchen, then another look through the studio. Then the garden will need some attention. I must get rid of some books, too.

Charles (double exposure)

This is a bit sketchy to say the least. I somehow just cannot persist!

Sunday, 10 May 2009

The Evil Malvolio Strikes Again

I cannot believe it - just a day or two after breaking my favourite lamp, which I have been able to mend so far - Malvolio knocked my glass of water over to try and force me up early. The glass was one of my new green glasses from the lemonade set. Fortunately being tough pressed glass it didn't break, but was very full of water which went all over the place. He is becoming a monster. I fed him half an hour late, at 6.30 and will feed him at 6.30 tonight, hoping to avoid further breakages.

Light at End of Black Bag Tunnel

It's wonderful: Bear arrived, and after a quick coffee set to in my flat. I am now minus a huge cat poo station with roof, a huge TV cluttering up my bedroom and about sixteen really heavy full black bags of old rubbish which he has borne away. I won't say the flat looks empty - there is still masses more to do but I have employed the services of James on Friday who will do another couple of hours for me, either getting rid of more bags or doing a little gardening, possibly both.

Hairdressers for me tomorrow as my hair is far too long, and the colour is dismal. Meanwhile I shall continue decluttering and filling more black bags. It is becoming a lifestyle, though not one of choice.

Had a good chicken green curry in Lye Torng, a pudding of a Kipling French Fancy kindly donated by Ray, with another box full to try experimentally freezing, since they are £1 for a box of six now in Iceland! Good article re MP corruption etc. in the Observer by Andrew Rawnsley. I met him years ago when he became medical journalist of the year I think investigating filth in NHS hospitals. At least I think that is what he was doing. Either that or he wanted medical information for a soap he was involved in writing. Anyway I met him at my office at the CHC and thought he was a nice chappie.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Unexpected Visitors

Julian and Dorothy for a brief visit - I admired huge diamond stud earrings, received my coral ring back from Julian resized so I can now wear it. My visitors sampled some shop bought choc cakes, some very good bought but home-made tasting peanut biscuits and the lemon cake I made earlier with a cup of Lapsang. Looking at the very smart Richter book in bed last night but couldn't read it because the print was too small and the light too dim. Will study in detail later. High and low culture: Dorothy gives me a Gerhard Richter book, I give Dorothy a 'Story of Anvil' book. Hmmmm...

Seems they had a free massage in Selfridges on one of those portable massage seats with backs that you can just put on an ordinary chair. They were very impressed by the relaxation and immediately purchased one online for half the price. Sounds good to me.

Pootering About

I dozed off for a bit, then got up and purchased some more paint. Also some Bonduelle tinned petits pois - so much better than the Waitrose ones. Bumped into my friend Beverley and told her that Nick No Nose had resurfaced. She was pleased to hear he had settled down and sounded happy.

My nephew Bear is turning up early tomorrow morning to pick up some of my rubbish bags and get rid of them, which is excellent news as I will have space to start creating some more. A lovely email from Nibby confirming our sisterly feelings towards each other. Emotion was always rather a taboo subject in our family - to be approached with caution - if at all.

Watching Gok Wan i am inclined to take the capsule wardrobe approach, but shan't be able to resist a few extra bits. Am half-way there already with quite a lot of navy and white pieces. A few bits of red and stripes and I'll have a summer wardrobe.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Evil Malvolio Strikes Again

Had a chat with Madeleine last night. She is slowly recovering from her 'flu (not swine 'flu apparently), and going to the countryside today. Watched TV until late last night.

It must be getting light earlier - Malvolio woke me at about 5am by knocking one of a pair of lamps to the floor and breaking it. They were my favourite lamps, white, quite old and Chinese with piercings in them and shaped like a jar. Several bits broke and I am not sure whether it can be mended, so he is not popular today. It took me ages to find suitable shades for them. Anyway, I refused to feed him so early, so he tortured me for another hour or so until I fed him.

Looking at some of the towels I am about to discard from the airing cupboard, some have become hard and crispy. Hard water it seems. On Googling this, the answer appears to be Calgon tablets. Some people do a last rinse with vinegar in the water, but Calgon seems to be the overall winner, so may try these. When I lived in Barcelona I always used fabric conditioner, which is apparently a bad thing. I think the water was softer there in any case. A lot of people swear by dryers, but don't have one of those. Must get a washer drier when I replace the washing machine.

I may go back to bed with a mug of Paladin chocolate and catch up on sleep after my rude awakening.

Impending Riot of Clashing Colour Chez Moi

Had a bloody Mary and prawn Penang curry at Lye Torng. Very good. Dozed in front of TV for a while before again facing the contents of the airing cupboard. Filled a few more black bags. Seems Dorothy has purchased a book for me on Gerhard Richter - must go and see that exhibition.

I shall get rid of my white towels, or most of them. The ones I bought from Gudrun Sjoden are so perfect and look excellent in the bathroom. I used to rather scorn coloured towels but am now coming round to them. May purchase a couple more. I seem to be entering a colourful phase again, what with all the green and blue glass, coloured tablecloths and bedding etc. I do hope I won't go back to chintz china again - I could not resist keeping a few unmatching old chintz side plates which are rather pretty.
Must buy some more paint tomorrow in between bagging up most of my stuff. The flat will be full pretty soon. There's still no room in the airing cupboard, strangely.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Chaos Creation Leading to Eventual Order?

Malvolio on his new granny blanket. The floor is covered with the contents of the linen cupboard. It all looks rather a lot because of my inability to fold sheets, which all just get stuffed in crumpled up after washing. I shall put the two duvets now cluttering my room in the top of the cupboard at the back ready for winter. Did not realise I had so many tablecloths. Dorothy and Julian may take one of the better duvet sets. Spoken to Bear, who will come over do some waste disposal in a week or two. It is a mammoth task, judging by what I have done so far. I have six black bags full of clothes downstairs and I am only half way through the wardrobe. I really am a baglady. Talking of which, I must downsize my collection of bags.

Thursday Evening

Collected my mobile from the office and set off for the theatre. Crowds of well-dressed punters had turned up for Carousel.

I have to say I had a problem staying awake during the first half, despite very good sets and effects. The accents weren't very good and as often happens, one could not hear what people were saying. As I have always avoided musicals in the past, I had no idea of the story. I managed to get the gist of it however, and the second half was much better, good singing and dancing etc.

The SE1 forum dinner party has taken rather a strange turn: huge problems arranging a date in May and it has been put forward until the middle of June, just a couple of weeks before I am due to host. In addition the host wants to invite two extra guests. These are people who want to join in but had been told they could not until a new rota was formed. I had no objection to this as a one-off and the host wanted to do it, but it could prove difficult for guests who are providing the food and now having to cater for eight rather than six. I am not sure what has happened. It may be that my fellow guests have not agreed to the inclusion of two extra people, since the host has posted to the forum asking when there is going to be another meeting to discuss the concept and how it is working. I suppose all will be revealed eventually.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Failed Diet and Mobile Phone Left at Office

The proposed new diet was rather forgotten today: I bought some Blue Ribands and some tea cakes 'for the office' and put them in a tin, not forgetting to grab a tea cake. This greed was compounded later when Romy discovered them and brought me another teacake and Blue Riband. I am such a failure.

Oh dear, it's Friday and I am supposed to be taking the punters to Carousel at the Savoy. Can't find my mobile so will have to go into the office first.

I shall whinge about my age and failing body and mind increasingly, as many oldies do. The emu oil ordered on Ebay arrived last night so plastered it all over my scalp and wore a shower cap overnight. Also applied some on the rest of my psoriasis on my fingernails and elbows. It does seem to help a bit. We shall see.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Vanilla Pods, Twitter, Shoes, Loofahs and Sponges

Blimey - reading Twitter someone was offering vanilla pods obtained from his hols in some tropical paradise. Replied to say yes please and had a pm offering tea at the Elephant or a through the letterbox delivery . Explained my advanced age and knee injury and suggested the letterbox option. We shall see - but it does seem that Twitter lives! Someone said that people post to Twitter to confirm their identity - maybe they read my post which said 'I Tweet therefore I am'. Well if it's good enough for Stephen Fry...

Gave away 9 pairs of shoes yesterday. Must keep it up this weekend and get someone around to help me declutter a bit. I am putting obstacles in my way by purchasing more stuff. Decided my back brush and scrubber looked a bit old and stained, so purchased a new loofah and sponge from Ebay so will throw the old ones away. Not a difficult decision.

Dreamed about trying on clothes last night. I kept putting dresses on and they were so tight I could not get them off. Decided I had too many too small clothes in my dream so reality impinges a bit.

Geriatric Ponderings

Miscellaneous mind wanderings: I blame my GP for taking me off HRT. Since that time my muscles have become progressively more weak. Discussed this with several other oldies who have experienced the same thing. I expect our bone density is crap.

Buying glass ice cream and pudding bowls from the sixties on Ebay - quite obviously food helpings were then much smaller.

After I've eaten all the chocs, pate and so on I purchased in France, my new diet will be: I coffee and a plain croissant for breakfast, a sandwich and piece of fruit plus some raw vegetables for lunch, and for dinner, a pile of chopped iceberg lettuce with a small can of drained tuna and six or seven grates of parmesan, dressed with some lemon or balsamic vinegar. Followed by a large orange or banana.

We shall see.

Speaking to someone who recently visited a London teaching hospital, they told me that their friend in the geriatric ward was left lying in poo. I observed a similar event in another London teaching hospital - when the staff were approached (two were on duty) they said they could not clean up the patient because of health and safety, so we ended up doing it. Why don't they 'put us down' or clean us up? You wouldn't treat a dog like that. Normally I would be all for plenty of training for nurses. But is it the right training? They seem to have become too grand to do the basic tasks which have always fallen to nurses in the past.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Bad Painter Returns

Here's a very rough sketch I did this morning.

Bored now. May take up a fresh challenge.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Back to the Easel Maybe

I did a sketch of a few bottles and jars before I went away. I shall have a bash at a limited palette painting fairly soon just to try and get my hand in after a week's absence from the easel.

Oh dear, Dorothy sent me this link: It is quite cheering in a way as things could be worse chez moi, but I can see a definite progression here. Rather more worrying was a 'granny throw' in one of the snaps. I have recently purchased two of these. Buying glass also appears hazardous, and reluctance to part with old crap purchased in a moment of folly. I really do need help!

Helpless, Lazy and Hopeless

I must take my case downstairs. I am putting it off until my knee improves, but this is rather a slow process, not helped by injuring it again on Friday. I have picked the washing out of it and done most of this.

I now have four black bags full of rubbish in the sitting room and three in the bedroom. There is so much stuff in the cupboards, wardrobes and drawers everywhere, I would probably fill another 40 - and the flat would still feel cluttered. I really do need help, which in itself is very annoying. Which is why I am putting it off until I have filled more bags. I take a bag every time I go out, which helps a little. I am not filling them up fast enough though.

Put the dishwasher on and relaxed with Malvolio watching Film 4 on TV. Will watch quite a few 'Come Dines' before Martin Clunes doing the remote Scottish islands, which promises to be interesting.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Talk About Tired:

Woke up at 6am this morning, fed Malvolio, had breakfast, had a shower and went downstairs to get dressed at around 9am. Fell asleep and have just woken up. It is nearly 2pm! Must have been a bit tired.

Looks Like a Church

- but someone said it was the Arras Town Hall.

Decisions, decisions....

'She thinks it's that way out - I reckon it's straight ahead'

How to Get a Big Coach Out of the Square?

Our coachie is planning the coach exit - most of the streets are No Entry.

Relaxing After Lunch at Arras

Friday, 1 May 2009

Home Again Thank Goodness

En panne.
Things started badly: the chairman arrived so late we nearly left him behind, someone forgot her passport and someone else forgot her insulin. After resolving all this we set off. All was well and we arrived in France and had a most enjoyable lunch, when our driver discovered a puncture, fortunately while we were still at Le Thome de Gamond. This took a couple of hours to sort out, during which time we bought extra drinks and at least the weather was lovely and the staff very helpful, considering they do not open in the evening and normally go home straight after lunch. Then the hotel proved very difficult to find. We arrived eventually, but dinner was not good because they seemed to have kept it hot for hours.

The next day we set off to have lunch in Arras. This town is full of narrow streets and we could not find the restaurant. Fortunately a local woman took pity on us and getting into her car with her children, drove ahead and guided us to the main square where the restaurant was. Of course the whole square and road was covered with cobbles. I nearly toppled over twice because of my bad knee. We had someone in a wheelchair and it was very difficult to make it to the restaurant. Afterwards, poor Romy had to wheel three people over the cobbles back to the coach, two of them rather heavy.

Arriving back at the hotel people went to their rooms to rest and get ready for dinner. We had intended to shop the next day on the way back home but discovered that everything would be shut for May day. Romy attempted to retrieve the shopping situation by taking the coach to a supermarket near the hotel. Our driver fetched the coach and everyone was contacted to do some shopping and delay dinner for the second night. We half filled the coach with shopping enthusiasts, got to the supermarket and it was bedlam - cars everywhere and barriers stopping the coach from getting in. Eventually the coach managed to park fairly nearby. Some intrepid shoppers braved the heavy traffic and managed to join the huge queues inside. It was a walk too far for me so I stayed in the coach - I could not bear to look out - it was like an obstacle course of speeding cars, narrow passages, and Romy trying to guide punters through to the supermarket without any fatalities.

Dinner had been delayed once more. As we had encountered so many problems on the trip I decided we were doomed, and suggested ringing the restaurant we had booked for the next day's lunch to make sure all was well there. Somehow I was not entirely surprised to hear that they had not made the booking and would be closed. We then realised that France was closed on May 1st and we had to organise lunch for 53 people. At this point our coach driver suggested visiting Sint Flora in Belgium if this was open, having a sandwich lunch and doing a bit of shopping there before catching the ferry. We managed to contact them, and fortunately they were going to open.

We left the hotel without further mishap, and this went well, a nice relaxing time at St Flora, lovely sunny gardens outside and a shopportunity for the deprived.

Then, we all had to get out of the coach at customs and I injured my knee even more while waiting to get back on, and was cursing the sour-faced customs officials. Unfortunately the sudden pain of this new injury lead to my inadvertent use of less than parliamentary language, and this emboldened one of the punters to see me in a different light, and thus embark on a serious of rather filthy jokes (nevertheless quite funny) as we spent hours delayed in traffic on the journey to London.

Despite all these misadventures, the food was fine, the hotel was very good and the weather was excellent. Our punters took the whole thing in good part and were very good natured about everything. Our driver, and particularly Romy, were absolutely excellent, helping everyone such a lot including the maimed and useless writer of these words. Romy must be totally exhausted, and deserves a medal for her energy and enthusiasm, despite the odds which were heavily stacked against her. With my knee, I was a total liability.

I am so happy to be home. Malvolio is being very affectionate indeed. I am rather surprised, and think he may have actually missed me, since he is not normally given to displays of affection.