Monday, 30 November 2009

Better Night - Kooky Confused

Slept at the other end of the bed and consequently slept much better last night. But Kooky was very confused: he kept jumping on and off the bed and could not decide where to sleep. Finally he settled down at the top of the bed on the other side.

Made another clove orange while watching TV last night, and the cloves are all over the floor this morning where I spilled them. What a 'sloven', as my grandmother used to say. I have four boxes full of charity shop stuff, and five black bags full of packing rubbish from my many purchases on the floor. Since people will be moving in and out over the next couple of weeks I shall stop my charity shop collecting and ring the people to take my boxes away, and meanwhile get rid of the black bags so that I can concentrate on Christmas matters for a while.

In the office today, and tomorrow Polhill Garden Centre with the punters for a Christmas lunch and a bit of shopping.

Bad Night and Good Card

Bit of a bad night tossing and turning. Slept very little. Pain is so boring. On the plus side I heard Charlie Gillett's world music on the World Service, and as a result have purchased a couple of CDs: Concha Buika's El Ultimo Trago from which they played Vamonos, and Yasmin Levy's Sentir. Lovely music. Anyway must somehow get the mattress turned which may well help, since my bed in Hayling was much better. If that fails, i shall have to purchase a new mattress light enough for me to turn over.

Received a most amusing card for my forthcoming birthday from my brother Michel. It looks like the cover of an art magazine with my photograph put in - another Moonpig special - clever boy!

Still no pudding basin because of the pouring rain. Every intention of getting one today but looked outside and it is still pouring. Kooky is very cross with me, having had to stay in for so long.

This is a painting taken from a snap of Annabel at the wedding last year.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Rainy Weather, Bananas, Ham and New Shoes

Absolutely hissing down outside. Kooky is very cross with me. He still thinks I am controlling the weather and wants to go outside. He sneezed five times a couple of days ago which worried me, but seems fine otherwise and has not sneezed since. Whatever he had I now have as I have been sneezing a bit this morning. Feels slightly like a mild cold, or the beginning of something worse.

Opened a kitchen drawer yesterday to be confronted by a large bunch of terribly overripe bananas, almost worth throwing away. However, I made a sponge mix and added about six of the mashed bananas. Put them in a loaf tin in the oven at 170, turned down to 150 and cooked for an hour or so. The resulting banana loaf was very good, so ate a couple of slices and cut up the rest for freezing. I also boiled a joint of bacon and sliced for dinner last night with broad beans and potatoes, then sliced the rest and froze for Christmas. Bought a pair of 'granny' shoes - lace-ups with little heels from a granny shoe supplier called Hotter (above). They are a great success and remind me of the shoes my great-aunt Joan wore in the forties when she worked in the city. Of course Joan was as thin as a whippet and dressed like a 'fashion plate' as they used to call it, but never mind, my feet will look good anyway!

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Deary Me!

Found these in a catalogue - seems they are now known as 'nostalgic characters'. Another thing not to purchase for Christmas.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Flood part III

Not yet purchased pudding basins. Three plumbers arrived: Dom the boss and his two henchmen. Dom issued instructions and explained he had managed to find a very solid-looking metal drain thingy. They fitted this and all should (cross fingers) be well. Just in case I made them put a biscuit tin underneath so I would hear if the water came out and rapidly put the plug back in the bath. Things airing out downstairs nicely and I shall wash all the towels.

Had a very good lamb shank Massaman at Lye Torng for lunch which forced me to lie unconscious on the sofa for an hour or two this afternoon. A quiet evening vegging out in front of the telly beckons.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Bath Saga part 2

Plumber finally appeared this evening. After a while he discovered that a kind of black thing which has a screw through and is supposed to go between the drainpipe and the hole has come apart. It is made of some kind of rubber or plastic and is supposed to stay rigid but is broken. The parts seem to be very inferior, but apparently it is some kind of standard thing no doubt designed by a plumber to go wrong and keep them employed. God knows when it will be fixed.

Julian emailed to say it was a cake they had purchased, not a pudding. They are taking me out on my birthday to Arbutus - something to look forward to. Ordered pudding ingredients from Ocado so will make puddings probably on Sunday, but must purchase a couple of pudding basins.

Dull Day

Noticed that these days, when I get a nasty shock such as water pouring through the ceiling etc., I become very breathless and feel very faint for a considerable time. Must be old age.

Had a chicken green curry at Lye Torng. The place was crowded with students and tutors from LCP. Gave Louise some liquorice fudge, a candle in a glass and a book which I thought she would like.

Julian rang yesterday to say Dorothy had some kind of 'flu. Also to say they were purchasing a Christmas pudding. Will save me making one.

Plumber may or may not turn up later. We shall see.

Three hours later. Plumber is avoiding my calls. Not optimistic. May not have a bathor shower for weeks, so avoid.

Third Bath Disaster

Took today off - trying to catch up on my leave. Disaster - had just got up the courage to have a bath a few weeks ago, put the side back on the bath, and lo! this morning heard water raining down into the studio. Again. This is the third major leak. Have tried to mop up a bit in a desultory fashion but the drip continues. I had put a plastic dish under the previous leak area and taking the side off the bath, this is completely full and dripping into an adjacently place plate as well as going through the ceiling. If only I had placed a biscuit tin there instead I would have heard the water coming through. I now wish I had never had the bathroom redone. I spend more time worrying about it than using it. Under normal circumstances I would just buy an old fashioned bath with old fashioned taps and drainage but all the piping has been redone for this modern bath with central drain which just keeps breaking. I give up. No reply from the plumber - probably gone skiing.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Tuesday At Home

Nobody could accuse me of doing too much today. Have spent a totally indolent day finishing my latest Marie Corelli novel 'The Sorrows of Satan' written very melodramatically - so Victorian, but a real page turner for an oldie like me. Done two loads of washing and tidied up a bit but masses still to do However, I have ordered most of my Christmas cards, personalised and to be sent in the next couple of days, so even earlier than usual. A couple of address changes need to be checked on, but most of this is now done, so less to worry about. I just need to carry on decluttering over the next few days.

Have been thinking about the funeral Romy attended today. Someone everybody will miss badly. A sad day.

Dorothy and Julian back from Spain and I am back to work tomorrow, but just for a day, since I am owed so much leave and need to take some of it by the end of the year. I hope the cleaner, who is due tomorrow, doesn't leave the flat in such chaos as last week, with her glasses left behind, lights left on and the internet disconnected. Fingers crossed.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Personality Test - You Should Try It!

Just done the BBC personality test thingy. Seems I am very high on openness and slightly high on neuroticism (surprise, surprise). I have medium likeability (oops) and extroversion and low conscientiousness (dead lazy). Surprised by the open bit as I am often quite suspicious about people I don't know, and some of those I do. Note: must try harder to be conscientious and likeable. Hmmm. Tall order with both.

Well, I am enjoying being dead lazy this morning, so there. However, I have done two loads of washing and made some bread.

Just reading about a famous philosopher ?Greek ?Roman, who only had two chairs in his house: 'one for me, and one for a friend, when I find one'. Might have been Socrates. Answers on a postcard or comment, please.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Mince Pies

Not keen on these either, but saw a recipe by Richard Bertinet in the Times mag today which involved making sweet shortcrust pastry cups, making a frangipane topping with 200g butter,200g caster sugar,200g ground almonds,2 eggs and 50g flour, rum or brandy. Half fill the pie bases with mincemeat and top with a teaspoon of frangipane and finally some flaked almonds and bake for 25 minutes or till golden brown. Allow to cool in the tin, then on a rack and dust with icing sugar when cold. Sounds like my kind of mince pie, i.e. not too much pastry. In fact I would put a little less mincemeat in as well.

Christmas Pudding Recipe

(just in case I can't find it again).

2 eggs
grated zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon
2 oz warmed Golden Syrup
4oz hard butter grated
4oz self raising flour
4oz demerara sugar
2oz grated carrot
4oz fresh breadcrumbs
8oz sultanas
8oz raisins
2oz peeled almonds
2oz glace cherries
half teaspoon mixed spice
half teaspoon cinnamon

mix all dry ingredients then butter then everything else, stir well put in greased pudding bowls cover well and steam for at least four and a half hours. Then another hour before serving.

I sometimes replace the raisins with more sultanas and leave the cherries and almonds whole which give the puds an attractive look when eating. The syrup can be halved and mixed with a bit of blackstrap molasses or black treacle to darken the pudding. This can be made and used immediately but equally well kept for a year or so. Oh, and the sugar can be halved and the other half replaced by Barbados sugar.

I may have put this recipe in last year. It has always proved an extremely successful Christmas pudding, and tends to appeal to people (like me) who normally can't stand Christmas pudding.

I serve it with brandy butter and cream. It is my mother's wartime recipe. She used to make a frothy warm sauce involving cream and sherry to pour over it.

Frog and Devil Bath Hats

'Nuff said.

If I plough desperately through the dozens of catalogues which fall through my door, apart from never finding a suitable present for anyone, I can only ever find about one thing, at most, in each catalogue that I would like or could use. Somehow though, there are masses of absolutely vile and useless things, unless I am just particularly picky.

Elephant Watering Can

Dear me.

Tennis Racquet Photo Frame

Another daft design.

Dorothy and What I don't Want for Christmas

Couple of texts from Dorothy - late for the plane, Easyjet vile and difficult so paid a fortune to go via Ryanair to Girona then bus to Barcelona. BA in future, says Dorothy. Then another text thanking me for my text which had urged them to try and relax for the weekend. Unfortunately Julian flew out a couple of days before. I think Dorothy needs Julian to manage to get to the airport in time. Do hope they are flying back together. Nightmare.

Above is a policeman's helmet teapot. I know no one is giving me a present, but in any event this is a definite no-no.

Friday, 20 November 2009


Dorothy was a bit crabby on the telephone and seems awfully touchy, so hopefully this will improve as they are having a weekend in Barcelona, where the weather is much better than here, apparently.

Bought some new warming pad things at Bluewater which get very hot. When they cool down you have to boil them up again in a pan of water to make the gel go totally transparent,and then you can use them again. Bought three little handwarmer sizes for a tenner on an introductory offer.

Cooked a warming lamb stew with chorizo and sweet potato. Chucked in a few sweet potatoes, onions, tomatoes, garlic, seasoning, and served it with a cauli I cooked separately.

Success at Bluewater

I was dreading this a bit. In the event we were fifteen less on the coach, which seemed to make it all more manageable, so Romy and I staggered off and it was quite enjoyable. As Romy said, the secret to not getting exhausted seems to be to take frequent rests on the way round. We had two breaks at the food bar at John Lewis - the first for seafood and wine, and the second for cheese and wine. We shared a platter which was sustaining without being excessive. Some success for both of us in Evans, we both purchased some excellent toffee vodka - this sounds vile but is actually delicious. Apparently one can pour it over ice cream or serve it with apple juice, which makes it taste like a toffee apple, which definitely appeals to me. Romy rounded the last few stragglers up and kindly made a couple of purchases for me which I had failed to achieve, for which I must repay her.

My Christmas and birthday treat this year will be to go to the Tsarina's Slippers at the ROH. I think it is really a children's show, but visually very spectacular which is what appeals to me. It was difficult to get a ticket online but finally found one for the last night. Very expensive, which is why it is my Christmas and birthday etc. so something to look forward to. The price and dearth of tickets have made me sensible and only purchase one ticket this time. The only alternative was a box - and even when feeling at my most extravagant, £500 seems rather a lot to pay for an evening's entertainment.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009


Fireworks at Hayling.

Simon is still selling stuff, but now mainly theatrical ephemera. I remember our days when I was his shopgirl at Ally Pally where we had huge fun. Simon would slope off to do some buying, and I would man the stall. Then I would go and look around - found a wonderful fake Hermes scarf there which I adore - and we would sell stuff and share snacks all day. I really enjoyed selling there. Simon had some collectors who would tell him what they wanted and he would scout it out in his travels around the country. He specialised in 20th century ceramics. I remember plenty of very stylish sixties Fornasetti, some lovely glass, some Poole, and basically lots of great stuff.

Just back from meeting Madeleine in Chelsea. She certainly has a lot to deal with at the moment. We shall have to try doing something diverting some time soon. The Builder's Arms is a very pleasant pub and quiet early in the evening.

Had some pea and ham soup with home-made bread. Shall watch a programme about Nicky Haslam which will probably irritate me beyond belief. We shall see.

I hate to say this, but I did rather like Nicky Haslam. He was a cute little guy, and with the most enormous energy. I had always thought he was about 100, but seems he was born in 1939, making him about 69 or so.

Bed time.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Good News from Old Friend

Had a chirpy email from my old friend Simon (actually quite young - but then anyone is, compared with me). He sold his London flat just at the right time and now lives on the outskirts of Stroud with wonderful views, he tells me. He is keen for me to go and stay there. He seems to be involved in masses of G & S productions. I do remember going with him to a wonderful Mikado production on London some years ago, set in the 30s which was just fantastic. He is acting, but keen to direct, so I hope this happens.

Mortality and Triviality

Rather sad to read about the death of Winifred Tumim, who used to be a member of the Community Health Council in Hammersmith many years ago, when I ran this. I have obviously reached that time of life now when I read of people's deaths. That is the third in so many weeks. I remember Winifred as very cheerful,smart, and a very effective member of the CHC.

It is very dull today. I am taking tomorrow off and will meet Madeleine in Chelsea in the early evening for a quick drink. She is bearing up despite very negative pressures at the moment. Have been collecting some family snaps for her.

I have been very badly darning some mothy kind of holes in a patchwork blanket - one of my less successful ebay purchases. It looks as though it belongs in a gypsy caravan, along with two other crochet square blankets I also bought. Fortunately the other two are made of some synthetic wool so haven't attracted moths in the same way. I don't really know why, but I verge between absolute minimalism, everything all white or beige,plain silver cutler, and absolute maximalist kitsch, Laguiole cutlery, etc etc etc. What I need is an absolutely enormous house to play with, instead of a two bedroomed flat.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Sunday Evening

put a whole lot of snaps on my iphoto. Can't find them now! pity, but that's the mystery of iphoto. Actually, they are physically there, but don't seem to come under any of the roll titles.

Call from my friend Vic who wants me to dine out at her favourite place on 12 December to celebrate her husband's and my birthdays. I shall ask Dorothy and Julian, but I somehow doubt if they will fancy it. We shall see. Seems the place is so popular at this time of year it needs to be booked now. It is actually quite good fun. I shall be going to Legally Blonde at the Savoy for the matinee on the Sunday, so won't be able to drink too much or stay out too late.

Having rather a quiet time so haven't got much further with decluttering. I shall be taking Tuesday off, which hopefully will help. I am owed 19 days leave at the moment and shall attempt to take some of this before Christmas. I have been feeling very tired indeed, and need to catch up on my rest. I may have overdone the decluttering and staying up late at Hayling Island. Also, more importantly, I have neglected my painting altogether, and need to do some more.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Sunday - Better Weather

After making a clove orange, which I shall dry out on the windowsill,(above, next to another orange covered in beads) had lunch at Lye Torng: chicken green curry followed by banana cake with ice cream, delicious. I shall doze away at home for a while then see if I can do a little more in the house.

Not Very Caturday

Pool of water just inside back door where the wind has blown it through the dog flap. Just had a hailstorm complete with thunder. Kooky is most distressed at being kept in by the weather and wants me to do something about it, occasionally mewing at me in a hopeless kind of way, then flopping out on the floor, disgruntled at my lack of cooperation.

I stayed in all day yesterday, and looking out, may do the same today. I need to have the sleeves shortened on a couple of coats, but will take them in on Monday.

Braved the stormy day to collect a paper and have some strawberry Pago at Lye Torng. Ordered some stuff from Ocado which will arrive tomorrow. Making bread, tidying up a bit and doing washing. May make an orange cake for Christmas. Have boiled the oranges anyway. Kooky most put out about the weather, which shows no signs of improving. So far. Watched some of the Lord Mayor's Show on TV. Above is the mayor and his wife, Mrs. Anstee.

Friday, 13 November 2009


Absolutely pissing down with lots of wind all night. Even got a little cold in bed once or twice. Which made the rain seem closer and quite exciting.

Less exciting was the touch of postural hypotension caused by getting up when I staggered about rather insanely for a few seconds before steadying myself. Kooky took some interest in this spectacle and crawled to the edge of the bed to observe the show.

Madeleine rang last night having read of my mishap and offering to accompany me to hospital if necessary in future. She too is having a bad time, as is the whole family, with her sister's very serious illness. She is travelling down to see her today. I hope she is careful, driving in this awful weather. We are all very worried just now, and trying to find ways of coping and helping. I do wish I had a car at times like this, though since I have not been in touch much over the past few years, feel reluctant to appear intrusive at this stage, and it is probably better to communicate through Madeleine, who is keeping me posted.

Unwelcome A & E Visit and Friday 13th.

After a normal day at work I arrived home, fed the cat, and rather early, reheated some coq au vin and started eating this while watching TV. Suddenly I started to feel very dizzy, my sight became a bit odd with a slightly cross-eyed effect and I had a feeling of numbness inside my head. Panicked a bit, before gingerly turning to locate my bag with my mobile in it. Carefully and rather unsteadily walked to sofa and phoned 999. Felt very nauseous and rang Dorothy, who arrived in about ten minutes at the same time as the ambulance. Some tests were done, all normal apart from a fast heart rate but the men persuaded me to go to Tommy's.

Big mistake. On the plus side, sat next to Dorothy for the longest time in ages. 'Good to have some quality time' Dorothy said, which made me laugh. It was carnage in there - but eventually managed to have an ECG, blood tests etc. Persuaded Dorothy to go home after four hours to have dinner. Immediately someone sat next to me and commenced farting which was not great, and just after he left was replaced by a poor old man who had shat himself. Dear me.

Then the drunks started arriving. At one point there were almost as many police as hospital staff. Eventually seen by an exhausted young doctor who did all the physical tests and said I should go home and take it very easy and rest up for a few days and see my doctor if anything recurred. Of course by this time the nausea which had been quite bad, and the dizziness etc. had all worn off so I felt a bit of a fraud. I suppose it was six hours later.

Julian collected me in a cab and went home, so I was glad to drop into bed. I think that if I feel very ill, next time I shall just lie down at home and hope for the best!

Had an excessively long lie-in after feeding Kooky at 7.30. Listening to radio 4, then surfaced for tea and toast at 10am. Feeling very decadent. Have not missed much since it is peeing with rain outside.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Wednesday and Thursday Morning

Very odd. It has happened a couple of times. The water suddenly stops flowing when I am running a bath. If I turn the tap off, and go and turn the kitchen tap on then off, then turn the bath tap on again, it starts again. Since I have the heating on at this time of morning I wonder whether it is related somehow? strange.

Dreaded meeting tonight. Stayed awake half the night drifting in and out of sleep listening to the World Service. Seem to remember some interesting programme about art.

Thursday morning - Julian forgot to feed Kooky so he was somewhat ravenous when I turned up at 11pm. Meeting rather better than I had anticipated. Very tired this morning though. The cleaner had been yesterday: when I arrived home a light had been left on, there was a pair of her specs in the bathroom, my computer was disconnected and for some reason the washing machine, with the door open, had been turned on ????????? I think she is on another planet.


Funeral of old friend today. Very sad. Fortunately not invited, so not too bad.

Back to work again and got stuck in slightly, but did not overdo it. Working is not ladylike, a friend assures me. I have never been considered to be ladylike in any way apart from this one. Oh well.

The two cabbage serving dishes supported by lobsters arrived today. Julian turned up last night and was somewhat bemused by the asparagus serving dish. Julian changed several light bulbs so I can see more clearly.

There's a meeting tomorrow night, so Julian will feed Kooky. I am dreading the meeting. I can't stand them but fortunately they are only once every two months. The cleaner is coming here tomorrow so I am trying to clear up beforehand a bit. Changed Kooky's litter box so he immediately christened it with a gigantic poo, the little monster.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Fun and Frolics at Hayling

'New Year's Eve' at Hayling. A good time was had by all.

Now back from Hayling. Kooky pleased to see me and is rather more capable of getting in and out on his own. Done piles of washing, opened mountains of post, including a large parcel containing a rather strange thing. It consists of a long ceramic tray with painted asparagus, then a dish with lid shaped like a large bundle of asparagus. A small serving spoon. I ordered this from Ebay because it looked so curious. Not absolutely sure what it can be used for. It might make a vegetable dish at dinner or a not very large container for asparagus soup. Dear me, I just don't know where to stop. Maybe after I have purchased the serving bowl on Ebay shaped like a large square green cabbage held up by four lobsters in the corners. 'Nuff said.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Sunday before Hayling

Packing and unpacking. Can't decide what to wear.Pissing with rain and very windy outside. Absolutely vile. Hope it improves during the week. Large bruise on my arm following 'flu jab.

Kooky keeps falling asleep on the windowsill, then suddenly dropping off onto the floor with a huge thud. I have now put a table with a cushion in front of the windowsill, hoping this will break his fall next time.

I do hope he will remember how to get in the catflap while I am away. He seems to get out when he wants to, but somehow he doesn't find it easy getting back, so sometimes he stays out all day, mewing pitifully to be let in when I get back from work. Let's hope he will be OK, especially with all this bad weather. Perhaps Julian will look in on him a few times. I still feel guilty going away and leaving him.

The Chairman rang up this morning to say that our previous chairman had sadly died. He thought we should send a bunch of flowers to the funeral on behalf of the trustees. He is going to discuss this tomorrow morning.