Monday, 28 February 2011

February Funday

Oh dear, more dietary indiscretion. I suspect I shall have to put my guests on a diet when I feed them again.

Bear and Marie turned up. Fortunately they came on the train, so were free to drink. So we started with champagne cocktails, accompanied by nuts and things. We then graduated to red and white wine. My food (chicken loaf and marmalade roast ham, with potatoes and onions, with a mushroom sauce) was a little overdone, but still tasty. The puds were a disaster as I made the mistake of using bought pastry cases which were as hard as iron. These were filled with creme patissiere and topped with raspberries, served with clotted cream. I managed to locate some dinner rolls, anticipating a cheese course which didn't happen, but I ate one, thickly smothered in butter. These, hard as iron today, will form the basis of my next culinary experiment, about which I will blog later.

Anyway, everyone enjoyed themselves. The big subject was Nibby, who may well have sold her house, and if all goes well, will come back in August to stay in Macclesfield while house hunting. We are all very excited at this prospect. Bear found out that my 70th birthday is in December. He thought I should have a big party to celebrate (though I feel commiseration would be more appropriate). We shall see.

Alice rang in the middle of all this as she wanted to collect the specs she had left the previous Saturday, but arrived while my guests were still here, so she just grabbed them and left, which was probably a good idea anyway as she had just arrived from oop North by train and wanted to get home.

It was so good to see Bear and meet Marie, who is very pretty and jolly.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Dinner Party

I chose the midnight blue velvet. Because this is a little short, and I am rather too fat to wear tights at the moment, I have to wear knee highs. This means that in order to cover any 'credibility gap' I need to wear my over the knee black suede boots, which do look very good with the dress.

Anyway, I arrived at the flat in Butler's Wharf, clutching my wine and a small box of chocs. To my horror, on arrival I was asked to remove my boots. I was just about to do this when I remembered some huge holes in the heels of my navy knee-highs. I then decided to pretend I would have great difficulty getting the boots off, and was excused. Dear me, had I known, apart from wearing decent socks I would have brought some shoes with me. I have not come across this situation since the fifties, when we all had to change shoes on entering the house.

I had met only one of the other guests before, but they were a decent lot, two in medical research, one consultant, an event organiser and an administrator. The dinner was a disaster for me, in that we started with a kind of Spanish omelette, which was good if a bit large, with salad, going on to a chick pea casserole with goats cheese. This was fine, though I did consume rather a lot. I managed to hold back on the wine, but all my efforts were ruined by the pudding, made by a Frenchman of course. Basically there were two large, creamy puddings, and we had to try both. First came a trio: crispy baked pineapple slice, with fresh cooked pineapple in a very sweet sauce, accompanied by a creamy pot of mousse. I had to consume all this, then a large spoonful of the next kind of creamy pud. All accompanied by a glass or two of very sweet muscat wine. Diet scuppered. Whole dinner at least 1200 calories.

Anyway it was a convivial occasion, but I was glad to escape from the calorie temptation into which I had fallen without protest. Tragic, really. But explains my unnatural bulk. Must do better next week.

Very surprisingly, lost half a pound this morning. I am sure that my sins will be revealed next Sunday. I really must be more careful. I blame the Frenchman.

Caturday Morning

After this morning, I went to Marks and purchased a paper, some food and wine, and made it back to Lye Torng in time for a green curry for lunch, which was very good. Tonight's dinner party looms and I am still trying to decide what to wear. Shall I go for a severe black dress, brightened only by my drag queen diamante black specs and a very sparkly diamante cuff? Or shall I wear my midnight velvet trendy dress? I am leaning towards the midnight velvet at the moment. We shall see.

I am toying with a French turquoise tablecloth for tomorrow's lunch, but it is rather bright, necessitating more turquoise pieces in the room to tie it up. I suppose I should be much more concerned about the food than the table. We shall see.

Last night Julija Svetlova called with the print I have bought. Although it is rather decorative I certainly fell for it. I may try doing a snap, but for now, it is a group of pigeons with some kind of flowered layer superimposed. Apparently the paper is special paper which will last 250 years, probably longer than the planet, but not sure about the inks. It is a kind of photographic image, anyway. I shall take it to the framer this morning and have identified a good space to hang it. Julija is from Lithuania but is Russian, and is doing bits of filming and photography over here. She does a bit of teaching at the LCC over the road occasionally. Her work is certainly very original and interesting.

Friday, 25 February 2011

Friday Morning

Finally obtained an address at Butler's Wharf for tomorrow's dinner party. Since I don't know what the vegetarian starter is, I shall take a bottle of white and a bottle of red. We shall see. I think I have only met one of the other guests, so should be interesting at least.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Thor's Day

Finally cleared the place up.

Back to work again, with very dull weather. Romy texted me to say how good it was in Spain.

Becoming somewhat emboldened by my Sunday lunch and dinner exploits, I invited Bear and his latest girl to lunch on Sunday. Also invited Julian and Dorothy, but unsure whether they will be coming. Anyway, it's all good fun.

The SE1 dinner party host has not contacted me with her address for Saturday, so I am not sure whether this has been cancelled or not. In a way, I hope it has. I foolishly jumped on my scales to find I had gained 4lb! so would not be sorry to starve a bit on Saturday, not to mention tomorrow as well. My weight certainly fluctuates enormously during the week.

A call today from Julian who has purchased me a wonderful vacuum cleaner. It is a Samsung with the easiest emptying thingy I have ever seen. Julian showed me how to work it and changed the upstairs hall light bulb, then pulled up some garden weeds before disappearing again.

I am so lucky with my family. Rang Timbo in NZ and all the family are well, thank goodness. Fortunately they were all in Wellington.

Had a meeting with someone from Age Concern about the proposal to close nine out of the twelve day centres in Southwark. It really is a nightmare. Perhaps it is the government version of euthanasia by stealth. And someone has just published a paper to say there will be 100,000 fewer nursing home places within the next few years, which will cause the 'elderly bed blocking' again. I also read about some hospital threatening to sue some 'bed blockers' after evicting them from the hospital. This is your England.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Monday Morning

Last night's dinner was great fun. In the event both Christophe and Victorine arrived together. We started off with champagne cocktails and continued in the same way, graduating to white, then red wines.

The food went down very well, and they are excellent trenchermen, so everything was consumed apart from a small piece of Manchego. They certainly seemed to notice my weight loss, which was gratifying. It is so good to have enthusiastic friends.

Of course, today, the place looks as though a bomb has hit it. Despite managing to get one load of dishwashing going last night, the kitchen is full of more dishes, and the table downstairs is still laden. This will be today's project.

Nearly all done now, so time to relax for a bit.

Funday Again

Reluctantly crept onto the scales, and discovered that I had lost 3lb. Must be the illness. Still, it's good news.

Will ring Nibby in Oz this morning, then it's off to M & S to purchase a few goodies for today's attempt at entertaining Victorine and Christophe. Alice and I have already consumed most of the grapes and cherries I purchased yesterday. Dear me.

It was so good to see Dorothy last night after such a long time. I don't see so much of them these days as Dorothy is always frantically busy. He did have time to get out and see True Grit which he recommends. Madeleine still has to contact me re The Kings Speech and a possible Sunday lunch at Le Bouchon. So far it has proved impossible to arrange a lunch date with both Kate and Evon. We shall see.

Kook nipped me again while I was grooming him this morning. Definitely time for him to return to charm school, but must organise his annual jabs first.

In my absence things have become slightly anarchic at work, so will need to try and rein them in a bit. We shall see. Seems local authority cuts are looming. Big Society has much to answer for, and even Tories call it: 'BS' with raised eyebrows. Too true.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Le Bouchon Breton Brunch

My new b.f. Alice came around and we had a cuppa before setting off for Spitalfields market. Of course the reason for the cheap Groupon deal was that Saturday is the only day when the market is closed. Never mind though, I have a Sunday lunch deal which I may redeem soon. Actually the brunch was really quite good. We both had scrambled egg surrounded by quite a lot of smoked salmon. My friend ate my toast, and had some Buck's Fizz while I had a bloody Mary. We both had coffees, then her friend turned up. She had travelled up from Devon, but was originally from London, and excited to be back again. They were both going to see a musical about ? Woody Guthrie, anyway, some folksy thing.

Dorothy appeared this evening, bearing gifts: a little baby Buddha figure; a pretty ring and a lovely blue and mauve fine scarf. Quite a day for presents: Alice had already given me a little bunch of daffodil buds. Dorothy and I had tea and a chat, and new light bulbs were put in the kitchen, revealing its true awfulness and mess, but at least I can now see around properly. Must give it a clean tomorrow.

More Caturday

M & S have stopped doing their two course dinners with wine for a tenner, so I was rather thwarted, but they had some good two for one offers. I purchased some chicken thighs and decided to roast them in the oven with garlic, onions and sweet potato chips, smothered in rosemary and sprinkled with olive oil. I also bought some raw prawns to cook in garlic. I may do Nibby's orange and gin pudding, served on slices of boiled orange cake. We shall see.

Just read in The Times that Alfred Burke, the actor, died the other day. The family used to live in Barnes next to my in-laws and we knew them all well. I remember Alfred commenting on how smart my son looked at a wedding, when the boy wore a morning suit for the first (and possibly, last) time. Makes me rather sad, thinking of happier times. An occupational hazard of old age, like dying, unfortunately.

Kook is still lying on the bed. He always lies around a lot inside when it is raining. I wish he would read a bloody book or make himself useful.


Dear me, there's a TV ad for some very nasty looking sausages. I decided that the tune, though a bit mediocre, was vaguely catchy after multiple repetition. I found out that the band is The Molloys, who feature in the ad. Very retro. Very Irish. Is there a Richmond in Ireland?

Pissing with rain in time for the weekend. I must not be put off, and will sally forth to M & S this morning.

Kook is getting a little bitey again, a tendency to be watched. I may have to send him away for a few days, as this seems to let him 'know his place' for a while. Call from Dorothy who is going to Chicago in three weeks, then somewhere else at the end of April. This time Julian will be going, too.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Getting Better All The Time

Recovering. Enough to invite people around on Sunday. Victorine will arrive at around five and we shall have tea/coffee/champagne cocktails. Christophe, her husband, will arrive at around seven after his golf game. I hope to give them some kind of dinner.

Tomorrow is my Bouchon Breton brunch with my recent acquaintance. Fortunately she is not arriving here until two, so I shall hie me down to M & S and see if I can find a chicken and some bits and pieces for Sunday.

Dreading the weigh-in again. I am such a feeble woman: exactly how feeble will be revealed on Sunday. Oh dear.

My Sick Bed

Without me. Took this to show I do get up for an hour or two sometimes.

Patient Patient

Still coughing. It is so good to be able to protest from one's computer - I joined David Babbs 38 degrees protest about the projected sale of forests and the gigantic factory for cows, neither of which has happened, though the Nocton dairy may just be on hold. We shall see. Let's not have that kind of thing over here.

Feeling a little better today, but will continue to convalesce tomorrow. Out for brunch on Saturday.

Watched quite an interesting programme about a wood sculptor working in a chapel he bought for £200 in the sixties in Blaenau Ffestiniog. Amazing monumental pieces. Almost makes me feel guilty at my complete lack of artistic effort. Oh well. We shall see.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Still Lying Low

Dear me. Feeing slightly better yesterday so got up and dressed and put makeup on for the first time in a couple of days. However, I later found myself laid low by violent diarrhoea. Suspicious, since I had been taking Flucloxacillin for the burn infection, I decided that there was a small risk of pseudomembranous colitis. Things improved later, but I awoke this morning with a chest infection and my throat even more sore. Normally I would take a course of Klacid for this, but I had to forego this option because of the risk of colitis. Damn nuisance. Not sure whether to go to the quack to see if I can get some Metronidazole on demand, but have decided to leave things until tomorrow. I hope things improve because of my brunch date on Saturday. Seems my brunch companion has also had a nasty cold and cough requiring antibiotics, but is well now. There's obviously some bug around.

Romy has made great progress in my absence, so I am certain not to be missed when I retire soon. The newsletter is brilliant, as usual, and I am sure the unusual peace and quiet in the office has helped matters.

Today, I shall take things quietly and not return to work as I am a bit worried about spreading infection with the cough. I shall communicate by email and telephone. So boring.

Scrabble on my iphone is really useful when loafing about the house, feeling tired and ill. My itunes are also great, now I have the docking station provided by Dorothy and Julian at Christmas.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

From Southwark Grumblers HQ

Well. My burn seems to be healing, but I run out of antibiotics today. Not great timing, because last night I noticed that my throat was sore, and this morning I woke up with a very sore throat, runny nose and a slight temperature. Though I haven't had one for years, I suspect that with the kidney infection and the infected burn, my resistance was low, particularly after waiting in the surgery the other day. Seems there are some bugs which a flu jab doesn't help with.

Feeling like total crap this morning I decided to stay in bed, so texted Romy. Crawled up for a bath, then emailed some snaps to Romy which she may be able to use in the spring newsletter. Last night, watched a programme about crying on BBC Four with the ubiquitous Father Ray, being interviewed by Jo Brand. She in turn became very defensive when interviewing Susy Orbach. I quite warmed to Susy Orbach. Less so to Father Ray, who seems rather a condescending cold fish. Dear me, here I go again, slagging off a fellow damaged human. I do need to have some fun, though.

Yet another discussion this morning on the radio about the appalling care of elderly folk in hospital. It's as though nobody knew what was going on all the time. I have previously reported visiting someone's mother left to lie in her own faeces because the nurse was on duty alone and 'it takes two people to change the sheets'. She was also starving, as witnessed by how fast she ate the food we brought, and died after a few days of this neglect, though she had been fairly well before. These practices seem to go on everywhere. Takes too long to change and feed people, and not a popular job, I expect. When my mother was dying in hospital I had to keep calling the staff to change her sheets, which they did, albeit reluctantly. Perhaps trainee doctors and nurses should do several months as ward auxiliaries, performing these functions, to test their 'vocation' before being allowed to train further. Hmmm. Rant over.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Drugs, Oldies and Winges

Still taking the antibiotics, now two lots: one for the kidney and one for the burn. Felt a sore throat coming on last night and think I now have a cold. What a bore.

Anyway, read quite an amusing article yesterday from the New York Times. All about a suit to be worn by a young person trying to imitate the movement difficulties experienced by oldies - the suit looked like a climbing suit, but with helmet, restrictions on movement from elasticated bits, heavy boots, orange glasses to dull the vision etc. etc. I suppose they didn't want a real oldie to test things in case they croaked. Seems the oldie market is quickly expanding, but I imagine our UK government cuts will put paid to that: just read that 15 out of 17 local day centres will close. Dear me.

Decided to cheer myself up with some retail therapy. Although fringes do not suit me, I have always had a yearning for one, so imagine my joy when I discovered Hersheshon 'winges' presumably wig fringes. Such vanity in a woman of nearly 70. Shows there is no limit to it - it reminds me of dressing up dolls when I was a child. Such fun. Anyway here's a couple of snaps of me looking a bit fierce taken with my iphone. I may also purchase a dark one, though purple and pink beckon. All I now need is somewhere to wear them.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Weak Flesh

When I was having such trouble with the oven on Sunday, I burned my hand a bit, but this was healing well by Wednesday morning. However, the burn was very visible on the right hand. We had a trustee meeting that evening, and thinking my hand looked rather repulsive, I decided to cover it with a plaster. Of course, all I could find at home was a pale green plaster with the legend 'keep calm and carry on' on it. Since meetings can become more than a little tense at times, this seemed appropriate.

As it happened the meeting wasn't too bad, but when I arrived home later, and removed the plaster, the scab had disappeared and the burn was looking rather revolting. By Thursday it had scabbed over again, but there was a nasty red puffy area of inflammation and infection around it. I was rather annoyed with myself for putting the plaster on, since I had to visit the quack and start antibiotics that evening. Oh well.

During this time, Kooky had developed more tummy lumps, and a small wound on his tummy. I shall have to drag him to the vet, since I can't examine him without being bitten, probably on my already infected right hand. Dear me. Romy is also in the wars with various injuries. Must be the time of year. Or the time of life, in my case.

Having put on half a pound last week, I succumbed to the scales on several occasions this week and appear to have gained pounds in weight. This may be the thin end of the wedge so I was very careful yesterday, and will continue so, but I have a sinking feeling that this may be an unsuccessful week for weight loss. I feel a plateau, at the very least, beckoning. All will be revealed, unfortunately, on Sunday.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Sunday Fun

My friends Evon and Kate arrived for a relaxed Sunday lunch. However, an hour before I became far from relaxed when the oven would not go on. Seems the cleaner had messed around with the integral timer. I have never used this since there had been no instructions for its use. I panicked, thought I was going to have to do coq au vin instead of roast chicken, and what on earth to do with the already assembled blackberry and apple crumble? At this point Dorothy rang from India to ask what present I thought Julian would like. I could not think at all, still in a panic, but eventually fiddled with the timer and the oven went on. The oven continued to be tiresome throughout the afternoon. I really must find out how to kill off the timer so it doesn't affect the oven.

Anyway, all was well, champagne cocktails were consumed, followed by red wine. Roast chicken with roast potatoes, Yorkshire pud, carrots, peas etc. were piled onto plates. I did manage to forego the potatoes and Yorkshires. However, as I opened the oven to reveal a very scrumptious blackberry and apple crumble, I was overcome. So glad I bought single cream, since this was added to my sins. Coffee afterwards.

We had a great time, exchanging news, chatting and financial advice from Evon, who seems to have her finger on the money pulse. She told us how an ex had bought his parents a fifty million pound yacht, with twelve full time staff. Dear me, I know a few people with plenty of money, but at this level my imagination fails me. Though as Edna O'Brien would say, I shan't join the 'begrudgers'.

Saturday, 5 February 2011


Intensely annoying. Gained half a pound. Thinking back through the week, I may have somewhat underestimated the calories in my breakfast porridge, to which before microwaving I added not only the usual spices and small amount of maple syrup, but also a couple of teaspoons of chocolate covered cocoa nibs, which were delicious and chewy, but evidently rather calorific. I may falsely inflate my calorie consumption a bit, just to get back into things.

Purchased two wonderful cashmere cardis from Lands End reduced from £120 each to just under £40 each. Even when the weather is warmer and in the summer, evenings are a bit chilly, so these represent good value. They arrived yesterday and are very well made, with proper petersham down the fronts, tiny round pearly buttons and three quarter sleeves. One is a light brown, and the other one is a lightish turquoise.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Forgotten Appointment and Spare Bodies

Rather worryingly, I missed my GP appointment, because I somehow thought it was for 4pm, whereas I had clearly written 3pm in my diary. I could not see the GP so put in a repeat prescription request. My brain is definitely going.

Which reminds me, I received the body donation application form. Dear me, it is very complicated indeed. People who are obese (that's me) are ruled out, as are those who have had a postmortem; infectious diseases such as viral hepatitis; HIV/ AIDS; tuberculosis; if any organs other than corneas have been donated; some (unspecified)forms of dementia; severe bedsores or varicose ulcers or recent surgery where the wound has not healed; gross peripheral oedema and severe deformity of the spine. Also if the death occurs abroad, or if it occurs in UK over the Christmas or Easter periods when the medical schools are closed.

Well, I think that would exclude most of the recently deceased population. Also they may not decide whether to accept a body until they actually examine it, and there are all sorts of formalities. Much more complicated than arranging any funeral. Imagine the disappointment of your relatives, having been grateful to get rid of your body for science, when the medical school ring back and ask them to collect the corpse because it is not suitable. So they have to unexpectedly have to organise and pay for your funeral. I must watch Soylent Green again. We could learn a lot from it.

It really is a whole lot of bother. Hopefully by the time I croak I will no longer be obese, though I feel Alzheimer's encroaching with my missed appointment. The amount of bureaucracy involved would be worse for my heirs than organising a simple funeral. I had hoped to just sign the forms and they would collect the old bod and do whatever they wanted, since I wouldn't be using it myself. I am such an optimist. Hmmmmm.

Kook, Words and Old Coin

Have managed to cut a few fur lumps from Kook, I may need help from Julian to do some more. It is really quite awkward, especially as he can be a biter, and I have to be careful about invisible nipples and boy bits. So I tend to be rather ultra-cautious.

Reading the free Readers Digest inflicted on me at Christmas, I discovered my 'Word Power' is not very good. For example, I discovered that 'rebarbative' means unattractive, and that someone's 'hamartia' is their fatal flaw, as in ' John's hamartia was his addiction to the bottle, this in turn leading to his becoming extremely rebarbative in decent company.' Such fun for the illiterate like moi.

I must try and get along to the British Museum some time, where I think they have a coin section. In the sixties, I found a bronze coin in the garden in some soil. It has uneven edges, broken slightly in one place. One surface appears to be blank, but the other has an image of an arch, with a woman seated, holding an infant. It is hard to see the image, so I may do a rubbing in the hope of bringing it out a bit. I would really like to know what it is. Here's a bad snap, but will try and get a better image some time.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Fire Surround and Lumpy Kook

Excellent green curry at Lye Torng. Good review in The Times of a programme on BBC 4 last night 'outside the court' which interviewed people in an interesting way.

Here's the fire surround painted grey, which seems passable to me.

Kooky has so many matted lumps underneath him, but he bites me every time I try to snip them off for him. Definitely a two person job. I know they are a problem because he tries to bite them off himself when he is cleaning his undercarriage, poor thing.

My latest breakfast: small sliced brown bread (120 cals 2 slices) spread with Oxford Vintage marmalade (30 cals). Drain and mash kippers from tin, then spread one third (100 cals) on the bread. Put in a toaster sandwich bag and toast in the toaster. Serve with Lapsang Souchong tea. A very filling 250 calorie breakfast.

Thank You Flowers

Arena decided to send me a large bunch of flowers as a thank you - I have been sending flowers to people for quite a while, normally purchased from them. Decent of them to send me a bunch.

Dorothy and Julians fourteenth wedding anniversary today. Time has passed very quickly, and it seems no time since we were throwing confetti at them outside Chelsea Register Office. I hope they have fun celebrating.

I think I may have finished painting the fire surround now I have managed to mix a kind of greyish colour which is okayish. I shall snap this soon. Today I have the less exciting chore of emptying the hoover, a job beyond the skills of my cleaner. Then I shall do more washing, before lunching at the Lye Torng and going to a meeting later this afternoon.