Saturday, 30 April 2011

Sudden Weight Loss by Undesirable Method

I don't know whether I was poisoned at the Chop House last night, but today I have started feeling very sick, with bouts of diarrhoea. I shall stop eating for a bit and give my guts a rest. It has definitely become worse during the day. Things are bad. Have just vomited a couple of times. Must be some dietary indiscretion, or poisoning.

This has been going on, non stop, for an hour or two. I have confined myself to bed, with frequent trips to the bathroom. Rang Victorine, and they are both OK (I had suspected the lightly poached egg last night).

12.15am. Awoken by unbelievable diarrhoea again. All very worrying.

Eventually managed to fall asleep. This morning I feel much better, but will forego food for a day to give my innards a rest. Just had an excellent cup of tea. Madeleine was going to come around this afternoon, but I am still feeling somewhat cautious. I have been going through all the food in the kitchen, but all the fresh food was purchased only yesterday. Something has poisoned me though.

As a result of the above my weight is 193.5lb today, but I suspect will increase rapidly once I start eating again, so is untrustworthy.

Uncharitable Old Bat

Here's me, trying my 'winge' again.

Having become so intolerant, I now understand this fault in other old people. Trouble is, in the past I have always put up with people's character flaws by taking the view that mine are probably worse. But there comes a point in one's age when one becomes aware that croaking is not optional, and could happen tomorrow, or even later on today. It may well be because this has been forcibly borne in on me that I have become rather cranky. Or maybe I am just making excuses. Logically, with limited time, we should become nicer, and do much more for others, as there isn't much time to do it in. I must try harder. I am in no danger of becoming a Pollyanna though, I am sure.

Victorine, despite her flaws, can be very kind, loves animals, and is generous to a fault. I really must try harder not to be such a ratty old bat.

Sharon rang for a chat yesterday. She will try and persuade Alan to go out of the house, which he has always been reluctant to do. His weak spot appears to be his great affection for Michel, so I suggested that some preliminary outings could make use of this, encouraging Michel to want to go somewhere but to refuse unless Alan and Sharon came. I really envy Sharon, who still does her antique fairs regularly. Takes me back to when I helped a friend at Ally Pally. I really enjoyed it.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Bored to Dinner

Well, the rain held off for The Wedding, which I was forced to watch. People have started wearing hats over their foreheads unfortunately, and some rather extreme Ugly Sister effects were seen. Apart from that, the fashion was fun to watch, and for once, I actually liked the bride's dress which covered the arms. I have always preferred proper sleeves, particularly with a church ceremony. How old-fashioned of me.

In the evening Victorine fetched up rather late, but just in time to gulp down half a glass of rose before departing to the Chop House. We started with a pleasant celebratory dinner. However, the conversation went on and on with a forensic dissection of every wedding detail and my 'polite' veneer, always rather thin, wore off a bit. I was branded a republican. I had certainly not realised some of my friends were such ardent royalists. The evening deteriorated more with a lengthy monologue from Victorine about a retired actor's home in Northwood, describing the foibles of the residents and involving much name-dropping. I had already heard about this in detail some weeks previously, but did not like to mention it because being 'forgetful' is part of growing older, and I have often been guilty of the same. Fortunately my relatives manage to remind me of this before I go too far. Perhaps I have become more impatient. As Nic No-Nose once kindly remarked: 'I'm too fucking old to listen to bollocks'.

Victorine also accused me of cruelty because I had left the Kook for a few days with a cat minder, though he was happy to be at home and was being regularly fed and played with.

To add injury to insult, it was pissing with rain when we left, and Victorine and spouse wanted to be dropped off at London Bridge Station, for which the minicab charged me an extra tenner. Probably royal wedding charges, but I have never paid £20 to get to Elephant & Castle from Butler's Wharf before. I may as well have used Addison Lee. Oh well, I was very glad to get home and play with Kook. Dear me, I am a Southwark Grumbler.

I shall change my wonderful linen bed sheets this morning, and drink some coffee from the wonderful machine given to me by Dorothy and Julian. I may well sit out in the garden in the sun, gazing at my new olive tree, now expertly replanted in a large pot.

I'm Getting Bored Now


Friday Wedding

In case it escaped your notice, there was a royal wedding yesterday. Here's some snaps.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011


has survived the experience of looking after himself with the help of a cat feeder once daily. He was lucky because Dorothy and Julian also came around to play.

Here's a snap of Paignton harbour.

I must say, given my vile neighbours and my impending unemployment, I am rather tempted to move to the West Country. I always feel like this when I go down there. There was a very pretty place on the local railway called Starcross, unlike most of the fairly awful naff seaside resorts. There's a little cottage near the station for around £200,000 so I would be mortgage-free, which is a temptation. But I would have to go by the train to bank at Exeter. Shopping might be a problem if there's no internet grocery shopping since things seem a bit retro down there. Hmmm. At least things are pretty down there. I suspect I might miss London though. We shall see. Another visit may be called for. Apparently the little railway goes all the way down the coast to Penzance, stopping all over the place, and is very cheap, which is another attraction. Beautiful countryside, views over the estuary, what's not to like?

View from Sharon's House

The house is outside Newton Abbot near South Hams. Apparently the kind of hillock in the far distance may be a man made burial ground or tumulus.


Mike and Maggie Duffy Playing

Revealed: A 60th Birthday Celebration

Since this was a surprise for my brother Michel, I kept quiet about it.

On Thursday I took the train from Waterloo to Paignton. Changing at Exeter St. David into a tiny train, which did a wonderful waterside wander along the Exe estuary, I eventually arrived at Paignton. I was hiding in a small B & B until Friday evening. On Friday I had a lift to the giant M & S at the Willows, Torquay, and purchased a couple of t shirts and some excellent sandals. After that I took a bus into town and had a steak by the seafront before departing back to Paignton on the ferry. Thursday evening my friend Jon who lives in Exmouth collected me and we had dinner at the Elephant in Torquay. Exhausted by my shopping, I was collected by Nathalie, my niece and escorted to the venue for the party, which filled up rapidly. I met yet another brother, who had come over from France: Robert, and my sister Sharon was there with her husband Alan and their two sons. The party was a total surprise to Michel, who was amazed to see Robert and me. We had a very jolly evening, with musician friends playing and plenty of food and drink.

The next morning I was vaguely thinking about going to Cockington, but as I reached the road a car stopped. It was Michel, who invited me back for the day. After coffee we sat is the garden and chatted. We had a snack lunch, and later, his children and grandchildren arrived for dinner. Michel christened his new gas paella maker, so paella was served, with salads and a huge home made pizza. A lovely day getting to know people.

On Sunday, Alan collected me and we went to Sharon's for a lovely Sunday lunch, which was a real treat. There is a wonderful view from their house, and I took a couple of snaps.

I came back on Monday, and Kook had survived the catfeeding experience, not only having been spoilt by the catfeeder, but also by Dorothy and Julian, who had invited friends for a barbecue in my garden. They have now gone to Spain for a few days.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011


On Monday I went to John Lewis. I was rather slow and could not at first understand all the union Jack items for sale, prominently displayed, then the penny dropped when I read all the 'all the best to the happy couple' notices. I had managed to avoid most royal wedding stuff but John Lewis was full of memorabilia - china, flags, teddy bears, you name it, they had it. I found a couple of tops in the shops including a very pretty top from BHS in size 22 which easily fitted, but then it was a loose style.

I am slowly getting my mind around to Easter, which will be strange since Julian and Dorothy will be going to Spain. Last day at work tomorrow since I have taken Thursday off. No doubt I will gain even more weight over Easter. We shall see.

I still can't make my phone connect to my laptop at all. Strange.

For royal wedding day I shall be at home, probably watching TV in a desultory manner, but Christophe and Victorine have booked dinner at Butler's Wharf Chop House, with a wedding theme, so we shall be celebrating a bit. They will come here first for a glass of something fizzy.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Bright Sofa

And here's the sofa covered in some Gudrun Sjoden cloth and some Pip Studio pillows.

Late Night and Early Morning

Christophe and Victorine to dinner last night. The tube got stuck in a tunnel, so they were a little late, but prosecco cocktails soon perked them up. Victorine approved of my newly introduced bright colours, and they both loved the music on my ipod. Coinsidering this ranges from Squarepusher and Dr Dre, through Dock Boggs, to Ave Verum Corpus, I suppose I may have covered most tastes. The food went down very well, and later, Kook graced us with his majestic presence. He looked particularly fine lolling on my bright red floral sofa seat cover, and played obligingly with my guests. Quite proud of him, I was.

Despite holding back firmly on the food, this morning I seemed to have gained a pound and a half. Unable to believe this, I weighed myself again later, a couple of times, and the gain was half a pound. I must have miscalculated the calories in some things, because, despite lunch in the Boot & Flogger, and last night, I have kept counting the calories. Oh well, I shall have to try and do better. I may lash out on some new bathroom scales soon.

Just tried to download snaps from my iphone, but for some reason it will not communicate with this laptop, unfortunately. Here's a snap of last night's flowers in the window today.

I have just finished the last of the dishwashing and tidying up from last night and decided to continue with a bright colour scheme for the living room. There is now a scarlet Chinese pattern Pip Studio 'tablecloth' (duvet cover, folded) on the table and a red candle in the holder. My brilliant pillows are also acting as cushions on the sofa.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Foodie Saturday Preparations

Just read that shopping is very beneficial for over 65s, though I suspect the research refers to daily food shopping, rather than the fun to be had when buying clothes, etc. Hardly a surprise that the exercise is good, and the possible fresh food in the house is also good. Though apparently tangerines in particular, and all citrus fruit, help you lose weight. Must eat more of these.

Chatting to a cabbie recently, I have decided that my starter of fennel with radishes finely sliced a la Jamie, with masses of chopped parsley and my whole lemon dressing, will actually do for a main course accompaniment. The cabbie and his wife entertain a lot and a chef friend suggested not having starters, but concentrating on the main and maybe serving more than one pudding. I have a very good looking Gressingham chicken which has been anointed with some kind of glaze, which I shall roast and serve with chopped roasted potatoes. I shall copy Romy on the pudding front, and provide berries and some other fruit, macerated in a little elderflower cordial. I will also provide cheeses and grapes. Before, we will have gherkins, olives, chilli pickled garlic cloves, and some nutty things. All followed by coffee from the Nespresso machine provided by Dorothy a year or so ago. Don't think we will starve, but I must remember FHB (family, i.e. me hold back) for dietary reasons.

Since my friends like bright colours I decided on a Provencale turquoise tablecloth with a colourful border. I shall use my green water glasses, and lots of green glass for serving some of the food. Apart from the chicken which will come on a board. And I have swapped my white handled cutlery for some rainbow handled French stuff. I tend to keep all this standing in a basket on the table, so it is always handy.


Bought this mother of pearl cuff on elastic for a fiver from Peacock. It is quite large and looks excellent with some pearls. Bargain. Since my wrist is a bit old and fat I have not modelled it, but it does look good. Well peng, as you apparently say if you are under 15. Though it may apply only to people, not objects.

Apart from the ice floating in the ocean which may bring down our climate by several degrees in the not so far distant future, the other odd thing I have heard is that Toxoplasma may cause schizophrenia. I have always believed that mental illness has a physical cause, so will await further news, which may take some time to arrive.

Friday Morning

A mail from my friend Catriona, telling me of her progress with her new property and with news of her daughter's forthcoming wedding. It really is the wedding season. Friends have leaned on me to have a 'Royal Wedding' dinner somewhere on 29th, which I may attend if there is any transport to get to the restaurant. We shall see.

Meanwhile back at the office we had a bit of a brainstorming session since someone is doing a project for the charity, basically a handbook of how it all works, so if we were both run over by a bus at the same time, someone could run the thing by using the handbook. We are having several more of these sessions over the next few weeks, when hopefully, the thing will be ready for the trustees to examine.

I was so hungry when lunchtime came that we rushed over to the Boot & Flogger for a most refreshing lunch. It really is a super place with very friendly staff. We spent the afternoon stuffing and franking envelopes, and Romy was able to send off most of the holiday offers.

Christophe and Victorine due for dinner tomorrow night, so I shall purchase some pickled garlic cloves. These are my favourite pre-prandial snack at the moment, and very healthy, too. Good thing I am single. I wonder whether my guests will eat them?

I have rather a nasty feeling that I have put on weight again, despite being fairly restrained. Lunches out and dinner guests don't help, but are a necessary part of life. Just a matter of trying to limit food and wine consumption, but easier said than done.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Mrs Prat

Though the information on my last post is correct, digging around for something else in my purse revealed a note from my chemist saying he owes me a month's supply of the heart pills aforementioned, which explains why I suddenly ran out. Mea culpa (and the damned chemist for not keeping good supplies).

Monday, 11 April 2011

Leafy Sunday and Panic Monday

Made my way to a leafy part of London, and sat in Romy's garden where we had an excellent Sunday roast lunch, prepared by Romy, followed by a fresh berry pudding. The birds were tweeting, the cat was sunbathing, and not a sound of traffic could be heard. It was as hot as Spain. A very enjoyable and relaxing day.

Monday was quiet, apart from a problem with my medication. I discovered to my horror that I had run out of a 'heart' pill so trundled off to the GP early in the morning. Met a great deal of resistance and was told I would have to 'wait a few days' for a prescription and that I 'shouldn't have run out'. Dear me.

I became rather annoyed since this is the first time in my life that I had inadvertently run out of pills, and also with the attitude of the receptionist, who had promoted herself to the MD status to misadvise me. I did consider that, if I had not been quite persistent, I would have been without my tablets for several days, with possible risk of heart attack or stroke.

Things became worse when I went back for my prescription, as advised, in late afternoon. They had forgotten to write it. Eventually a prescription arrived WITHOUT the required medication, but containing all my other repeat meds. I slowly and carefully explained this and it transpired that the receptionist, in her wisdom, had managed to cross this item out of my request letter. I do hope this was just a mistake, and what was intended was to underline the item. Obviously I shall now have to see a GP every time I want a prescription, to avoid being killed by the receptionist.

I got to the chemist just before they closed.

Later last night, Julian arrived, bearing the biggest plant pot I have ever seen. We got it downstairs and left it outside, to replant my olive tree when the weather is better. Probably next weekend. Dorothy also gave me a present: a very smart hot water bottle in a fake fur cover from Liberty. Apparently it cost a fortune. So kind.

Learned that poor Dorothy is off work, suffering from a nasty cold, poor thing. I am sure Dorothy is working too hard, and should take things more slowly.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Sunday Morning Elephant

Set off to buy the papers this morning and the Elephant was quite vibrant: students have decorated this container outside the college in a jolly way.

On the inside of the tunnel, by the shopping centre, people were hanging about with cameras, filming. A sign said 'Toy Boy Productions' so I looked furtively around. Disappointed as there were no gorgeous hunks, toy or otherwise, in sight. Oh well. At least the Kook was pleased to see me when I got home.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Mid Week

The olive tree is in situ - actually at least eight feet tall. Julian will repot it so I need to go to B & Q on Friday to purchase sand and compost.

Romy back with some lovely fresh oranges from a neighbour's tree. I enjoyed one last night. I also made some puds to keep in the fridge: basically they are baked apples with a little sugar and butter, then I added blackberries half way through cooking. They look quite jolly and will be fine cold, as served in Spain.

Though I have made an effort to keep the food consumption down, I suspect I will gain weight this week after Sunday's indiscretions.

It was quite hot yesterday and Romy and I had lunch at the Slug & Lettuce, which has some tables outside. It really was warm. On my return home, bumped into my neighbour and her babe in the hall. They had spent the day in the park, enjoying the sun. Robert the baby is really growing up fast, and grinned and giggled at me in a very jolly manner. He is quite a handsome babe.

At the moment I am reading Diana Wynne Jones' first novel 'Changeover', a comedy about an African country getting ready for independence. It is quite funny.

Monday, 4 April 2011


Dorothy and Julian arrived, behind a vast bunch of red lilies, which were duly put in my vase on the dining table. We then set off for dinner.

We went to Wild Honey which was very nice. I managed to avoid the cocktail at the beginning, but my starter of foie gras was rather large. I then went on to have a large and excellent steak, but unfortunately ate most of the tortilla served with it. Apart from drinking far too much wine, I then went on to compound my dietary indiscretions by partaking of a honey ice cream with honeycomb toffee. Oh dear. Without being able to precisely account for each item, I think my estimate of 1400 calories is on the mean side here. It was a fabulous dinner, and very enjoyable, though.

Today, so far I have compensated a little. Instead of breakfast I had a decent cappuccino at Marks in Oxford Street, followed later by some pork with raw cabbage strips at Lye torng. I purchased some underwear in Marks, and found an excellent turquoise coloured flat sheet for the guest room. The Oxford Street Marks really does have some excellent clothes and home stuff. I was rather tempted by a huge felt pouffe, absolutely covered in large cut felt flowers in various greeny shades. Fortunately it was quite expensive, so I escaped without it.

It had been absolutely freezing when I went out, forgetting a coat. When I arrived at Oxford Street I went into Primark for the first time, and was amazed to find a kind of greyish cape thing for only £25 which actually fitted and went with what I was wearing, so I made my first purchase there. It really doesn't look bad at all.

Julian and Dorothy have confessed that they had a huge present for me, and will attempt to bring it over tonight. It is a 6' olive tree in a pot. Julian will try and repot it, and it will go against the fence. I have always wanted an olive tree, and used to look after a couple of these for my ex neighbour upstairs before he moved.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Tights Ahoy!

I can't believe it. Went to Marks today and purchased some opaque tights, thinking to keep them until they fitted. Daringly tried a pair on, and Eureka! they fitted. Admittedly x-large, but who cares? I can now stuff my fat carcass into tights for the first time in years. Fantastic. I will now be able to wear shorter skirts and dresses. Also, I bought a linen shirt in size 24 and it fitted (just). Super. Got a bit carried away and bought several Gudrun Sjoden frocks, which will wing their way here soon in good time for summer.

If I am spared, I shall purchase quantities of brightly coloured tights from M & S next year. So pleased.

Today is Mothering Sunday. Julian and Dorothy are taking me out for dinner, which is a treat, though I shall have to be rather careful, since I intend to become smaller rather than larger.

Here's a bit of spring on the spare land at the end of the street.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Morning After

Last night I made couscous for Dorothy, Julian and Madeleine. Julian planted some pretty spring flowers in the garden and generally cleared up, chopping up and removing the last bits of Christmas tree: hooray!

We had an excellent evening, and discovered that Madeleine and I do not have a shared taste in music. This became clear when the Three Bonzo's 'Jollity Farm' started playing on my I-player. Dorothy was of the view that some music sounds fresh thirty years later, and some is much more of its time. Whilst I am sure this is true, my fondness for some tunes remind me of my mood when I first heard them. Though I know what he means. Maybe I only need to eat couscous about once a year, too, because the memory is better than the actual stuff. We shall see. It was very popular with my French students. As was choucroute garnie, possibly my next foray into memory lane.

Madeleine stayed overnight, leaving early this morning. Apart from my habitual rude awakening by Kooky, I had a further shock by making the unprecedented decision to shower, rather than bathe. I turned the shower on and water shot all over the bathroom from a great height. Looking up, I realised the shower had a hole in it near the top. I cannot imagine how this had happened. I shall have to dismantle the head and replace it. Damned nuisance.

Feeling rather fragile, I picked my way to the Lye Torng and had a small lunch while reading the papers. Dorian kindly bought me some more dishwasher tablets, so I returned home to put more dishes into the machine.

Today, I cleaned the pond pump out. Kook has his evil eye on the fishes, and I am sure he will eventually succeed in catching them, since, as Madeleine pointed out, they are sitting targets in such a small pond. We shall see.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Friday Morning

Inspired by a recent meeting with a Frenchman when we discussed Algerian couscous, I decided to revisit this. When I was getting divorced, it was the only recipe my husband tried to get from me. Needless to say, I did not give it to him. I know I am not the world's best cook, but I hadn't realised I was that bad. All the foreign students we used to have to stay loved my food, at least. Anyway, Madeleine is my brave victim tonight. I have mentioned to Dorothy and Julian that couscous will be served, but no reply. They must have had a better offer.

My Street Photography book arrived today, full of strong, amazing images. Enough to encourage the snapper in anyone.

I have packed three large cases full of clothes to donate to the sister of the poor woman who recently died. She has always been keen to take my clothes, and it's good to recycle these. They will be collected on Monday.

Using a top sheet under the duvet on the bed has proved a great success. Not only does the bed always look better (apart from when Kook lolls on it) and more 'made', it is also much more comfortable to sleep in because the duvet stays in place better. I shall try and find a some more flat cotton double sheets for the guest room now that I have made this discovery.