Monday, 28 November 2011

More Invitations

Christophe and Victorine have invited me to a Jamie Italian place in West London to celebrate both my and Christophe's birthday. This will be fun, but I shall have to restrain myself alcoholically and try and leave early since this is a very heavy week at the office.

Christophe also asked me to design the cover of a book he is writing. He sent a synopsis which sounded very dramatic. I may be able to scribble a bit, but designing a book cover is rather a responsibility, best left to the experts, and since he has someone who can do it, I declined. Very kind of him to offer though.

The birds are settling into eating the food I put out for them after our trip to Polhill. Tomorrow we go to Twyford to the King's Head where we eat at Buratta's, maybe followed by a trip to Henley. Buratta's is so fantastic, great food and lots of very good value antiquey bits and pieces. I must restrain myself though. Hmmm....we shall see.

Disappointing Calls

I still get excited when the telephone rings, but while my hand is reaching out to pick it up, realise it is just another spam call saying my bank account, internet connection etc is about to be closed, so steel myself to be quite rude, not acknowledge my name or address, and to deny having a computer or bank account before slamming the phone down crossly. Unfortunately if it is a genuine call, I inevitably sound very angry when answering the telephone, and sometimes almost hang up before I realise this is the case.

I have cleared out the airing cupboard, piling the contents in the spare room and now have the exhausting task of going through drawers full of papers and sorting them, then all other drawers full of garbage in the house. This will definitely take months. Then I shall do the kitchen. Then I shall do the bookcases, ruthlessly chucking all but essential books and some of my nicer Folio Society ones.

Yesterday Kate came around and we had a long chat about impending retirement and consequent poverty etc. A bit dismal until cheered by the consumption of Baileys and mince pies. Kate also brought some rolls, salad, goats chees and chorizo which she made up. This did seem to be the wrong thing in my house, but very kind. We were later joined by Alice, whose son is also a copywriter. They might well meet up. We drank more Baileys, followed by coffee. Alice is planning a huge birthday party for her 60th, starting with a film in the Short Wave cinema in Bermondsey Square, followed by dinner for 40 at Del Azziz. The cinema is costing £400 and the dinner £500 is. Gosh. I shall miss this, being away with the punters but Alice is going to send me an invitation designed by one of her clever sons. I wouldn't know 40 people to invite, so am relieved to be having my much more modest celebration for my 70th, just with close family. After the others departed in the early evening, I settled down to watch the X-factor and promptly fell asleep, missing whoever was kicked off, and more annoyingly, missed Garrow's Law, which I quite like. I keep missing Rev all the time through watching some trash, so irritating. What a telly addict I am. At least I lost 4lb this week, before the excessive consumption today.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Something New to Try

I have just read somewhere that G.K. Chesterton said that there are only three rules for living: the first is 'be kind'; the second is 'be kind' and the third is 'be kind'.

I may attempt this, though it sounds like a tall order, doomed to certain failure. We shall see.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Successful Jaunt

Took the punters to Polhill Garden Centre. Two coaches and a successful venture. Romy terribly organised as usual. I managed to purchase some kind of things with white bobbles on, and arranged these around the mirror in the living room as a start of the Christmas decoration attempt. Not a very good snap I am afraid. There will be tealights along the shelf and in the lanterns hanging from the deer's antlers eventually which will brighten things up a bit. Oh, and my first Christmas card - on the left of the shelf - has arrived already.

Waiting for a delivery again tomorrow. Seems to be an occupational hazard. Must stop shopping very soon. Mysterious call from Christophe this morning, but I couldn't talk so no doubt he will ring again. Might be birthday related since he also has a birthday in December.

Monday, 21 November 2011

The Rest of Sunday

Arrived in Oxford Street at around 10am only to discover that nothing was open until around 12. I strolled up and down a bit and found Cafe Lido in a back street so settled down with a latte to read my papers. Went to the loo downstairs and discovered they have a huge dining room there. Must remember that they do lunches if I am stuck in town. BHS opened early for 'reviewing' so I looked around and found a black short sleeved stretchy lace vest thing for a tenner, which I eventually purchased. Handy to wear under sleeveless or chilly evening clothes. Eventually I picked up the watch at Debenhams and looked for a refill for the very good handbag scent Romy had given me, only to discover that Prada have stopped selling them. Oh well. I did try Debenhams, House of Fraser and John Lewis so I suppose they are right about this. I popped into John Lewis Food Department and purchased some cooked and pulled ham. I bought some leeks and lentils and cooked a stew thing when I arrived home.

It had been very cold and misty when I went out. The weather has definitely become a bit chillier in general. All the walking had worn me out a bit, so I vegged out in front of the telly in the evening and did another bad sketch.

Sunday, 20 November 2011


Here's a bit of the other tape, plus bits of the box of lip stuff Julian bought me. I really do think the bees are rather good.

A vile night last night wondering whether I had cauda equina, myeloma, or was just unbalanced from the back down. At my age and weight one would normally suspect furred up arteries, but the symptoms would normally be cold feet, swelling and ulcers etc. which are not there, so some kind of compression of the nerves would be a plausible explanation. But the cause is a mystery, so far. Oh well. At least things are much better during the day. Health is such an obsession of old age, and so boring.

Today I shall go to Debenhams to collect an old watch. I had forgotten that I left it there five months ago and they rang yesterday! Old age strikes again. Anyway it will be fun to go up to Oxford Street and will make a change from my usual visit to Marks & Spencer. Must just find a paper and somewhere to have coffee.


Surreal morning - i had crossly waited in the flat all day on Friday because the post people had rung my mobile promising two parcels, but in the event, no post came, despite ringing Royal Mail and being told I had to expect post up to 6.30 which confined me to barracks. The next morning, the postie arrived and asked to use my loo! Seems he was the manager of the post office, had been working all night, the postman had not turned up to do deliveries on Friday and he was doing deliveries himself after being up all night. All is not well with Royal Mail, but the long awaited packages arrived. One was a purple skirt from Ebay and the other contained excellent tape (as above)from Rob Ryan via Etsy. A sweet little handwritten card wishing me 'happy taping' came with them. I hope all this does not sound naive. Oh well.

With my new found freedom I purchased more Lithuanian bread, Louba was not working, and I also bought what seems to be a handpainted Christmas apple in blue and white for a fiver, which I shall fill with chocs or a gift. May buy a couple more of these as they are rather sweet.

Then met Dorothy, looking very slim indeed, at Pain Quotidien. We had some coffee and purchased the ingredients for the goulash to be cooked chez Julian and Dorothy that evening. We discussed my forthcoming birthday, and agreed to all meet at my place before cabbing up to Islington for the evening. That way, Madeleine can come straight to my place and have a drink with the others before we set off.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Old Hand

Here's the left hand -obviously unaware of what the right hand is doing. You don't need a medical qualification to observe the antiquity of the hand, fingers bent with arthritis.

Bought some more frozen fruit in Iceland today and made more jelly. This is obviously going to become my latest obsession, though I was hearing about some machine which fries things without any fat called 'air fry' Hmmm, sounds strange but may be true. I shall investigate further.

Friday, 18 November 2011


Found some frozen 'summer fruit' in the freezer. This seems to be redcurrants, blackcurrants, blackberries and raspberries. I made some low calorie (supposedly 8cal per serving)raspberry jelly in half a pint of boiling water, stirred a bit, added a quick sprinkle of sugar and a cupful of said frozen fruit. Topped up with cold water and put in fridge. When set, I forked it all up and though this snap does not look that good, I think it makes an excellent pud. Can be added to ice cream, yoghourt etc. or simply served in a wine glass. Probably less than 40 cals per serving. The fruit is only 27cals per 100g, and 500g in the packet. Used less than one quarter of a packet of the fruit, tipping it into the jelly still frozen, to make a pint. There does need to be plenty of fruit to make it look good, and I suppose you could add a little elderflower or wine. May do this next time. You could put in a jelly mould or pour straight into glasses, but I prefer it looking forked up and wobbly.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Quiet Wednesday

Trying to use up my annual leave. Spent most of today pottering about and reading, awaiting a delivery, which finally arrived: two Gudrun dresses. At least I shall not go naked in my retirement. However there was no post. Seems that the days of a daily post delivery are finally over, since I know I normally have post every day, and others have commented about the lack of post. No cleaner by after 4pm either. She may be very late, or not coming. We shall see. Also no Alice, who was to pop over for a coffee. But she has now texted, and instead of arriving at coffee time will no doubt arrive this evening. Time will tell.

Bloody cold today so I put the heating on during the day. Made a casserole from cupboard ingredients: chopped a chorizo ring fairly small and fried with chopped onions and garlic. Added two bay leaves, some rosemary, chicken stock, tomato puree, hot smoked paprika,a good slug of gin, a sprinkle of sugar, and simmered, then added a vacuum pack of beetroot, a tin of lentils, a tin of broad beans, more seasoning and left to continue simmering in a casserole. Tastes quite good. Oh, and a pack of mushrooms, too. Will make this last for a bit. Here it is though this snap is not great. I may do the Catalan bit and eat the solid stuff as a meal, then add more stock and a handful of pasta to make the rest into a soup. The Catalans do it the other way round and serve the soup first, followed by the sausage and vegetables as a main course. I may have mentioned this a few times before, but if not, the ingredients are a bit different but the principle the same and it is called Escudella and Carn d'Olla. Often served at Christmas.

I have started eating more eggs again since they have been absent from my diet for a bit.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Messing About with Chandelier Chains

Forging ahead with Vernon Coleman. He may be a nutter, but does write some sense. Seems everyone except me knows about him since he wrote for newspapers, was on radio etc etc etc. Can't be all bad because he likes cats.

Anyway, went to Laughing Gravy with Madeleine yesterday for lunch. We both held back and left potatoes and Yorkshire pud - and ate no pudding. Madeleine kindly relieved me of some tablecloths and granny blankets which are surplus to requirements.

Today has been very quiet. I have been hypochondriacally googling my back and leg symptoms with little enlightenment. Some glass chandelier bits arrived today with little curly metal things to put them together which took ages. I also bought some with aged clips which are much easier to deal with, so may purchase more of these. However the result of all this labour is a bit naff on the bare lampshade frame I chose to adorn. I am going to get some more large green droplets to perk it up a bit. Actually, I may buy one or two small lampshade frames and have a go at these when I am retired. We shall see.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

How To Live

Had a long chat with one of Julian's ex tutors the other day. During the course of the conversation he recommended a book: 'how to stop your doctor killing you' by Vernon Coleman, which sounded fun and which I purchased from Amazon secondhand. Some of it is fine, but I think the best part is chapter 32 - how to live to 100. Regardless of wanting to live to 100, it has some brilliant tips, if rather odd, to make you feel better. One of them is if you are feeling low to take a deep breath, meanwhile, hold your tummy in as hard as you can and count to five, then relax. Repeat this several times. Actually it is very relaxing. There is advice about not eating meat as it gives you cancer, which I shall ignore, but otherwise, some quite good ideas. Apart from getting up early, one of them is to keep the house well lit as it will look more cheerful, wear daring and sexy underwear for fun, wear bright colours etc. etc. Anyway I think this particular chapter alone is worth buying the book for. With that in mind I have purchased some more bright clothes from Gudrun Sjoden, though Dr. Coleman is not keen on consumerism. Oh well.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011


Another work week. I am amazed by how much I have yet to do. I must bag up more clothing but would do well to try and lose some more weight. It might well help the back pain. I have purchased some more sketchbooks and found a good source of these on Ebay. I may have a day off tomorrow and will hopefully get something done. We shall see. I watched Jamie make a rather extraordinary version of an arctic roll on TV. It did look quite fun as nursery food. Basically it involved making a cake base of vanilla and chocolate sponge marbled a bit. Covered in blobs of softened vanilla and choc ice cream and jam, more jam and then rolled up and frozen. I suspect a plain vanilla and home made jam version would taste better, but would look more visually boring for TV. Ho hum. I must stop thinking about food. Ha ha.

Trees Card

another version

here's another version of the Gaywood Street card. A bit blurred.

coin mystery

Monday, 7 November 2011


Went to Marks to get a paper. I also purchased some Fru Grains in Holland & Barrett. I am giving up my glucosamine, malt and cod liver oil capsules since before taking all that I did not have the pains in the backs of my thighs which have become much worse recently. Restless night last night. I decided to walk back to try and improve my lack of exercise. I was just passing Elephant Road when I spied several shops under the railway arch which had not been there before. I took a look at the first one, called something odd like Chatica, and it turned out to be an excellent looking latino place serving coffees and so on, very clean and shiny. I may well pop in there at some time. I bought some more black bread, and Louba apologised for not contacting me as she has been very busy (so have I) but threatens to call on me next Friday. We shall see. At least I can offer her a decent coffee. Am supposed to be seeing Madeleine on Sunday.
I just happened to be passing the Albert Arms pub which looked closed, but has recently apparently reopened. A pleasant guy taking food in introduced himself and his wife as the owners of the Great Little Pub Company (or some such name) and said they were closed today to get the kitchen sorted out as they will be doing food, including Sunday lunches. Madeleine and I may sample one of these next week. I have always thought this pub was very pretty, but needed a substantial makeover, which seems to have been done. It will be good to have a decent pub around the corner.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Saturday 5 Bonfire Night

Romy's Ebay shoes arrived today. I have to say they look rather small, so the size may have been mislabelled, but we shall see.

Lunch at Lye Torng as usual, and treated myself to a Pad Thai which was delicious.

I went to Specsavers and saw a couple of punters who are going on the winter break, and my friend Beverley, looking very chic, with her grandchild. Beverley had been made redundant. She had been happy about this at first because the job had been very exhausting and she needed a break. After another two months of being less happy and more broke, she secured a job. This was less well paid, but local, so saving time and money. I picked up my specs which will add to my wardrobe.

Dorothy and Julian popped in last night. Seems my Christmas cards are too morbid, but they liked the badly drawn Christmas at Gaywood Street ones so I shall see if I can do more like this. We shall see. I may examine some previous sketchbooks to see if I can find something else, too. D and J had been to see the fireworks at Blackheath, which were excellent but with vast crowds so hard to get away again. I had stayed in and watched TV as usual.

Here's the tail end of the Kookster's mangled toy. I may have to purchase a new one for his Christmas present. Since we are going to Polhill Garden Centre in November this may be my chance, and with any luck they will have an amaryllis bulb, too.

Tea Caddy

I love this cheap old tea caddy. No doubt a promotional item in the fifties or so, it is made of cheap metal with a red plastic inner and knob on top. I found it in a car boot sale, and have seen hundreds since. I don't know why I am so keen on it. My liking for kitsch no doubt. If anyone knows more about it, please comment.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Friday 4th November

Bonfire night tomorrow. Cheap clothes from Ebay arrived today. The secret of buying is to go for a minimal quality label such as Marks, and the goods are likely to be fine.

Ocado delivered and I made a huge casserole containing: half a chorizo ring, sliced finely and fried with shallots, then two pints of chicken stock added, then carrots sliced and a large sliced cabbage. Seasoned with smoked paprika, bay leaves, rosemary and thyme, three cloves of garlic and quite a lot of tomato puree. Later I added a can of lentils and another of broad beans. Cooked on a gas ring until considerably reduced. I had lunch at Lye Torng and a chat with Louise. Tom was there, so I bought him a drink.

Dorothy had some bad news from a civil court case which will cost around £2000 which may preclude spending a fortune on dental crowns for a bit. Then an email from a close friend who has just become a grandmother - seems the baby was over eight and a half pounds - a big boy. Sent Nibby the Christmas pudding recipe. She has made two Christmas cakes but devoured one because it was so delicious, dear me.

Did another atrocious drawing above with wobbly oranges which look rather like potatoes. Then found some inks with the appalling result revealed for all to see. Just hope no one is looking. The small shrivelled thing on the right started as a lemon. Tragic.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Thor's Day

Ho hum. Last working day this week and all as well as could be expected, etc.

Desultory sketch of the mess on the table: lampstand, jug, vase, hangers, book, deeply wonky as usual with dodgy elipse etc. last night, but never mind. It's all practise.

Fell unconscious twice in the middle of soaps, so retired to bed and reading Waverley, which is quite hard going, full of whimsical Scottish stuff, all a novelty to me.

Woke at 3am in a certain amount of agony, so tried to find a comfortable position in bed. Then at 4am, Kook started screaming loudly outside. I let him in and put some dry food down, but he had come in to use his litter tray to have a pee. He then disappeared and returned, absolutely drenched and ravenous, at about 7am. He submitted to a vigorous towelling and slumped around, later being groomed and I took the opportunity to drop some antiflea treatment on his neck, after which he disappeared again. Waiting for Ocado this morning, and will have to await a postal delivery, too.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011


After an anxious day yesterday, I was all prepared to go to the opening at the Mayor Gallery, but, despite getting ready and putting on a smart dress, suddenly felt very tired, and somehow intimidated at the idea of meeting a room full of strangers. I put this down to accumulated stress, and decided to stay at home and watch television instead, though rather disappointed.

I quite enjoyed the Imagine programme with Grayson Perry, who seemed a typical (if there is such a thing any more) English eccentric. I sketched a sketchbook I had purchased from Ebay (above). This morning I found a message from Romy, who I will see later today.