Sunday, 29 January 2012

Pensioner Party

Was invited to a pensioner party where I saw quite a few of our punters. One notable woman, now a non drinker, had thoughtfully brought several half bottles of the hard stuff, including rum, vodka, whisky, gin and Southern Comfort for our consumption, and poured me at least quarter of a pint of neat whisky, which cheered me up rather a lot, particularly after I followed this with a few glasses of red wine.

Thus disinhibited I devoured around six sandwiches, some trifle, crisps and cake. There was an excellent noisy disco, so I staggered to the floor and danced several times, hopefully burning up a few calories. The local MP, my former chairman, the mayor, and three councillors were all present.

There were local lady Morris dancers, but my abiding memory will be of the whole company, including many white-haired ladies in their eighties, shouting 'who the fuck is Alice?' in a resounding chorus to the ubiquitous Roy Chubby Brown version of the song. A couple of the councillors looked rather shocked. Perhaps they should get out more.

Still a bit mis, but good Thai meal and chat with Nibs

Had a really great evening at Ken's Thai dinner at Thai Silk. Met lots of people again, including Fiona, who was very sparkly and fun, and another interesting woman, a doctor from South London, who had spent three months in Thailand. Thai Silk is a large restaurant with a very good outside area, the service is excellent and the meal good value: two courses for a tenner.

This morning I was thinking about my ex, but have not yet got up the courage to visit Peckham and make enquiries about what may have happened. I found a fairly recent photograph which will help. There is a library in his street which I am certain he must have visited frequently

Long conversation about my ex with Nibs who was very understanding, especially about the shock of the long time lapse between his death and our recent discovery. I have decided to do a little sketch book project, which will help me work through issues I didn't at first realise I had. We shall see.

My front tooth is falling to bits so I shall have to try and obtain an urgent dental appointment next week. I may also recommence the glucosamine. I am feeling the cold quite badly for some reason, and I remember that glucosamine always made me feel very warm, which could be handy in this weather.

Nibby has had a great time, visiting friend in the Cotswolds and Devon, but all a bit exhausting. She is thinking of getting a group together to go sketching, which sounds like a very good idea.

Coffin and Coke

Here's a coffin (below) from the collection at the Festival Hall. The inside is lined with railway upholstery.

I poured some skimmed milk into diet coke,(right) and this is what it looked like when I turned around again. Nice!

Friday, 27 January 2012

Feeling Blue

And wearing blue top and specs to match. So went to the Paul Gambaccini recording of Desert Island Discs to die to, accompanied by an excellent exhibition of fantasy coffins at the Festival Hall with my first Artslink meetup. Very good, and bumped into Steve Lancashire, a former Southwark Councillor, who had incidentally seen someone else I knew that day. We had both been trustees of the same charity for years, and it was good to see Steve again.

I have realised that I am going through some grief, not a little of it about 'what could have been' and also reactions of anger and blame, which are typical of bereavement, despite not having been close to my ex for many years. The past is still with us, though.

Curiouser and Curiouser

Trying to discover more about the circumstances of the demise of my ex, I have now spoken several times to Southwark Register Office (hopeless) Southwark Social Services (hopeless), hospitals (did not die in hospital), police (no knowledge of the death), and finally, a call to his Housing Officer, who is of course on leave this week, but may, just may, contact me on her return. May try and contact a local councillor, and go to Peckham and try to speak to neighbours, etc. The death seems genuine, as someone at Southwark Council (if only I knew who) recorded his death and sent the report to Bona Vacantia.

I can hardly believe that I have only just heard about his death in March last year. I was in contact with him the previous November, when we spoke and he sent me a card. As I mentioned before, he had a mobile phone which I gave him and had only one number on it, mine. He had my telephone number and address, and the numbers and addresses of several members of the family at home. Don't really know where to turn next.

I would obviously like to know why I am only finding out about this, ten months after the event. Really strange. I suspect a visit to Peckham is in order.

Feeling Rather Sad

My son rang to say he had received an email about an estate. He rang the heirhunter people who had traced him. It appears that my poor old ex-husband (shown above with our son) died in March last year. As we haven't been in touch, we know no more.

Poor old thing. He was so different when young: an enterprising and adventurous teenager, going hill walking and youth hostelling in the Lake District, living abroad and attending a French University, gaining his degree there and working as an assistant teacher in a French School, before getting a scholarship to Oxford and a good Modern Languages degree.

I met him in Paris where he spent time during his Easter university vacation. After completing his degree we lived in Algeria and Saudi Arabia where he taught English. Returning to UK he taught at a Language school in London and Oxford, making friends with a colleague who cooked for the students, Jennifer Paterson, later of Fat Ladies fame. After our son was born he taught at a grammar school in Westcliff, where he was very popular with the children, and spent some weekends in London working for the Simon Community with homeless men.

Unfortunately he went to France in 1968 and was somehow involved in the May riots in Paris and disappeared for the rest of the summer, before appearing again in September, obviously mentally ill, at his parent's house in London. To me, he never really recovered: he had toured France with the Living Theatre during that missing summer, and discovered psychedelic drugs.

We separated after this, and he lived in Barcelona for a few years, with a new relationship and another son, but they split up and he lived alone in London afterwards.

I shall endeavour to find out more about why we did not hear about his death until now, as I gave him a mobile phone which had my number on it, and he had written down several family addresses and telephone numbers. Very strange indeed. And very sad.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

And here's the scarves

Not that they show very well. Should have put a bag over my head. Not in good face today.

Successful Shopping

This is a rather strange pot, which is quite old I think and has typical regency colours with Greek patterns and images of various gods around it. The colours fade so I had to stop washing it.

Great deal in Tesco - tins of chestnut puree reduced from £2.20 to 45p so purchased the remaining five tins. I shall add these to casseroles, soups etc. Also naturally, a sale going on at Peacocks so purchased two scarves - both black background - one with different sized white stars all over and the other with white swallows. I shall probably wear them together with all my black, white and grey clothes. Made an excellent soup using free range mushrooms boiled and drained, then adding chicken stock and garlic to the water, then a bit of gin and a tin of chestnut puree and some butter beans. Then slicing the mushrooms back in for a bit of texture. I think that's all.

Great to find more cantuccini in the pound shop so purchased three packets to improve my coffee breaks at home and my hospitality. Actually, I hate to say it, but the Torta Andalusa and the Tiramisu from the same source are very popular with guests. Very handy at teatime. They probably taste good because they are not English and have less crap in them. Calorie content not bad either. Thin slices about 150 calories.

An anniversary version of the first Adrian Mole is out. Great though Adrian Mole books are, my favourite Sue Townsend is Number Ten. Talking of books, I have now at last found the free book section by author on my ipad. Decided to read more Winifred Holtby and downloaded some.

Bad sketch

Another wonky sketch done with my iPad.  Less vile than the portraits but still in need of much practise....

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Monday Night Jam

Used up a Groupon with Alice. This entitled us to a cocktail each and £25 worth of bar food upstairs at the Toulouse Lautrec near the Elephant. We had to arrive early, around 7.15 to be sure of a table. I had been rather dreading this jaunt since I am not always crazy about jazz.

We ordered a fish and seafood platter to share, which was quite substantial. The cocktails were a bit weak, but very pleasant. The room filled up quite quickly and at 8.30 the house band started playing, and were excellent, I have to say. We went on to have a pudding each (fortunately I chose sorbets) and some more drinks.

After a short break, a large number of musicians started arriving with their instruments and the jam session started. They all seemed pretty competent, not that I am an expert, and the atmosphere was rather like a mini Ronnie Scott's upstairs, very pleasant. At one point we noticed a guy bearing a striking resemblance to Lembit Opik, staggering about rather tired and emotional. Anyway, we were enjoying ourselves so much it was nearly midnight when we left. I shall definitely go again, and Monday is a really fun night. I shall have a look at their website which tells you what is on when, and they have music of one kind or another every night.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Sunday Lunch

was enjoyed by Dorothy, Madeleine and me. We went to the Laughing Gravy, which has good food and an excellent atmosphere. Roast onglet for two of us and chicken for Madeleine. Dorothy and I fell by the wayside and had puddings, which were excellent. We limited our wine consumption though. I have always liked Laughing Gravy. Rang Nibby who was going to Arighi Bianchi for lunch. The food there is excellent, and the children are used to it and tend to behave well there. Nibby is going on her adventure to Devon via the Cotswolds today. I hope she has a good time.

I plan to use a Groupon at Brasserie Toulouse-Lautrec with Alice tonight, so wish me luck!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Past Homes

I blame encroaching dementia, but I find it hard to remember all the places I have ever lived in. Therefore I shall attempt to document these:

1. Paignton, where I was born and lived until my parents separated.

2. Combe Martin, and for a short time Ilfracombe, where my sister was born.

3. Cambridge, where my stepfather was at Uni.

4. Sutton, for a short while after my stepfather graduated.

5. Trinidad, West Indies, where the oil industry flourished, and my stepfather was a geologist.

6. Kensington, after another parental split.

7. Blackheath, where we spent several years.

8. Runfold, near Farnham, Surrey.

9. Heswall in Cheshire, when my new stepfather's company transferred to Liverpool. My brother was born here.

10. Paris, where I became an au pair and met my first husband.

11. Oxford, where my husband was at uni. And Barnes, where his family lived.

12. Algiers where my husband worked at a language school.

13. Battersea, where we lived for a short while when my husband got a job in Saudi Arabia.

14. Saudi Arabia for a short while.

15. Blackheath, when my husband worked at a language school in central London, and I became pregnant with my son.

16. Chilson, near Charlbury, Cotswolds. My son was born at the War Memorial Cottage Hospital, Chipping Norton.

17. Thorpe Bay, where my husband taught at Westcliff High School, then disappeared in the 1968 May riots in Paris. He later went back to his parents' house in Barnes.

18. Barnes, where I lived firstly with my parents, then rented a flat, where I lived with my son for a couple of years, before meeting someone else.

19. Northumberland, near Morpeth. We lived happily here until I became ill with bronchitis and pneumonia caused by a damp flat, and moved back to London with my son.

20. Found a flat in Barnes, which I later purchased, when I remarried.

21. Moved to St Margaret's Twickenham, where I bought a house.

22. Divorced and moved to Elephant & Castle, where I have been living for the past 20 years.

I do seem to have got about a bit. No wonder I can't remember it all.

iPad sketch at lye torng

I am not getting any better at this. Obviously require plenty of practise. 

Friday, 20 January 2012

Food Again

OK I will stop about food soon. BUT just try this: 5-600g any old stewing beef, trimmed and diced, 2-6 carrots quartered horizontally, 2 medium onions quartered, 1 pint chicken or beef stock, 1 tin Heinz cream of tomato soup. Bay leaves, pepper, salt etc optional. Chuck all into a large covered casserole and stick in the oven heated to 160 for an hour, then down to about 140 for another four hours. Delicious and dead easy!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Pastures New

Well, new departures anyway. Went to my first meetup and paid a tenner for membership. This entitles me to find out about any of Ken's meetups. Ken is a middle-aged Irish chap living in Lewisham, who runs lots of these groups, doing anything from walks during the day to dining in the evening and plenty in between. Ken has been doing this for a year and now has over 3,000 members, which showed there is a demand, and is very adept at introductions, having a great memory for names. A free glass of wine was provided for newbies, which made it pretty cheap. An interesting crowd of people met in the wine bar, more men than women, but plenty of both, with a very varied social and ethnic mix which was good. I chatted with a medical secretary, a senior civil servant, a doctor and someone who had been a dustman for 30 years. Ages ranged from people in their twenties, but most were in the range of 35 to 50 and I was definitely the only old lady, which was fine. People bought their own drinks, and I nursed a diet coke until I received the free wine, so it was a cheap night out. A card was passed to me by a guy who is interested in doing film extra work and I promised to let him know if I could find a reputable agency. Several people I met are also going to the Thai dinner next week so I shall see some familiar faces.

I left quite early, being unused to evenings out, and was greeted outside the house by the Kookster, mewing loudly as he followed me home. Two missed calls from Dorothy, who was eating dinner by the time I called back at 9.30. I shall catch up with my soaps this morning on my ipad.

Ugly me

Was trying to take a snap to upload for film extra stuff but I keep getting these mad staring eyes.  Maybe there is a tv ad forthcoming requiring mad old warty staring bats,who knows? 

Wednesday, 18 January 2012


Bus Pass Outing

This time two people showed so went to Tate Britain and staggered about a bit. Looked at the Turners and some Romantic stuff and saw lots of students looking at abstract expressionists and Francis Bacon. Then looked at some contemporary stuff, but masses of work going on and not that much to see, considering. But large chandelier thingy, above and another thing with potted palms quite fun.

Vegged out in the afternoon, but made some sustaining pea and ham soup which will last for days. Purchased some flowers and chocs for Antonia. Must remember to get Louise some Turkish delight from Borough Market maybe on Saturday.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

The Impresario

Here's Barrie, still at it!

Fireside Maud with Tiger


is where I spent some time this morning. Auditionees? for a commercial were foregathering, including Victorine, to play parts of a wedding party, mum of the bride etc. It was quite funny because the camera person came out and assumed I was there for an audition. He commented on the elegance of my coat, so I shall not chuck it out just yet. Victorine wore a very low cut suit and a rather jaunty fascinator, shaped like a little hat, a bit burlesque in style. They paired her up with a tall, quite good looking actor, and the audition went on for some time. We then escaped to Da Aldo for a very good lunch, after which, fortified with too much wine we battled on to the Charing Cross Road to see Barrie and Keith. I purchased Barrie's novel:'Only One Leaf Left on the Old Oak Tree' - a sparkling ditty about old ladies in a retirement home, a sure bestseller. I then admired the new Maud, an elegant young tabby, who was lounging against a large toy tiger in front of the fire. We then received absolutely enormous pint sized cups of tea with biscuits.

For some reason the name of Terence Davies came up. Unfortunately, because of the wine I had drunk I foolishly admitted that when I had seen him at the NFT a few years ago, he had denied any knowledge of Christophe and Victorine. Victorine was amazed to hear this, as she and Christophe had provided almost a second home for him, having him to dinner almost weekly for several years before he became famous. This is where I had first met him, and I knew he was a frequent visitor and we had all four met up locally for lunch at a place called the Zanzibar (now closed). I had also been rather puzzled and a bit embarrassed at the time. I had deliberately not mentioned it before because I thought it was hurtful, considering how much they had done for him. I blame the wine. I decided that the poor man may have a really bad memory. Another possibility is that he had become so famous he had forgotten his whole preceding existence. Oh well. I did not arrive home until around 6pm - very late for me. Must learn to keep my trap shut. Probably too late in life for that, but will try harder.

I shall decide tomorrow whether to brave another bus pass outing. Today was bloody cold outside and tomorrow promises rain.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Bit of a Bummer

using Brushes. It may be some adjustment I have not made, but using it there is quite a time gap between my drawing something and it appearing so I have no idea where the marks will appear and they get quite carried away leading to a very clumsy result. I shall keep practising though. Also the fine drawing implement Julian gave me just does not work with Brushes in that it often fails to make any marks at all. Also Brushes seems to move about, enlarging suddenly in front of me so I have to use the rubber to bring the page back to normal. Teething troubles no doubt. We shall see.

I got quite carried away and joined some more Meetup groups. Also told Nibby about them and there seem to be a few oop North, mainly in Mankie but she may start a sketchbook one in Macclesfield which should be fun. I hope she does.

I am eating too much with this cold. I really must try harder to restrain myself. Pickled cucumber beckons.

And here is another

Very trying

Trying to use blogsy. Equally tiresome using brushes which is my excuse for such poor stuff as this.
Or this

Surprise Visit

There's something about my Sunday involving my flat being even more of a mess than usual, so it was with slight horror that I received a call from Alice to say she was nearby on a bus, and was it OK if she came to see me today rather than tomorrow? Since nothing in particular was happening I agreed to this, and started darting about the place in a vain attempt to disguise my sadly sordid surroundings.

We chatted over coffee and cakes (though I had purchased some profiteroles from Marks at a knockdown price as part of their meal deal, Alice preferred the Tiramisu layered thing from the £1 shop, which was fine by me). I may chuck out these sinful treats later today (Monday).

Having told Nibby that I never get colds, there has been a suspicious tickling in the throat, combined with a runny nose, occasional sneezing and feeling somewhat below par, so I suspect I told a lie. Oh well.

Have now booked the Hope & Anchor for Sunday lunch, which should be fun, and am in the process of using up my last Groupon for some kind of evening session at the Toulouse-Lautrec, if they ever answer their telephone.

Feeling rather housebound, I joined about three Meetup groups: Ken's Meetup, which seems to be mainly going out drinking in the evening, probably not entirely my kind of thing; a London Dining group, seems to be mainly Thai places, again in the evening; and for some reason probably associated with my newly found brother's interests, a folkie group, which will embarrass me no end I suspect. Still, onward and upward! These groups seem to cost about a tenner a year to join, and events are either cheap or free, which suits me fine. Should help occupy my time and provide some kind of social contact, but we shall see. Perhaps I should have stuck with the SE1 Come and Dine group, but the one and only one I hosted was such a nightmare.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Saturday Afternoon

Had a brief drink at Lye Torng, then met Dorothy at Pain. Dorothy helped me with my ipad a bit, and we had a long chat over a coffee. Later Julian turned up for another coffee at the Monmouth, before we parted, me clutching a bag of apples and pears which Dorothy had purchased earlier.

Last night I decided to have a bit of a wander, and found a rather odd little place in the back streets of Southwark called 'Salamander'. Intrigued by the darkness within, just punctuated by a few glowing lights, I couldn't resist going in. Once inside I could see that the only light was provided by lamps placed on tables. No music playing, but just a few people drinking cocktails. There was a long bar down the side, with a couple of bar staff busy shaking cocktails. The whole place seemed very old fashioned, a bit like a thirties bar. I settled down to consume an absinthe, and observed. Such a strange place to find in Southwark. By my second absinthe, more people had arrived, and a small jazz band had assembled in the back. A little dance floor was revealed, and a few customers, enlivened by alcohol, danced about a bit, quite slowly and unsteadily. Reminded me of the 'trad jive' of the late 'fifties. I decided to leave before things became too lively, and staggered back home.

Actually, I just made all that up. My life is so dull. I will now confess that I watched TV for about an hour or two, then went to bed to read for a while before nodding off. Tragic really.

This horrible snap was inspired by Cecil Beaton who used to photograph the Queen with a huge and powerful light behind her. Not quite the same with one of my not very bright lights and me in the front. Must try harder.

Freedom Friday and Saturday Morning

A desultory glance around the horrendous mess that is my flat, before settling down to arranging the huge vase of flowers in my living room. Then I started reading the food history book, in between reading bits of the Alan Clark diary on my ipad. Did a sketch using the Brushes app, was almost pleased with it, but in attempting to save I somehow deleted it. I am writing this on Saturday.

Madeleine's birthday on Friday. She had no plans, so I said she was welcome to come around after work, but I suspect she either had a better offer, or was planning to have a birthday mopefest at home, fuelled with booze, chocs and rubbish TV. Am green with envy just thinking about it, though I am doing quite well myself with the gin and books. In any event we are planning a birthday Sunday lunch in a week or two.

Not sure whether I am meeting Dorothy today, but if so I shall collect my bits of printing which Julian has ready for me. Otherwise today, I may try a further bit of tidying up my art materials, which are untidily scattered around the spare bedroom at the moment.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Fond Farewell

Dinner at Lye Torng last night with all the Trustees, Romy's husband and my successor. Everyone was so kind and I felt totally inadequate. Not used to being the centre of attention. They presented me with a vast and elegant bouquet, a book on historic English Food by Clarissa Dickson Wright, and a much appreciated bottle of gin. My weaknesses nailed.

This morning I woke early and determinedly rang the tax office and my pension providers, both state and NHS, which took around three hours to get some answers. The tax people now tell me they will change my tax code asap so from April things should improve. Rang Nibby and sorted out tickets to the David Hockney for March.

An email arrived from my old friend David who is busily painting away, and hope we might meet to catch up soon.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Tax etc

Rang the damned tax people. Unfortunately I have managed to lose my P45 and anything else which tells me how much I have earned in the past year. I probably lost it with the Groupon vouchers. Seems that I will be paying too much tax for some time, and it may not be adjusted until next year, or when someone decides to send them the information which they do not have yet. Oh well. Apparently because I am over 65 I am supposed to have some age related allowance I am not getting, but the tax people say I would only get it if I were not paying tax anyway which sounds a bit wrong to me. If it is only a tax allowance, surely it would only apply against tax you were actually paying. Since I am 70 I should have probably been getting it against my income for the past five years??? I just do not understand these things. I suppose I should not complain as Nibby is only getting £380 per month. I am trying to get her to claim pension credit but so far no luck. Actually I have just looked up the tax thing and I seem to have not been entitled to it because I was working and because my total income was therefore over 24k. Dear me, I can now earn nearly 10k without paying any tax. Must find a way to get some tax-free money.

About 2pm and still awaiting delivery, which can stretch into the evening, but I have a date at 7pm so let's hope it comes soon. No paper so bored into yet another search for any tax info and groupons, hopeless, must have chucked it all out.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Missing Groupons

These will be printed for me by Julian, since I have hidden them away so carefully that I cannot find them. Julian came and gave me a tutorial on my ipad. Unfortunately not much of this sank in, as I took it to the Lye Torng and somehow pressed a wrong button so that it would not connect to the internet there. Now it only connects at home. Bit of a nuisance really, but less of a worry since I am not likely to drop it at home. Had been hoping to take it out to cafes though. And with me if I went away anywhere. Oh well.

Visited the quack, who agrees that my back problems point to a nerve disorder somewhere. She has referred me to a back pain clinic at the hospital for further investigation. I suppose now I am retired I have no excuse for avoiding hospital appointments. Must also go to the damned dentist soon as my teeth are in need of expensive treatment.

Someone rang me last night. Must have been Nibby, but I did not get to the phone in time to take the call and my phone does not tell you which number called you last nor a message taking facility. Of course it could have been someone trying to sell me something. Made me burn my cooking, anyway, so I just had some soup and lettuce for dinner.

Quiet day today, awaiting what will no doubt be my last delivery of clothes from the sales.


Been cancelling all my memberships and mags: Art Fund, RSPB (spending the money on fat balls instead), The Week, and Period Living. That just left the Oldie, due for renewal of £37 in February, but saw an offer of 12 months for £12 plus a free Oldie Annual, so rang them hastily to take advantage of this. So spent £12 so far today.

Was working out that if I pretended to be two people, I could still get quite a good value midweek four day break at Littlecote House. Must find out about train fares to Marlborough or Hungerford. I would have to pretend to be 'Mr and Mrs' since they don't really seem to cater for singles, unless in a vast coach party. They would do well on this since with my diet, I would only be eating for a very small 'Mrs'. Don't suppose I will really go, though.


Spoke too soon. On Tuesday evening I downloaded two books - another £8 in total. At least they were long ones, if rather eclectic choices: Alan Clark's first Diary, and My Shit Life So Far by Danny Boyle.

Above is some uraniun glass, illuminated by a UV torch. Xander was a bit fascinated by this stuff at Christmas, though dubious about drinking out of the glasses.

Madeleine has kindly pointed out some free lectures in London which I may attempt to attend. Though at the moment, my whole time seems to be spent in turning rubbish out of drawers and discovering things I did not know I had.

Visiting the quack today about my back, but I suspect that there will be no answers, but we shall see. A long chat with Victorine, who is rapidly losing weight. Somehow she finds it easy to starve all day, and then eat in the evening. I told her about the trick of just having under 600 calories on two days, and not worrying so much about the rest, and the recent advice to have two alcohol-free days a week. I was also surprised to hear someone say on Radio 4 that two units, the recommended daily max for women, is a large glass of wine, so that means the weekly total would then be five glasses a week which seems very low. I say this not having touched a drop since New Year's Eve, but still,...

I loved the explanation for the difference between cottage pie and shepherd's pie from Coronation Street the other night. Seems that cottage pie is always beef, and should have potato slices on top to represent the roof of the cottage, and shepherd's pie is always lamb, with fluffy mash on top to represent the fleece. Sounds like a rural myth.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012


Saw Easter eggs for sale the other day. Lunch with Ken and Romy today - Romy has kindly given me another bottle of PX which will considerably brighten my retirement. I shall consume this while continuing to read my Fat Duck book. Had a virtuous lunch purchased by Romy, of smoked salmon and prawn salad.

I only spent £2 today: £1 on a newspaper and £1 on some low fat mayonnaise. I wish I could do this every day. My previous two days have been quite appalling. I cannot bring myself to say how much I spent, but I had an Ocado delivery one day and bought some M & S Fuller Longer meals the next day. These work out to £3 each which isn't too bad though they are not as good as home cooking of course, even my cooking. Handy to keep a couple in the fridge just in case, though.

Made another fruit jelly with raspberries. I am wondering whether, if I replaced some of the water, after it has set a bit, with cold custard (cream would curdle) and whizzed it in the Magimix it would make a kind of mousse on resetting. May try it. We shall see.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Monday Still

Nibby rang and suggested we went to the David Hockney exhibition at the Royal Academy some time in March. She could stay overnight with me, so I shall make the bed up soon in anticipation. Which reminds me to wash the sheets.

Have been reading the enormous Fat Duck cookery book etc which Romy purchased for me. The story is very interesting. When I am off diet some time I may try thrice cooked chips. Seems you make fat chips, boil until soft, run under cold water before refrigerating them to dry out (apparently a dessicator helps, but I can't imagine being able to get one of these) before frying them twice again. Should make the outside fabulously crispy with soft fluffy insides. Mmmmm... I must stop thinking about food...

Meanwhile I will continue bagging up summer clothes so that my wardrobe is more manageable.

More Monday Morning

And here's all the mess by my bedside today. On the left there is a 'Stratton' compact which I picked up in Marlborough. I may have mentioned this before, but when my 21st was coming up, these things were very popular. I mentioned to someone that I would like one and received 12 compacts, at least three of which were identical. I can't remember what I did with them, but now they are collectable again.

Woke up ridiculously early, i.e. 4am, having gone to bed around nine. Breakfast at 7am. Trying to decide what to do today. Because I am not at work, I seem to make more mess around the place, which is rather worrying. I must try and get out more.

Monday Morning

Here's a glass of water by my bedside. I was fascinated by the shapes made by a brush behind it.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Blogsy failed

Did another post on Blogsy which has dismally failed so may give up on this.

I just don't really know how to do it. Anyway, I can't be bothered to try and remember all of it. Suffice it to say that I have lost 3lb of the 6lb gained over December, so onwards and downwards, hopefully.

Had a good long meeting with Dorothy and briefly saw Julian who was rushing off to see the Gerhardt Richter at the Tate Modern with a friend. I was going to see it today, but unfortunately it finished yesterday. I am toying with the idea of visiting the Museum of Childhood, but may leave this until next week. Now off to M & S to grab a paper and maybe examine their steaks. I have decided to record what I spend each day in order to frighten myself into living within my income - being a spendthrift and a poverty-stricken pensioner somehow don't go together too well. We shall see....

Saturday Morning Early

Awaiting Ocado. I cooked the Heston-style steak. It was indeed very juicy but not pink enough inside. Apparently I should buy a meat thermometer to test it. I was afraid it might be a bit 'off' so overcooked it, but it was still good. Almost forgot to rest it for five minutes. Bored to death with TV so had an early night.

Back and hips and backs of legs still hurting a lot despite getting up three times and trying to get comfortable. Not a good night's sleep, but still waking fairly refreshed at 6am. Kook absolutely on time and came flying in, mewing loudly to be fed. I am now reading Blood, Sweat and Tea - by a London Ambulance driver, on my ipad.

Texted Dorothy about a possible meet today but no reply so far.

I have decided (yet again) to try and sort out my clothes. I really need to separate summer and winter clothing more strictly. More black bin bags called for. I actually tried some cheap boots on in Peacocks and found I could actually do the zips up. My black suede flat pointy boots which go right up over the knee, my favourites, are so loose in the leg that they slip down which is annoying. I may purchase some of the fairisle kind of Norwegian type woolly knitted leggings which should fatten my calves and keep the boots up. We shall see.

Yesterday, I had a go at the cobwebs with my feather duster. I also dusted the lampshades and realised that the one in the downstairs hall which is a long paper one, was deeply encrusted with dust, and when dusted, holes were revealed. I am reluctant to replace this since it is such a good shape. Surprising how much filth is revealed considering I actually have a cleaner. I cleaned the salt pig in the kitchen and a few of the appliances too. I suppose at least the cleaner does the floors, which is the worst thing for me. Basically the whole place needs decluttering, the damp dealt with, redecorating, ( ha ha) and later in the year, another assault on next door's so-called 'garden' which now resembles a jungle with huge brambles coming over to my side. I have purchased some extra strong garden gloves to hold these while I cut them but it is a bit of a losing battle. I am wondering if there is some kind of industrial killer I can just pour over the fence which will kill everything from the foliage. Without harming the cats.

Bloody hell, Ocado has arrived fifteen minutes early! Must go.

Friday, 6 January 2012


Collected my repeat prescription. Saw Dancing Fred at the GP surgery. He wants me to make sure he is invited to the Christmas party and tells me the meals on wheels are no good, so he throws them away. He is looking for somewhere to have lunch. I must try and find somewhere for him. I once saw him in a transport cafe in East Street, but maybe this has closed.

I had a coffee at the shopping centre, and did my Ocado order online later. I shall try and economise a bit by only ordering tins and heavy stuff such as cat food from Ocado. The order still came to over £60, but will hopefully last a couple of weeks. Lunched at home today, since I had plenty of casserole left. Saw my upstairs neighbour and her son who is walking well, came into my flat for a short stagger on his way out with his mother, and attempted to engage me in conversation by burbling away for a few minutes. He was very excited by the rattly handles on the bathroom cabinet.

Tonight I shall cook a steak, purchased cheaply at Tesco, in the Heston way. I have left it in the fridge on a cake rack uncovered for a day, normally should be two days but I bought it on sale near the end of its shelf life. This will dry and harden the outside a bit. I shall rest it for a couple of hours out of the fridge later. Then I shall fry it on a very high heat in oil, with salt but no pepper, turning it using tongs every 15-20 seconds until ready, then resting for five minutes while I make a salad. Apparently it should be dark and crispy on both sides and very moist and tender inside. We shall see. I should have used sirloin and it is a rump steak which is a bit tougher, but may have more flavour.

Nibby is lunching today with old friends from childhood in the Wirral. I quite envy her going back there. Though I no longer have friends living there, I have lots of happy memories of a mis-spent youth. Apparently it only takes an hour or so to drive there from Macclesfield.

I must text Dorothy. I am hoping we can meet tomorrow for a coffee at Pain Quotidien or some other suitable venue. Dorothy is too grand to come to my place at Elephant & Castle, and Borough Market is near their address.

A bit nippy outside today. I am struggling a bit with the ipad, but have downloaded a few books, and am currently reading 'The Celtic Twilight'a free download by W.B. Yeats, a collection of Irish folklore and legends which is quite interesting.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Bus pass outing no. 2

My lampshade frame, bulbs, and fake windowsill flowers.
I set off this morning, clutching a sandwich and a tangerine. Met up with about twelve other oldies at Waterloo action centre. I was given instructions with a map on a piece of paper and we set off in the opposite direction to that indicated on the map. I just followed them onto a bus and got off when they did. They all raced off and I struggled to keep up but after a more than bracing walk (it was freezing cold and windy on the embankment), we arrived at 2 Temple place for the William Morris exhibition. I chatted with a couple of people and we found a room to have lunch in. I think they were going off to somewhere else later. However, by this time I was completely knackered, and resisting the temptation to leap into a cab, caught the tube from Temple station back home. These oldies are far too energetic for me.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012


Thank God my GP surgery is open today - though why they put that sign up, God knows.

An interesting thing happened at the theatre yesterday - putting my coat on I felt some hard thing sticking out of my chest - on further investigation it turned out to my bra wire, which had broken loose and was trying to escape altogether. Put it back in the loo but must sew it in firmly.

First lunch at Lye torng - chicken Massaman, excellent. There was a huge tropical type of downpour and unbelievable wind outside - all over the country too, apparently. Andrew gave me a lovely pot of gourmet Turkish jam for a present, so nice.

I may not bother with tomorrow's bus pass outing in view of the current weather, maybe next week or the week after, we shall see.

Later Monday

Met Kate who eventually found QEH, 'looking very dapper from her napper to her feet' literally, with a new hat, and funky new socks and shoes. After a coffee we watched Murmurs, which was OK, but not nearly as good as the parents' show, Le Cirque Invisible, and not a patch on Slava, but quite good moves and dancing, just not enough substance and far too long, I thought, though Kate seemed to like it more, thank goodness. We chatted for an hour or so before leaving for home. We may plan some excursions with sketchbooks to coffee places during this year.

Tip: since my GP stopped my HRT a few years ago, my hair has become horribly thin and sparse. I have discovered that, if I brush it 'upside down' then add a large bobble of mousse, rubbing it into the hair but avoiding the scalp, scrunching too, then leaving my head untouched (but the right way up) until it is completely dry (naturally, not using a drier), then brushing it into shape, this seems to add quite a lot of volume and looks quite natural.

Monday, 2 January 2012

New Year No NHS

Popped over to my local GPs since my prescription is running out, only to find the place firmly locked with a sign to say they are closed until 28th January!!! Some National Health 'Service'. Rang NHS direct who were only taking urgent enquiries and taking four hours to return the call, then Seldoc who laughed - they think it is a mistake and tell me all GP surgeries are open tomorrow so I should try again then. Pathetic. The notice looks as though it is not a mistake. GPs would not have been allowed to close for this length of time in the past. If they really are closed until then I suppose I shall have to go to Casualty and try to drag a repeat prescription out of them. Dear me.



Sunday, 1 January 2012

New Year Overeating Habit

Dear me, I can't stop eating: went out after a large breakfast for a ridiculously large lunch with Alice. We played Scrabble and ate Stollen with tea after the large lunch. Came home to toasted sandwich liberally spread with Stilton and then ate an overripe banana. Oh dear. This will all have to stop.

Tomorrow I shall see Murmurs. I do hope the audience keep quiet. Apparently it is a silent performance, marred only by people coughing and sniffing. Hmmm. We shall see.