Saturday, 31 March 2012

War Museum

I was planning to draw musicians at the Festival Hall but received a call from a relative over from Dubai with her young son who wanted to visit the War Museum. So I cancelled my drawing date, and we had lunch in the garden before a visit to the museum. I had been advised to visit the holocaust section, which we did, and which was somewhat harrowing. We looked at other exhibits and decided that the place would warrant a full day for the future.

Dorothy due back from America today. Undecided whether to meet Dorothy at Heathrow, but maybe an unexpected meeting would not be good after a ten hour flight so, I may well go to the Hunterian museum and do some drawing which I missed yesterday.

Talking to Nibby about my recently enforced lack of bathing and substitution of washing, I had noticed an improvement in my skin. To my surprise she told me that our mother's GP had advised her in her older years that daily bathing removes too much skin oil and that she should wash only, and bath or shower once a week. This certainly has the ring of truth, and the added advantage of saving water. Hmmmm.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Same applies to Fitflops

Dear me. Had tried these at the same time as Shape Ups. Googled them only to find that masses of people have complained of sciatic nerve pain radiating down the legs after wearing them. Will now throw them away!

Skechers Shape Ups - don't wear them!

I had originally started wearing these for fitness reasons last year and developed the most awful back pain which went down the legs. I stopped wearing them but the pain continued so I thought it was a coincidence but did not wear them again.

Yesterday morning I decided to try them again and put them on for an hour or so. I did notice much more pain in my back and legs when I walked, and then when I took them off my back was by this time in agonising pain. I decided to Google them and it seems that masses of lawyers in America have cases against Skechers, so I shan't wear them any more. They seem to have caused permanent damage, in my case at least.

Gudrun Meeting and Greeting

More Gudrun Opening


Gudrun Opening

Spent much of the afternoon trying to decide what to wear to this. Having first opted for brilliant colourful combinations, the sad realisation that six foot tall teenage models would make me look like a sad old mad person made me choose something more discreet and blackish, but a little arty, I hoped.

Outside the new shop in Monmouth Street, (which has smartened up a lot since I was last there), there were rickshaws full of said six foot teenage models all looking gorgeous in Gudrun's latest creations. We went in and were immediately greeted by Gudrun, tiny and very sweet, shaking hands continuously. The shop was brilliant - full of fabulous designs, huge flower arrangements including vast bunches of ranunculus, plants etc. Lots of happy people gathering armfuls of clothes to buy. Trust this shop to come along just in time for my penniless retirement!

I wandered about, bumping into people wearing Gudrun, and one woman wearing (rather more effectively) my black silk cardigan. People had come from all over the place, including a few from the West Country, Devon and Bristol. Drinks were served and canapes handed around the room. I opted for a mojito. Unfortunately, emboldened by this consumption, I purchased a pink top and very pretty cotton scarf.

It really was a lovely opening, with musicians, happy people all around, and Gudrun (who actually spoke to me during her little speech!!! how starstruck am I?) bringing the best feelings of the spirit of the sixties back to London.

I had better stop here before getting too carried away. Lovely large cotton goodie bags in her typical designs were handed to us as we left, filled with little Easter eggs, cosmetics, sketchbooks and postcards etc.

Lunch in the Garden with Romy

An absolutely gorgeous hot summery day. We lunched on smoked salmon salad with new potatoes and crusty rolls and drank cool cava. Romy regaled me with tales of her fantastic visit to America and lots of snaps. It sounded absolutely fantastic - visiting Chicago, taking the train to the Grand Canyon, route 66 to Las Vegas and so on. Listening to this I was almost as green as my garden. She came bearing gifts as usual - some very witty party coasters and a nail file thingy.

I told her about the fish pedicure and we resolved to book one for next Thursday, so had better organise this today.

Tonight is the Gudrun Sjoden opening in Monmouth Street. Haven't been there for years. I used to sell things I made to a shop which is no longer there, and someone I know had a rather 'theatrical' cafe there in the sixties.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Busy times

Matinee of 'Can we talk about this' at Lyttleton. It was very good but quite hard work. Seems lots of moslems think it is anti-moslem but I thought it was more against multiculturalism, which is different. Needed a glass of red afterwards in the bar with some other Meeuppers.

Bus pass outing to the Hindu temple at Neasden today. This is an absolutely extraordinary place, like a transplant of a mini Taj Mahal to London. Had a good look around and managed to lose all the other bus passers so came back and sat in the garden since it was so sunny today. Am lunching with Romy tomorrow. Hope the weather is as good as today and we can sit outside and sip cava. We shall see.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Monday All Day

Forgot to mention that a good looking guy washed my feet AND I was given a free pair of towelling bath shoes yesterday.

Planning my next First Foot trip soon. Tomorrow going to 'Can we talk about this' at the National Theatre. Matinee. Not sure exactly how chirpy that is going to be.

Did a bad ipad sketch of a man at the coffee place at Elephant & Castle today but gave up when I looked at it and played Scrabble afterwards.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Sunday Footsie

Bright but chilly today. Nothing daunted I stepped out to the First Foot salon with my little Lithuanian pal, and after filling in forms to say we did not have any vile disease, cuts, and had not applied nail varnish or skin cream within 24 hours, our feet were washed and dangled in fish tanks. At first it was rather ticklish, but as we chatted it became very relaxing and we spent half an hour in the water before more rinsing and foot drying and application of creams. We were given free towelling slippers which was an added bonus. All this for £13.50 each so we added £1 to make a grand total for two of £28. Bargain, I thought. A pleasant way to spend some time on a Sunday. Pensioners go for £10 only on the third Monday of the month, probably cheaper than the chiropodist, but no good for those with diabetes apparently.

Made some more refrigerator sweeties, which I must give away before I am tempted.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Ichthyotherapy comes to Elephant & Castle

Met up with my little Lithuanian friend and we had a coffee while she recounted her tales of romance, including what sounded like a wonderful trip to Moscow recently.

Just upstairs we met Mary Kirwan of First Foot Ltd at Unit 214. Mary has just started a fish therapy place there. She has some pensioner's days on Mondays and her phone number is 07931 483 982. Normally the price is £18 for half an hour of fish therapy. However if two go together it is £27, so my little pal and I will hotfoot it over there tomorrow afternoon to sample the delights. What a find - head and foot treatment all so locally!

I hope the pensioners of Southwark are able to benefit from this fab treatment. Her 'salon' is very fresh looking, and I sampled the fish experience with a (cleaned) hand. Quite a pleasant feeling so am looking forward to tomorrow. After a few treatments my corns may be a thing of the past.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Quiet Times

Julian came around to give me precise instructions on changing light bulbs under the kitchen counters. Unbelievably fiddly.

Having been instructed last week to make boiled orange cake, and most of this having been devoured by Julian, I was further instructed to stop making cakes and to stop buying biscuits. Immediately after this I made a kind of roll by crushing ginger biscuits and dark chocolate, adding broken walnuts and maltesers, then melting a large bar of milk chocolate with a sliced Mars bar and stirring in, then chopping some marzipan and adding to the mix. Oh, and some golden syrup heated gently. This disgusting mass was poured onto some tinfoil, formed into a kind of sausage, rolled up tightly and refrigerated. When set, I sliced it with a huge knife and will pop the slices into bags to give away. Of course I ate a couple, surprisingly not too bad. Must tell Nibby.

The new spartan washing routine is a bit of a bore, but needs must.

Bargain haircut yesterday. My hair was driving me crazy, and I saw a little hairdresser: 'London Hair Fashions Unisex Hair Salon' next to Peacocks. As there was only one hairdresser just finishing someone's hairdo, I managed to get her to dry cut my hair. She did a good job, relieving me of excess hair, and only charged £15. Very handy. I may let her have a go when my hair needs colour, since West End prices are now beyond my purse. The number us 020 7703 4561 if anyone wants to give it a try.

After today, the Lye Torng is shut for ages as the owners are off to Thailand for a bit. I shall have to reinvestigate the never-open pub nearby and see if it has changed its opening times. Mind you, it has been so sunny lately that my mind is going rather towards future boat trips on the Thames.

My latest long term project is to clear out the house again. I came across some snaps of the kitchen when it had just been completed and it looked so good that I have decided I really must seriously declutter. Again. I have started with photographs and filled a whole suitcase. Now for the sketchbooks. I may well put everything I don't want in the spare bedroom and invite people to take anything they like, then after this to call the charity shop man for some boxes and to collect the rest. We shall see. My paperwork alone is a nightmare, but takes up less space than the rest. The bulk of the stuff is books, linen, clothes and 'ornamental' bits and pieces. I think.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Little Pencil Missing

Please excuse all my grammatical errors. For some reason the little pencil which means I can edit my posts seems to have gone missing. Such is life.

Disaster Strikes Again

Julian came around last night and kindly changed lots of bulbs in the kitchen. She was cleaning lots of pottery, mostly broken, in the garden to take to her studio to paint.

This morning, I ran a bath, but before getting in I went downstairs to draw the curtains. Suddenly I noticed what sounded like the constant drip of water hitting glass coming from the spare room. Went in to find several drips coming from the ceiling onto the lampshade and bedside table. Panic stations! I placed things to catch the drips and towels before rushing upstairs to remove the bath panel. I had placed a tin underneath the bath waste in the hope of hearing if another leak started. The tin was absolutely overflowing all over the floor. I had to remove the water with a sponge and let all the bathwater out before cleaning up the area and replacing the tin. It had obviously been dripping gently for some time as the water was absolutely foul. Wartime stripwashes will be the order of the day for some time now. I am (I hope only temporarily) somewhat financially embarrassed so can't afford to call the plumber. This is the third time the bath has leaked, the last two times from the plug underneath. Such a nightmare. I am now leaving it to dry out until my finances approve - by which time no doubt it will be Saharan. Oh well. These are the only times I wish I had a husband, since these are things he used to easily deal with.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012


Just trying to draw in the garden with the iPad. It is hellishly difficult.

Tuesday Watercolours and Concert

Meetup at the Mall Galleries with Carpe Diem. There was a watercolour exhibition and two artists were doing demonstrations. Watercolour is quite beyond me. Some lively stuff there and had a coffee and bun. After that some of us went to the free lunchtime concert put on by the Royal College of Music at St. Martin's in the Fields. Amazing how much free stuff can be found in London. I sketched some of the audience, badly, and, not having heard any modern 'serious' music, was slightly bemused by it all. Seems that music these days is very experimental and more about actual sound. Reminded me a bit of Corny Cardew's music. Still, I write from a position of complete ignorance about these things. Afterwards had a fish pie upstairs in the Chandos. Got to chat with quite a few people who were very interesting, and some I met again. Tore myself away at around fourish to try and miss the rush hour on the bus. A good day.

Saw this statue of Yuri Gagarin just before going in to the Mall Gallery.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

battersea park drawing

Mother's Day with Dorothy in Denver. So I caught the 344 bus to Battersea Park and met a few others in the cafe, which is actually quite good, run by Italians. The weather was very cold, despite which the place was full of yummy mummies, their husbands, offspring and dogs all trying to pretend it was spring. Mind you there were some daffodils and a bit of blossom here and there. Did some notably unsuccessful sketches on the iPad but my fingers were freezing and I kept having to go back in for coffee, soup etc. We met at 1.30 and the more hardy people had been sketching the Temple thingy. Most of them then went off to a pub to draw each other (wish we had done that in the first place) and I sloped off home to thaw out.

Just made another orange cake and will cook the chicken tonight for Julian. Have already eaten too much today.

Now reading Cousin Betty. I am getting an insight into the decadence of Paris in the past.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Makes You Sick

Nibby 'arting' at the Courtauld last week.

Today I received a letter from the hospital stating that since I missed my appointment on Friday they weren't going to send me another appointment because the clinic is a very busy one. So busy that they forgot to let me know of the appointment in the first place - I had been waiting months for this! To add injury to insult came a letter from my GP requesting to see me 'after my hospital appointment' as my cholesterol has leapt up to 7. I remember I had been eating rather a lot of cheese and creamy stuff for a while at the time the blood was taken and was a bit nervous about the cholesterol result. I shall resist statins, drink those horrid little anticholesterol drinks daily, give up cheese and eat more veg and possibly, almonds, which Nibby recommends. Then revisit the GP and ask for another test. Dear me.

Spoke to Dorothy who will not be present and correct on Mother's Day. Seems there's a week conferencing in Denver, followed by a weekend skiing in Colorado, ending up with a week in San Francisco. I hope it is all fun. Meanwhile I am re-reading Pere Goriot. I keep forgetting what a good writer Balzac is. Have read dozens of free books now, mostly Wilkie Collins and Mrs Gaskell with a bit of Trollope thrown in. There's plenty more Trollope to read yet, and masses more Balzac. May also revert to the Russians, we shall see.

Still rather perplexed about the Spanish bills. My Spanish has really deserted me and they are absolutely impossible to deal with anyway, and difficult enough even if you spend weeks in Spain and deal with them on the spot.

I may start my Meetups again soon as a displacement activity. Nibby is catching up with her sleep back in Macclesfield.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Nibby Arrives

Well, last week. After a vastly long flight. Overburdened with luggage. Bear met her and brought her over in his van. After lunch we staggered over to the shopping centre and purchased a few essentials, then settled down for a quiet evening at home. Poor old Nibs suffering from jetlag so did not get much sleep.

On Saturday we went up to the Lucien Freud exhibition. Masses of people of course so it was a bit hard seeing things. After that Nibs insisted on paying for lunch at the Crypt which was nice. We leapt off the bus and popped into the Courtauld where there was an exhibition, but Nibs was most impressed by the mediaeval stuff on the ground floor. All this was followed by another evening watching the soaps.

On Sunday morning, I had intended to purchase lunch at M & S, but Nibs said we should try Morrisons. Glad we did as the chicken there was very good indeed, and we bought all the other ingredients and the papers and again, Nibs insisted on paying. She will have to stop all this. Bear, with partner and daughter arrived for lunch, carrying a chilled bottle of Moet to add to the cheer. Nibby cooked an excellent roast which we ate in the garden. We had fruit salad and ice cream for pudding with a coffee for Bear and me.

Yesterday we went to the Royal Academy where we really enjoyed the Hockney exhibition. We were a bit dazed by all this, and had a look around Fortnum's before setting off home again. Fortnums was heavily decorated for the Diamond Jubilee and lots of people were snapping outside.

Nibs left this morning, so all is very quiet today.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Friday Today

Trying to forget about Spanish bills and post. Survival tactic.

Ate leftovers for lunch and dinner. I met Romy at Sensational where she purchased some really good things for her forthcoming holiday. She kindly offered to transport the Kookster to the vet for his annual jabs.

The locksmith came in the morning and told me he had never seen one of our locks broken and said it must have been forced. It must have been done by my upstairs neighbours as I just found it broken one day, and was surprised that they didn't mention it. Maybe it was one of their visitors. As I mentioned, even half of the repair cost is a bit of a financial blow. I may have to block up the letterbox, disconnect the phones and go and hide for a year or two. Barcelona beckons, but Kook is a bit of a liability here. I don't think he will be happy to be an indoor Spanish cat with no space or garden. Oh well.

Nibby arrives today. Must dash out and replenish food supplied before she gets here.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Lunch with Romy

Romy came to lunch. We had cold salmon and potato salad preceded by pea soup and followed by coffee and tiramisu. Long chat about stuff and good to see Romy again. I miss working with her.

Bad morning today spent trying to decipher all the masses of post from Endesa and Aigues de Barcelona regarding non payment of bills. I simply don't understand why they are failing to remove the money from my bank, not something they used to have a problem with. But not sure if I am currently being sued or what since both my Spanish and Catalan are non-existent. I really do need a reliable English speaking person in Barcelona to deal with these things. If I could only sell the flat I would not be bothered with these wretched bills. My blood pressure was probably at an all-time high before lunch and I have eaten non-stop since. Have tried for the second time to make honeycomb or cinder toffee, slightly more successfully this time. It does seem to depend on not stirring the pot and letting the mixture get so hot it just about avoids burning. Another achievement!

Ringing the locksmith have discovered that to mend the lock in the main front door will be £150. Will have to plunder the money from my savings intended to purchase a new boiler, which I have been warned to provide for by the maintenance engineer. Just what I need now no money is coming in. Trying to keep calm but it's not easy.

Nibby now arriving tomorrow.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Madeleine and Sunday Lunch

It was a horribly cold and rainy day on Sunday. Despite this, Madeleine arrived bearing wine and hyacinths. These are my new air freshener. When they are out of season I shall try and find some scented orchids which will replace them. Last years' hyacinths are blooming in the garden so they are a very good investment.

We had chicken for lunch, followed by coffee and Tiramisu with a strawberry or two. A pleasant afternoon chatting, and a good relaxing Sunday. I do love it when people come around to eat, though I misdoubt my cooking.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Central Heating

The engineer spent ages mucking around with the heating today and bled the radiators so it should get hotter. He drained the boiler thing which should make it a bit better but suggested I might like to start getting quotes for the inevitable as my boiler is about 14 years old, at the end of its normal life. Oh well.

Spent the rest of the day putting everything back in place. Oh, and making a soup out of the remains of the roast, adding cauliflower, beans, gravy, roast potatoes and bread sauce. Plus some chopped cauli leaves. Will also add some beans tonight. The bread sauce turns out to be a good ingredient, distinguished by a rather aromatic flavour of cloves which goes very well with everything else. May well start adding cloves to chicken casseroles. Also discovered that Tesco value vanilla soft scoop (it's not) ice cream is much lower in calories than all the rest including the so-called 'diet' ice creams. Handy.

Feeling a bit more perky today. Finished the Moonstone and starting on Man and Wife. Seems that Wilkie Collins took masses of laudanum (opium) all the time so when he describes this in his books it is from first hand knowledge.

Saw Julian briefly last night, who came to collect the hoover to clean up the studio. Barcelona is warm and sunny it seems, unlike London. I would probably go over there for a bit if I had someone to house and cat sit. Nibby is due to arrive on Thursday. Must have a word with Romy about lunch, which we were due to have on Thursday and the timing will all be out, so I am trying to see her now on Wednesday or tomorrow instead. I need to do some shopping for this, and am looking forward to it. Have decided I quite enjoy a little cooking at home.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Fat Old Bat Eats Out Again

Oh dear. It was absolutely vile and cold last night, but despite this I had undertaken to have dinner at the Bengal Tiger in Carter Lane. Good to have my mobile back to actually find the place which was quite difficult. Oddly I had never been near St. Paul's Cathedral before and was pleased to see Paul's Walk, referred to in Dekker's Gulls Hornbook.

Anyway, there were masses of people assembling and I went to the first sitting, being a lightweight in the sense (only) of liking early nights. Started with lamb tikka, which was very good indeed, followed by chicken biryani, again very good. And only £12 including service. I met a chap who teaches architecture and interior design, a guy who runs a fashion company designing accessories, two translators and two property owners who live from their rents and sales. One of them is a champion rower of world class, apparently. Certainly looked fit enough. One guy lived in Southwark, near Tower Bridge. They were all interesting and seemed very nice, so I had a very enjoyable evening, managing to get back by around ten (having started at six).

The bad news was getting on the scales this morning to discover I had managed to gain three pounds during the week. I am not entirely surprised by this. I suspect the cantuccini I have eaten with coffee and tea have contained many more calories than marked on the package and I have been eating far too much in the evenings. Time to rein this in. Must try harder, as my school reports used to say.

Today it is absolutely pissing with rain, as I discovered when the Kookster walked over me at around 5.45am, brushing his cold, soaking tail all over my face. A rude awakening for a Sunday.

Madeleine is due over later, and we shall eat chicken. My dietary penance starts tomorrow instead of today.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Tame and Tired

That's me. For some reason I have been physically and mentally below par for a week or two. Nothing specific really, just tired and unmotivated. However I have purchased some more hyacinth bulbs and put them around the house, so watering and watching these should provide endless fun. I have also been listening to the Wilkie Collins biog exerpts on Radio 4 which has encouraged me to download several more of his books. Re-reading the Moonstone which is a rest cure after reading Armadale - full of convoluted plots and twists which are hard to keep up with.

Lunch with Romy. We shall not rush to eat at Elliots in Borough Market again. We were given something called 'confit of salmon'. Confit of goose is basically goose preserved in fat to be cooked later. The confit of salmon, though we were assured it had been cooked very slowly for a long time, was a huge hunk of what looked and felt, to the prod of a fork, like dark, raw salmon. At home I have done the Heston low and long cooked chicken which was rather more successful. This looked disgusting so we sent it back to be cooked right through before we could face it. Dear me. Of course it was fine when cooked properly.

Out tonight possibly for a meetup curry. Let's hope it is actually cooked. Perhaps they are trying to make the lack of actual cooking fashionable in order to save money in these hard times.

Looking forward to seeing Madeleine for lunch tomorrow. I must remember to actually cook the food. Maybe Dorothy and Julian might pop in, either for lunch or tea. We shall see.

Thursday, 1 March 2012


What an effort! HOWEVER I have just been watching a programme on BBC2 which reveals that we burn up quite a few calories even just walking slowly and standing around, basically anything more than sitting. Seems we should not sit for more than an hour at a time, and that even slow strolling is beneficial.

EVEN if we are sitting or lying down, twiddling our thumbs, toes, moving arms or legs is a very good idea according to one expert.

The most amazing thing revealed by this programme though was that certain people (depending on their genetics) will benefit enormously by doing absolutely massive but short bursts of exercise (obviously only those passed as fit enough by the quack). Seems that the bursts of strenuous exercise should go on for 20 seconds only, have a short break, another 20 seconds, short break, and a third 20 seconds. Adding up to one minute, to be repeated three times a week. Apparently even with the wrong genetics, many people can benefit from some kind of release of glucose into the bloodstream caused by this, handy if you are a risk for diabetes. It has been tested and if beneficial for most, would be a great way of exercising.

But it seems that walking is the best of all to increase the metabolism and generally keep the body working well all round.

I may well move about a little more. A gentle stroll beckons.