Thursday, July 31, 2008

Been to the Big Smoke and visited lovely I,SLTV in a glass tower.
Been given lunch and wonderful company.
Sat on a football and seen the best views of the city.
Been shown some wonderful layered drawings of the things that rise and fall on the tide and how other things appear and vanish and look just the same but quite different in subtle ways.
Been very very clever about driving round the scary city and not getting lost at all.
Seen Old Father Thames backing up as the last of the tide came in and then flowing away as it began to go out.
Been to Ikea and got very cross.*

And now I'm going to go and collapse in a heap on the floor and read for an hour with my feet up.
Tomorrow I will catch up with the rest of the world. Please don't all go away ok :)
Sleep well :)

* See, the thing I've been trying to get from them for months and months, their website said was in stock.
Checked the website this morning and it was still in stock
Got there and lo and behold, far from being either even slightly in or out of stock, it was discontinued! Never to be seen again.
I went looking for someone to complain to (loudly, distinctly and in great detail) and instead encountered a tired customer server who had just gone to fetch himself a stool since he just couldn't stand up any longer! Since my feet were feeling fairly tired, I couldn't help but feel sympathy (not his fault after all). And then he was so wearily disarming and apologetic and helpful, looking through all the various stores to see if any of them had remaining stock of the wretched desk, that it ended up with him saying drop in again some time and me saying definitely and us wishing each other a nice day in a quite genuine way.

However, I still intend to send Ikea a blistering letter (though I may mention that the shop staff were very helpful and didn't deserve to have to deal with furious customers misled by some idiot's failure to update the website (which claims to have been updated today)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Golly it's quiet!
Father and Sister in Law and lovely daughter have gone and me and the dog are wondering where everyone is! But there's just us! (The cats must be sleeping in the sun somewhere)
And the sun is still shining :)

One of the things I shall miss is the sound of Sister in Law's delightful full throated laughter echoing from the garden or from upstairs or downstairs or somewhere around the house. And the occasional encounters with the lovely, leggy teenager (girls of that age are so beautiful but so - absent).
Father in Law will also be missed - he's such a flirt and so mischievous :)

Now one of the things I have never understood, is how do people make poached eggs. Either the straight into a saucepan of boiling water variety or the kind we always used to have, cooked in a little egg poaching pan above boiling water. Today I had the interesting idea of having a poached egg on top of smoked mackerel pate on toast. However, instead of my usual egg with a satisfactorily runny yolk but slightly undercooked white I managed to make one which had an overcooked yolk and a sloppy white. How did I manage that?
It still worked quite well I must say and if I ever do succeed in poaching an egg properly I hope I'll have some smoked mackerel pate to hand as well!

Speaking of things that happened without my conscious intention, after a surprisingly un-painful visit to the hygienist the other day, I found that I had walked into Jessops and emerged with a new macro lens for the camera. Now I really have no idea how that happened! I certainly hadn't planned to do anything like that ?:-o
(Sssh! don't tell anyone - I still haven't quite got to terms with the idea that I did that, so I haven't told anyone yet!)

And now I'm waiting for a large amount of lamb to arrive which Barney ordered at the pub the other night. I'm quite sure we agreed to have half a lamb but he's got a whole one and I'm not sure it'll go in the freezer! More things that happened without my full consent and intention!

Perhaps I should just abandon intentions altogether :)

Sweet Pea BeeAnd strange flowerCourtesy of new lens :)
'Night :)

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Cycles. Of life both domesticated and wild.

So, one hairy pest has been successfully relocated.
However we are a bit concerned because it seems possible another kind of pest may have moved in.
Yesterday (the morning of the family do) Barney told me a 'something very fast and small' had flown past him in the kitchen. He couldn't see how it had got in since all the windows were closed. Unless it was a bird that the cats brought in and then let go.
Only it seemed to him that it looked like a bat.
Ooh! A bat in residence!
Well, actually, um, a pest in residence!
I have no anxieties about bats and no fears that they will tangle in my hair or anything like that. However, I am not at all happy about a small, flying, multiplying mammal colonising our kitchen!
And later in the morning, the bat confirmed its existence by coming out in full view and flying around before vanishing back - into the very place from which Tosca has recently been ejected!

One problem is that bats aren't very easy to catch. Another is that they are a protected species and you aren't allowed to do anything to disturb them! So I am told by our friends who have an unwelcome colony firmly settled in their roof!
And a third is that we really don't know how long this little interloper has been here or indeed, how many of it there are! It's not like it will sit and introduce itself to you and give you a chance to get to know it! It's a case of 'all bats look the same when they're flying around your kitchen'!

Well, all these questions prompted me to look for an answer or two. And I find that though bats are indeed protected and you can be heavily fined for disturbing their roosts, one that is encountered flying around your house is probably lost and wants to get out! Which is fine by me :)
I'm hoping a night with the window open has encouraged it to leave. We haven't seen it again :)
I'm in the middle of downloading a few pictures from the weekend.

More time has passed. The weekend is over and only Father and Sister -in -law are still with us (and Sister in Law's lovely daughter and cute dog). Our dog, far from being cute, stole a helping of chocolate tart from a passing small child at the weekend and has been throwing up all day.
A window fell out of it's moorings today when a thunderstorm blew past. The weekend itself was all sunshine and hotness and small children splashing about in the paddling pool. And vast quantities of food and drink :) I am a stuffed bunny, almost unable to move for barbecued pork and chocolate tart and subsequent meals, too many and too large to describe (including a quite heavenly fish pie cooked today by Sister in Law).

It's all been good and now I am a trifle exhausted!
Apologies for my absence - I just didn't have anything polite to say. Except phew and oof and mmmm and *sigh*. A bit boring really.
But today what with sudden clouds mounting up and then the sky opening and then the open sky and a strange and wonderful mist rising after the thunderstorm, I took some pics.
Tomorrow I will visit (I daren't tonight as it's long past everyone's bedtimes - even mine :)
It's cool now :) Heaven!

Hope you've all had some lovely weather too.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Another day begins...

Yesterday, Barney's day began with a house full of smoke and ended with a blocked drain.
Mine, on the other hand, began with a hair cut and seems not to have quite ended yet.
The night before last it was so deliciously hot that I opened all the windows, blocked all the doors from blowing shut and went to bed surrounded by cool breezes from every direction.
Very early next morning (If not in the middle of the night - who can say) one of our further away neighbours had a fire lit. They are only neighbours in the sense that they are next but one along the road. A mere half mile or so away. the fire was to burn a large amount of tree branches they recently had cut down with a lot of green wood in them. So a lot of smoke. And the wind blew it across the field straight into our windows! All open invitingly :)
Barney was not amused! (But I was asleep and missed it all)
But after shutting all the windows, he went off to work and then when he came home (fortunately before he'd had his shower), he discovered that our drain was blocked. There followed a good deal of grumpy and hot and sweaty stuff involving bent pieces of metal and hot water and all my washing up liquid. That's life in the country for you :)
Anyway, I got up, rushed off and got the haystack trimmed and then spent the day spending vast amounts of money on food (to be consumed on Saturday when the family all descend. Later I came home and opened all the windows again, since the fire across the valley had now declined to a trickle of vertical smoke instead of a cloud billowing across the countryside. And did a few bits and pieces of cleaning and tidying. All very civilised really. Such also is life in the country :)

We had a conversations last night which went like this.

"Is there anything you want me to do tomorow, I'm writing a list."
"I don't think so, I've got my list here and mostly it's stuff you won't have time to do, Besides, your list looks enormous"

" Well I get up earlier than you so I have more time to do things so I get more done"
"But things have a way of taking longer than you expect"

"Yes but as I'll be getting up so much earlier than you I'll still get more done"
"Ah" biting tongue "Right then. Well it's true you get up earlier than me"
And "Well you could go into Thatcham and collect the glasses and check out the fish shop if you like".
I noticed that he didn't actually put these things on his list!

For some reason, I forgot to put on my list 'spend the first two hours helping Barney to do the things on his list'
Wasn't that silly of me?
So I got up about an hour after him and promptly spent the next two hours helping him put up tents and marquees and things. As I said, things have a way of taking longer than you expect.
Later he was distressed to discover that pastry for the chocolate tart had to spend a whole hour in the fridge before he could do the rest of it. .....As I said......
And he was quite taken aback to learn that he had to go and collect the glasses, wasn't sure if he'd have time for that. What? And go to the fish shop too? ..... What was it I said?....

On the positive side, we have found the perfect way to get the trailer tent up. Hardly any poles fell down and it took rather less time than it usually does (though rather more than he expected)

Oh I am such a smartass :) But a smartass surrounded by a clean tidy house so that makes me a smartass bathing in reflected shininess which is very very good :)And there has been some sun shine too which is also very good :)
I shall go and sleep the sleep of the just. (The just too damned smartass to live)
Good night :)

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Finally I have the answer!

Down the front of my bra! Why didn't I think of it before? And Barney has fixed the scales too :) Isn't that wonderful?

The cats and dog have been getting a bit of stick today - well, foot, curse, heel, trip, mutter and stumble really. In the interests of cleaning (yes I know I've mentioned it before but it's a rare event here in sunny Berkshire) I've had doors open where normally they are closed. Also in the interests of keeping - er, less hot. Cool would be overdoing it.
So they keep ambling, nonchalantly but watchfully into places they know they aren't allowed. And I forget they're there and trip over them. Then, of course, as I reverse swiftly with a bit of fancy footwork, they change direction and we meet again. More trippage and colourful language. (I know how to say "OW!" in both cat-chian and dog-ese)

And the top of the cupboard has been transformed with saucepan handles and other sticky-out things into a bristling wall of obstacles. Also a nest has been provided above the washing machine. So far this has been coldly ignored but maybe that's because it's too hot for nests?*

The weather is too hot today! I love it!!!!
Now I must simultaneously have a shower and cook the potatoes. For tomorrow I'm getting my hair cut and tonight Barney (scales-fixer extraordinaire) may want dinner. The only thingie on the horizon is that the hair cut is booked for 9.15 in the am. A time when normally I would think how many hours since Oh not enough, go back to sleep.

Blogger has been playing silly bloggers. One minute the whole virtual world is at my fingertips, the next it says "sorry, blogger is offline at the moment" or "sorry, mozilla firefox can't find the requested url" or "sorry, the server at timed out. If you keep having this problem (or if you cannot open any urls) please contact your provider"
Sometimes, just for variety it says any or all of these things about Flickr. Or Google. Or Hotmail. Or that's about my limit.
I know I'm not the only one thus afflicted. Every so often I'm able to open a tantalising window onto likable view or a dream or two or the world of a cyber vicar or a place of testing or a place about to fall off, or, or,
Well you get the picture. I can't put the links in because I am currently confined to the virtual inside of my own computer since "publishing and saving may fail" and also nothing else will open.
And I see that others have also been denied (no doubt most apologetically) access to their own comments or others blogs or whatever.
Isn't it just the way of the world to offer you itself and then say "Oh sorry, not that bit" or "not just now though" or "try again later, we've all gone home".
The thing seems to be to comment before taking time to read the posts. (it worked with posting the photos). I'll try that next!

I wanted to call this poetry in washing or possibly sock stanzasAnd I did mention a walk in the Thatcham Reed Beds?And shingle? Ankle's eye view
Moonlight or sunlight? You choose.
Oh, Sorry! Were you wondering about the question? Well the question is, where can I keep my cigarette lighter handy when I'm not wearing pockets. Works a treat :)

I'm sure there was something else I could have told you, something that tidies up this rather random post and ties it up neatly. But I can't think what that might have been.
So good night and sleep well and have lovely dreams and wake up 'freshed in the morning.
Love :)

*see recent post about sad cat if you find this information puzzlingly irrelevant. It won't get any more relevant but at least you'll see why I put it in.

Why do I have to do these things at 3 am?????

Oh well, I just do!
Spent the last two days alternately learning a new thing about photoshop, which could have saved me hundreds and hundreds of hours of clicking and peering and mouse clutching over the years, and running about like a scalded cat doing stuff I should have done earlier :)
Never mind.
The sun was doing nice things to flowers yesterday :)

And I went for a walk by the Reed beds in Thatcham:)
And then I came home
Night all :)
Do you remember Dixon of Dock Green?
(Bet you're all too young :)

Monday, July 21, 2008

The end of an era

A sad time has come to Tosca, our little black and white cat. Though she doesn't yet know it, she is getting too old (and hairy) to continue to leap up to the top of the cupboard in the corner of the kitchen to roost at night. Some time very soon, she is going to find her access blocked and her long time nest occupied by something else.

You might think this was a thoughtful plan concocted by her loving people to protect her from the dangers of such a leap for such a little old cat.
You would be wrong.
It's a sudden decision brought about by 'the annual cleaning of the house'. Of which I always blog round about this time of year since it's when most of both our families descend upon us for a weekend and Barney (who is a true romantic in the old sense of the word*) likes the house to look as though it's kept clean.
When Tosca first came to us we were enchanted, amazed and stunned by her ability to leap (fly?) to a height of about three feet across a similar depth (that gives you the perpendicular and the horizontal and clearly Tosca is a better mathematician than I, since she seems to calculate the hypotenuse with unerring accuracy and land up there every time without apparent effort). The return is almost more amazing since she has to land on a spot which is about eight inches square.
The problem is that she sheds hair. Probably in flight but certainly while she's up there. And annually I wrestle with handfuls and clothsfull and scrubby thingsfull of the stuff. I wonder about the hygiene implications. I watch it swirl around the plughole before inevitably creating a blockage somewhere in the drainage system. I curse the occasional handful that drifts down when she's having a particularly vigorous grooming session. And also the handfuls that collect in utensils that hang nearby and have to be cleaned before every use. It's got to stop. Tosca has got to stay below decks with the rest of us mortals. I only hope it doesn't send her into a decline!
Oops, she's just come in - I'd better stop before she gets wind of my dastardly plan!

Of course the big difficulty is going to be finding a suitable lot of objects to store up there and simultaneously creating a new place for her to sleep! I did suggest that Barney install spikes along the top of the cupboard but he refused point blank.

Meanwhile Blogger won't let me comment. I've visited though and babbled on.
Thinking of you all and oh bother, now it won't let me post pictures either!
Well Happy Tuesday to you all.

*As in liking to view life as a romance, which means, literally, a story. (If you go even further back in its derivation I believe it once meant 'a lie')

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Shiny :)

I did say I'd post pics of new shiny things :)
I cleaned the cooker yesterday even though it still looks so dazzling compared to the old one that it was hard to believe this was necessary!

And after spending ages trying to capture facets and smoothness and soft gleamings, I caught a lucky ray of sunshine. That'll do for now :)
I have to go shopping now or we won't have anything for dinner. Though after last night I'm not sure I have room for dinner yet :)
Hope you are having a lovely weekend. Soon it'll be another day, another week another time for new things :)
(Which reminds me, it's almost time for me to start panicking about the family party. Oops, I need a hair cut! Oops even more, I need to clean the house and find places for everyone to sleep! Not our children though or two of their partners or the three granchildren. All three of the dear ones have somehow managed to book holidays, or some such nonsense for next weekend! well at least there'll be one more room for people to sleep in :)
Speaking of sleeping, sleep well :)

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We went out for dinner and as Barney pointed out on the way home, we were out for seven hours! Virtually a day's work! So it's not surprising that we felt a little weary by the time we returned.

It was a good dinner, lovingly prepared and served with lovely wines for each course and all very delicious. And then we all got various instruments out and played rather random blues and folk for an hour or two. All pleasant and delightful.

Came home to a very eager dog who would really like to go out for some essential business right now please, so while Barney went to bed me and the dog went up the road. Joined by both cats in the bright moonlight. It was possibly the best part of the whole evening, (once we'd passed the shingle stuff), wandering across a moonlit field, the cats taking turns to vanish into the grass and then pounce out in front of me and the dog. Dog bounding joyously from tuft to tuft. Some large black flying thing (owl?) passing across the white clouds. Odd night sounds and the purring of cats and the distant motorway all balanced against the explosive snorting of the dog's discoveries amongst the grasses. My feet following the path across the meadow even though I wasn't paying attention.
Now I'm quite totally knackered but I wanted to tell you about the night. Photos wouldn't really do it since nothing was staying still long enough to be captured but everything was moving from view to view in the moonlight and through the night breeze.
I brought them all home (whereupon the cats purred a bit more and then went out to do their own business out in the bright darkess).
Now I'm going to bed :)
Sleep well :)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Grumblings from the lower ranks and the one who should always be right.

Speaking as 'the one who should always be right' (ie the customer), every so often I get a bee (or a lack of olive oil or an absence of anchovies)in my bonnet. Metaphorically speaking with the bonnet. And the bee.
I went looking for anchovies today in my local Waitrose. Where are the anchovies I asked a nice young woman. She led me to them and though surprised to find them with the tinned meat I settled down to search for anchovies, in tins or jars and in olive oil, without manchega cheese or garlic or herbs or indeed any other additives. Unsmoked.
Went back to my young woman who agreed that these were not to be found and went off to ask about it.
She came back to tell me that they have problem with this item and aren't stocking it any more. But would I like her to show me the anchovies on the deli counter (which I know come with vinegar and all sorts of soggy looking additives - sorry, um, well you know, things like sundried tomatoes and olives and stuff. Additives. I thought I'd made it fairly clear what I was looking for but, ok, she was doing her best to offer me an alternative which wouldn't be what I wanted but might make me go away feeling less deprived (but more manipulated). So I've emailed customer services.

Ok. Another bee. I wanted one day to get some mayonnaise. And just out of interest, I checked the ingredients. Odd, they use sunflower oil instead of olive oil. Now I have looked at mayo recipes over the years and have noted that the ingredients are eggs, olive oil, white wine vinegar and seasoning. You know the eggs give the creaminess, the olive oil gives it's flavour and combines with the ww vinegar to make the emulsion and all that. So, ok, this must be the cheaper version. So I looked at the deluxe version and then the posh french labelled versions and then the homemade looking versions and the 'look this is really special' versions and even the 'freshly made' version. Guess what. Not a smidgin of olive oil to be found amongst the lot of them. I despair but it's not worth an email since it's obviously established practice.

Speaking as the lower ranks, Barney is up to his knees in pea shingle and has embarked on a morning's shovelling and barrowing which I was tempted to think of as his just punishment for introducing the loathesome stuff into our garden in the first place.
My chief and strongest objection to it is that it will be the end of my quiet wanderings up the drive, late at night, with the dog but my more reasonable objections include its habit of wandering into every part of the house and garden and its lack of lasting usefulness. Little stones constantly clatter around in the hoover and fly up from the lawn-mower. After a few months, (or weeks or even days) as it settles, deep ruts appear in it where the car wheels pass most often and scour out the ground underneath. So instead of keeping the drive level, it grinds out ever deeper holes to fill with water and turn to mud.
Then there's the effort of struggling through the shingle instead of walking on good solid whatever it was before and the stones leaping into the shoes and the impossibility of leaving the house barefoot, and most particularly the struggle to get the wheelie bin (axle deep) from one end of it to the other.
But worst of all is the enormous crunching sound like an army on the march every time anyone comes up the drive!

At least in the interests of appearing impartial I am able to tell Barney that it looks quite neat and it's quite a nice colour. At the moment.
Shingle, in my not at all humble opinion, should stay on the beaches where it belongs!

However, watching him pushing and shovelling away out there, I felt obliged to offer my assistance and got dressed in yesterday's dirty clothes and donned a pair of rubber gloves and wandered out only to be told it was too hard for me and there was only one shovel anyway!*
So, ok. I shall have a shower, get dressed up to kill and prepare to go out for dinner with some friends tonight (I have to do some serious tarting up since the young lady is very very dressy and slim and last time I met her I was in fancy dress as a pierrot with a very sad face - covered with running and cracking white and black stuff :)
I hope you are having a good and happy weekend. I hope things are going ever so well. I hope for good moments to shower upon you all.
And I hope the sun keeps popping out for a quick blessing upon you :)

*what happened to the other two then?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

While I was sorting folders I came across some pictures from long ago.*

Thought you might like to see them :)

So, here I am drinking my coffee and actually doing the computer housework I’d sort of not got round to the other day when I was supposed to be taking time off.

Because the internet is taking time off – too much time to load any pages. Yes I checked my internet connection settings. As usual, I don’t understand them. But you never know, one day, one of the interminable updates may include one that says “this is what you want your settings to say and here is the problem explained in simple English and here is the funny code us computers use which you can now quote to any clever computer person who will then be able to make your internet work again”

So I’m typing this while the computer moves files. It seems unusually happy to do this and once I’ve got all the June stuff in the June folder and all the July stuff etc etc, I may even start moving the whole lot into the back up disc.

Or working my way through the folders deleting junk pictures and, you know, all the ones that really look exactly like the ones I’ve selected as the best. The ones I couldn’t decide about.

What’s more I am seriously thinking about getting a new computer before this one has a fatal incident. One with a dual core thingie. Far be it from me to brag but I really do think faster than this one responds (I’m sure it’s thinking a lot in there and doing a lot more stuff than I could think about at all but hey! I want performance here!)

Well something I just typed reminded me of a rhyme the children used to recite at playgroup. It went: -

One fine day in the middle of the night
Two dead men got up to fight
Back to back they faced each other
Drew their swords and shot each other

Eldest delighted us all by finishing, “drew their swords and shot their chothers”.

As children learn the rules of grammar they uncover anomalies and peculiarities in the language. Probably you could identify children with particularly logical minds by the number of weird grammatical errors they produce.

Wow! While I was typing this, the computer has moved all the files.

I got side tracked again. It seems there's a number of products on the market designed to warn drivers of the presence of speed traps. the one I looked at started by saying "you're a mug if you ever pay a speeding ticket".

True! I mean how hard is it to stay within the speed limit? Well sometimes you miss the sign or forget what it said or just forget how fast you're going so some help would be useful. But the object of these gadgets seems to be to help you to break the speed limits while avoiding being caught by speed traps.

Uh, hello???? We have an industry devoted to helping drivers to break the law without being caught????? And this industry is legal?????

See, I'm so naive I thought it would be a good idea to have a gadget that warned you when you entered a changed speed limit and then warned you if you were exceeding it. Silly me.

*that's only long as in about two years!

Oh alright then, I give up

Instead of taking a break I was immediately seduced into writing a post and reading everyone else's.
And, thinking I was taking a break, I started a new blog. Presumably to fill in the break :)
Meanwhile the internet thingy blocked all my comments and all my attempts to upload to Flickr and almost everything I was supposed not to be doing online so I got very cross!
The new one is all about photography. Well, no, it's all about what I think about photography.
(Does have a few pics on it as well.)
Not everyone's cup of tea but I'm enjoying being philosophical about light and composition and suchlike :)

And yesterday I had a funny food moment. I have a habit of suddenly being very very hungry when I've just been shopping and I sometimes buy a little plastic box of prawn cocktail to eat in the car before going home. Which I do very sedately (with a camping cutlery set I keep in the car for emergency eating) and maybe a tiny bit covertly in the car park at Waitrose.
Yesterday, as I nibbled at my prawn cocktail, a young woman got into her car next to me and carefully unwrapped a chocolate something or other and sedately and perhaps a tiny bit covertly ate it. We finished at about the same time, gave each other conspiratorial smiles and drove off :)
Isn't that nice :)
Lotsa love
(Oh is that the thing you didn't like 'shot? Oh well can't be helped :)

Monday, July 14, 2008

While I'm taking time off blogging and the dinner is cooking

I had these thoughts which I couldn't possibly deprive you of. (I'll take time off grammar instead)
I'm making Ghee! This is probably way beyond the call of duty but since I began this curry with rosewater and saffron, (which are rare, expensive and precious stuffs*) I feel I ought to be following the directions as far as I possibly can.
So you take a lump of butter (A BIG lump of butter) and heat it gently 'until all the milk solids turn brown and cling to the side of the pan or fall to the bottom. Towards the end, watch carefully in case it starts to burn'. Oops. I'd better go and do some careful watching!
All this fiddling about with butter is just so I can fry crispy onions properly to add to a biryani. However, the Biryani in question is (I quote) "the true princess at the ball, tall, pale and properly pedigreed, her tastefully chosen diamonds and emeralds glinting in the light of a thousand oil lamps". In contrast to the South African "hot chick" Biryani.
If you will use recipes written by a famous actress, writer and Indian socialite I suppose you can expect a bit of exotic excess :) And Madhur Jaffrey claims to have obtained this antique recipe from an aristocratic family and says it was probably used in the 18th C courts of the Moghul Emperor**.
Well, as instructed in the original recipe, I "began with a silent prayer directed heavenwards and commenced proceedings" Um, well, no not really, it was more in the way of a muttered curse directed downward at the bottom shelf where the black Cumin wasn't. But should have been.
She says the recipe is foolproof. Hmmm. Pudding. Eating. Proof.

Moving right along from dinner (which is now sealed in the oven for 1 and 1/2 hours), I'm a bit cross with the local council.
They're supposedly entering into a major rubbish recycling scheme which will improve on the, admittedly feeble, one they used to run. So instead of glass and cans in one little basket and paper in another, we now have two boxes for paper and glass and a bag for cans and plastic.
Now wouldn't you think, if we used to get all our bottles and cans into one small basket, we'd only need two small - perhaps even smaller - baskets for each? Especially as the plastic only accounts for bottles, no yoghurt pots or other packaging please!
(Well and wouldn't you also think that 'plastics' might mean plastics of all kinds not just milk and drink bottles).
Then you might think that a household accustomed to accommodating two small baskets might have a little trouble finding space for three. So it seems a little excessive to have to put the cans and plastics into an enormous bag. Not a nice solid weatherproof bag but a big soft floppy one (already after being used once, fraying round all its edges and seams and silly handles) with a huge flappy lid and carrying handles on two sides and a strangely placed third handle somewhere else. And then to have to find indoor space for the huge paper box. You wouldn't want to keep it outside in the English summer, never mind any kind of winter. Since the dustmen (sorry, waste removal operatives) wouldn't thank you for leaving them a huge box full of sodden newspapers.
Well obviously the whole scheme was designed by a person who doesn't, ever, themselves, deal with the recycling of waste. What's more they live in a BIG house. And they haven't paid attention to any serious design considerations and what's more they don't care about recycling anyway since they obviously didn't bother to do any research. They didn't even glance at what's on the market already. (I've seen several better recycling storage systems in the junk mail). Sadly, I don't even think this farrago can be blamed on gender. I suspect that there are plenty of women who don't recycle, who live in big houses and who don't bother to check out the market or to research the subject when they're asked to come up with a new system.
Also, I suspect that this is just a smaller version of whatever the disposal firm have been selling to manufacturers and offices. I don't think they even considered the needs of a small household.
What a cock up. And I don't mention the grand beginning of the new system. The various organisational disasters have made the local press and resulted in some rubbish not being collected at all for several weeks!
Neither do I mention the cost of the whole exercise. Nor the probable overunning of budgets.

For once, I firmly believe even I could design a better system. And that is a terrible sad thing! (especially if you could see the typos I managed when ranting about it). Hells Bells, I could probably design a better system and get it to work in a foreign language, using MS word as my translator! (not blogger though)

*Yes I know 'stuff' is singular but I began in the plural so it was easier, and interesting and possibly medieval, to add an ess instead of changing the whole sentence and all its bits and pieces. See!
**A word which the blogger dictionary doesn't recognise - what is the world coming to?

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Taking time out

I need a couple of days off blogger. I have a serious amount of photo housekeeping to do and catching up on Flickr.
So a little self discipline, right? That's all I need. Just instead of sitting here reading and burbling I need to sit here and move files around and curse the computer and the hard drive instead of blogger.

Back soon :)
Lotsa love :)
Sleep well :)

Saturday, July 12, 2008

No titles. I can't be doing with titles today.

My daughter is teaching her fiance salsa in the kitchen. Is this appropriate?

Well whatever turns them on :)
We've had a long and complicated discussion about the wedding - mainly complicated by Barney thinking of lots of 'very important questions' that needed to be asked. Like how many beer drinkers will there be and did he really say he'd organise the beer?

We've had a very pleqsant day but it's also been a long one. So I shall leave you with some poppies and a bit more stormy sky (since that's the kind that are mostly available at the moment :)

The white poppies are opium poppies, grown locally, under a government licence, for making morphine. I find them a bit colourless, personally, but it's been a bit of a challenge to get a good photo out of something I don't much care for!
And the frilly bits are pretty :)

As for the skies, no excuse needed. I just can't resist a good sky :)
Having abandoned salsa in the kitchen Fran and HF came and took over my brain training game. Oddly, though her scores seemed to be better than mine, Fran seemed to end up with an older brain!
However, after they'd gone to bed, I (naturally) had to have a go and now my brain is a year older than last time I did the game!
What's more, though I promised pictures of my pebble I'm finding the photography of a diamond rather difficult. So that may take a little longer. It's very pretty though and sparkles in a very satisfactory way :)
I'm not visiting tonight - too knackered. But love anyway and hopefully tomorrow my brain will have regained it's lost year. Maybe two :)

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


Monday, July 07, 2008

The wanderer returned

With no less than 133 photos!
And I notice (gleefully) that quite a few of them are of the 'I didn't quite get that right do it again' kind (this is something I get mocked for on a regular basis :).
I shall post some iconic steam engine photos.

Sir Nigel Gresley who pulled them from London to York (also above)
The Union of South Africa who pulled them out of York but broke down and had to be replaced by a diesel engineBittern who pulled them somewhere else but I get confused. Apparently it's doing a three point turn in order to get in front of the coaches facing the right way. Well you can see those aerodynamic lines like this :)

And all four of the A4 class engines, including Mallard, who holds the world steam locomotive speed record of 126 mph (achieved on July 3rd, 1938).
It was pouring with rain when Barney took this so I'm pretty impressed with the results.
You know? I believe Barney and his Bro had a really good time :)That's bro, looking out of the next window.
G'night :)

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Bad things good things

Toes, actually. When one of my girls did Ballet, they used to chant "bad toes, good toes" while practicing the proper positioning of toes for ballet.

Nothing to say about toes just now mind.
I have Gorgeous Babe for the night and am just waiting for her to wake up. (Her toes are utterly delightful) So we can have breakfast together and get ready for me to take her home. She's such a little darling, all prety and pink cheeked and well mannered and just lovely. Her presence is a blessing (though one unlooked for on this occasion as I had intended to do all sorts of incompatible things this weekend). No problem though. I got to watch 'Monster House' last night and to read Charlie and Lola (my favourite children's book series). I also got small warm kisses and to take a drink up to a sleepy babe in the middle of the night.

Further, I received updates on the epic steam train journey and Grandad got to talk to GB on the phone.

Then as well as all this, I had a plan to go to London. The first plan may have gone somewhat awry but I haven't given up on it since I've added bits like going to visit a very good friend in Kingston and maybe - just maybe, meeting the returning steam train traveller when he arrives at Kings Cross. Though this would entail finding someone to feed the dog at no notice at all which may be difficult!

On the other side, I'm feeling sad for someone.
And trying to think how best to help a sad bunny. Not that I'm going to make any big difference but when a person is on the edge you want to offer something even if it's only the tiniest thing and even if they haven't the heart to respond much. But some troubles are so big that the smallest ripple in the world around will only cause extra pain and heavens! I don't want to do that.
I don't want to push my way in where I might only be an extra trouble.
Well we'll see.

Well. Now I have to get the Babe up and somehow fit in a shower which I forgot last night. Time to move!

Pictures later, or tomorrow.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Replacement Therapy and a fondness of absence

In fact it's not the absence I'm fond of so much as the person who is absent.* It's true what they say. He's away and my heart is growing fonder by the minute. In fact by the time he comes back I may almost have got as far as missing him :)
Barney is away on a trip of epic proportions (not in time, in it's greatness). He's going on a train pulled by the famous steam engine "Sir Nigel Gresley" (I hope I've got this right - if not I'll tell you when he gets back). he'll be leaving London tomorrow morning at 7.25 (and I've set my alarm to remind me to send him a text at 7.15 which will astonish him a lot - I've even saved the message so all I'll have to do is press the button and roll over to dream of him chuffing away toward Edinburgh) and he won't be back till Monday morning.

Not that I'm a playful mouse :) Oh no. Not much :) Though he is a bit of a big pussy cat in his nicer moments.

Anyway. We've been replacing things. The oven for one. It was sort of obvious that glue and screws wasn't going to do the trick when the outer glass half of the door swung down when I opened it the other day and dangled teasingly from the handle above the stone tiles on the kitchen floor. I was saying to a friend only recently, and half in jest, that we never clean the oven, just replace the whole thing when the layers of old grease and burnt stuff inside is about an inch thick :) Oddly enough, it's about there now.
So we have a new oven. Just like that!

The other replacement is an older story. About two months after we got married, we went on holiday to Morocco and spent an afternoon trying to surf in the rather small waves. It was a very cold Summer that year - even in Morocco (in fact I seem to recall that back here they were having a heat wave so maybe it was only cold in Morocco). Relatively speaking of course. It wasn't actually cold but the water was cool enough that my fingers shrank a bit and my wedding ring (a beautiful, deep coloured, 9 carat gold ring with a delicate chased pattern of leaves) slipped off and vanished into the sea. Several people spent half an hour peering into the water and diving under the surface and generally doing the sort of things people do when stuff disappears into the sea but to no avail.
Mythologically speaking and if we had been Greeks, this might mean I was then married to the Sea God, Poseidon and therefore guilty of bigamy but since we weren't in Greece I was just devastated. And Barney was pretty fed up too.

My Mother had recently remarried and had a new wedding ring made so she gave me the ring which my Father had given her. A nice plain gold band, which I've worn ever since.
So, speaking of replacements, a few weeks ago, Barney suddenly announced that he wanted to buy me a new wedding ring. Just because he could, I think and because it had niggled at him over the years that the first one was lost.
And after a little searching in local jewellery shops, I found one. We never bought an engagement ring because we were a bit hippy go lucky in those days and didn't consider ourselves bound in an engagement so the new ring is sort of a bit of both. It's a plain band with a rather nice little diamond with a pretty and simple round setting - not a rock by any means but I think it qualifies as a quite large and beautiful pebble.
Currently being enlarged** - I know this might seem like tempting fate but the jeweller assures me that my Mum's ring was two sizes too small. If I'd worn it much longer we might have had trouble getting it off :)

So I'm feeling a bit naked around the left hand and also rather fond :) And having a pleasant feeling of anticipation.***

Isn't that nice ?

We do need to replace the washing machine sometime soon but pfooff! Who cares about leaky washing machines :)

*Though I do quite enjoy his absences as long as they're fairly brief.
**Next Tuesday. Can I wait that long!
***Also wondering, since Youngest was a tiny bit miffed that nobody noticed her engagement ring (which most certainly does qualify as a rock) whether any of the children will notice it :) How dreadfully vulgar of me!