Wednesday, 29 September 2010

New Dentist

I have had two visits to the new dentist so far, with two more pending. I arrived early for the last one and was in John Lewis's changing room when my mobile rang. It was the dentist, informing me that they were running half an hour late. "Great!" quoth I. "I can try on a few more things." And I ended up buying a dress.

Today I was at the other end of the spectrum, in the charity shop, to be precise, when my mobile rang again. Dentist again, asking if I could come an hour early tomorrow, at 10 am. Well, getting there at ten involves leaving the house at eight, crawling to the tube in heavy rush hour traffic, then standing for an hour and 20 mins on two tubes, squashed to smithereens. I said no. Receptionist tried to persuade me. Gently, I pointed out the problems of getting there in the rush hour when I didn't have to go into central London for work. Reluctantly, they agreed that I could stick to my original time.

I am now wondering if I have done the right thing in signing on with them. In 32 years with my old practice, they never once tried to change an appointment. Is this what you get when you move up market? I can only assume that somebody a lot richer and more important than me was also feeling reluctant to travel in the rush hour. Well, sod 'em! My appointment was made first. I think I am right in treating them as I mean to go on. The worst they can do is make me leave!

Chimimi's new way to torture humans

I have to hand it to that cat, she is fiendishly (felinedishly?) intelligent and really does sit and figure things out. While I was writing my last post, she came bounding up the stairs and began wowling for attention and purring loudly.

I ignored her, apart from a brief ruffle of her forehead fur, and thought she'd gone. Then suddenly I felt it! A needle-like claw in my behind. The little madam had pussy-footed around to the back of my typing chair and had poked her paw under the arm rest and given me a good prod. That'll teach me to ignore a cat when it's talking to me!

Sorry for the silence!

I've had my nose permanently glued to my computer, doing an appraisal and copy edit of a very interesting faction book about the theft of the Romanian crown jewels during the second world war. Now I have briefly surfaced before two trips into the West End to the dentist tomorrow and Friday, then another book editing job. I'm not complaining about getting in some work, though. The more, the merrier. I do hope that one day before I fall off my perch, I'll get some time to write my own stuff again. *sigh*

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Yummy soup

I had some carrots to use up, plus tons and tons of tomatoes, so I found a recipe online and adapted it and the result was so delicious that I thought I would share it with you.


(Preparation time 10 mins, cooking time 20 mins)

1 onion
1 large carrot (or 2 medium)
1 medium potato
600g approx of fresh tomatoes
2 garlic cloves
half inch piece of fresh ginger, chopped fine
1 tablespoon olive oil
800 mls (approx 1 pint) vegetable stock
3 teaspoons or 1 big blob of tomato paste
3 teaspoons caster sugar
2 chopped fresh sage leaves
Few chopped fresh basil leaves, or approx 2 teaspoons dried basil
Salt and pepper
Dash of Worcester Sauce


Peel and finely chop onion

Peel and chop carrot and potato into small chunks

Skin the tomatoes by dropping them into pan of boiling water till skins split and are easy to remove. Remove any hard cores and mash or chop them into smallish pieces

Peel and crush garlic

Peel the ginger and cut as small as possible (don't grate as you'll skin your fingers!)

Heat oil in saucepan and gently fry the onion till golden brown

Add the rest of the ingredients

Bring mixture to boil then cover pan and simmer for 20 mins

Whizz soup in food processor till you reach your desired consistency, either chunky or smooth.

Sprinkle some extra basil on top (optional)

Enjoy with crusty bread

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Cat yoga

It's been a beautiful, warm, sunny September day and Flad took full advantage of it. Here he is, laid out slumbering in his favourite legs-up position.

He hears me coming and decides to do a little stretch and a turn...

And now it's time for a full-scale leg and tongue exercise!

Saturday, 18 September 2010


Autumn was my mother's favourite time of year (apart from the spiders, as she hated their webs: see my wildlife blog!). She loved the colours and the atmospheric play of light and shadow through the bronzing leaves. I am more of a spring person, as I like to think summer is on its way. I get melancholy in autumn, realising several months of cold days and nights are on their way when I'd rather be wearing a nice light winter dress and sitting in a deckchair! But these geraniums are still blooming brightly and provided a spot of cheeriness early this morning when the temperature had only just crept into the early forties fahrenheit.

My six tomato plants did spectacularly well, so much so that I have run out of people to give them away to as everybody else in the area has had a glut, too. I have made six jars of tomato chutney, several pasta sauces and have eaten tomatoes with a salad for lunch every day. And I still have all this lot waiting to be picked!

Yesterday I picked some nice big Bramley apples and some Coxes Pippins from the garden and made a sultana and apple pie, which I presented to Mr Grumpy with his initial on. Yes, I know it looks a bit tatty round the edges (so does he!!!) but it sure tasted good with custard.

Today I shall be making marmalade, and then some banana bread. I'm not the world's best cook. I get easily flustered when Mr G is around, as he used to be a professional caterer at a film studios and is a brilliant cook and breadmaker. But he's just gone out, so I'll get as much done as I can now, before he returns to tell me I'm doing it all wrong!

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

My friend's ashes

When my friend Louise died last year, her husband kept her ashes and said he would tell me when they were going to be scattered, as I very much wanted to be there for the ceremony. Well, he has just rung and announced that an old schoolfriend of Louise's has popped down for a short holiday and they have decided to scatter the ashes on the beach tomorrow.

I have an appointment with a brand new private dentist this afternoon, which I can't cancel at such short notice, and a job which must be finished by Friday. I shan't be able to get down there in time and I fee absolutely gutted. If only they were going to do it at the weekend! Instead, I shall have to sit in my room, light a candle and think about her, but it won't be the same as standing by the sea, in the place that she loved, and saying a proper farewell. Oh Louise, how I loved you and how I miss you!

Monday, 13 September 2010


I managed to forget my sore throat after the second glass of wine. There were around 30 guests, at least eight of which were small children and all were as good as gold. My friend Gill's dog, Serena, was a darling, apart from winding her lead around everything, so we kept getting our ankles garroted. The weather did us proud, the food Alan prepared - three different curries, three different flavours of chicken drumsticks, and my salad, and five chocolate cakes - all slid down very well.

He got some fantastic cards, some of which plumbed the depths of vile humour (including mine which involved two flies and some, er, dung) and a jolly good time was had by all. We were hoping to go to a local music gig afterwards - TV Smith with Leigh Heggarty - but were so knackered that we'd fallen into bed by half past ten. (Thinks: what happened to the good old days of partying tilll 5 am and losing your contact lenses amongst all the empty bottles and fag ends? Oh, just remembered; I was twenty-something then!)

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Mr Grumpy's birthday

Mr G is 64 today. I prayed for sunshine and got it, well, so far at least! I also prayed to be feeling on top form as the party guests start arriving at 2 pm. But did I get that? What do you think!

Yesterday, I felt great all day. It was the Last Night of the Proms on TV. I'd had a sore throat for the last two days - there's a nasty bug going round and a hideous sore throat is the first sign - so I'd made myself a hot toddy with lemon, honey and a dash of whisky. That set me up for belting out Jerusalem, Land of Hope and Glory, and even the Song to the Moon from Rusalka - I just about managed the top notes. I bobbed up and down and clapped my hands in time with the audience and was still bopping around the living room when Mr G went to bed.

I turned in around midnight and took half a Sominex tablet to make sure I got a good night's sleep, but I woke up twice coughing, then Mr G got up at 6.30 and woke me. Now I feel aching all over, as if I haven't slept at all, my eyes are burning and I also have the start of a bad headache. With tons of guests and loads of children and dogs due (poor old Flad!), I really don't know where I'm going to find the energy to get through the day.

I suppose two miracles in one day was too much to hope for... Now I must go and give Mr G his birthday presents!

Monday, 6 September 2010

Hello, Louise!

I've told you before about how my friend Louise, who died tragically last year, always called me Polly Parrot. The day she died, and for two or three days following, there was an entire flock of parakeets in the back garden and I talked to them as if I was talking to her, and said, "Hello, Louise," when I opened the door and saw them there.

I haven't seen them for some time. They fly over the rooftop but don't stop. Today, though, there was a loud squawking outside my bedroom window (which still has a bullet hole through the window from three years ago) and when I looked looked out, this beauty was perched on the silver birch in the front garden. I took a few shots through the window, then quietly opened the door, took this photo, called, "Hi, Louise!" and it squawked back, then flew away. I'm sure it was her, come to check up and see if I was OK.

Poor old Mr G has been up to his armpits in s**t all day because the main drain blocked up (some new people down the road keep putting nappies down the loo instead of binning them, and as this house is the last in the row, and is just where the pipe bends to go into the main sewer, this is where the blockage always occurs. If Mr G didn't own a set of long, telescopic drain rods, he'd be paying £300 per time for something that wasn't caused by him. It's just not fair! But the law says that if the manhole is on your land, you are responsible for clearing any blockages, even if they were caused by the neighbours. However, the law on this is due to change in 2012, making it the council's responsibility (how long would they keep you waiting, unable to use your loo, do you think? Weeks, probably!)

No sooner had he sorted this out (it's a big job for an able-bodied person, let alone one who's had two strokes) and put all his clothes in the wash, then I noticed a nasty smell and a lot of water seeping out from beneath the back step. This is where the outlet for the kitchen sink, washing machine and dishwasher is and, wouldn't you just know it, it had chosen the same day to block up as the main drain. Poor old Mr G donned his long rubber gloves, fished around, removed lots of gunge, then had to go out and buy drain cleaner.

I came back from the bank to find Mr G and two of his cronies drinking coffee in the kitchen and an almighty stench throughout the house. Even the cat won't come in. I am sitting with all the first floor windows wide open, despite the rain, and have sprayed my bedroom with lavender room spray. Hope it's a little sweeter by bedtime or I guess I'll dream I've fallen down a sewer. (All those rats... EEEEEK!)

Glorious dawn

Had a bad night. Ulcer playing up again. Woke up around 3.30 am having had a dream about a 'sleeper' spy who had been hypnotised years earlier and was then re-activated by someone speaking the key words. Came to thinking I was the spy, then realised I had stomach ache, groaned, turned over a few times, got up for Pepto Bismol, went back to bed, admitted defeat and got up properly just before five.

I fed Flad, glanced at the sky, saw the wonderful patterns made by sun, clouds and Heathrow planes and rushed for the camera. Look closely and you can see a crescent moon in one of the photos.

I also snapped this double rainbow the other day. Lucky for some, but not me, as Mr Grumpy's young relatives in Edmonton won $10 million on the Canadian lottery at the weekend!!!