Monday 30 August 2010

Blackberry and Apple

I grew some Morning Glories this year from seed. One of them is small but perfectly formed :-)

And the other one is enormous with not a flower to be seen. I think I may be growing another noxious weed here!

But patience is a virtue and by the middle of October it's looking perfect.

Whilst putting these pictures up I have been cooking some blackberry and apple. Our apple crop is pathetic this year. My only excuse is that these ancient small trees were laden last year and are having a rest - there's always next year.

I gathered the tiny crop from one tree before they all fell off. Lovingly cored and peeled the tiny bullets and added sugar and a couple of handfuls of blackberries that Him Outdoors picked over the weekend. Simmering gently while waiting for the pictures to upload.

Done. Pour carefully into pretty glass bowl and stand back to admire.

Bowl cracks perfectly across the base. Sticky purple staining mess all down the side of the cooker, and the front and inside of the main cutlery and kitchen cutlery drawers. Grab cloths which are now beautifully stained, dump blackberry and apple because I can't believe that the crack was that perfect. Remove white top which has a splattering of purple - already second top because I spilt porridge down the first one.

And take my wrath out on the computer keys.

Monday 16 August 2010

Diary of an Ordinary Woman by Margaret Forster

This morning I finished this book. I have been absorbed in it completely, discussing different parts with Him Outdoors and finding it fascinating.

Margaret Forster has written about her mother and grandmother which I had read and on the basis of this had been contacted by the niece of a 98 year old woman born in 1901 who had written a diary throughout her life. The diarist wanted someone to read/edit/publish these diaries and this book is the story of the contact, the chosen diary entries and some italicised joining up bits.

The diarist lives mostly in London, goes through WW1, college training, teaching, social work, WW2 WVS, driving an ambulance, becoming a WAAF, dropping it all to bring up her sister's children, lovers in the 1930s, living with a married man. Ending up with Greenham Common. A fascinating life in which I have been engrossed.

At the end of the book is this paragraph:

This book began as described in the first two pages of the introduction, but I never did meet the woman in question. She cancelled our meeting at the last minute because of some family objections. I was already so looking forward to her diaries that I decided to overcome my disappointment by pretending I had indeed obtained and read them. The result is fiction. The real 'Millicent' has since died, and though her diaries exist, I have never read them.

I feel ridiculously cheated.

Friday 13 August 2010

What we're eating differently

Have just done some baking rather than the cleaning that needs doing and thought I would write what we have changed in our eating habits so that I remember. (Another procrastination)

Some of this is to cut out all the saturated fat and some of it is to increase the fibre and hydration and to eat the things that are supposed to lower cholesterol.

In baking I have changed every butter mention for olive oil and changed to multicereal flour. I make oatcakes with oats and olive oil, pastry with multicereal flour and olive oil. We are eating brown basmati rice instead of white. (Haven't found brown pasta anywhere local, you can get red/green but not complet.)

Changed every oil mention to olive with occasional other.

No cheese. We have some 0% cream cheese and Boursin type for when I need to sink my teeth into the creaminess before the smoked salmon in a sandwich but it doesn't work as a sauce for pasta, just disappears completely (so heaven knows what it is really).

No booze.

No meat except skinless chicken but lots of oily fish.

A 75cl (just checked, thought it was a litre) bottle of water between us with every meal.

Snacks are now oatcakes and home made hummous. Via a diversion through a red kidney bean spread and a red lentil spread which were not enthusiastically received. Fruit and walnuts.

We have swapped the daily baguette for wholemeal bread (made by Him Outdoors).

Have home made mayonnaise with olive oil/rapeseed oil.

We have either fruit juice or a lime cordial/lemonade/angostura bitters or an elderflower cordial with fizzy water aperatif.

No cake. Him Outdoors is used to cake for elevenses, pudding and afternoon tea. He works hard physically outside most of the day and gets hungry. We decided that if I didn't make it - even with no saturated fats which he has had before without noticing - he would eat more of the stuff that is recommended to lower cholesterol.

That is oats (muesli for breakfast/oatcakes/instead of breadcrumbs as stuffing for mackerel), avocado,walnuts (added to bread and munched by the handful/walnut and lentil salad), oily fish (tuna fresh and tinned,salmon smoked and fresh, mackerel, herring, trout).

Him Outdoors is a meat and two veg man really. Or definitely a meat man. We had a vegetarian chilli last night that he had made. He is thinking wistfully after the minced beef and the glass of red wine, I am missing the butter on the crunchy baguette.

We have done 5 weeks now and plan to keep it at this level until the next blood test. We have a plan to go out for lunch between that test and the results :-). After that (depending on the result I guess) we will bring back some wine though hopefully quality not quantity.

PS I'm not mentioning the yoga because I'm not doing it anymore - weird, I like doing it and felt better but still don't???? Him Outdoors is doing a long bike ride twice a week but not the extra walking he was partly because it has been hot but not really.

Thursday 12 August 2010

Gadding and learning a thing or two

On Monday night we went to see these guys in Sarlat. An amazing group of musicians from Bucharest. Brilliant.

And then on Tuesday we went to see a performance of The Importance of Being Ernest under La Halle in the square.


Jack. I am afraid I really don’t know. The fact is, Lady Bracknell, I said I had lost my parents. It would be nearer the truth to say that my parents seem to have lost me… I don’t actually know who I am by birth. I was… well, I was found.

Lady Bracknell. Found!

Jack. The late Mr. Thomas Cardew, an old gentleman of a very charitable and kindly disposition, found me, and gave me the name of Worthing, because he happened to have a first-class ticket for Worthing in his pocket at the time. Worthing is a place in Sussex. It is a seaside resort.

Lady Bracknell. Where did the charitable gentleman who had a first-class ticket for this seaside resort find you?

Jack. [Gravely.] In a hand-bag.

Lady Bracknell. A hand-bag?

Jack. [Very seriously.] Yes, Lady Bracknell. I was in a hand-bag—a somewhat large, black leather hand-bag, with handles to it—an ordinary hand-bag in fact.

Lady Bracknell. In what locality did this Mr. James, or Thomas, Cardew come across this ordinary hand-bag?

Jack. In the cloak-room at Victoria Station. It was given to him in mistake for his own.


It's a shame that everything comes at once in August. But we had a really good time.

And thank you so much to Spit and Baling Wire for teaching me how to put the clips and paste things into the blog. It has taken me so long to work out how to do it that the words are somewhat lacking. But you can't have everything!

Tuesday 3 August 2010

Yuck gross

It was a bit cooler this morning so I searched out a jacket that I haven't worn for some time. Walking from the car to the town looking for a hankie I found something that felt like some crumpled silver paper between the pocket and the lining.

We got to town, met the friends for coffee, and while we were chatting I was still vaguely trying to puzzle out how this rubbish had got between my pocket and the coat.

Eventually found another way in and pulled out the paper...................

It was a little dessicated mouse. Ohhhhhhh grooooooooooss.

Monday 2 August 2010


Well what happened to July? Where did that go? Well what's occurring?

As usual, our life is ruled by the weather. We have had some really hot weather in July and it has now turned stormy and sultry. They do storms in a big way here and you have to unplug telephone/computer/television in a vain attempt to stop them being blown up by lightening. I really don't like the lightening. Our new bedroom is at the end of the house facing the direction from which most of the weather comes and although it's lovely to see the view I feel very vulnerable on stormy nights. Especially while Him Outdoors is snoring away beside me! We have an enormous linden tree just next to the house which is stunning and has been there for decades maybe centuries but I still think that the next lightening strike might be the last.........

The garden is loving the rain. You can feel the plants loving the cool and turning their faces up to the drops.

(Van just passing blasting music from loudspeakers. There's a circus in town and they drive round at lunch time - when everyone will be home - to tell everyone to 'roll up, roll up'.)

The regime is progressing well. We are not missing anything. We've both lost half a stone and what feels like more in bulgy bits. I have got into dresses that I have been busting out of for years so it must have gone from there! We still hear odd things about what we should be doing to lower the cholesterol. One friend swears by niacin, the man who sells jam on the market who wanted us to come to a meal that was all foie gras/duck swears by a tsp of cinammon every day, dear daughter has read that hydration was the key, another friend says it's all down to oats........
We will carry on as we are (with more attention to hydration x) until the next blood test and see where we get to.

Meanwhile we have planned a trip to Barcelona in September which is very exciting. Kids are coming out at the end of the month which we're really looking forward to. And more friends dropping in for a couple of days this month and next.

This morning started with killing the latest extra cockerel. Don't like it but we left the last one too long because he was too beautiful to kill (although why it should be easier to kill an ugly one raises moral issues!). We then returned from a lovely lunch to find the senior and junior cockerels covered in blood after what had obviously been a major set to. Fortunately or unfortunately some predator then took the junior cockerel. So hopefully this time we have managed to avoid that.