Friday, 27 February 2015

Friday morning

Orchids are bursting into bloom again


Good morning all - I am poleaxed with tiredness but pleased with yesterday's trip out.  The weather couldn't have been worse we drove to Folkestone in thick fog and just as well we left plenty of time as we got stuck in a traffic jam of lorries trying to get to the tunnel.  As usual the train journey was quick and uneventful but as we exited in Calais the rain had started and it didn't stop all day. Fortunately we had no plans to walk about and merely drove from one wine emporium to the next. Shiona and Keith had pre ordered much of what they wanted so it was very easy, just a case of dashing in paying and then loading the car.  With the Landrover it was easy to stack up the boxes of wine in the dog cages.  Then came lunch and oh boy was I ready to eat.  We had a lovely meal Shiona had moules mariniere to start with followed by a lovely fish dish with a prawn sauce and as hers was from one of the set menus she also had cheese and a big chocolate mousse.  Keith had a pate starter followed by boeuf bourguignon and cheese.  James had the coquille st jacques gratin which was lovely and I had the fish soup then we both had the Onglet the veaux with brie sauce as a main as it was on special.  Neither he nor I had room for anything else so we called it quits at that.  The accompanying vegetables were interesting a small baked potato filled with a garlicky sour cream and chive filling, puree parsnip, jerusalem artichokes and two types of cauliflower.  Shiona picked up the tab as I had paid for the crossing and provided the car and chauffeur.   James did all the driving which was just as well as I was pretty shattered after my early start.  We stopped off and bought some cheese, pate, salami and big crusty loaf which we brought home for Mike for supper.  We were still stuffed from lunch and once the wine and beer had been transferred to Shiona's car and we had all had a cup of tea they made their way home and I scuttled off to my bed as I had been up for some 17 hours. 

Today my mind is completely bank as regards food I will have to have a trawl through the freezer for inspiration.  At least today looks dry at the moment the sky is clear and the temperature is near freezing.  The dogs apparently were very well behaved in our absence but were overjoyed to see us back and we were greeted with great enthusiasm.  Dan was so excited he lost his dinner on the hall carpet so he is quite keen to have his breakfast this morning.  It is my intention to take things a bit easy today and my major task will be to keep the washing machine fed with load after load of washing.  Where does it all come from?  

Have a good day all not long now before the weekend!!!!


Thursday, 26 February 2015

Thursday morning

Good morning all I am sitting here cursing as I woke at 3.30am not the best time given it is going to be a long day.  I really could have used a couple of extra hours sleep.  It will however give me time for a leisurely shower and a slow getting ready.  I am sure I will be fine once I am underway but it is frustrating none the less.  If I were going alone I would bottle out and go back to bed but I can't let the others down so it is a case of "brace yourself Sheila", and get on with it.

Dante looks a real scruff in the photos but he had just come home from a run in the rain.  He does look better when nicely brushed and fortunately he doesn't hate the brush like Basso used to. The winter months are always difficult with a dog with a long coat which picks up everything. Fortunately he is not a rolling dog so we don't have the fox poo problems.  Shiona has endless problems with her two Westies who love rolling but at least they are small enough to chuck in the bath regularly.  

Yesterdays curry went down well and there is a portion left for Mike to have for lunch and no doubt we will bring home something nice for supper.  I think we will probably head for our favourite restaurant in Sangatte and have a nice leisurely lunch.  If you fancy a look at the menu you can find it here http://www.blancnez-restaurant.com/fr/la-carte/  I have already selected my meal.  I always make a point of having the fish soup which is to die for and served with croutons, gruyere and aioli. It would probably be enough on its own but who could resist one of the main courses. 

I am making myself hungry just thinking about it and lunch is a long way off.  Have a good day all tomorrow I will tell you all about the trip. 

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

For Chrissie

Knackered after a wet and muddy walk

What do you mean my face is dirty?

Do I look better in profile


I might be grubby but I am handsome


Want to see what I can do with these huge shovels?

Wednesday morning

Yesterday was a bit chaotic what with me getting up late and then the influx of people into the house. Anyway things had settled down by lunch time and I shot out to do a bit of shopping but what actually drove me out was that we emptied our change jar which was overflowing.  I must admit that we put the money into the machine in Tesco which loses you 10% so we only put coins lower than 50p into it, nonetheless, we netted about £100 from the shrapnel.  It is quite amazing how the small stuff mounts up.

Last night's supper was a mish mash of fishy things with lettuce. I don't know how else to describe it I suppose the posh term is a warm seafood salad but it was more than that with the addition of deep fried goats cheese balls.  It is one of those meals that we will never have again but we all enjoyed it.  I remember as a child my mother lamenting that there was nothing for supper.  She then pottered through the cupboards and fridge and low and behold a wonderful feast of this and that appeared.  We all looked forward to the days when there was nothing for supper!!!!  Sometimes cobbled together meals turn out to be the best. 

Today, being Wednesday, I need to remember the bins need to go out as we forgot last week and I have a garage full of refuse.  Today for lunch we will be having a chicken curry as I bought some chicken thighs and the sauce is in the freezer so it is just a case of amalgamating the two and boiling some rice.  It is my intention to rest up a bit today as tomorrow is going to be a long day with the French trip.  Mike will be left in charge of the dogs not that there is much to do as it is just Dan that has lunch.  He is growing nicely and beginning to put on a bit of muscle and look less like a bag of bones.  Spinone are notoriously difficult to get weight on when they are young and remain gangly youths for quite some time.  Come the 1st of March he will be 6mths old it is quite amazing where the time has gone.  I do have one worry with him he is still very timid with strangers which I suppose is no bad thing but I would like him to be a bit more outgoing.  It is still early days and though he has his new teeth his other male equipment has not arrived yet so I guess his hormones are still those of a puppy.  Once he has been introduced he is very friendly but with complete strangers he backs off very unsure.  Sandy has kindly offered to help me with training which I think we will start in earnest next month when the weather starts to improve.  

Well that about it for today time to get this show on the road and get the rubbish out of the garage in time for the bin men.  Have a good day one and all................

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Tuesday morning

Good morning all I am up very late this morning having first been up at around 4am I took myself back to bed and slept like a baby until 7.45.  Now of course I am all behind schedule and Denny will be here in minutes.  The sun is shining and it is a chilly 5 degrees.  I actually got out into the garden yesterday for a few minutes to tie up my wisteria and the bamboo both of which had broken free of their moorings during the last big blow.  Well I am going to cut this short as I now have a house full of people. I will try to add a bit later when the mayhem has died down.

All quiet on the western front the house is back to just the three of us. Everything is clean and tidy and remarkably it is still light at 5pm.  I am just revving up to cooking the supper.  Lunch had to be a quick job as the kitchen was out of action for a fair amount of time.  So we had a very inspiring lunch of sausage egg and beans.  The sausages were very nice as they were made with black pudding incorporated.  Tonight we will have a seafood extravaganza - not yet sure how to serve it but I have some nice little queen scallops and some raw tiger prawns.  Both of which I intend to flash fry with a bit of parsley and garlic.  Then I have some nice smoked salmon and also some goats cheese which has been breaded and just needs dipping in some hot oil.  I think I might just serve the whole lot on a bed of lettuce and hope for the best.

James has taken the beasts for a run so they are all quiet and collapsed nothing like a run followed by a big supper to quieten down the rampaging youths.  Dan has given a wide berth to carpet in the hall and as yet hasn't found anything else to dig up.  If you need a rotavator please let me know as he can shift huge amounts of soil in minutes with those enormous paws.  

Well time I headed to the kitchen and rattles a few pan have a good evening all. 

Monday, 23 February 2015

Monday morning

Yesterday started well but then came the deluge.  It tipped down for hours and hours after lunch. However, I had a bit of seredipadus luck.  I had put on some bread but put in a bit too much water.  I went with the saying "wetter is better', and left it to rise.  Just as it was ready the phone rang and I got carried away chatting. Bread over proved and just starting to collapse.  Made a cods of kneading it and ended up with a simple round loaf which had to wait ages for the roast to come out of the oven. Finally in it went and out came probably the best loaf I have ever made.  I was expecting a disaster instead of which it was a triumph.


The roast pork lunch was lovely and the crackling disappeared very quickly.  I still have a fair amount  left and cold pork is not so easy to deal with so I think I will just reheat it in the remaining gravy and do more vegetables to go with it.  Do you have a favorite recipe for leftover roast pork? I suppose there is no reason why you can't make a sort of cottage pie with pork rather than lamb or beef.  If cottage pie is made with beef and shepherd's pie with lamb then I propose sty pie for pork!!!!

Dante has calmed down a bit and we have put him back in his crate for the night I think being left to his own devices just confused him and he is happier in the crate.  We all have to keep reminding ourselves that he is not 6mth old yet even though he is huge.

On the nutella site there is a lovely recipe for a tear and share bread with a fabulous design and I have been pondering if it can be done with a savory filling I though a layer of pesto and one of cheese might make a good loaf.  Although it looks desperately complicated it is actually quite easy if you follow the video.

Photo borrowed from google

If you have a sweet tooth I guess the nutella filling would suit you but it doesn't appeal to me. The dough is a sort of brioche type bread.  You must admit it looks pretty spectacular and would grace any table.

Despite the grotty weather all the laundry got done and the house is clear of dangling washing.  We have not had a carer over the weekend and I must say it is nice to have the house to ourselves.  Tina will be back this morning and she can quiz Mike on how he managed without her kicking his backside.  He did actually put some of the washing up away which was a novelty.

By the way, I have been using my nutribullet every single day to make fruit drinks for breakfast. They are water based rather than milk based so not too rich.  This morning I am completely out of fruit so it will have to be toast and marmalade until I can get to the shops.

Well that about it for this morning lets hope the weather is a bit kinder today.  

Anne I hope you are recovering well and have not had any more collapsing incidents.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Sunday morning

Good morning all.  Yesterday was a day of contrasts when I got up it was dry but soon we had a downpour of snow/sleet/rain not sure which it actually was as it changed on its way down landing as rain.  We braced ourselves for the cold and took the dogs out for their walk by which time the rain had stopped but it was very wet underfoot and pretty chilly however the sun was out.  

For lunch I titivated a cottage pie by adding sliced tomatoes and copious amounts of grated cheddar to the top and served it with broccoli.  Supper was interesting as we had missed pancake day I made a big batch of pancakes which we had with lemon and sugar.  The washing machine was on the go all day doing load after load and the tumble dryer also worked its socks off so now I have loads of ironing to keep me out of mischief.  

I managed to relay the hall carpet after Dan's little misdemeanor and hopefully there is not too much permanent damage done.  His new set of beautiful white teeth have erupted and he is chewing his bones and antlers like mad so I guess they are giving him a bit of jip.  My quick action with the bicarb has saved the dining room carpet from staining.  If you ever need to get blood out of anything bicarb is the best thing to remove it provided you catch it quickly.

Today we are going to have a proper Sunday lunch of roast loin of pork with stuffing and roast potatoes, vegetables will be chard and carrots.  The pork joint has been out of the fridge overnight to get it up to room temperature.  It is surprising how long this takes - the house is chilly overnight as the heating is off.  I have a scalpel which I use to score the skin so I get decent crackling which of course is everyones favourite bit.

The sky is clear this morning with a moderate frost but the sun is shining which lifts the spirits.   Things in the garden are beginning to move and I have a couple of mini daffodils in bloom in my window box so spring can't be that far away.  Once the weather has improved I have a lot of work lined up as the sheds and garage really need a major clear out.  Then I have to decide if I am going to reinstate the chickens.  I must admit I think I was right to leave their run fallow over the winter especially as I had a new puppy to contend with.  

Well that about it for this morning as I am up late it is time I got going but first I need another cup of coffee before I am fit to face the day.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Saturday morning

Good morning all.  Yesterday went according to plan I have been shorn and my head definitely feels lighter.  The only bit of the hair dresser that I like is having my hair washed which is very relaxing anyway job done for the next 6 weeks at least.

Dante is in big trouble he decided that if he is not allowed to dig huge holes in the garden perhaps indoor digging is allowed so he had a go at the hall carpet and dug that up only to find lovely underlay you can rip to shreds.  I knew his angelic stage would not last but none the less it comes as a surprise.  Anyway I have explained to him that this behaviour is not acceptable either.  Actually he is not stupid and he knew it was wrong and headed for the safety of his crate as soon as I saw what he had done.  It is hard to stay cross when he comes to you and puts his head on your lap and looks pleadingly into your eyes.  Tubby understood that it had hit the fan and was nowhere to be found he was not willing to face the wrath of Nanny on the warpath.  Being dogs and living in the moment this morning all is forgiven and forgotten and they are larking around as usual while they wait for breakfast.

Yesterday's lunch was some homemade burger which we had with a portion of chip from the kebab shop.  A portion for one is easily enough for the three of us and if that is what one person eats then I am not surprised if they are obese.  Supper was some fish which we had with the artichokes which I had cooked in my favorite way that is with oil parsley and garlic.  They were delicious but had the usual detrimental effect.  I think I slept an inch above my bed last night but hopefully the effects have now worn off.  On the menu today I have a cottage pie which I must get out of the freezer and defrost if we are to have it for lunch.

I also rang Mark the gardener and organised to have some 6 foot trellis put across the garden just in front of the pond which I hope will give me a bit of peace of mind.  Sadly if the dogs fall in the pond they cannot get out unaided so it is very dangerous.  Currently they are restricted to the patio unless supervised but this will open up half the garden so they can have a bit more playing room.  Just to make my life complete I was doing some retrieving work with Dan when he skidded in the kitchen and cut his paw on the sharp edge of the step stool.  Nothing was noticed at first until spatters of blood appear all over the dining room carpet so it was down on my hands and knees with some water and bicarbonate of soda to remove the stains before they set and became impossible to move.  I guess this is the inferno stage!!!!!

Tina, Mikes carer, is having the weekend off so I suggested that she didn't organise a replacement so we can judge just how much progress Mike has made and if he will get himself up and dressed without being bullied.  I have agreed not to push him and just wait and see!!!!  I must admit it is nice not to have someone in the house every morning.  

Well that about it for this morning loads of washing to keep me occupied and out of mischief.  It is very cold outside but at least it is dry at the moment.






Friday, 20 February 2015

Friday Morning

Yesterday was a real wet one - I dashed out before it started as Aldi had rinse aid on offer.  I now have sufficient to last the rest of my life!!!  I had organised a nice lunch of sirloin steak with mushrooms and potatoes lyonnaise.  Supper was a beans on toast affair with a couple of chipolatas.  

Dante is really coming into his own and has reached the age where he thinks he can do as he pleases. His digging session got spotted and words were had.  He does at least have a conscience and knows he has done wrong unlike Nip who always denied all knowledge of wrongdoing.  Tubby knew there was going to be trouble and disappeared and hid in the bedroom.  There is nothing to be done about the mud on the carpet it just has to be left to dry and then comes off easily with the hoover but boy does it look a mess in the mean time.  The huge muddy paw prints look almost like a regular pattern.

Today I am off to the hairdresser to have my locks shorn.  I always hate it when it is first done but I know it settles down in time and looks fine for a while until it turns into wet lettuce again and the whole cycle starts again.  I made the decision long ago that I would not go down the colour route which has saved me shed loads of money.  As yet my hair hasn't turned completely grey but is a sort of salt a pepper look but then again who would I be kidding if I got rid of the grey.

James has rather overdone things this week and yesterday he suffered for it so he had a day off his feet to give them a bit of a rest.  Given the extent of his injuries you would be hard pressed to know as he is now walking very well but it does take its toll on him.

On the menu today we will have homemade burgers for lunch - nice and quick when I get back from the poodle parlour.  Then for supper I have some fish which is going to be served with jerusalem artichokes cooked with oil garlic and parsley.  I have to be careful when I serve them as the effect usually last 24 hours so you really don't need to have visitors or be going out anywhere.  I really love artichokes but being a hovercraft for 24 hours can be a bit of an embarrassment.

At the moment it is not raining but everything is soaking wet so I guess it has rained for most of the night and the garden is a quagmire.  I think my carpet could be in for more mud!!!!

Have good day all and lets hope the rain holds off for a while......

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Thursday Morning

What a lovely day I had yesterday it has been ages since I have had a day out that was not shopping or some other needed journey.  Dante and I went over to Shiona's house where we met up with another friend from our days teaching at the university.  She too is a dog person and has dachshunds one of whom is undergoing chemotherapy having lost a leg but he looked very well and managed very well on his three remaining legs.  I didn't give Dan any breakfast in the hope that he would not be sick en route but he did have one  leftover meat ball to pacify him for the loss.  Needless to say that came back up.  Once we had arrived I fed him and he drank two full bowls of water as he had drooled the entire journey.  He was very nervous as this is the first time he has had an outing to another house but at least he knows Shiona and her dogs so it was not so traumatic.  While we were there it was a golden opportunity to see how he reacted to a gun being fired.  I walked him half way down her garden about 75 yards and she fired one cartridge.  He did jump at the noise but didn't try to run in panic he was just startled which I think is hopeful now I need to expose him to shooting more often so he gets used to the noise.  

Us humans had a grand chat over our lunch of trout and salad the talk inevitably reverted to our days as nurses when hospitals were run for the benefit of the patients not the managers and the budgets. Amongst the three of us we had loads of fabulous stories to tell and loads of reminiscing.  Sometimes it is nice to look back on a life full of good times and the loads of fun we used to have.  I had intended to leave at about 3pm but when I looked at my watch it was 4.45 and smack in the middle of rush hour so I hung on for a little and eventually made it home at about 6.30.  Dan, poor boy, was sick on the way home though all he had in his stomach was a dog chew.  I don't need to tell you just how keen he was for his supper.  Tubby was delighted to see him home and they had a great time chasing each other round and round the house.  We humans had a chinese takeaway and I then retired to my bed exhausted but happy.  Dan too was poleaxed after his stress filled day and was sound asleep in moments.

I don't have any plans for today except the usual of keeping the show on the road.   Tomorrow I am off to the hairdresser first thing which I really hate but I know it needs to be done. In my mind it is a necessary evil.  

Well that about it for now, time for more coffee and a patrol of the freezer in search of lunch and dinner inspiration.  I really must make a menu plan it would make my life so much easier than this ad hoc system I am currently using.