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Showing posts from January, 2014

Friday morning

Good morning all.  Now where to start, well I guess with the fact that we had a great day but it didn't start out very well.  There must have been some trauma in Maidstone as we got caught in a terrible traffic jam trying to get to the M20.  When we finally did manage to get onto the motorway we were very short of time.  Fortunately my car can go pretty fast if necessary and so I drove like a bat out of hell through torrential rain but we did make the train just in time to be loaded straight on.  35 minutes later we were in Calais and the rain had stopped so we had a pleasant drive to Sangatte which as usual was completely dead with the exception of our restaurant.  We thought we might have a walk along the beach before lunch but as we descended the steps we discovered that the tide was in and there was no beach so we contented ourselves with a walk along the street which we decided is flanked with what must be holiday homes as most looked uninhabited.  That done it was time for …

Thursday morning

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Well folks I am up at stupid o'clock and I think for once I know the reason why.  Mike has decided not to come to France as he really doesn't feel up to it, so guess who is in charge?  Fortunately my passengers are seasoned travelers and they speak fluent french so why I should be anxious I don't know but I am.  The weather looks just miserable but no big storms or torrential rain has been forecast so the driving should be fine.
Angela and I had a grand day yesterday at Bluewater shopping centre and she has bought some very pretty underwear from Rigby and Peller which is an experience all ladies should treat themselves to just once in their lives.  I managed to get out of Lakeland with only the purchase of some cleaning stuff which does both copper and brass.  As soon as we got home I tried it on a small copper saucepan. It works really well so I am delighted with that.  It should cut down on the elbow grease that is usually involved.  
Last night for supper we had some m…

Wednesday Morning

Good morning all isn't it nice when things go according to plan.  Denny arrived early and once she was happy with her chores I went off to Faversham and had a leisurely breakfast with Sandy.  The pair of us trawled around the shop afterwards and I got an assortment of lovely cheeses as well as the other items on my list.  By the time I got home it was lunch time and fortunately I had got out some leek and potato soup which I heated up for Mike.  The house was spotless and the guest bedroom was looking good.  Our visitors were not due until about 4pm so I had time for a quick nap to recharge my batteries.  The meal went well and it was nice to have a professional helping hand in the kitchen, though Henry is not used to having a 6 stone hairy supervisor in his kitchen!!!!While I got on with the starter I left Henry in charge of the mushroom sauté - I think I had every piece of kitchen kit in action. Anyway it was a successful meal though Mike didn't really eat much.  The select…

Tuesday morning

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Sandy sent me this picture that she took on the last shoot what you can't see is that I was slowly sinking into the mud.

Yesterday I took things easy after bread making using my oven as a proving oven set at 35ºC which made the whole process much quicker.  This is something I will be doing again, how stupid can you be not to realise that the oven went that low!!! I did very little else knowing that today would be quite a full day.

Denny is due this morning so once I have her settled I am shooting off to Faversham to have breakfast with Sandy and do my last minute shopping then it will be back and start to make preparations for my friend who are coming up from Bristol.  Mike has decided that he will not be coming with me so he can spend some time quietly having a shower and getting himself together.  He is very slow in the shower I don't know what takes him so long?  I am in and out in minutes including wiping down the walls.  However, my first job is to go and get the variou…

Monday Morning

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What a lovely surprise I had yesterday Ellaine dropped off this super bunch of lilies by way of a thankyou for my help with the opening of the salon.  What a kind thought, as I actually did very little but it is always nice to be appreciated.  As you can see they are all lovely buds so they should last a nice long time.
James and Tubby came for lunch after which we all crashed out for a sleep until tea time.  The left over mash and cabbage were put to good use and made into bubble and squeak with some added saute onions and we ate it with a chicken kiev each.  These were frozen and not homemade which meant that the meat was not so good but it filled a gap and I am now rid of them out of the freezer.  Sandy rang to say that she had made it to her car before the terrible rain and hail hit.  It only lasted about ten minutes but it was quite violent and made for very unpleasant driving. 
It is hard to believe it is Monday again, where are the weeks going? and January is all but gone.   M…

Sunday Morning

Good morning all, well it is morning but only just!!!  I am madder than a wet hen. The engineer that was supposed to come yesterday between 8am and 6pm didn't turn up, no phone call, nothing.  So I waited all day Monday and Tuesday for a call which finally came on Friday the appointment was made for yesterday so here I sat like a lemon waiting all day and nothing, so that is three days ruined. Now what do I do? my inclination is to tell them exactly what they can do with their fire and it will be very uncomfortable!!! They have some sort of partnership arrangement with B&Q as it is their fires that they install so I guess a letter to B&Q customer services would probably be the best course of action.  Then back to the drawing board to source another company that could do the work.
Fortunately Sandy came in the afternoon and kept me company for a few hours but it meant that I had been up since 3am so by 8pm I was sound asleep consequently I am up at this ungodly hour.  Sand…

Saturday morning

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Yesterday went well the opening of the newly refurbished hair salon went well and Elly had made lots of nice finger food and there was plenty of bucks fizz flowing.  I was happy to busy myself wandering amongst the guests with plates and napkins or a bottle to top people up.  The mayoress cut the ribbon across the door and the press cameraman was there to record it all.  As the event wore to a close I found myself chatting to the mayoress who was a really nice lady and very easy to chat to. Apparently she had used this hair salon for many years so she was only too happy to come and open the newly refurbished establishment. The salon had previously had dark wood panelling which made it look more like a gentleman's club where you would get a brandy and a cigar rather than a hairdressers. Now is is all bright light paint and shiny clean stations which has made the place look much bigger and more welcoming. 

Elaine had picked me up and so stopped off for a coffee when she dropped me …

Friday morning

Sorry to have been so down yesterday I was just so tired after a series of poor nights I had become progressively tired.  Shiona arrived at her usual time and we set off to Aldi where we bought some of their venison and pork steaks which are a very nice standby in the freezer.  Then it was down to the pet food shop for some puppy food for Tubby and also 20 kg of food for my dogs.  We then drove out to James flat and picked up both him and Tubby and headed out for a walk down the other side of the river from our usual walk.  Well it was an absolute quagmire with huge puddles and thick mud from all the rain but the dogs had a ball.  We started out with 5 clean dogs and ended up with 5 mud coloured dogs they were filthy and soaking wet but very happy.  Basso was pleased with himself as he had put up a nice cock pheasant, sadly no one had a gun so no casserole.  We loaded the dogs into the car and headed to the nearest pub for a ham, egg and chips lunch.  I had phoned Mike to say we woul…

Thursday morning

Just a short note this morning as I am feeling pretty under the weather - I had a very rough day yesterday and yet another bad night so now I feel pretty wrecked.  I am back off to bed to see if I can get some more sleep and hopefully wake feeling much better.  Apparently Shiona is coming today as we had arranged last week - it was me that got the day wrong but just as well as I was not good company.  Today we are due to have a trip to Aldi and then I need to collect some puppy food for Tubby and take it over to him.  The intention is to have a nice walk with all the dogs but we will have to see just how rotten I feel.

Wednesday morning

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I had a relatively quiet day yesterday while I waited for the phone call from the fire fitters that never came.  I do hate it when people say they are going to contact you and then don't.  We were told we would be contacted on either Monday or Tuesday so that is two days hanging around for nothing. Does this fill you with confidence? no it doesn't.
Today I have to burst into life as I need to get all the rubbish out for the bin men.  It would be easier to put it out the night before but we have problems with foxes and magpies who destroy the bags and scatter the rubbish.  The recycling guys come pretty early around 7am so we have to make an effort to get it out in time.  Just to make my life complete it is raining cats and dogs at the moment and a vixen has been screaming since 2.30 am and kept me awake.  Don't you just love nature!!!!!

The oxtail was so delicious that we ate it for both lunch and supper, I had intended to keep half for another occasion but we demolished …

Tuesday Morning

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Last nights supper of stuffed squid I cut a slice so you can see the stuffing.  
Yesterday was mostly spent in the kitchen as I was in a real cooking mood.  I had watched "Italy unpacked" on the TV the previous night and was reminded of a dish which I have done many times "coda alla vaccinara" which is a delicious oxtail stew with loads of celery in it.  That is now happily bubbling in the slow cooker as it takes ages to cook but is worth the wait.  I fiddled with the stock left from the gammon, it was very sweet but tasty, so I did some belly strips in it and then today they will get a blast in the oven to crisp them up.  I also cooked some brussel sprouts in the same liquid as they are intended to go into some bubble and squeak to go with the belly strips.  I managed a small shuffle in the freezer but not a really good clear out.  A bloomer loaf of bread was made so that kept me occupied for a while.  In between, assorted bits of laundry got done and though it w…

Monday morning

Well, I expect you are all wondering how the ham cooked in cola turned out, it was absolutely smashing the flavour of the cola was nowhere to be seen but it did lend a certain sweetness to the meat making it resemble honey cured ham.  We had it hot with mash and an assortment of vegetables and a dijon mustard sauce.  Then for supper we had a slice cold with a fried egg, chips would have been nice but I was out of potatoes so a slice of toast had to substitute.  The only drawback to this method of cooking gammon is that the resulting stock is far too sweet to be used for any other dishes like soups etc.  I suppose you might get away with using it with something like red cabbage which needs a bit of sweetness.  The rind off the meat will be chopped up for the hens who will go mad when they see it as they are crazy for bacon rind.  
While the pot was on boiling James gave me a hand to get Basso in the bath.  6 stone of reluctant dog is quite a weight.  However, once in the bath he was a…

Sunday morning

Yesterday was a bit of a washout not in terms of rain but the shoot did not go well we did 5 drives in the morning and only got a few birds which meant lots of standing slowly sinking into the mud while being blasted by icy winds.  After lunch they proposed another 4 drives and Sandy and I decided that discretion was the better part of valour and packed it in.  We were prepared for another 2 drives which is the usual but 4 was just too many.  There were lots of picking up dogs so we would not be missed and given the miserable tally of birds even they would be bored.  John the gamekeeper was very excited as he has just purchased a springer spaniel puppy which he will have all summer to start training.  Basso got two nice pick ups so he was happy and I was not looking forward to washing his feet which were solid with mud.  I was pretty shattered after my very early start but managed to stay awake until about 8pm when passed out having had a lovely kebab with loads of salad and garlic s…

Saturday morning

Well I think the gods have taken pity on us and instead of constant rain I believe we may actually have just the odd shower today for the last shoot of the season.  Basso had his inoculation yesterday, not that he noticed, he was far more interested in smelling all floors, walls and every square inch of the vets surgery.  While we were waiting someone brought in a cat in a box and he shot between my legs for protection as he was convinced that the animal was in box because is was too dangerous to be loose.  He has no understanding of cats and has never come face to face with one.   
Yet another light in the kitchen blew so I was up the step ladder changing that but at least this one came out relatively easily.  I suppose all the bulbs go at the same time as they were all installed at the same time but it is a real nuisance.  I rang up about the fire and we are to expect a call from a fitter early next week to make an appointment to come and see exactly what the problems are.  Mike is…

Friday morning

Yesterday was a relatively quiet day once I had been round Aldi and done my shopping and that of Shiona I took the dogs for a quick walk before the rain started again.  The ironing finally got done only just in time as today the next load of washing will need doing.  
While in Aldi I bought pork fillet which I butterflied out and then stuffed with a row of small prunes I then closed it up and wrapped it in rashers of streaky bacon and tied it shut and popped it in the oven alongside the potato and celeriac dauphinoise.  What a sumptuous lunch! and there is enough left over for lunch today so also very economical.  The thermomix book says that the cream will beat fine so I just had to try even though I didn't need beaten cream.  Well they were not telling lies it beats beautifully so if ever you are in need of some cream all you need to do is make it approximately 8 hours before you need it as it takes that long to cool down and for the butter to re set.  4 hours will suffice for …

Thurssday morning

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Well a much better night last night it was quiet outside with no storms to disturb me and I was pretty tired so that too helped.  Mikes visit to the hospital was uneventful and fortunately we were able to get him in nice and early before the traffic completely ceased up.  I had just arrived back with him when Shiona arrived the bread was made and rising so it was a nice time to sit and have coffee and chat.  We then headed off to B&Q where we purchased the lights for the dining room and a couple of other items we needed.  The gas fire business has to be done by telephone so I will probably give them a ring today and organise for someone to come and look at the current fire and the problems of installing a new one.  Sadly it is not a case of replacing one with another as the current fire is huge and will leave a big hole in the wall so it will need to be gyprocked first.  Anyway we will cross that bridge when we come to it.  
These are the lights I have chosen and once they are in…

Wednesday morning

I had another rather grotty night last night tossing and turning and never quite getting settled first I was too hot then too cold and so on and so forth.  Another windy squall rushed through at around 1am which woke me from my light sleep.  This morning I am taking Mike to our wonderful hospital for an MRI scan to see what is happening with his hearing.  Given that they wanted to x ray James clavicle instead of calcaneum and Margaret got to see a surgeon instead of a cardiologist I am not all that confident that they will get it right.  Anyway fingers crossed that they at least scan the right part of his body.  
Shiona is coming over so we can have a nice chat and I think she will be impressed with the new white banisters which are looking very good.  Denny went through with the hoover and duster while I spent ages trying to replace a bulb in the kitchen.  I have lots of little recessed lights in the ceiling and they can be real pigs to undo to change the bulbs.  Then of course did …

Tuesday morning

Well you will be please to know that my misdemeanour with the KFC has has no lasting consequences.  Lots of liquid and a brisk walk soon sorted the problem.  James and I and the dogs went off to the tip with all the stuff that had been cluttering up the garage and once we had discharge that cargo we took the dogs for a run but it was extremely muddy underfoot and quite slippery so we cut the walk a bit short before either of us had a fall.  The dogs were satisfied and so settled down on a mat in the kitchen while I stepped around them making lunch.  Now as you know my kitchen is not big and with three dogs sprawled on the floor or milling around my feet is was quite difficult.
The roast goose was lovely and did the three of us proud with some roast potatoes and peas. Although they are big birds they have a similar construction to ducks that is a very big frame with less meat than you expect.  I have a good portion of meat left which I thought I would make in to a pie of sorts with a …

Monday morning

Good morning all, well I feel wrecked this morning but I have no one to blame but myself as it is totally self inflicted.  The shooting yesterday was great fun but it was absolutely perishingly cold and as there were quite a few people shooting there was a fair amount of standing around.  It had been arranged that I would swing through the KFC drive through on my way home and get something for lunch.  Well when I arrived it was packed and I had to wait nearly an hour to get through the queue. Then of course by the time I arrived home I was starving hungry and ate far too much for which I am now suffering.  My stomach feels as if I had eaten my lead cartridges and I have a goose to cook for lunch when what I really fancy is lots of water and may be a lettuce leaf.   Well if you eat rubbish in great quantities what can you expect.  You would have thought that by now I would know better but sadly I haven't learned my lesson yet.  Still you never know by lunch time I might feel a bit…

Sunday morning

Well the temperature has dropped like a stone and we are down to just above freezing at 1ºC.  I am off shooting this morning, only clay pigeons not the real thing, but actually that is more fun and much less standing around waiting.  It's going to be pretty cold so it will be all the thermal gear.  I must admit that I don't feel much like it at the moment as I had a very disturbed night punctuated with nightmares and periods of wakefulness.  But I dare say that after a couple of cups of coffee I will be back up and running again. 
Yesterday I made the salad nicoise which really hit the spot I had been hankering for it since I bought the tuna  which I cooked from frozen on a red hot griddle so that the centre stayed pink and it was really juicy rather than dry.  Supper was the fish fingers I had intended again something which I really fancied.  Today I will probably buy some chicken and chips on the way home and that will do for the whole day.  In fact the calories would proba…

Saturday Morning

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Yesterday was a nice sunny day though it was a bit colder with the clear skies but what a change to see the sun again.  It has been so dismal and dank of late it is quite depressing.  However, at least the house is dry not like the poor folks who are still flooded.  The decorating is done with the exception of the doors which are due a coat of varnish which Steve will do on Monday and then we really are done.  The whole house has a layer of fine dust from the sanding and the carpets need a very good hoover but Denny is coming on Tuesday so hopefully by that night we should be nice and clean and tidy at last.
I shot out to Aldi bright and early as both Sandy and Shiona had asked me to get them some jars of pate.  While I was there I noticed that they were selling 4 kilo geese for £14 well that is the same price I would have to pay for any nice joint so we will be eating goose on Monday.  I hadn't enough room in the freezer so it is quietly defrosting in the fridge in the garage.  …

Friday morning

Good morning all, well "the best laid plans of mice and men aft gang agley".  All my plans went out of the widow yesterday as my brother in law decided to pay us a visit and as we haven't seen him for at least a year it was an opportunity not to be missed.  
The menu had to be quickly rejigged to accommodate another mouth.  Thank goodness I still had one of the open faced apple tarts still in the freezer and there was still a portion of the clementine ice cream.  So that took care of desert and a few extra mushrooms and a splash more cream stretched the turkey pie filling.  I had made some shredded cabbage with chorizo which would do but then decided to make yorkshire puddings to accompany the meal and give a bit of bulk as I was out of puff pastry.  Meanwhile I was in the middle of bread making which as it turned out was ok. The '00' flour made for a very close texture but it tastes fine and will do, though I don't think I will be using it again.  Meanwhile…

Thursday morning

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I had a lovely day yesterday with Shiona and we played in the kitchen making a baked cheesecake call a Japanese cotton cheesecake.  Well, though we followed the instructions to the letter the cake fell and was more of a pleasant pancake.  We are not quite sure what went wrong so it is worth another try the cake is cooked in the oven in a waterbath with the tin wrapped in foil to make sure that no water leaks in.  It then has to be left, in the switched off oven, until completely cold before you can cut it.  I will give it another go just because I don't like being thwarted. This is what it is supposed to look like!!!!

Lunch was a bit more successful as we had some of the steak and kidney I had made earlier and cheated by baking the puff pastry separately.  With it we had a nice cabbage which was just finely shredded and cooked in a little butter and some finely diced chorizo sausage and its own steam.  Shiona needed some wool to knit a frog hat for her nephew so on our way we swu…

Wednesday Morning

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Yesterday saw my room decorated which meant quite a bit of shifting of stuff but now it is done all I have to do is re-hang the curtains and it will be finished.  I had a massive reorganise of the things electrical so that there are no wires draped all over the place and things are much neater.  Steve has made a start on the banisters which are going to look great when finished but he is having today off which is great as Shiona and her dogs are coming over to visit.  Wet paint and small dogs are not a good combination.


This is just the first coat of undercoat but already you can see that the white is making the whole hall look much brighter.  It was originally the same dark wood colour as the doors and architrave.  Once this is completed and the doors have had a coat of varnish we will be finished.  Then I can move on to replacing my hated gas fire which has finally given up the ghost.  I think it is nice to have a couple of gas fires so that should we have a power cut and the centra…

Tuesday morning

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Well yesterday was a huge success Sandy had been having trouble with her iPad for ages and we made a bee line for the Apple shop where a delightful young man spent 2hours sorting out what her problems were.  He finally diagnosed that she had inadvertently got 2 apple accounts one with a miss spelling of her email address.  Once that was discovered he backed up her pad to the cloud and then reloaded everything.  In a way we were pleased that it was not just a simple 'old fart' stupidity that could be fixed in seconds which is really embarrassing.  Apparently he was telling us that people complain that they cannot hear anything from their new iPhones and think the speaker is broken when the problem is that they haven't removed the protective plastic film!!!!
By this time we were starving and headed to Wagamama's where we indulged ourselves in considerable quantities of oriental food.  When I looked at the bill I was horrified to see that we were charged £2 for a glass o…