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Showing posts from December, 2014

Wednesday morning

Good morning all today is marginally warmer than yesterday and I believe that it is going to get warmer and wet in the new year according to the countryfile weather forecast.  Yesterday I had some visitors for coffee, well I think they came to see me, or perhaps they were Dan's visitors anyway I had just got back from a foray to Tesco.  The shop was piled high with reduced price goods left over from christmas and in a moment of stupidity I bought some party food to go with the choux buns that I had made. Pulled pork sliders sounded fine, until I discovered that they were filled with an onion jam and a postage stamp size piece of plastic cheese.  Where was the pork? apparently pulled completely out!!!! Anyway, the dogs thought they were OK, I beg to differ.  The stuffed jalapenos were marginally better but very mean containing just half a pepper per portion.  Well that will teach me. I know better than to buy such stuff but every now and again I try only to be very disappointed.  …

Tuesday Morning

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Good morning all it is absolutely perishing here and the heating has just come on so the dogs, who are not stupid, have all devolved to the crate which just happens to be by the biggest radiator.

Yesterday was a bit of a nothing day I took Dante to the vet who just happened to be an Italian from my region of Italy so it was nice to have a bit of a chat.  She was also happy that I had had a spinone before and knew that they are very intelligent hunting dogs who need to work.  She commented that people get them because they look cute but don't realise they need to work or they get bored and mischievous.  For Dante it was a traumatic experience as we had to walk some distance along the main road with all the nasty traffic and by the time we got home he was poleaxed.  Lunch was a complete mismatch of bits we had roasted quails wrapped in bacon, mashed potatoes and some stir fried chinese leaves with garlic and ginger.  Sort of east meets west supper, on the other hand, was all east as…

Monday Morning

Good morning all it is jolly cold here with the temperature down to 1ºC still above freezing but very cold none the less.  I had a trip round Aldi yesterday to stock up on a few bits and pieces and I noticed just how much stuff was left from the Christmas stock - now is the time to be buying everything.  Things like smoked salmon and prawns are all at giveaway prices.  I bet you could buy a turkey for 2p.  As we are all feeling a little jaded we feasted on loads of prawn cocktail which everyone seems really keen on at the moment.  Perhaps it is just the marie rose sauce they are having a yen for but it is so nice and easy to prepare who am I to complain.
My kitchen has recessed lights buried in the ceiling - they look nice but are not bright enough for my liking and over the holidays two of the bulbs blew.  They are real pigs to change and I am now out of replacement bulbs so they are on my list for today.  I also thought I would walk Dante to the vet up the road and register him the…

Sunday morning

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My computer seems to have gone into meltdown following an upgrade.   I have no idea what to do as all I now have is a blank screen. It tries to reboot but the progress bar just disappears and I am left with a completely blank screen and cursor.

Yesterday I declared this a turkey free zone.  All the leftovers have been dealt with; a pie for lunch and the rest in the freezer.  I for one will be very happy not to see turkey until next Christmas.  I will keep this short as typing on the iPad is not my favourite occupation.

Anyway it looks like I might have to take the puter to the apple shop unless anyone knows how to hard reboot it?

Thank goodness for google I have managed to hard reboot and get the stupid thing going again.


I am off to Aldi this morning as I need a few bits and pieces and they have some 80 litre boxes for sale which I hope will be useful to store my rubbish bags as the rats are having a field day with the polythene bags put out in the garage.  
Anyway I am much relieve…

Saturday Morning

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Yesterday being boxing day we had our obligatory walk down by the estuary with all the dogs.  It was a longer ride for Dante but though he was drooly he was not sick so that is good news.  Sadly the local running club had infested our route which made it all a bit of a pain.  Tubby decided to give them a demonstration of real running but they couldn't keep up so he got bored with them.  Dante was just bemused by all the legs and was not pleased with their rudeness as he tried to greet each and every one as any polite dog would do.  Once they had passed we thought we were safe but they turned at the carpark and ran back through us.  This time we sat the dogs up to watch as they jogged slowly past.  Then at last we had the place to ourselves and much sniffing and exploring could be done.
Now I bet you can't guess what we had for lunch?  Yes you've got it cold turkey and the big bubble and squeak that I put in the oven to crisp up.  Supper was much more to my taste as the ca…

Friday morning

Was it good for you?  everything went according to plan here.  My turkey cooked in the blinking of an eye but thank goodness it comes to no harm standing for a couple of hours under a tent of foil. The roast potatoes were to die for as they were done in goose fat and all the remaining bits and pieces were done to a turn. The four legged children went mad ripping up wrapping paper to get to the contents, stuffed marrow bones and squeaky toys.  The turkey necks etc made enough food for their breakfast and dinner not to mention Dan's lunch being a puppy he still has three meals a day.  He is very skinny but he needs to grow slowly as he needs time to develop his bones and joints ready to carry the final weight he will reach.  Spinone are notoriously difficult to get to gain weight when young and remain like gauky teenagers for ages.  Yesterday was a red letter day in Dans development he actually lifted his leg for the first time.  No little girly squat but like a big boy.  
Today is…

Happy Christmas

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Good morning all, well here we are at last the big day such as it is.  Yesterday saw the first day that I have felt even moderately well so I think the cold is finally abating.  It seems to have dragged on forever.  I had a quick run out to the butcher yesterday morning to pick up the turkey and was given loads of packs of giblets [heart, liver, gizzard, and neck] so my first mission was to put all the bits, with the exception of the livers, into the pressure cooker and make stock then when done the meat was picked over for the dogs.  The livers were blasted in the blitzer along with some cloves of garlic, an egg and some wholemeal flour.  Then into a tray in the oven and once cooked cut into cubes as dog treats. Dogs will do anything for a piece of liver cake and given that this was all free I made the most of it. The turkey itself had been brined overnight and is now draining ready to go in the oven.  
We ate very lightly. Lunch was scrambled eggs and smoked salmon and the for supp…

Wednesday morning Christmas Eve

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Off to the butcher to fetch the turkey this morning and start unloading the freezer of all the pre prepared stuff.  Yesterday I did a bit of work on my spreadsheet to see how we are faring with the solar panels.  I am delighted to tell you that the sum total of my expenditure this year for both gas and electricity is £7 now that can't be bad.  I woke at 3am but put myself back to sleep and now it is 7 am which is a bit more of a human time to get up.  I have been feeling like death warmed up with this rotten cold but I must say I feel a bit better this morning so perhaps the worst is over.  I must admit I am glad it is just the three of us for the big day so I don't have to push myself too much.  It is just a big sunday lunch and most of the prep work is done.  Today I will peel the spuds and get the vegetables ready so there will be little to do on the actual day.  Yesterday we took Dan for a lead walk up to the shops but Tubby came too as he is very well behaved on the lead…

Tuesday Morning

Don't ask how long it has taken this poor old fool to upload this tiny piece of video.  I have been all around the houses and finally sent it to myself as an email which seems to have worked or at least I hope it has.
Now for gammon cooked in cocacola well it has turned out to be a very nice recipe with the ham taking on a sweetness from all that sugar.  My only criticism is that it is a bit dry which I assume is due to over cooking on my part.  We had another dose of the prawn cocktail for lunch but this time made with chinese leaves instead of lettuce and with a pack of queen scallops added to the prawns. Just what the doctor ordered with a couple of slices of granary bread and butter.  Supper was the ham sliced and served with a big batch of coleslaw made with half the red cabbage.  
We took Dante out in the car yesterday but only as far as the rugby field [5 minutes drive].  Our reasoning was that a very short ride to a really exciting place might get him over his car sicknes…

Monday Morning

Good morning all only a few days to go to the big one.  It is extremely mild outside with temperatures in double figures for which I am grateful as my first job of the morning is to take Dan the man out for his toilet training.   Yesterday evening we had a little walk up and down the road to introduce ourselves to our various neighbours and wish them all a happy christmas.  It was also another opportunity to meet with traffic and noise.  At the moment Dan behaves very well on the lead but I am sure that will not last once he is a bit more confident.  I am making a start on celebrating today with a large piece of gammon which I am going to cook in cocacola.  This will be a first for me and I will let you know if it is successful.  There is a Nigella Lawson recipe for this which I am going to follow. The joint is too big for just the three of us so I intend to cook it then divide it up into meal sized portions which I will vacuum pack and/or freeze.  I also have a fairly large red cabb…

Sunday Morning

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Let me know when you get fed up yet another photo of Dante! I have tried to get a good shot of him but I am better at hitting a moving target with gun than a camera.


Yesterday was a mediocre day I took Mike out to the shops while I bought the last few oddments needed for the christmas festivities.  I needed a panettone as our house breakfast tradition requires a large slab of panettone dunked in a big mug of coffee while listening to christmas carols.  I had the most wonderful compliment paid to me in the shop.  There was an Italian couple with some kids trying to decide which of the assorted makes of pasta was best.  This I couldn't resist so I pointed out the best I had yet found.  "Oh you are Italian" the husband exclaimed, I explained that it was my mother who came from Trieste but to be mistaken for a native was a huge compliment.  Lunch was some of the lovely "Black Watch", scotch eggs and assorted bits and pieces.  Supper on the other hand was "if …

Saturday Morning

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Flat out sound asleep

Yesterday morning we had a visit from the OT's who had come to see Mike but as you can imagine there was also some puppy playing time.  I got on with the bits and pieces for Xmas so they are all now in the freezer and all I have to do is cook the bird and do the veg so it will be rather like a big sunday lunch.  I kept back some of the bubble and squeak which we had for lunch with some crispy bacon.  We are all at the tail end of a rotten cold which is taking its time to go so as none of us was feeling up to much we had a prawn cocktail with bread and butter for supper.  It was infact just what we all wanted.  I had made a bucket full of marie rose sauce and shredded a largish lettuce so it was not a small portion.  I even managed to do the ironing and get that put away.  Dante started the day rather badly by smashing a second bowl but we made a concentrated effort to use the OFF word and by the end of the day things had improved dramatically.  The crazy jum…

Friday morning

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Please note that the crate door is open but Dante has claimed it as his bed
Good morning all, well what a day we had yesterday.  Dante was posted through the flap a few times with the help of a frankfurter.  It took virtually no time at all for him to get the message that using the flap earned you some sausage.  However, this didn't mean you can run in and out of the flap continuously and earn loads of sausage.  Now he only gets praised.  He managed to cause a disaster in the kitchen last night when he ran back down the garden, shot in through the flap, and reached up and pulled down his china bowl full of breakfast - I'm sure I don't need to paint you a picture of the ensuing chaos. He was desperate to eat the food and we were equally desperate to stop him eating broken china.  He is moving on to a stainless steel bowl today and the training will be stopping him jumping up and helping himself to whatever is on the work surface. He has the appetite of a horse and anyone s…

Thursday morning

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We have got through day one with only one puddle on the puppy mat the rest have been in the garden and it has only cost me a couple of frankfurters. He has mastered coming in through the flap but hasn't worked out that it is a two way door.  It is quite difficult to type as he is very keen to join in as this is our quality time together.  Last night Elaine and her entire family came to visit so both Dante and Tubby had a grand time being made a fuss of.  They seem to have become firm friends and play very well together.   We were a little apprehensive that Tubby would be a bit too rough for Dante but actually he gives as good as he gets.  The are evenly matched in playing chase and when it comes to rough and tumble Tubby grabs Dantes ears and is rewarded with a right hook from one of those huge paws. Dante instigates a lot of play so he is definitely not afraid of Tubby.  Of course they are both afraid of Nip who has made it clear he doesn't want to do any rough and tumble an…

Wednesday morning back with my precious cargo

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Good morning all, I am back after a thoroughly good trip with no hiccups.  Everything went according to plan and we made such good time back yesterday that we had time to take the boys for a small walk on the beach at Sangatte then a good lunch for Shiona and I before catching our train home.  Sally was at my door as we drew up and gave us a hand unloading our precious cargo.  Dante had been a bit sick and very dribbly so his brother was a bit damp to say the least.  However they didn't make a peep all the way home. At the moment we are spending some quality time together before the other monsters are out of bed but Dante is far too busy exploring to have his photo taken.




Dante
Today will be the first day of school for the new boy there are so many things to learn like apparently you  are not supposed to do pee pee on the kitchen floor. The worksurfaces in the kitchen where they keep all the good things are out of bounds even though I am tall enough to help myself with no trouble.…

Monday morning and all set to go

Did I sleep well? you must be joking.  Far too excited and wound up but Shiona is here and we are fed and watered and as neither of us is into breakfast it will just be a good cup of coffee and then we will be underway.  It is our intention to leave home at 8.15 to make the tunnel by the allotted time. The weather seems to be in our favour it is not icy as it is already 6ºC.  As our car has to spend the night in the street I have not loaded it yet as there is no point in putting temptation in peoples path and it will only take 5 minutes to load up.  James made sure it was filled with fuel and that it was cleaned both inside and out by the Albanians.  The house is due to get clean also as Denny is coming this morning about 20 minutes before we are to leave.  Today's journey is the easy one as we have little time pressure so we can potter down stopping only for a quick lunch as it is our intention to have a good dinner tonight.  I am really glad I pushed the collection date on by o…

Sunday morning and the last day

Yes it's here at last the final day before we are off to France.  Yesterday was bitterly cold and I spent most of the day faffing around.  Today James has volunteered to take my car for the dog walk and then he will fill it with petrol and take it to the Albanians for a wash.  Once that is done I can start loading up with all the kit and caboodle that we will be taking with us.  Contingencies for both humans and puppies.  I haven't quite got round to packing my overnight bag but how long can it take to pack a toothbrush, hairbrush, clean underwear and a night shirt.  I can honestly say that these last six weeks have been some of the longest of my life.  I seem to have been treading water and living from day to day wishing my life away.  Well at last we are here and Shiona is hoping to get to us around 5pm by which time I should have a massive shepherds pie in the oven getting a nice brown top.  For lunch today we are really pushing out the boat and having some corned beef has…

Saturday morning only one more day to go

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Good morning all sorry to be so late but I kind of overslept this morning.  I did wake at my usual time of 3am but was in a flat spin of panic so I took a sleeping tablet which has knocked me out until now. I can only assume that this is pre trip nerves which is setting me off on the panic route.  I don't feel anxious but may be I am subconsciously.  If this all clears up when I get back I will know for certain.  Yesterday was a good day I was feeling so much better in myself no runny nose problems and I got on with the chores of the day.  
I rang the feed chandler and sadly the puppy food has not yet arrived but should be here on Monday so James will go and collect as I will be on my way.  I will have to take some of my ordinary dog food with me for the just in case scenario.  I am fairly sure that at a pinch the puppies would eat whatever they are given even if that is a tuna sandwich from a garage.  Dogs are pretty good at eating whatever is available.  Basso was never a thief…

Friday morning and only the weekend to go

Good morning all well yesterday saw us have a blast of very cold wind but it was dry and sunny not the case this morning it is raining cats and dogs but at least it is a bit warmer.  I had a bit of a bad day yesterday not only did I wake with one of the dreaded panic attacks, which I have been free of for ages, but I also had a really runny nose and cough.  Once Mike was off to school I dragged myself around Aldi for some essentials and also really pushed the boat out and bought myself a nice thick beanie hat for the princely sum of £2.40.  This should solve the cold ear problems when out with the dogs and considerably cheaper than a new coat.  The problem with the panic attacks is not so much the panic as I know in my mind there is no reason but that using that much adrenalin leaves you completely exhausted and washed out.  Given that I was not feeling my best anyway after a very unimaginative lunch of ready made pies I put myself to bed for a rest and would dearly have loved a coup…

Thursday Morning 4 days to go

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Good morning all.  I had a lovely surprise yesterday.  There was a knock at the door and a parcel was delivered.  I was perplexed as I couldn't remember ordering anything but this often happens when I order plants or bulbs which get delivered months after the order is placed by which time I have completely forgotten.  As I unwrapped the parcel I was surprised to see a very odd sort of contents there were packets of sweets and biscuits and a couple of books.  Then I found the card it was a gift from Sally who is having the other puppy. The supplies will do nicely for the car and the puzzle book will keep Shiona and I amused but best of all is a small book entitled "a dog's guide to humans".  It is in fact a dog training guide but written from the dogs perspective and is hilarious to read and oh so true.  I am quite sure all my dogs have read this manual and are very skilled at human training.  There is a lovely quote from the section on outdoor activities which expla…

Wednesday Morning 5 days to go

Yesterday went according to plan and I finally got my turkey ordered.  As you can imagine my focus is not on Christmas at the moment so I am having to keep myself on track.  I have managed to avoid buying toys for Dante as I know from past experience that puppies are very happy with plastic bottles, and cardboard boxes. The main object of their play is to destroy the toy especially when they are teething.  At least this is a cheaper alternative.  I will, however, get the dogs some sort of chew each as a present which they can unwrap on Christmas morning after all it wouldn't be christmas unless you are knee deep in wrapping paper. I think Dante is going to be very pleased with his big crate where he can play with his things and not have the older boys take them from him.  I spoke with Shiona on the phone last evening only to find she is really very under the weather but she is confident she will have improved enough for the trip.  Fingers crossed we both stay on our feet until th…

Tuesday morning 6 days to go

Good morning all another chilly one according to the thermometer just 2 degrees.  I had a bit of a vegetable fest yesterday and though we gave it all a good bashing I am still left with some braised cabbage, dauphinoise potatoes and some roasted roots.  I am now wondering if I throw the lot into the thermomix with some stock if I might end up with a palatable soup. There is not enough of anything to make a sensible portion for the three of us so I think I will give it a go if it fails I will have lost nothing but a bit of stock.  The dogs quite like some gravy on their biscuits and I am sure they will help me out.  This is where I miss the hens they were always willing to eat up leftovers.  I really do hate throwing food away.  Especially as we are hearing so much about people who are going short of food.  In this day and age that is a terrible thing; who would have thought we would need food banks in the UK.

Today is going to be fairly busy as I have to take Mike to see Terry this m…

Monday Morning 7 days to go

Good morning all, well it is only just morning I am up at very stupid o'clock but I will not be sitting around for long as it is very cold.  I could well have a mug of the remaining soup and go back to my duvet.  I made some very crunchy croutons to go with it with the remains of a heavily seeded loaf a good splash of olive oil and some garlic salt.  A very good way to use up what was a very stale loaf.  
Today I am in the mood for some fish so it will be Basa fillets with dauphinoise potatoes and greens of some kind.  Then if I remember to get them out we can have some pork chops tomorrow.  I have rather a lot of potatoes at the moment so I think I will try making mash and freezing it.  Mashed potatoes are always useful and it will save them going all sprouty.  I need to get to grips with the vegetable situation before the next box full arrives tomorrow.  I can see a big tray of roasted roots being on the menu at some point.  
I am keeping a close eye on the weather and though t…

Sunday morning 8 days to go

Poor James had a miserable day with his back,  we did all various cures hot baths etc. However in the end it takes as long as it takes.  Backs seem to be a law unto themselves.  Getting out this morning was fun the car was thick with ice and took an age to defrost so I guess winter is really here.  The car has one magic button which puts on everything hot at full blast so it is just a case of sitting and waiting for it to defrost rather than spending your time scraping.  I did manage to get in before the hoards but I am not the only one taking advantages of this quiet time there were quite a few early morning shoppers.
The chicken curry went down well for lunch.  It was only a gentle mild curry which suited Mike.  Supper was equally unimaginative.  Home made burgers in buns stuffed with lots of salad.
I know it's Sunday but I really fancy some leek and potato soup with crispy crusty croutons. And possibly just a splash of cream.  I also have a hankering for a real carbonara and a…

Saturday Morning

Good morning all.  Yesterday was another sort of non day, we were all feeling tired and listless so we largely squandered the day just faffing around.  There was the tiniest glimmer of sunshine late in the afternoon but we had all given up hope by then.  James has done his back in so he is very miserable as that is really the last thing he needed anyway hopefully a day of rest will make things a bit better but backs are horrid things I know I have been there. Do you rest it or keep it on the move? it doesn't seem to matter which option you choose it will get better in its own sweet time. Tubby has stayed welded to James side and only appeared for his meals.  Mike seems a bit happier with his hearing aids now that he has no buttons to push just a volume wheel and the lady in audiology, who took no prisoners, read him the riot act about wearing both his hearing aids.  The good news is that his hearing hasn't deteriorated from his last hearing test.
I feel very much in limbo lan…

Friday morning

Yesterday was the most miserable dark, damp, dismal, dreek, dreary, depressing day ever.  It did nothing to lift the spirits even a smidgen.   I plodded my way through the chores and ironing food got cooked  and eaten without enthusiasm.  Even the rutting males seem to be running out of energy.  The highlight of the day was Mike's appointment with the audiology department. I managed to get into the back of the hospital and park close to the area so Mike could walk.  We passed through a huge space which would do credit to a cathedral. In place of an altar there is huge sculpture of a chair.  Now this is the hospital where they have had to tack on a nissen hut to extend casualty.  The main entrance is no better there are acres of space there too.  None of it put to any good use. Oh and while I am in full rant the car parking cost £2 for half an hour that is more expensive than Harrods valet car parking.
Ok enough whinging and whining it is another miserable day today but at least I…

Thursday morning

And so the days tick by oh so slowly.  My sleeping habits seem to have gone to hell again and I was up at 2,30 but decided to put my TV on and watch some rubbish.  That worked a treat I was back asleep in no time.  Yesterday was perishing cold, that nasty cold drizzly sort of weather that gets through to your bones.  I finished off the bolognese sauce and assembled the lasagne for lunch which we had with a fresh green salad.  While I was out I bought 2 litres of coca cola, the full fat kind, as I intend to cook my ham in it.  This is something I have never tried before but according to Nigella it is great so we will have to wait and see. I am having great difficulty getting my head around christmas as I have other things on my mind.
I had a surprise phone call last night from the lady who taught the classes to which I had taken Basso. Having had a spinone herself she had a real soft spot for him and very quickly realised that he needed to work for real and had little or no interest i…

Wednesday morning

I seem to have gone on to night duty.  After a pretty busy day I went to bed for a sleep and woke with the clock saying 8.30 and I couldn't understand why it was still dark.  Simple really it is 8.30pm not am.  Now what do I do!!!!

On my shopping expedition yesterday I stopped off at the butcher at Brogdale which is better known for holding the national apple collection.  They were clearing stock ready for christmas so most of their meat was half price.  I only wanted some mince for my bolognese sauce but ended up with a gammon joint reduced from £22 to £10 and for further £10 I got 2kg of gloucester old spot pork chops.  Before going to bed I had made a start on the sauce and fried off the mince with a pound of pork mince - now it is time for the vegetables.  I must admit I don't feel much like preparing the veg but if I get it done I can put the sauce on the slow cooker overnight.  The next burning issue is do I go purist and leave out the tomato or go English and add it.  I…

Tuesday Morning

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Good morning all yesterday was a bit of a washout, I had intended to go to the butcher and put in my christmas order but to my surprise they were closed.  However at least the bank was open so I got a few jobs done there.  I then swung back via Tesco and stocked up on a few bits and pieces.  Sadly it would appear to be rutting season and my stags are busy locking antlers.  Having spent years trying to keep them on the straight and narrow I have decided to let them get on with it.  Once Denny arrives I am out of the door.  I am short of coffee and so I am going to head for Faversham and you can be sure that I will buy more than just coffee.  I now have all the ingredients to make a big bolognese sauce but that will have to wait until Denny is finished as she will want a clear run at the kitchen.


As you can see Dante is growing well, he is turning into a lovely chunky boy.  I must admit I am sorry to miss this part of his life.  I will have to spend some quality time with him when he a…

Monday Morning

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Here we are in December at last and the count down is progressing well.  Anyone would think I was launching the mission to mars!!!!  Not just going to Normandy on a day trip.  I was in a reflective mood yesterday and ran through my collection of early Bob Dylan's protest songs from the 60s.  I was struck by the fact that nothing much has changed since then and some of the strong lyrics still hold good for today.  "You don't count the dead when God's on your side" struck a particular chord given the mayhem in the middle east.  We may have the internet and microwave ovens but we still haven't learned to live and let live.
Moving on, the chicken stock made a really lovely risotto for lunch and a good meal for the dogs from the bits and bobs off the carcass.  Supper was a simple affair of bacon and egg sandwiches. Today my mind is a blank and I have to take Mike to see Terry at 1pm which is really inconvenient for lunch, do we eat before we go or after we come b…