Saturday, September 30, 2006

Decorating is dull

Now what I had planned to do today was strip off wall paper and prepare my breakfast room for a much needed update ( this is the room I used as an office for the past 5 years). So far I have found many reasons not to begin such as doing several loads of laundry, leisurely reading the paper over coffee, looking at several cookery books, and making a delicious vegetable soup for lunch (as you say Sam I keep coming back to food and this is not a food blog- (I have an old cookery book that belonged to my granny and it is very interesting so will feature this in a future post as I am about to try a recipe).

I wondered what amusing little anecdotes I could remember from Sam and Beccy's youth. I don't really want to embarrass my children they might retaliate! However, I have just been looking through some old photo albums belonging to Sam so today I will concentrate on her (your turn will come Beccy).
Just to show Sam's interest in food and drink here are snaps of her 18th birthday picnic in 1984.

I think her appreciation of food and wine has greatly improved over the years

Also how she fed herself on a caravan holiday she had with her friends. I think has come a long way with her food presentation since then what do you think?

Stripping wallpaper will now have to wait until tomorrow as, would you believe it, my husband is waiting for his dinner, now do I send him out for a take-away- no better not I said when I retired I would do more cooking so I must away to the kitchen. Will be back tomorrow.

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Friday, September 29, 2006

What is today ?

Well apart from being Friday its actually Michaelmas Day. Did you know Michaelmas means Michael's Mass. The flowers (Michaelmas Daisies) traditionally bloom on September 29th which is 'The Feast of Saint Michael'. Saint Michael was the warrior saint of all angels.

I am sure you all know it's the feast of St Michael the Archangel who led the army of angels that hurled Lucifer from heaven for his treachery (I cannot take credit for this knowledge this is quoted from my daily read 'Daily Mail') I did however know that it is traditionally a time for feasting. I am still feasting on party leftovers and my friend, Tina, is coming for lunch to help out. Later this afternoon we will go swimming at my local pool which is about a 3 minute walk away. This is another of my new regular jaunts and it might use up some caleries gained from the feasting!! By the way the picture was also in the Daily Mail and is from a painting in the Tate gallery. The article written by A.N. Wilson is very interesting and I have been reminded of country traditions remembered from my childhood. Such as Michaelmas is traditionally the last day of harvest and beginning of autumn. Sam this may interest you and Fred given your penchant for 'fois gras', feasting was on geese as they were plump and plentiful. So to anyone who happens to be celebrating today enjoy your feasting.


Thursday, September 28, 2006

Party Time

As you may have gathered I have just retired. Well to be accurate I officially retire from 1st Oct so these past 3 weeks I have technically been holiday. So to mark the occasion I decided to invite some of the people that I had worked with over the years to drop in for lunch yesterday. Unfortunately not everyone was able to come but I was able to catch up with quite a few people, some of whom, I had not seen for a number of years. How come I look old and wrinkly but not those who retired some time ago. May be you get younger once the stress of working leaves you- I can live in hope.
Unlike my daughters I am not a brilliant cook, I had lots of suggestions from Sam's blogging friends, but I largely chickened out in case I messed up things not tried and tested before hand. That doesn't mean your efforts have been in vain as I will be trying things out on hubby (Mike) in the future. He is actually a diabetic so I do have to be careful.

I was up at the crack of dawn, well 6am, to start cooking as most things could not be done in advance. Four hours later after making 3 quiches, having a disaster making the filling for 'Gateau Dianne', I won't go into the details but it included opening the fridge and dropping half a pint of orgainc cream over the floor so it was lucky I always buy more than I really need. What I don't know now now is if organic cream is superior as we never got to taste it ( merangues for this dessert were prepared in advance). The end result looked passable and everyone was very complimentary.

Last year, when I was staying with my daughter Beccy (who lives in Dublin), her sister-in-law, Fiona invited us for lunch and one of the salads she prepared was so delicious I decided to give it a try from memory. Basically wild rocket tossed in Balsamic dressing with mozzarella cheese and plums. This was popular.

The organic fruit salad was nice and refreshing and enjoyed by all.

I want to say a big thank you to my 3 friends, Valerie (and her small daughter), Tina and Sue who came and helped with the preparations. I could not have got everything ready in time without them. They chopped fruit and veg, prepared fish, attractively arranged the various platters and helped set the tables. (now why didn't I think to photograph them at work that would have been good).

My friend, Bridget orgainsed the drinks as people arrived, so thank you to Bridget ( and thank you and John for the lovely necklace and bracelet, I shall enjoy wearing them).

I had lots of lovely flowers thank you everyone.

Thank you Mike for the wine, and Margaret for the champagne (my favourite tipple now am going to share it!!. The necklace is very unusual I tried to photograph it but could not do it justice.)

A few random snaps:

Nigel, Sue, Margaret

Debbie, Peter, Bridget

Don't Sue and Flo look happy both retired recently. Central photo shows Sue, Flo, Me, Kay and Valerie. Dawn other

A big thank you to all who came to celebrate with me and made this a memorable day. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. xx


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Aching legs

Today is a memorable day for a colleague of mine as she retires today. When I popped in to see her earlier, she was busy packing up her office ready to return the equipment. After a quick cup of coffee, thank you Sue, and a chat I then went on to shop at Makro for some party items, including drinks. I got a bit carried away and I hesitate to say, as its so early, but I bought Christmas cards and wrapping paper (I shall probably put it all away and forget where and then when the time comes buy more; I am allowed senior moments now). My mother asked me to buy a vase for her to give as a present so I called in to The Mall a local retail outlet, found just the thing in M&S and I am now back at home; lots of walking hence the acking legs and no lunch. So as it was already 15:45 I made a quick pitta bread with tuna and salad and decided I deserved a rest sitting at the computer.
I could tell from the look on my mother's face she was not impressed with the vase (it has to be very fussy e.g. lots of flowers for my mother to like it; instead this is a simple clear vase that would suit any room or decor). She did concede that it was just right so I won't have to take it back which is what usually happens. I don't think the photo does it justice what do you think?. For the photographers, I know that I have some reflection on it but was unable to remove this. I can see I need to update my programmes for more versatility.
I shall spend the evening preparing for tomorrow's lunch party and I am not sure if I will get time to write about it until Thursday so may not post tomorrow.


Monday, September 25, 2006

Manic Mondays

I cannot believe how quickly the time is passing this is the third Monday since I finished work and I used to be glued to my work computer frantically trying to deal with masses of emails, memos and tasks that had appeared over the weekend. I have to say Mondays are still very busy; I have to drop my mother to the hairdressers and then I go and do the shopping and this is where the problem starts. My local Sainsbury's have been doing a million pound refit of the store without closing it down. The customer I regretfully have to say is suffering; one example, I used to be able to go to the organic section of the fruit and veg and select very easily; now everything is intermingled and much less easy to find. It takes time asking a member of staff where everything is, and often what I want and have had for years is no longer available and can you get a straight answer 'is this just temporary' of course not. I actually wrote out a complaint form and I was told that I would receive a phone call from customer services; no such luck. I met my neighbour this morning who was also complaining and protesting that in future she would be shopping at Tesco. Result I keep having to back track and my shopping takes twice as long, over 2 hours today or maybe I am just slowing down without realising it. For at least 4 weeks now I have been unable to get my mother tins of John West pink salmon and it seems they have stopped Angus beef cottage pies which was an easy stand by meal for her with fresh veg. I asked a member of staff today when the clothes section was going to re-open she had no idea' look for a notice' was the reply. Very clever to send me a £5 voucher which I can't spend!! Well I've had my moan and I hope for better by next week but I won't hold my breath. After 20 years shopping at Sainsbury's is it time for a change!!

To end on a happy note which always cheers me up is a picture of my 3 grandchildren taken when they visited me back in July; thank you very much for the lovely retirement cards you made me and also thank your mother as well ( I don't think I quite resemble 'Betty Boo" but wouldn't mind the figure), they have pride of place on my mantelpiece. Maybe this calls for a photo! I am now off to start preparation for the retirement party I am hosting on Weds lunch time. I'm not panicking yet but I'm sure I will be by tomorrow evening. I'll keep you posted.


Sunday, September 24, 2006

Bramleys are Best

I am really going to surprise my daughter Sam here at becks&posh who has just posted a blog on Bramley apples. Not very exciting you may think but Sam lives in San Fransisco and apparently cooking apples are hard to find. She found some yesterday and was drooling about making apple pie. Last week when I visited my brother, who lives about 20 miles out of Bristol, I came home with this crate of Bramleys that we had picked close to where he lives. I then harvested the last of our blackberries and made delicious blackberry and apple. Pity I didn't have any clotted cream to go with it, another of Sam's favourites. I know the photo won't be up to your standards Sam but I am trying !!
PS have just seen your comments on my previous post and I was already doing this before your prompt.



As you can see I have been practising and I have now learnt how to post a photo. Becs sorry to have cut you out, this was cropped from a snap of us in NY. I may delete this post but thought I would just let you and Sam see it. Let me know what you think.


Saturday, September 23, 2006

Sunny Saturday

When I was writing yesterday I forgot to mention that Nick (my window cleaner) had barely packed his ladders when the heavens opened; I can absolutely guarantee that it will rain on the day my windows are cleaned, if I was a betting person I could make some money. Of course it wouldn't rain then mmm thats an idea!!. I can actually see through my windows now so not a complete disaster. Today is a complete contrast to yesterday, the sun is shining and it is very warm, it could be summer but the trees are begining to shed leaves and the evenings are begining to draw in reminding me that Oct and autumn is fast approaching. I am off to New England on Oct 13th ( yes that is a Friday and I am trying not to think about superstitions) for a week with my friend Tina, so I am sure I will be writing about the trip when we return.

What have I been doing today besides the boring stuff like cleaning and laundry, well I have been keeping an eye on my neighbour, you will recall he fell and broke his nose. He is looking better but very bruised and battered. He finds it very painful to eat, so I suggested porridge for breakfast, which he thought was a good idea. He tells me he hasn't had for forty years so it will make a change and its healthy. I made leek and potato soup for lunch ( all organic) he was kind enough to say he enjoyed it and I have been making a daily fruit smoothy from a base of organic live yoghourt, banana, strawberries, raspberries, mango, blueberry and this was very well received (a favourite of mine). My daughter Sam said I would not be talking about food, and there is nothing clever in these simple foods made without a recipe. Had I been really clever I could have posted a photo but I still haven't quite fathomed out how to do this; I'm sure it's very simple when you know how. I will get there soon, now if my clever grandson, Dillon, could write me idiot proof instructions that would be helpful.

Mike ( hubbie) has spent the afternoon painting the porch door and surrounds so its all looking very fresh and bright. He's now ready for his beef stroganoff which by the aroma coming from the kitchen is almost ready (he will not like the brown organic rice, I love the nutty flavour, but its good for him so I alternate with white rice). Bring on the wine while I serve; I really enjoy my glass of wine with my dinner now I am retired. I have a bottle of champagne, (a retirement gift from my friend Cathy), waiting to be chilled but that's for another day.


Friday, September 22, 2006

Relax and Enjoy

After a wonderful warm sunny day yesterday with temperatures in the mid 20's it suddenly started raining very heavily this morning. I should have heeded the weather forcast and then my washing would not be languishing on the line and far wetter than when I put it out. I have just got back from my hairdresser's' stupidly leaving my umbrella in the car; however Sarah provided me with a plastic bag made into a little hat which saved the day (and hair) and I reached the car, which luckily was parked nearby, in a reasonably dry state. A visit to 'Further Ahead' is a lovely social ocassion, which I can really enjoy now I am no longer trying to fit in visits in a late lunch hour or at the end of a tiring working day. Sarah has built her salon in the garden of her home, and her loyal clientele are very friendly and get to know each other really well. I was first recommended to Sarah by a friend at my tennis club, which must be about twelve years ago. It's surprising how you can meet people at the hairdressers, Sarah actually introduced me to a neighbour of mine. It turned out we had lived five houses away from each other for many years but had never met each other. Another coincidence is that I also know a relative of this neighbour through my work and my neighbour runs a pre-school and what was my job before I retired, a childcare inspector, (I would hasten to add not in the area where my neighbour works). Today, I also came away with several recipes from a magazine that Sarah popped across to her home and copied for me. (Sam, I may end up doing some food reviews you never know!!). I should also mention Rosanna, who helps Sarah, she gave me a wonderfully relaxing head massage. So anyone looking for a good hairdresser look no further.
I may have to call upon some of my nursing skills soon, our immediate neighbour and friend of 20 years was discharged from hospital on Weds after surgery which resulted in him needing to use crutches for a while. Mike popped in to see him early evening yesterday and found him enjoying the sun in the garden; however a couple of hours later there was no sign of him but a pool of blood in the garden as you can imagine we were really worried. To cut a long story short, the outcome, following police investigation (and I have to say they were very good returning to let us know) was that he had fallen and had broken his nose (hence all the blood); he had called to us but we were in the house at that time and had not heard him. His daughter had arrived and taken him to hospital and she later called to let us know that he was being kept in hospital overnight. So I am waiting for an update later today. As I was writing this our neighbour's daughter called to say she had just settled him back at home and he is in considerable discomfort with a very swollen face. So I will be helping to keep an eye on him for the next few days- I must polish up on the old bedside manner and powers of persuasion as he is very independent; but what he may not realise is that I will actually enjoy helping out. Could this be back to my original career?


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Life Begins....

This is the begining of my new life. After a long career first in nursing, then social services and finally, five years with Ofsted I have hung up my work laptop, cleared my home office and am looking forward to the future. Starting this blog is one of my new hobbies. My daughter, Sam, has a very sucessful food blog link to sam's blog.and a photo blog here. I love following her forays around various restaurants in San Fransisco, her experiments with various food and of course her photos. My other daughter and her family live in Dublin and although he has not been very active lately, my grandson Dillon started a blog 'random thoughts' so for me this is a great way to stay in touch with family and friends.
I am not particularly experienced using the computer in a creative way, but I'll have plenty of time to practise and (hopefully) develop my skills. I will not be following a theme but will be writing about things I do and places I visit so watch this space!!