Miscellany and detritus, from the writer of Is This Mutton?com

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Sunday, January 31, 2010

31/365: The Canterbury Tales

Went to Canterbury today where J was running the Barretts Canterbury 10 mile road race. His daughter is at university in Canterbury so she came to spectate and then we went to Prezzo's for lunch. J's verdict on the race: "Much hillier than I was expecting, heart rate was high throughout the race. I won't be doing a half marathon if there is one!"

Talking of half marathons, he is doing one next Sunday but I'm not expected to come as he will have a car full of lady runners.

The window picture is the view at Prezzo's - right opposite the West Cornwall pasty co!


Saturday, January 30, 2010

30/365: An immunity boost

I normally pride myself on my robust health and being able to tick "no" to all the questions they ask on health forms: "have you got diabetes? Beri-beri? High blood pressure? Rickets?" etc.

So imagine my horror when, having got over a persistent cold after Christmas, I find I had another one!

It's not an obvious sort of cold either: I don't sniff or have a muffled voice or a red nose. But by the end of the day I feel completely drained. Bone tired.

I looked at websites to see how I might boost my immunity. I'm already eating the right things. "Go outside more" said J, which is actually on the list. And I've bought some echinacea. Fifteen drops in a glass of water. Any other suggestions folks?

Tomorrow I will be getting some fresh air down in Canterbury, where J is in a 10 mile race. Photo opportunities should abound.

29/365: We go for a Ruby Murray

Which, in cockney rhyming slang, is "curry". Dieting operations were suspended as we tucked into the feast above at E Four, near where we live. We always have the same menu I'm afraid, although J insists on studying the menu each time but then having the same thing anyway. I have an E Four invention called, if I spell it correctly, chicken shystila, which has a ginger spiciness, and J has chicken tikka masala balti. Made a change from Friday in the snug.

Friday, January 29, 2010

28/365: Here's my farm

It has, apparently, more than 50 million players. I'm  talking about Farmville, a sweet little game that you can play on Facebook. J likes to take the credit for "introducing" me to this one in an effort to wean me off Mafia Wars, which he thinks is violent. He read an article in a daily about Farmville and thinks I only started playing it because of this.
Anyway, the game itself is very simple. You get farm cash by planting crops and with the money you can buy barns, houses, tractors, animals, more crops and so on. As you progress through the levels, you can grow different crops and you get medals for growing trees etc. You also send virtual free gifts to your friends - one of my gifts today was a hot air balloon, very sought after - and you visit your friends' farms to fertilise their crops and feed their chickens. Now one day last week, I logged on and found it very heart warming that 17 of my friends had visited and done good deeds on my farm. Heart warming indeed because of all my Farmville friends, only three are "real". The rest are all virtual friends whom I don't know. That might sound quite sad but I find it fascinating to think I have a tiny window into these people's lives, all over the world, and I can make their day by sending them a butterfly (collector's item.) Oh, and I am still playing Mafia Wars (level 206) but don't tell J!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

27/365: On a clear day...

This would have been a great view. Taken from the 23rd floor at a building in Canary Wharf, East London, today. Slightly further out I could see the Olympic stadium, which is having its roof raised to acccommodate thousands more people. But it was grey today so the photo shows a so-so view. In the front you can see the Docklands Light Railway. The view from the front carriage of these driver-less trains is said to be very thrilling.
If I don't post a picture for a day I probably won't backtrack....so you'll never see "25". I find there's stress in life without adding to it by worrying about taking a picture each day :-)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

26/01: The paperweights

Here are some of my paperweights. I've got around 27, but I haven't bought a new one for about six years. I used to buy them to mark special occasions and some of them were given to me so they're particularly special. The one in front, to the right, is a collectable showing the Christmas rose. It was given to me by my Mum and Dad. We got it at the Devon Paperweights Centre at the romantically named Leg O'Mutton Corner. Imagine, a shop devoted to paperweights! But sadly they were closed for the winter when I went down to Devon recently.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

24/365: Lights, camera, action!

We're very lucky that J's sister Kate recently turned professional as a photographer. We spent some time today having our picture taken. I'll save the shots of the happy couple (you can find some at Kate's blog) and instead share this one of J posing for Kate.

23/365: The disgraceful craft table

After sharing with you the tidy home office, I thought it was only right you should see my disgraceful craft area. This is in the lean-to, a ramshackle leaky old thing that's more than 30 years old. On Saturdays I'm typically out here listening to Dermot O'Leary and making a postcard for Sunday Postcard Art  (see the result at: http:/scrapncardqueen.blogspot.com.) My hands get very cold because although there's a small electric heater, I prefer to use the extension socket for the radio and my embossing tool.

On the table there are rubber stamps for my current project, wet wipes to clean them, a Cuttlebug embossing machine, glue and some tins for ATC and chipboard pieces. On the floor are boxes of ribbons, embellishments and ink pads.

Friday, January 22, 2010

22/365: I go to South Mimms Services

No-one can say my life isn't glamorous. One day Paris, the next South Mimms services on the M25. I'm afraid it's not my photo, although I fully intended to take a glorious shot of South Mimms in the rain. I wouldn't normally stop here because it's only another 20 minutes to home, but I was starving and fancied a Waitrose sandwich. I've written before about the scourge of the Walkers "grab bag" and guess what, that's all they had. Shame on you Waitrose! I expected more from you than adding to the girth of Britain. Needless to say, I didn't have any Quavers.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

20/395: I go to Le Kong

Had a great night in Paris at a trendy restaurant called Le Kong. Perspex chairs, fabulous view of the city, geisha mural on the ceiling. The black cod was delicious. Which of these two is me do you think?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

19/365: Meeting detritus

In Paris for a two-day meeting. No time at all today to go outside or take any interesting photos. What you see here is the detritus from the tea break today. An empty tray where once almond pastries sat. I didn't sample one of those unfortunately because of the diet, but I'm told they were lovely. Off now to a Japanese restaurant and maybe a more interesting photo for tomorrow.

Monday, January 18, 2010

18/365: A bumper crop

It always amazes me how the spring bulbs continue to defiantly push their way through the cold hard soil to give a spectacular display. Just a week ago, these bulbs were completely covered in snow. Every year I plant as many as I can because I tend to lose a few during over zealous weeding. I have a bed of hyacinths and love the heady fragrance. I first got the idea for mass planting hyacinths when I saw a municipal bed in Dartmouth. You could smell the bulbs some distance away. I also have a lot of narcissi, daffodils and dwarf tulips. I get so excited when they all start to flower and then we know winter is behind us.
I'm going to Paris later today for a business trip so this will be my first real challenge in terms of uploading pictures. I don't have any photo editing software on my work PC so I will need to take pictures in low res. I refuse to use a smartphone (I like to have a life) and my very basic phone doesn't have a camera.  Let's see how it goes. Paris is certainly very photogenic!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

17/365: I go to the gym

January is always for me a time of abstinence. I usually have half a stone to lose, not gained over Christmas but in the run-up to it. This year however it's a stone, groan. And I find that unless I go to the gym, I hardly lose anything, even despite being very rigorous with the calories. As I slog away on the treadmill, I think dreamily about our honeymoon and how I will have a whole new wardrobe of clothes in a smaller size.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

16/365: The dirtiest snow ever?

That dubious distinction goes to this pile of grey grit and snow at Sainsbury's. The store is being renovated and looks like a building site. But looking forward to seeing what it's like when it's finished.

15/365: I book the register office

We're getting married in June. Very small register office ceremony and then lunch. I booked the register office today, carefully chosen for its visual appeal - Marylebone town hall. It's where Sean Bean last got married. The honeymoon is booked so all that's left to do is book the restaurant, send out the invites (max 15) and get my passport sorted, as I am still Mrs XXX and that won't do at all. Plus we have to present ourselves at our local council to give notice of intention to marry.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

14/365: View from the concourse

Went into London today for a meeting followed by a haircut. Very little snow around now thank goodness - able to wear ordinary shoes for the first time in weeks!

Here's the view from the balcony at Liverpool Street Station. Unfortunately no outbreaks of choreographed dancing today. Just tired commuters rushing to get home at 7.30pm.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

13/365: Home Office

Seeing as I'm spending so much time in it - today from 7.30 to 5 and just 30 mins for lunch - here is a pic of the home office.
My modus operandi is to have 2 PCs running, one for work (the laptop) and the other for diversions (Facebook, Spotify etc.)
The broadband was kindly upgraded to 14mb by BT recently (free of charge!- although they aren't the cheapest.)
There's a headset for the phone because I tend to spend most of my time in conference calls.

It makes me smile how people always think you have an easy life if you're working from home. You get fewer interruptions so you get more done, usually, but it can also be quite lonely. Thank goodness for Office Communicator and the good old phone.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

12/365: Stash Alert

The postman regularly delivers pizza shaped boxes, at which J rolls his eyes and mutters "more stash". My hobbies are paper crafting: making scrapbook albums, cards and collages. You get through lots of stash- patterned papers, coloured card, embellishments, ink pads, stamps and so on. Today's delivery from The Fruit Pixie was mostly ephemera: bingo tickets, dice, playing cards. Hours of fun.

Monday, January 11, 2010

11/365: Tuning In

Like millions of others today I was waiting for 7am and the new Chris Evans show on BBC Radio 2. Usually on a Monday I'm driving to work. I listen to Sarah Kennedy until 7am because I like her paper review, and then I switch to my own music because I was never very keen on Terry Wogan. I used to like his show but it became too cosy and "TOGGED" to coin a phrase.
Today I was all set to leave at 6 and then I saw the weather forecast. It's OK here in London but not where I was going. So reluctantly had to work from home again. They'll forget what I look like.
Anyway, Chris got off to a great start I thought. There'd been a lot of speculation about what he would play. Would he play something noisy and alientate the Togs? I didn't think for a minute he would, because in his teatime show he played a wide variety of music including a Bavarian drinking song. So he didn't disappoint with two crowd pleasers from The Beatles.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

10/365: Getting Ready

It's early evening, a time when thoughts turn to Monday: a new week at work, a 5.10am wake-up call and a two and a half hour drive to the office.

I always pack my essentials the night before: my coffee mug, blueberries, some magazines to give to colleagues, my ipod and of course my PC and charger (once I forgot it and had to turn round.)

I haven't been into the office since before Christmas because of holidays and then the snow. So, fingers crossed that the weather doesn't deteriorate.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

9/365: Keep on Running

It takes more than a bit of a snow to put off a dedicated runner from their sport. Here is J back from his morning run in the forest. He goes out six days a week, no matter where we are or what the weather's like. His next marathon will be London, for about the sixth time I reckon.

8/365: We go to the snug

Yesterday was a bit of a debacle on the 365 photo front. I intended to take a picture at the King's Head, where we go most Friday nights, but forgot to take the camera. Fortunately J had his camera phone but I wasn't able to get the picture off the device until now.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

7/365: Cooking with Nigella

The DHL man braved the snow to deliver two of Nigella Lawson's back catalogue books today, How to Eat and Nigella Bites. These are the two I didn't have, although they're not new by any means. I adore Nigella. It is her 50th birthday this month so I hope it is a good one!

Skimming through How to Eat, I had to smile when Nigella said she wouldn't be covering nursery food like shepherd's pie and bread and butter pudding because she wasn't brought up on those dishes. I definitely was, along with other classics like "the boiled dinner" which I hated; toad in the hole and, excitingly, our first taste of "foreign" food with the Vesta curry and chow mein. Our puddings were Angel Delight, Green's lemon meringue pie or Giz's own creation, "resurrections", which as its name suggests, was old sponge or cake drowned in blancmanage.

Nigella's mum made her own mayonnaise whereas my mum would have looked baffled at the notion and produced Heinz Salad Cream.

Well, I've caught up with Nigella now and quite often make her recipes and have exotic ingredients like wasabi and bottled peppers in the cupboard. J was less than enthusiastic about poussin earlier in the week. "Not sure about having a sparrow to deal with" was his comment.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

6/365: Snow Fun

Another heavy snowfall and more snow in East London than last time, two weeks ago. Beautiful thick snow, lovely for walking on. A pain when you need to get somewhere, but fine if you're lucky enough to be able to work from home.

Here are some scenes from the local area, and the bird feeders in the back garden.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

5/365: Glamour Shot

It will give me endless amusement over the next few months as my search engine stats show how hapless men have searched for "glamour shots" to be confronted with my old vacuum cleaner.

Like most people, I have been on a New Year purge, getting rid of old stuff and putting other stuff in bags and taking it to the charity shop. (Yes I did watch Mary Portas and no, I don't send rubbish to the charity shop - only things that are worth selling.)

This little group in the garden awaits its final journey to the tip, or as J calls it, "the dump". He was quite keen about the photographic opportunities that the dump would present: peering into a skip, for example.

Sadly that will have to wait another day because I didn't get round to going to the tip.

I've just filled a bag for the NSPCC with clothes and they'll collect tomorrow. Pity they state "no books and bric-a-brac", I have three bag fulls!

A cautionary note is sounded in today's papers however. Apparently we all get carried away with throwing things out in the New Year, and we regret it later.

Monday, January 04, 2010

4/365: Stay of Execution

The Christmas tree is normally back in its box and escorted into the loft on New Year's Day. I can't wait until Twelfth Night, even if my mum does say it's bad luck (but then, so is washing blankets in May; marrying in May, any amount of things mostly in May.)

But this year the tree has had a stay of execution. Its box has become so battered that I ordered a Christmas tree bag from Amazon. I was expecting it to arrive today, the last day of my holiday, and in preparation I took down the decorations, placing the beautiful little bird bought in Oberammergau from the Kathe Wohlfahrt shop back in its box for another year.

The bag didn't come, so now the tree sits forlornly bereft of its lights and tinsel. I wonder how long it will be before J carries it into the dining room, out of his sight.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

3/365: Sunrise

Camera at the ready, this was the view at 7.30am as the sun started to rise over Chingford.

I found out that fellow blogger Sue is also taking a picture a day for the 365 challenge. Thanks |Sue for enlightening me on what the challenge is and how it came about. I'm sure your pictures will spur me on.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

2/365: Scaredy Cat

I was laid low by a heavy cold today so my "take a picture a day" options were fairly limited. Reminder to self: never say scathingly of an other person "only a cold".

I even missed out on my big shop at Sainsbury's and went instead to the local butcher where I paid a king's ransom for a free range chicken. Next I went to Budgens where the debit and credit card system was down so everyone had to abandon their shopping at the till and run across the road to the cash machine.

Back to the scaredy cat. This term is a good description of Molly the cat. Here she is in traditional pose, peering anxiously over the bannister to see if another cat has entered the house. It's not a groundless fear; we have found a strange cat lurking on more than one occasion.

But it seems Molly only became a scaredy cat on her move to Chingford, because when she was found in a bedraggled state in Swindon by Paula and Julie, she was terrorising their elderly cats.

She does have a friend who comes calling most mornings: a large tabby I call Thomas O'Malley. He howls very loudly outside the door, and sometimes she deigns to go outside, whereupon he follows her out of the garden, presumably hunting together. (She has been spayed so there is no funny business.) A cat's friendships are fairly short-lived however, so it's possible she and Thomas fell out this morning and that's why she was looking so fearful.

Friday, January 01, 2010

1/365: A photo a day

I'm embarking on an ambitious project- to take a photograph a day. I'm no great photographer, so it won't be about fancy angles or lighting (I wish!.) It's just going to be a daily observance of some sort. It may be something I see, or eat, or do. Anyway, I'm excited to see how it pans out.

I went out for a New Year's Day walk. The sky was blue but it was freezing cold. A light frost sparkled on the pavements and bushes. I was amused to see the long shadows I was casting.

There weren't many people about. I found a newsagent's and was chuffed to get a new magazine (or one I'd never seen before) called Eat In. One of my NY resolutions, if I officially had any, is to cook from scratch more often.
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