Monthly Archives: September 2016

Aubergine, auberga, life goes on, bra, lala…..

Today, we’ve been harvesting.  Aubergines and squashes, mostly.  It’s been a bumper year for both, especially the aubergines.  We’ve eaten those with practically every meal, in sickness and in health, for richer, for poorer – oh, hang on, that’s a different subject altogether.  But there has been a plethora of eggplants.

Last night, LT cooked a very good spaghetti sauce, using half the remains of the beef joint (you’d think that 8 pounds of sirloin would be perfect and, indeed, the beef itself was, but there was a couple of pounds left over) and I volunteered to cook the rest tonight.  I found a Lebanese recipe, basically ratatouille ingredients plus beef and spices, and cooked that.  Hmmm.

Mind you, the first glitch wasn’t the recipe’s fault, but my reading of it.  I read one clove of garlic and poo-pooed it immediately and put in four.  And then read again and it was a bulb of garlic, separated into cloves.  I put that right by adding quite a lot more.  But it turned out there wasn’t enough spice and too much water and some adjusting was needed and, by the time it came to the table, it still wasn’t zingy.  Fortunately, zing is my special subject, and it occurred to me that harissa paste was just what was needed.  I fetched it, we stirred some in and it was pretty good.

Then I remembered the pine nuts I’d toasted specially.  Sigh.  I fetched them and we started eating again.

Tomorrow, we’ll mostly be making baba ghanoush.

The days don’t grow short when you reach September. Not here.

Here’s a picture of the couple most pleased with themselves that you’re likely to see all year.

Revolting, innit?

Neither of us had been married in church before and we didn’t want to be particularly traditional.  In particular, I didn’t want to do the walking up the aisle thing.  So we agreed that we’d all meet at home for champagne first, then all walk the 250 yards to the church and go in together.  And then, afterwards, walk home again.  We rejected all the traditional wedding hymns and found other ones, but we had a deeply traditional bible reading.  And it was just what we wanted, and lovely.  And we finished with a number from Tim’s band, back in the ’60s.

Then we went home and ate and drank a lot.  You may not have seen that coming…

Z is Large

It’s raining and a bit chilly and LT and I are chortling gleefully.  Because, on Saturday, the weather was glorious.  And so was the occasion, a happy, wonderful day.

In the nearly eleven years I’ve been writing this blog, there have been many changes in my life and some of you have been friends for nearly that whole time.  I met Tim rather more recently; some five years ago online, in person at my second blog party and it’s in the last year that our relationship changed and started to become something quite exceptional.



I’m remarkably organised, for me – Dora and Pugsley both have their birthdays at the end of the month and I’ve already bought and wrapped their presents.  Now, i know that some of you have already got your Festive Season buying done already and I daresay you’ve already written cards, but I’m not like that at all, which is why being More Than A Week Early is pretty stupendous, I think.

I still have to buy Pugsley a birthday card, in fact.  I have looked but not found anything I both liked and was prepared to pay £2.50 for.  All seems to have gone a bit over the top, the price of cards and paper, I think.

Anyway, I’ll be seeing them this weekend and then quite possibly not until their Happy Days, so it seemed prudent to be prepared.  Which are also words that are rarely used about or by me.



The road into Yagnub is closed for resurfacing.  In fact, the bridge was closed a few weeks ago, because someone had knocked over the garden wall of the person who lives next to said bridge, so it needed to be rebuilt.  You’d think they’d manage to co-ordinate so that two road closures might have been avoided, but never mind.  It’s only a couple of miles round by the bypass and we’re fortunate to have the road, which used to be a railway line (that we’d be jolly lucky if we still had a railway line is another matter entirely).

I had noticed that the roads around here were actually in pretty good nick.  A few months ago, LT and I observed that there were a lot of patches on former potholes, and not long afterwards I read in the local authority’s newsletter that they’d bought a jolly good new machine that mends potholes better, quicker and much cheaper than anything they’d had before.  Well, it looks as if they’ve had great fun trying it out and good for them.

It all seems a bit random though.  Mahsrae Street is closed for resurfacing, but I took a shortcut down another road today, which is in much worse state.  New houses were built several years ago, the street was dug up for services to be put in and, though the surface hasn’t broken down, it’s all rather uneven and unattractive.  M Street seems okay, to me.  But there.  I’m sure it’ll be lovely.  And, considerately, they’re just shutting it from 9.30 until 4.30, so LT can nip out for his paper in the morning and not have to go the long way round.

In other news, today I made blinis.  Or is blini the plural?  I’m not sure.  Anyway, that’s what I did and I used Nigella’s recipe, which is also good, except that I couldn’t possibly make them the way she does, in a single 4 inch pan, one by one.  I don’t want a 4 inch blini (or blin, if that’s the singular) and I don’t want to make them one by one.  I use my round griddle that’s just the same size as my Aga hotplate, and I can do ten or more at a time, in little blobs.  Perhaps she has time on her hands, or else she really loves standing over a hot stove.

I wanted at least 50 and I made 49.  So I’ll make another batch in the morning.  I like yeast cookery, actually, and I quite like the dropping of spoonsful and gentle cooking too.  Standing over a hot stove isn’t unenjoyable, now I think about it.

Oh, and in yet further news, Paul the Fish had sea trout today, which is a rare treat.  So I baked the steaks en papillote.  I ambled out for some herbs, picked parsley, decided against basil and came in with some tarragon.  When I told LT, he said he’d been hoping for tarragon.   It just seemed right.  Frankly, darlings, it’s no wonder I’m bigger than the woman I used to be.  It just isn’t quite right that he hasn’t enlarged similarly.  All the same, we’re happy.  If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s to appreciate every good day.  And to try to find something to appreciate in every day, when possible – I’m not complacent, it’s clearly not always possible.

Excel ain’t

I’d meant to get the address labels sent out to my colleague David today but it didn’t happen.  Not because I didn’t do my best, but because of bloody microsoft.  I wish I didn’t have to use it, but it’s too involved to use software that other people don’t have.  And I’d have to do some pretty stringent testing of anything before I bought it in any case.

I only have to print out address labels once in a while and, it so happens, I haven’t needed more than a page (of 21 individual labels) full since I bought the computer last November.  I also bought a new copy of Microsoft Office because the very old version I had wasn’t supported any longer and – well, it just had to happen.

I spent hours, truly, on the sodding mail merge.  I went through it all in the normal way (it wasn’t set out quite the same, which was a nuisance, but not that hard).  And at the end, only one page was ready to be printed.  So I did it again with the same result.  Many times, but I couldn’t get every address ready to print.  I finally wondered if it was just the preview and actually they’d all print? But no, in fact nothing would.  As time went on, it became apparent that the post office would close before I could get there anyway.

I went through the whole thing again, following the step by step instructions on the Help page.  No difference.  I went to fetch my old computer, plugged it in and emailed the spreadsheet to myself.  Word kept crashing, probably because it didn’t like the spreadsheet, though i’d saved it in an old format.  Then I emailed it to Tim so that he could try.  Mail merge on his laptop was even more bewildering than on my Mac.

Finally, I tried changing one of the defaults that I’d always used just as it was in the past.  And it worked.  And I printed all the damn labels and emailed David to explain why he wouldn’t get them until Tuesday.  I typed out the most urgent addresses (those of the vendors) and he’s dealt with them.  He’s very good, as a business partner.

By this time, i was a bit tense, so LT poured us both a drink and defrosted some of his delicious leek quiche for lunch.  And then I’d got some papers to be burnt (or shredded, but I haven’t got a shredder and I do have a bonfire) so we went out and set fire to them.  And nothing much happened for the rest of the day.

Baby photos

Young Rusty is now 14 weeks old – here are the latest pictures.  Also, Ro and Dora on their second wedding anniversary (D’s sister babysat).

14352283_10154513863095148_4461340870770639423_o 14352532_10154507477785148_2816840258580333919_o 14355697_10154514076210148_5826696762363666351_n 14369948_10154515959740148_7689748411003492664_nIn addition, here are a couple more pictures – we saw Eloise cat gazing at something on the drive and went to look; it was an enormous caterpillar.  But not Eric Carle’s – we decided it had to be an elephant hawk moth.  It reminded me that I’ve a photo of one found in the garden a few years ago.

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And a partridge in a …..

Apparently, the hot weather of the last few weeks will be gone by tomorrow.  And there may well be rain.  The British love to grumble about the weather, of course, so we’ll last one day before we complain about the end of summer, whereas we’ve been moaning about being too hot.  I don’t, I like it hot, though I do get a bit hot-flushy sometimes.

I heard some noise from a chicken earlier this afternoon, though I didn’t take a lot of notice – chickens make a fuss about very little and it wasn’t a distress call.  Later, when I went to feed the animals, I realised that a partridge had got in the chickens’ greenhouse.  It was quite panicky, of course.  So I called LT to come and help and we got the chickens into the tunnel through to the hen house – except for two.  I’ve a couple of coops in there, which they like to go into, and one didn’t want to come out, so I shut the door.  The other was one of the stroppy black ones.  Poking her with my walking stick wasn’t enough to persuade her to move, so we decided to ignore her and chivvy her back if she got out.  Then LT opened the door at the other end from her sulking self and I went towards the partridge – which cowered in a corner, so I was able to pick it up and put it outside with no difficulty at all.  Though there was nearly a disaster – I hadn’t realised the barn cats were outside and Zain moved forward with some alacrity.  I shouted no, of course and the partridge seemed to get away – I went to check again a few minutes later and all the cats were relaxing on their straw bales, so it was all right.  Tim and I searched the greenhouse to find where the partridge, whose name is obviously Alan, got in, and some of the netting had come loose, so we’ve dealt with that.

A dull post this evening, I’m afraid.  I went out for lunch with girlfriends, as I do monthly, but not a lot else of note has happened.  I must try to think of something more entertaining  for the next post.  Maybe a baby photo…

The not very big sleep

I have been a model of organisation this month.  It’s the month of birthdays.  Just in the family, there’s the 2nd, the 5th, the 10th, the 29th and the 30th.  And there’s a wedding anniversary on the 12th.  And my schoolfriend’s on the 24th.

Presents have been bought and given on time, remarkably, and those at the end of the month have been bought for too.  It’s just my schoolfriend who’s posing a problem at present – it so happens that she’s visiting on the weekend of her birthday, so I’ve no excuse for lateness.  However, I’m not going to worry about it, I’ve still got ten days to go and only one present to get.  For someone as unaware of anniversaries as I am, that’s absolutely splendid.

I do have one thing hanging over me, which is the printing of the address labels for the sale catalogue.  I’ve promised to get it out this week.  Actually, I suggested by tomorrow.  Hmm.  I’m going to be out from 11 o’clock and I may be a bit busy in the morning.  It’s one of those occasions where a bout of insomnia at the right time could be useful.

The early hours are usually my wakeful ones, at this time of year.  It’s mainly because it’s too hot.  Or, I’m too hot.  I can’t have the bedroom window open because of Eloise; I don’t trust her, in the dark, to realise how far it is to the ground.  I may be wildly overestimating her absent-mindedness but, having observed a cat closely for the first time ever over the last 15 months or so, the suspicion that they’re creatures of impulse has been confirmed.  By next summer, I really must have worked out a way round this.

When I can’t sleep, I often listen to the radio on headphones.  Not live radio, it’s the World Service in the middle of the night and it’s too unpredictable.  My sister Wink sometimes falls asleep with the radio on and, when we’ve shared a room, that’s been fine to go to sleep to.  But then the programme changes and it wakes me up and I can’t sleep again.  With BBCiPlayer, it’s a different matter.  You play a programme and, at the end, it quietly ceases.  If still awake, I can then choose another.  Last night, I was listening to The Big Sleep.  About two thirds of the way through, I realised that I must have briefly nodded off, because I’d missed a bit.  So I turned it off altogether and slept properly.  Sometimes, I can listen to several episodes of something – I went through a whole 5 part serialisation of a Hercule Poirot mystery in two nights over the weekend.  Oh, and did you know they’re doing Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy again?  Again!

Anyway, I rather hope I sleep through the 2 and 3 am blues tonight and am bright and cheerful at 6 instead, because then I can come down and JFDI.  It’d be most excellent, as they used to say.