Sunday, 30 September 2012

Embracing Our Limitations

Please, please, please, please pleeeeeeease play this video which is the best thing that I've Stumbled Upon!  I absolutely promise that it will be four minutes of your time well spent.   The pleading especially goes out to any teachers and fellow therapists.  No, scrub that.  Its brilliant message, filled with hope and optimism, is  important for anyone who ever feels inadequate in themselves.  That must include just about everyone except those with the most severe narcissistic personality disorders.

This guy, Phil Hansen,  is so creative, witty, wise and thought provoking that I want to marry him!  Except it would be a major incident of cradle snatching as he's about fifteen years younger.  And he lives in the US and I'm firmly ensconced in the English countryside.  And I actually wouldn't want another adult living in my house........

Enough!  I'll shut up now and give you all time to press the play button and watch this.  Pretty please!

Saturday, 29 September 2012

More Thrilling Than a Uniform Carrot

When I opened this  box glee bubbled up from the depths of my being  as this little army of multi-racial inhabitants of all different sizes revealed itself to me.  After all I am a simple soul that takes pleasure from the little things in life.   They're almost looked  too good to eat but since taking the picture, two have been fried and looked just as  photogenic with their gorgeously bright yellow yolks adorning slices of  buttered sourdough toast.  Yum!  So enticing that they slipped down nicely before I managed to take a shot.

 I hope you'll agree that these eggies, bought from a local farm are an antidote to food sold in supermarkets where it is ordained that  everything has to be identical in size, colour and shape.  Those identical offering are unlikely to induce the sense of excitement that I got when I saw these mismatched lovelies.  Marketing men take note!

Friday, 28 September 2012

OAP? My Arse!

Today's picture from Microsoft Clipart is entitled 'Smiling Senior Citizen Using a Fitness Scale'.  Now if this model is drawing her pension, I'll eat my hat, but only on a day where my calorie count isn't limited to 500 calories.   She's a woman after my own heart though.  The grey hair atop such a youthful face is a nice touch.

My 5:2 intermittent fasting diet, now in its third week is going swimmingly and I'm saying that as now the pounds have started to fall off.  Two already have disappeared from my waistline this week and people are starting to notice.  Thank's to my lovely colleague, Mr. Anonymous from Guyana, for being so observant yesterday!  I've got myself into a routine on fast days that seems to be working.  No breakfast, usual amounts of tea with semi-skimmed milk and two light meals at lunch and supper time.  Yesterday's offerings were a small serving of chickpea saute, with the teeniest dollop of oil and yoghurt dressing stirred in and a small 95 calorie wrap stuffed with homemade coleslaw where I've went very easy on the mayonnaise.  Just two tablespoons in a huge bowlful made from nearly a whole white cabbage.  On a day where I'd forgotten lunch, a Coop Prawn and Noodle salad which was a mere 140 calories sufficed.

It suits me to chop and change the days where my calorie intake is limited.  Friday's isn't normally good  but last week I had an evening meeting.  Bah!  As I was denied my post working week treat of slobbing out with wine and chocolate in front of the telly I thought I might as well go the whole hog with sufferance.  And what I do on fast days is also adapted so that I avoid temptation.  Batch cooking and eating out  are no-nos as are watching back episodes of 'The Great British Bake Off' on the BBC i-player.  Or any other cookery programme for that matter.

So, after three weeks I'm still hanging in there.  With weight loss kick started and the freedom to eat what I want to most of the time, it seems silly not to.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Cheap Lego!!!!

Can you guess who this is?  Yep it's Mo Farah, a creation from The Little Artists, formerly Cake & Neave whom I've featured before.  The best kind of art challenges me down to the very core of my belief systems OR gives me a bloody good laugh!

Anyway, sorry to be like all those horrid high street stores who spring Christmas on us so early but when you've got a nine year old to buy for, planning has to start early.  Like in the last couple of years, I'll be aiming to keep to a £100 budget which includes those stocking presents.  Unlike some children where parents have separated Louis won't be getting two sets of presents.  Those costs will be shared with his dad.

Lego again features on Louis' wish list and as other parents might have realised this stuff doesn't come cheap.  It isn't often heavily discounted either and is a bugger to find with savings applied.  Even the secondhand stuff on Ebay comes at prices that are often near retail, or above the original cost for discontinued lines.  Help is a hand though.    I've discovered Brick Badger, a site that lists every available Lego set available and the best available current  price.   A Technics bucket truck will be winging its way to me soon at 73% of what I might have otherwise.   And Hola!, Bonjour, Howdie etc.  This site won't just appeal to my UK readers. It caters for several other nationalities too.   So, get on out there and buy those bricks early before they're snaffled up by other bargain hunters in the Christmas rush.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Too Long!!

Whoah!  I have loads of ideas of things to write about this morning.  Well, loads might be an exaggeration but there's at least four!  Every time though I started to do a little bit of research on t'Web  I realised that there was way more to each subject than I thought and all deserved a rather more in depth discussion.  So I was faced with a dilemma.  Should I botch together a quick post that I'd be unsatisfied with? Or I let my lovely readers wait for something more  meaty and thought provoking?

Today you'll just have to make do with a snake, chosen as I've decided to go down the lengthier route.  He'll appeal to a limited readership I know. But perhaps he'll come in handy for someone with a phobia at the pictorial stage of aversion therapy!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

From Nature With Love xx

"Bring me the head of John the Baptist" commanded Dr Betty, our clinical psychologist as I walked out of the office for lunch on Friday.  All right, she didn't really say that.  She does go delving around inside people's heads but they remain firmly on their shoulders, at least as far as I know.  Those of her profession are a secretive bunch.  Who knows what goes on in their therapy sessions.

What she actually requested was that I brought her back something from nature.   Bless! So I inspected the bushes around the hospital car park and looked in vain for interesting stones on the way into town.  And then, boom!  The whole idea went out of my mind in a charity shop where I found a bargain item for a quid.  I came back to work brandishing a very versatile black maxi dress rather than something akin to a leaf.

But I quite liked the idea of the challenge which I returned to over the weekend with a bit more success. My offering left gift wrapped on Dr Betty's desk yesterday morning was this, found on the pavement near home.  I hope she was pleased with whatever it is as I didn't return to find out. Perhaps one of the more horticulturally inclined out there in the blogosphere can cast a bit of light for me?

Monday, 24 September 2012

Leaf Cutter

It'll have to be a short one this morning because, unusually, I've overslept.  Not sure why as I was hardly living it up over the weekend.  Just a load of cleaning fuelled by restorative cuppas.  But so securely was I ensconced in the Land of Nod, that I didn't hear Louis when he knocked, rang the bell and kicked  the front door at 6:45am, having ran across from his Dad's house.  As it was  blowing a hoolie and tipping down he sheltered in the motorhome.   Ooops! I'm now trying to wake up fully by imbibing yet more restorative tea whilst he's downstairs tended by the  wide screened baby sitter!

I knew that this StumbleUpon would be a darned good resource when I needed a quickie, inspirational that is, and not one,  in the Carry On sense.  Ooh Matron!  It came up with the goods yesterday  by introducing me to the work of Spanish artist, Lorenzo Duran.  It just shows that you don't need a whole bunch of expensive material to come up with things of beauty.   For more leafy lovelies,  follow this link  and be in awe!

Sunday, 23 September 2012

The Cupcake Kid

I'm hitting a quiet spot in my  calendar.  Secret things are planned,  at the end of October and the beginning of November, to be shared at a later date, that fill me with excitement.  But for now, stretched before me are  a few weekends with nothing in particular to do.  That's a good thing.   However, enjoyable my summertime gallivanting has been, everyone needs time for taking stock, pootling around and doing spontaneous things in their own home.  That include me and Lou.

So this weekend, after leisurely lie ins, I've been giving Lovelygrey Cottage a mini-spring clean so it's ready for a month of crafting, writing and jewellery selling.  Today I'll tackle upstairs but yesterday, downstairs got a good spit and polish.  My kitchen was looking particularly sparkly until Louis ran in, wanting to make cupcakes to sell to the neighbours on behalf of the NSPCC.  'Fine' I said.  'Here's the recipe, there's the ingredients.  Off you go!'

It's a mark of how grown up he's getting that my nine year old can rustle up something from a recipe pretty much independently.  I helped with the oven and food processor assemblage but that was pretty much it.  But that newly cleaned workspace looked like it had undergone  a mini holocaust  involving flour .  So there was tidying up again whilst Louis went out selling his wares to neighbours.  It's a mark of how safe our village is that he can do that on his own even when he hadn't returned home after an hour.
I do not fear abduction or anything bad, just wonder where he's got to.

I found him a few cul-de-sacs away with an empty tray and twelve pounds in his apron pocket, surrounded by other small boys with lurid icing around their mouths.  It'll be good to see what other schemes that he comes up with over the next few weeks when he doesn't have everything planned for him and has time to play with.

Saturday, 22 September 2012


You lot out there may know about this already.  Apologies if I'm preaching to the converted.  Sometimes I'm savvy and on the ball when it comes picking up new ideas and trends.  At other times it's as if I've walked around with a paper bag over my head and the world has moved on without me.  I hasten to add that I don't necessarily think that this is a bad thing.

Anyway, in a bid to come up with inspiration for posts in those lean times that I mentioned a few days back.  I stumbled upon Stumpleupon.  It's tickled my fancy so much that it just needs to be shared!   Choose  an eclectic mix of interest areas, then press the 'Stumble' button  and you're off on a flight of fancy around the Worldwide Web.  This 'cloud angel' appeared as I'd ticked photography as one of my categories but I've also been exposed to craft and jewellery projects, things to cook, thrifty tips and motivational ideas.  As you 'like' images future pages that appear become more and more tailored to your preferences.  That's the theory anyway but as I've only been registered for forty eight hours I can't say how this works in practice.  What I can tell you is that I'm suitably impressed and I'll never be stuck for ideas of things to write about or do ever again!

Friday, 21 September 2012

The Demise of To Do

After years of trying to take control of my life with an electronic 'To Do' list that was way longer than an orang-utan's arm, it's gone.  Aides-memoires stay because, by Jiminy, I need them to maintain order in an action packed life.    My wipeboard to plan big projects, a blackboard that I write on when I run out of something in the kitchen  and a spreadsheet summarising where I am with each individual on my  work caseload stays.  But that obsessive list,  itemising every single thing that I ever, ever need to do has been torn up to make pretty confetti- metaphorically of course as it was always in electronic form.

What I finally realised was that David Allen's system of recording absolutely everything, that was supposed to be the key to stress-free life, in fact exacerbated anxiety.  It may work for others but for me it was a no-no.  I don't need 'Hoover the Car' to be on a list in order to remember to do it.  The results of a lunchbox  popcorn spillage are evident that everytime I make a journey.    The fact when I look out of the kitchen window and see that the garden has turned into mini-beast paradise is sufficient to tell me that the lawn needs mowing. Oh, and  it's quite obvious that my legs need shaving if I've left them for a couple of weeks.  That orang-utan analogy returns to live another day!

Those written notes hammering away were just like having  a nagging spouse constantly and unnecessarily reminding me of all my misdemeanours whenever I switched on my phone.   So in the spirit of being nicer to myself  'To Do' has been transformed into a much more concise form.  And what do you know?  I'm getting  much more done than I ever did before.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

A La Mode de Pollyanna

Thanks to Perran who shared this on Facebook.  I'm truly grateful!
There's so much else that I want to do at the moment rather than sitting around blogging.   Another writing project has reared up, the spare room needs an organisational overhaul and I want to help fix a tricky Lego Technics problem with the bairn.   So, today  I'll share this with you to keep the proceedings  short and sweet.   Some, even myself on a cynical day, would say these words are a bit too saccharine, like Pollyanna herself to be truthful.  In reality, my automatic thought when hearing the off-key singing lady might be 'Where's that Duct Tape?' rather than 'Ooh! It's so wonderful that I'm not deaf.  Perhaps it's best that I haven't set foot in a church, aside from weddings and funerals, for years.

You could. of course, have fun and make up your own versions of these.  The first one that sprung to my own mind was that I I am thankful for being able to impersonate a fish wife whilst yelling at Louis to get his shoes on and go to school because it means that I have a child.  Then again I'd might prefer it if he went right ahead and did this automatically, thus saving my vocal chords!

The fact that I'm showing you this must mean that it's sparked  something up in that there grey matter. Perhaps I need to  cut the moaning and groaning and instead use that the energy saved to discover what I should truly be thankful for.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Water Meters are Worth Their Weight in Gold!

Isn't this picture, 'Robinet a Maquereaux' by  French artist Brigitte Sidaner with its 3-D sticky outy tap, great?  It's one of the covetable things that I spotted in Concarneau on our recent Brittany trip.  Artists worldwide should, in my opinion, celebrate the humble mackerel a little more in their work.  Not only might it remind us to eat more of this thoroughly delicious and sustainable fish but they are truly creatures of beauty with their shimmering silvery and blue-black skin.  By the way, if crisped up nicely this, along with the flesh, tastes lovely too.

But today's offering is not a cookery post.  It's to celebrate the fact that from now on I will be saving a significant pot of money.  By my reckoning I'm going to be better off by eighty pounds a month.   Over a year that equates to the cost of the flights and accommodation for my now  annual skiing holiday or two ferry crossings to France in the motorhome.  You'll be picking up a theme here as I like to imagine the results of penny pinching in terms of what how that extra money can go towards travel.  I'm thrifty for a number of reasons, the main one being I want vast swathes of my spending to go on what's important to me rather than being frittered away heedlessly.

My title today is a bit of a giveaway about where this conversation is leading. Yay!, with my lovely landlady's agreement, my water meter was fitted.  The first bill has come through showing that I use about a cubic metre of water a week.  That's a thousand litres or about two hundred gallons in common parlance which seems a fair allowance to me, seeing that I use less than two hundred litres weekly when away in the motorhome.   So, now I know where I stand, I go on being conservatively careful with usage  and reap the benefits of my moderate consumption through a little bit of guilt-free international jet setting!

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Excess Baggage

As  I mentioned the other day I travelled back to my childhood home of Essex at the weekend.  I left Devon travelling light. Just a little more than overnight bag with undies for me and Lou cluttered the boot on the outward journey.  The way back was a different story.  I came back with the chassis of my unloved Fiesta Econetique almost scraping the tarmac of the A303.  Here's the first of the item that caused the overload.  A rather fine specimen from Mama Lovelygrey's allotment.

Remember, after a festival frolic I begged Mama Lovelygrey, on Louis' behalf, to replicate some stilts he'd coveted.  Well she got out her woodworking tools and he's the result.  Is there no end to her talents?  Credit must also go to Papa Lovelygrey for his natty painting.

Auntie Elsie and Uncle Stan are far more organised than me.  Here's Louis' Christmas present so they don't have to post it in a couple of months time.  Sssssh!  I think it's a book!

And although I didn't put in a formal order, the Cosmic Being must have known that I needed a container for my dishwasher powder.  Mum was having a clear out of her cupboards and didn't need this old, yellowing Tupperware container any longer.

Why do rented houses often have cream carpets.  Mine were cleaned before I took on the tenancy but were filthy from day two onwards after everyone had traipsed in and out moving  furniture.  I needed a heavy duty carpet cleaner but not at a heavy duty price.  Here's one I found on Ebay, a Bissell Aroma-Pro.  One hundred and ninety of your finest pounds if bought new but fifty quid, if barely used by a lady in Norfolk.  My kindly bro' picked it up for me.  Here's my newest toy along with a selection of just a few of the stains that I hope it will gobble up.

Hmmm, a Snickers multi-pack.  I'm sure Mama Lovelygrey stuffs Louis full of sweets in revenge for all those sugar crazed moments that she had to endure when I was a nipper.

Lord lummy we must be getting to the end soon.  Here's some Catherine Cookson books for me to pass onto Nana Lovelygrey...

......Bargain Fritter Mix x 2.........

...... and a Plug badge for my little Beano aficionado.

But I've saved the best until last.  I fell very much in love with one of the paintings skillfully created by my brother, Paul Bernard Harris so will be paying him a pittance from now until eternity that will go towards his gruel fund ...or whatever impoverished artists eat in their ramshackle garrets.   It vaguely reminds me of those Teutonic  painting from the '30s crossed with I don't know what.  I'm still in contemplation about this.  Anyway, Paul you'll be pleased to hear that I got your masterpiece home safely.  Now it's just a question of deciding where to hang it.

PS: Oh, Mum -  I've also brought Dad's pyjama bottoms home by accident.  I'll put them in the post!

Monday, 17 September 2012

A Dream Shared is a Problem Halved

Have I told you that I've been able to read since I could toddle? It wouldn't be a  surprise  if I said that books have been an intrinsic part of my life from then on.  And probably not long after I  deciphered those simple first words in  Nose Is Not Toes, I decided that I  wanted to write my own story and see it in print.  I've had a good forty five years to do this and could have been as prolific as Barbara Cartland  if I'd got my finger out .  So why, oh why has it just not happened?

Suffice to say procrastination has played its part but it's not the entire complex picture.  But I'll spare you most of the navel gazing and the associated blue fluff and get down to the nub of the problem.  I have ideas for stories but just can't seem to pad them out enough in my own head to make them meaty enough to be a goer.  However I've come up with two strategies that seem to have helped me kickstart, what I acknowledge is still going to be an onerous task - that first novel.

First and foremost, I've started to share my idea for a story with my friends and asked them for suggestions about how the plot should be bulked out.  This has been incredibly fruitful - even though I'm having to discard some of Mr Metrosexual's more lurid ideas.   He thinks that I should include at least three swinger's parties in order to boost sales.   Aside from not being keen on doing the research, I don't want to horrify Mama and Nana Lovelygrey - or follow in the footsteps of that 'animal', Tony Blair, and  be given the dubious accolade of a  Bad Sex Writing award .

The other thing I've done is scoured the Internet for a novel template. After considering a few I've settled on this one on the website. So, with a cobbled together plot from my 'co-authors' and an outline plot in ten easy chapters, I'm off the starting block.  As with the diet, I'll be posting updates on my snail-like progress.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Thought for the Day: Rich or Poor?

This article from 'Guardian Money' that was published earlier in the week is an interesting one which I'd urge you to read.   People, with a vast range of economic resources, gauge just how well off they believe they are.  Their responses didn't really surprise me.    Some describe what it truly is like to be economically poor with all the knock on effects of curtailing hopes and dreams that it involves.  There are those who feel rich if they can treat themselves to a meal in their work's canteen rather than having to pack a lunch everyday.   Then, at the other end of the spectrum, you get those 'poor' souls who really believe that they're hard up because they can't maintain their six bedroom houses and struggle to pay school fees and nannies.  Here, I find myself having to curb a decidedly bitchy side of my nature!

According to a bloke that I met on holiday I reckon that I am pretty near destitute.  He found it hard to contemplate how anyone could survive on a household income of  less than £50,000.  Yet, here I am on much less  living in a cosy home that is just the right size and layout to meet my needs.  I eat lush, mostly home cooked food but can afford the occasional meal out. My primary lifelong wish of travelling widely has been granted although I have to be resourceful to fund this.  And I spend quality time with my friends and family doing things that would  not be significantly different if I had a huge pot of money to play with.   So is Lovelygrey rich or poor?  That's a tricky question that I'll leave the rest of you to decide for me.

Saturday, 15 September 2012


Yonks back I wrote about my memories of feeling spooked on the banquet looking out onto the monks' refectory at Prittlewell Priory in my home town of Southend of Sea. Then, I was unable to test the theory of whether this was truly a haunted spot or I was just a scaredy cat child as the place was closed for a major renovation.  Back in June it re-opened as a museum so today, on a brief trip back to the land of Mama and Papa Lovelygrey, I was able to go and see if I could replicate those childhod heebie jeebies.

So, with much trepidation, I climbed the stairs to the first floor where the balcony is situated and walked across the hall to the steps down to it.  I expected that all too familiar chill down the back of my neck and a sense of being very spooked but,sorry to disappoint.  Neither Mama Lovelygrey nor I felt a sausage although the room attendant did say that some people still felt spooked up there.  Our hair standeth up not on end.  Perhaps the ghoulies were having a day off or  have been scared off by all that building work.  Let's hope that the hunters on a ghost walk scheduled for the end of October have a little bit more luck!

Friday, 14 September 2012

Don't Play With Your Food

Ideas for posts have been a bit thin on the ground lately. Sometimes my head is full of 'em and there's a whole month's worth of stuff pinging around amongst that old grey matter.  But lately, I don't know, it seems, those cogs up there have rusted up a bit. Let's keep going through these lean times as it's good discipline to write everyday especially if I have time to work on that biggie, that book that's inside all of us.

So today I've stolen a couple of images shared on Facebook recently that have made me giggle.  Both have foodie themes and I hope they provide inspiration to those parents out there who want to go that extra mile beyond rustling up a smiley faced pizza to encourage their kids to eat!

Thursday, 13 September 2012

First Thoughts on Fasting

It's been now been well over a week since I started my intermittent fasting diet that's aimed at improving my long term health as well as my waistline.  The result on that score so far?  Well, I've lost a big fat zero with cherries on the top!  So today's illustrative photo is a bit of wishful thinking.  It's not me.  That blobby expanse on my own midrift is hanging on in there and refusing to budge!

I'm a little surprised that the scales haven't yet tipped in my favour.  Apart from a relatively large 3,000 calorie day whilst revelling on Saturday I've been a good girl from a food intake point of view both on general healthy eating and energy intake grounds.  Although I'm had hungry pangs whilst fasting they're bearable and worth it for the good vibes that I have on the next day when normal noshing can resume.  I wake feeling so,so zingy without the desire to eat an Olympic breakfast to make up for my abstinence.

Even without the anticipated pound shedding, I'm  going to stick with this. Given the expected long term results and the freedom that I have on those five non-fast days to eat what I want, it seems crazy not to.  Let's hope I can report back positively from a weight loss perspective soon.  I'm even hopeful that I'll be able to show off a washboard belly of my own at sometime in the future!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Tick: Development Milestone Reached!

Forget uttering my name ( albeit incorrectly as Mee-Ma),  taking those first tentative steps across the floor, breaching the school threshold in a crisp new uniform,  playing outside in the street without my watchful eye.  Even the transition from those troublesome nappies to proper pants pales into insignificance when I consider Louis' latest achievement on the developmental timeline.  It  has important implications for my quality of life hhereafter. As from today,  I can lounge  in bed just that little bit longer and enjoy that first essential cuppa of the day even more.   I'm sure that it will taste much better when  it's been made and carried up the stairs by someone else!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

'Hoover' Making for a Pittance Anyone?

Knackered this morning and I know exactly why. I'm back in the swing of  normal term time life which means there's a monthly PTA committee meeting. Now I really don't mind the active work involved in this voluntary role, setting up events, risk planning and the like.  After all, it's for the benefit of my kid.  But sitting around a table for three hours after a hard day at work does my head in like nothing else.   Not only that, I'm so wound up after it finally finishes that I don't slip into the land of Nod until midnight.    Grrrrrrrr!  Let's have a  grumpy post that befits my sleep addled state!
Had I have not been strapped into my car seat  I would have fallen off my seat listening to the  BBC's Radio 4 Today Programme  on the way to work last Friday.  The wonderful James Dyson, whose business has grown in size since the recession was being interviewed. This forward thinking inventor and entrepreneur is in the brilliant position of being able to offer three hundred jobs in his UK business.  Half of these are engineers.  However there's a catch which the interviewer highlighted.  Those successful candidates will  get a starting salary of  just £28,000 with a joining bonus of another three thousand.  'Not bad' I thought.  'Only three grand less than my salary for a graduate job where I have twelve years experience'.

The interviewer went on.  'Aren't you going to have trouble filling those posts when the average starting salary in the city is £55,000?'  Mr Dyson concurred it would be difficult.     The South West NHS Pay Consortium are looking at ways of cutting my pay  to a level that a fresh out of college fledging 'hoover' designer might not consider getting out of bed for.  No wonder I'm fuming!

Monday, 10 September 2012

It's Official: Onion Bhajis are the Food of Romance!

Fancy getting jiggy but feeling a bit peckish?  Well, don't spoil the mood with oysters or chocolate.  How about rustling up a  shedload of bhajis instead?  For it seems that Bhaji Man thinks that spicy fried onions could be the aphrodisiac de jour.

I've had this  in the cupboard for a few months.   It was donated by Mama Lovelygrey who'd been gifted  a multitude of gluten free spice mixes from my brother and she kindly handed some over to me to try.  It's the kind of thing that I usually wouldn't buy for myself as I tend to cook from scratch but the ingredients here all look to be good stuff.

Rather than saving them for a 'beau'  I thought I'd try them out on Mr Metrosexual.  They're part of the reason for my pitifully poor Fishstock journalistic assignment.  Perhaps I could be a cookery writer instead of focusing on travel.  After all, didn't Delia Smith write a whole book about cooking with packet mixes?

Anyway here's the result.  Jolly tasty they were too and well worth the effort.  Much better than the supermarket versions and indeed some I've eaten in Indian restaurants.  We just sliced a couple of large onions, coated them in the spices, allowed the mixture to develop a paste-like consistency whilst drinking a gin and tonic in the garden and then fried them in shallow oil.  As Bhaji Man says, 'Yummy!  Yummy!'

£2.25 plus postage is a bit  over the odds for what I'd want to pay to buy more of this gentleman's spice mixes, good though they are.   But they've given me the confidence to go out, buy the gram flour and come up with a Mark II  easy-peasy  food of lurve all of my own.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Days Out in Devon: Missing Most of Fishstock

My chances of being 'discovered' and hauled off to a high paid job in  travel photo-journalist have substantially diminished this weekend. Firstly,  my  trusty Canon Ixus is shagged  So, until my spare part arrives and I resort to fixing it c/o YouTube,  I'm having to rely on the dodgy camera on my Samsung Galaxy to take cack shots.     This hiccup might  be pardoned but my next faux-pas is possibly unforgivable.  When you cover an event you are supposed to turn up at the right time!

Instead of arriving at Fishstock yesterday in time to sample the foodie and crafty delights on sixty two stalls and view ten maritime displays where I'm sure that I would have found something intriguing to write about,  Mr Metrosexual and I got waylaid.  We prepared a very leisurely lunch, sat in the garden and ate it and  then wandered down to Brixham town  via the scenic coastpath route.  Once there we sat al fresco at the Old Market Place House pub.  There we indulged in a pint and a rather grown-up game of talent spotting, before ambling along to the festival  at the behest of Barbie Nurse and her husband Glazey Dave.  There  we found the last of the stallholders had packing up their final bits and pieces!

So you see, diddly squat that is sensible and informative to report.  All that was left to do was meet up with  Ruff Stu,  Mr Metrosexual's partner.  There is a secret story behind his name as he is not rough but as soft as a small kitten....or hamster.  We all then had a wonderful time admiring  boats and things like this tall ship  which is pixelated and hasn't really got stripy rigging.    We drank a bit more beer, stuffed our faces and listened to some good music on the acoustic stage.  Aside from 'pirate band' Tricorn Shonky, I have not a clue who we saw.  Further proof that there won't be a single newspaper writer out there who is going to be concerned that I'll be taking their job at any time soon!

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Grab It Whilst It's Hot

It's official!  Weekends with good weather are as rare as rocking horse droppings these days.  It must be so  if they become a newsworthy event when we have one.  As such, perhaps we need to make an extra-special effort to enjoy them.   Today's post has therefore been kept deliberately  short to encourage you to turn off those techno gadgets, and soak in that sunshine while it lasts.  Go on, slap on the tanning lotion, step outside  and get stuck into to doing  whatever floats your own little boat.  And in doing so, top up your Vitamin D levels at the same time. Your bones will thank you for it!

I've shaken off most of that nasty cold so it's off to Fishstock at Brixham  for  music, food and drink and a bit of frolicking with some of the gang from work. All in the good old open air with those healthful rays beating down!   Will be back tomorrow with a catch up. Now think carefully if you've got nothing planned. What could you do?

Friday, 7 September 2012

Shop Back In Time

Today, courtesy of  vintage sellers on Ebay and elsewhere in cyberspace,  I'm going to take you on a little journey around those defunct clothes stores that I gawped at or, at the cheaper end of the market, spent my pennies in during my youth.  First up, one that was out of my price range yesteryear and quite possibly is today.  I was going to stick to clothes and accessories but couldn't resist this totally covetable, funky wirework mannequin, an  fitting from Biba's original store.   I'd just love one of my readers with sufficient wonga to go ahead and buy this beauty.

Let's move on down the yesteryear high street to another store that was much more my stomping ground.  Here's a saggy baggy Nordic sweater dress from Chelsea Girl that I could well have worn in my late teens to coordinate with those tight, tight jeans that I had to do up with a coathanger whilst writhing on the floor.  I understand that River Island has revived its predecessor's iconic brand and there are clothes in store as we speak.

What amazed me was that there are still vintage Salisbury's bags in existence.  Mine were so poorly made that they always fell apart with use on just one or two occasions. This is reminiscent of the old school briefcases that we used to carry in the days before rucksacks and messenger bags became de rigueur.

Now some of the old shops were full of tat and deserved to close but it's a puzzle why others didn't survive.  I used to love the gorgeous displays of rainbow coloured jumpers in Benetton  that were really soft and comfy to wear.  In a modern day virtual shopping spree though, it's this denim jacket with a gorgeous and unusual embroidered back that caught my eye.

Wasn't there a lot more shoe shops?  I seem to remember being dragged around a million of them down Southend High Street by my Mum.  I can't say that I remember seeing anything like these red leather kinky boots in Freeman, Hardy and Willis.

Now, my memory is becoming hazier.  I remember the name but do not recall that Van Allan sold clothes in the 1970s that were this darned funky.  I always thought that they were like the safe, staid, mumsy .....

..... Richards Shop!  Then again this zingy lime green number from there looks pretty good to me today.

And long gone from these shores although still around in Europe who can forget the cheap and cheerful C&A.   I love this gorgeous Clockhouse range woolly coat but isn't the seller taking the biscuit by asking for a staggering £180?!

Now I'd have liked to have refreshed my memory about what was sold at the rather pompous sounding 'Lady at Lord John' but alas! my search was in vain.  So inside I'll leave you with something far more iconic.  How about this maxi-dress from Mary Quant?

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Laid Low by the Lurgy

Blogging is later than usual today as I've just woken up after a nap in a bed which looks like another version of Tracey Emin's.  In this one I'm rapidly building a life sized model of Mount Snowdon  in winter out of used tissues!

I don't normally 'throw a sickie'.  Instead I'm one of those annoying bleeders who struggle on regardless, moaning profusely and undoubtedly spreading their germs to all and sundry whilst continuing to make those metaphorical tanks, bombers and rifles.  This cold though has been that rare beastie that has defeated me.   If I move, the room spins,  I cough like a sixty-a-day smoker and Niagara Falls diverts its course and comes out of my nose.  Aside from not feeling my usual perky self it didn't seem fair to 'gift' this particular version of man flu to the frail elderly ladies and their carers that I was due to see on my travels around Devon.  Or indeed try to drive whilst juggling hankies.

So, instead I've been  saving petrol and Wandering Around the Web looking for pertinent facts about this common illness, which in the scheme of things is, of course, a minor ailment.  Why  oh why then, does it make us feel so rough?  That's the one answer I haven't found.  But in amongst the stuff about cures, symptoms, days of work lost,   goose fat and whiskey toddies there's an interesting piece from Dr Ben Kim,  a Canadian chiropracter and acupuncturist who is clearly from the 'What's don't kill you does you good' camp.  Not sure how scientific this stuff is but the view, that a cold can be a good thing, purging the body of nasties in its system,, makes entirely good sense to me.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

The Beautiful Briny and Blackbirds

Back in my Totnes office today so I don't have to resort to weeing in the open air surrounded by cows - unless, that is, I really wanted to!  My interior workspace is far more conventional with trays often filled to overflowing, a proper porcelain loo with a locking door across the corridor,  a few curling photos of Lou and a couple of pictures by Hilke McIntyre, who has kindly agreed to let me share her work with you.

A couple of months ago my desk neighbour, Mr Metrosexual, had a garden party at his house.  As he is a manipulative leech, he did not do the cooking himself but roped in muggins here. Another colleague , Snobby Friend, who I've introduced previously as a chiffon clad wanton spendthrift ,is kind and thoughtful  as well as being proud of her discerning taste. She was so impressed by our hosting and catering that she sent us each thank you cards with images of Hilke's lovely linocuts to show her appreciation. We've displayed them in our joint workspace ever since.  Not only do they give me pleasure and are a welcome distraction when I'm sick of writing notes, they're also a reminder that I must book onto a printmaking course myself.

A snoop around this talented lady's website reveals that not only does she use printmaking as a medium but makes gorgeous ceramics and paints too.  An eclectic woman after my own heart indeed!  There is so much that caught my eye that it was hard to choose favourite pieces to illustrate this post.  Now I'm a sucker for a sea scene which is why I'm particularly drawn to those primitive little fellows around the harbour.  And although I could have devoted an entire post to her fishy/boaty/wavy works. I've resisted and forced myself to choose something that evokes an inland, albeit watery, scene.  Here's a wonderfully whimsical ceramic relief of a blackbird in the rain.

The pull of the sea is just too strong!  I really have to return to salty themes and can't resist this fine chap who's  graces the cover of a National Young Choir of Scotland songbook.  He's  so reminiscent of those long lashed stylised fisherman  beloved of the Cornish potter Bernard Moss.  The same blue, black and white colour palette has also been used.  Surely this can't be coincidental?

I see that Hilke lives and works in Scotland but her work is going to be exhibited at the Coombe House Gallery in Dartmouth in October.  The perfect excuse to schedule my future appointments down in that neck of the woods so that I can pop in and see some original pieces during a lunchbreak!

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

5:2 Now Fetch Me That Scabby Horse!

I bet that there's a fair few of my UK readers out there who watched that Horizon programme on the BBC about intermittent fasting.  Well, I didn't manage to catch it  the first time around due to woefully poor personal management.   However, it's on again in the wee small hours of tomorrow morning for all  you lardy insomniacs out there.  I'll be setting the recorder if I can work out how to use it, mainly because  rather unusually, I've got a bit of a  crush thang on Michael Mosley even though he's medically trained. Normally, doctors don't float my boat at all but then again maybe they don't go a bundle on overweight occupational therapists.

Anyway, I've already got the gist of what the programme was about and more than a smattering of the peeps  I know are following the 5:2 version of the diet described. For those not in the know already, it involves eating nomally (hurrah!) for five days each week and limiting calories to 500 or 600 for females/males respectively on the remaining two.    It's got a bit of scientific rationale behind and is supposed to promote weight loss and have rejuvenating effects too.  Sounds good to me but perhaps wisely I delayed the start date so that I could stuff my face freely on baguettes during my  holiday.

So yesterday, I think I stuck to my calorific limit with a weeny bowl of muesli, three cups of tea with milk and two small portions of leftover tabbouleh and carrot salad brought back from la France.  I'm not entirely sure as the continental food packaging was bereft of energy values but I reckon that I kept to the target as near as damn it.  However, I do concede that pathetically licking a drip of greek yoghurt off the outside of the Louis' dessert bowl may have tipped me over.   From now on though I'll be using the free website to do my sums a little more accurately.

How do I feel after day one?  Bloody starving!  There's nothing for it but to head off for the fields, catch a dodgy nag and wedge it behind two doorsteps of  buttered bread.  That'll do for a thoroughly normal breakfast!

Monday, 3 September 2012

First Day Back in the Office!

The first day back after being away is always a bummer.  I headed into base in Totnes at 9am to collect my stuff saying 'I'm not here, I'm not here.'  Only it seemed that my invisibility shield was broken and something had been brewing whilst I was away.  It necessitated scheduling in two more appointments in an already packed week.  But then I am the occupational therapy octopus after all.  With my steering wheel in one arm and juggling balls with my remaining seven I hurtled across Dartmoor to Tavistock and was amazingly only five minutes late for my first, ten o' clock visit.

An hour and a cup of tea later I desperately needed a wee. However I've got this mad  that it's unprofessional to ask to use the loo in client's homes.  It's far better to nip up to the nearest patch of deserted moorland and risk life and tender female parts in thistles behind tall bracken.  Just enough time before my next call to write up notes on my laptop.  I thought that not a living soul was around until I looked up and found my mobile workplace surrounded by these  beasties.  Can the curiosity of calves compromise NHS confidentiality?