Tuesday, 31 December 2013

To 2014....And Beyond!

Perhaps 2014 will be my year for self-development?  Well, it can't be the year of spend, spend, spend as I need to start saving big time.  A move to my Brixham home and probable lifestyle change to a period of self employment  is on the cards in 2015. That's going to need a few pennies. So it's time to look ahead. Self-enlightenment seems a cheap, alternative way to spend time instead of retail therapy!

A Facebook post introduced me to the work of Don Miguel Ruiz and I've ordered his book The Four Agreements: Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (Toltec Wisdom)  from the library.  It's normally kept at Dartmoor Prison, a place where self help text could come in a bit useful. Those four agreements are:

  1. Be Impeccable With Your Word.
  2. Don't Take Anything Personally
  3. Don't Make Assumptions
  4. Always Do Your Best.

All good stuff which is expanded upon in the orignal post that I read here.  It definitely looked like it needed exploring further as an antidote to shopping.

Anyway have a good New Year's eve to everyone out there who will be seeing 2014 in.  It's unlikely that I'll do so.  An evening of packing lies ahead of me!

Monday, 30 December 2013

Okay, So Where Is It?

Remember those 10,000 words of a novel that were going to be finished and sent off to Richard and Judy by January 1st?  Well, the arch procrastinator must have returned because it ain't going to happen. Boosted by the idea of winning their novel competition's rather substantial £50,000 prize, I've now nearly got to 5,000 words but it's slow old progress. Although I normally try to curb my perfectionist streak as it puts up barriers to me doing things, this is one  that I  really want to get right given the time and mental energy that I devote to it. It's going to take more than a few weeks of very part time working on a story to produce something that I'm really proud of and I'm not there yet.

A bit more dedicated time to the project will be helpful though.  Hang on, I'll be having a couple of months sick leave soon when my knee is reconstructed where I'll largely be confined to the house. I reckon that this is just the thing I need to be focusing on then.  It will give me something to achieve at a time that might otherwise be quite bleak.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Tiropites: Pastry Origami

I haven't done a cookery post for some time now.  It's not that I've been stuffing my face with ready meals, just that I've been preparing rather simple fayre that I didn't think really justified being recipe-ised.  Let's leave giving out recipes for egg and chips to the likes of Heston Blummenthal.

But I thought that just in time for New Year's Eve I'd share the recipe for these Greek treats, tiropites which have been a stable for years when I've needed to rustle up some canapes. They look like a complete pfaff but they're easy peasy.

First pre-heat the oven to 200 degree celsius or Gas Mark 6. Take 200g each of crumbled feta and cottage cheese, mix with some fresh mint, a good shake of fresh parsley, lashings of pepper and two eggs and mix in a bowl.  I know it looks like lumpy wallpaper paste but trust me!  I am a therapist after all.

Now take a packet of filo pastry out of its packet and cut into three long strips.  You can brush each with a little butter as I did on the first layer but forgot thereafter.  Bejesus!  the original recipe in the otherwise excellent Meze Cooking  by Sarah Maxwell calls for 250g of the stuff.  You'd need a defibrillator close to hand if you cooked like that very often!  I used probably 25g of melted butter. Anyway blob a generous teaspoonful of the cheesy mixture at the bottom of each strip and then....

Fold the top layer over into a triangle....

.and again and again and again and again.......

.....until you get something that looks like this. Then you can seal the end with a dab of butter.  Make more dinky little folded triangles until the filo pastry runs out.  You should get 18 if you use Jusrol.  Stick on a lightly greased baking tray and cook for approximately 20-25 minutes until golden brown like the top picture.  Best served warm!

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Happy Stitching Parveen!

As my first two lendwithcare borrowers are paying back their loans I thought that it was about time that I brought another on board!  I'm telling you guys about it with to see if I can encourage others to hop on the bandwagon too.  Go on!  It's better than spending money in the sales on clothes and stuff that you don't really need.  And if you really need the money in the future the likelihood is that you'll claw back your original investments over time. Probably though, I'll keep re-lending my own money that I've put into lendwithcare to help other entrepreneurs around the world to get their mini-businesses off the ground.

Here's Parveen with the main tool of her trade, her very pretty olde- worlde  hand operated sewing machine.  The only thing is that it's not very fast. Five people, including myself have lent her just £97.55 to buy a nice new speedier model so that she can be more productive, buy more of life's little necessities and educate all of her children.  Surely for that kind of reward, such a small investment must be a risk worth taking?

Friday, 27 December 2013

Heigh Ho!

It is with a just modicum of grouchiness that I break with my low key festivities and it's off to work I go. But hey!  I do head off on holiday next week.  Meanwhile it's my turn to keep the NHS running between Christmas and the New Year. I can guarantee that it will either be deathly quiet or we'll be rushed off our feet. There are no happy mediums at this time of year. So spare a thought for us if you're still holed up watching old films with a tin of Quality Street. We'll be either twiddling our thumbs or rushing around the South Hams trying to be in two places at once!

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Meditation: How it Really Is

I wanted to share the entire cartoon  from the High Existence websitte about How Meditation Really Is  Logistically though it was too complicated to download an image where you could actually see the wording.  You're just going to have to visit the site yourself and have a look. Believe me, the whole process isn't half as peaceful as this one frame from the strip suggests!

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Crimbo Solitude

Season's greeting to one and all out in Blogland!  It's a strange one for me as, for the first time in years, maybe even ever,  I'll be spending some of the day on my tod. Thanks though to Red Mel, Mr Metrosexual and Ruff Stu, The Pirate and Crafty Tash who all invited me to join them for their festive lunches.  What a lucky girl I am to have so many brilliant friends!  I've chosen to be alone though for the middle part of the day.  As I've said before it's a state that I relish and so its a bit of a treat, even at Christmas.

So after giving Louis his presents he'll head off to lunch and I'm popping out for a drink with a friend.  His dad and some family members will be coming here for drinkies and snacks this evening.  But here's a clue to what I'll be getting up to in that spare middle part of the day. Watching an old movie (courtesy of Channel 4 who showed this classic yesterday) curled up on the sofa with a glass of claret and a mince pie.  I just don't think I could beat it!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Back To the '70s

Do you remember those power cuts that were part and parcel of the three day week in the UK in the seventies where families huddled around open fires and candles?  A lot of you might because I seem to attract a readership of a certain age, my own and beyond that is. Try as I might this blog doesn't seem to appeal to the young trendy set.  We'll just have to keep each other company in our slippers.

Anyway it was like those days again in Lovelyday Cottage last night. The storm caused the longest outtage that I can remember for many years.  It went on from around nine-ish and lasted after four this morning when I was woken up by the lights, answering machine and TV returning to business. No wonder I'm a bit knackered this morning.

Louis fretted about the darkness and I helpfully made ghost noises to comfort him.  I can be a very bad mother at times.  My concerns were of a more practical nature as in whether the  Christmas food in the fridge and freezer would spoil.  It looks like we've had a very lucky escape.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Thought for the Day: On Gifting

With the festive season upon us, I'm passing on a lesson that I had to learn for myself.  If you can adopt it yourself it may save a bit of heartache. Once upon a time I gave away  a rather lovely, but sadly non microwaveable, set of Habitat crockery to my brother.    Within a short space of time he'd passed it on to another friend, most probably because he'd acquired a microwave himself. Although I didn't tell him at the time, this rendered me cross and upset.  Grrrr!

But why?  Well the problem was that I'd retained part ownership of the stuff in my head and there were unspoken conditions attached to my gift.   So as the realisation of this dawned on me, I developed a new philosophy on gifting.  Now, I'm happy for people to do what they will with presents that I've given them.  I let go completely. Sure, I'd prefer it if they loved and cherished an item but if they want to use it in a way I hadn't intended, send it to the charity shop or hell, even burn it that's perfectly fine too.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Infantile iPoo

Just when I thought that I'd seen it all along comes the  CTA Digital 2-in-1 iPotty.  Yep, that's right, you are looking at a toilet training device that includes a stand for an i-Pad.   And ye gods!  There are potty training apps too.  Has the world gone stark raving mad?

For goodness sake, don't click on the link and buy it as I'll earn commission.  I prefer to earn my crust from worthier endeavours like tending the sick and making stuff, not through ill gotten gains from the sales of iCrap. It's only there so that you can read the largely incredulous and sometimes hilarious comments from reviewers. Thanks to Mr R Lang for composing this. It has to be my four star absolute favourite.

'For literally months I was wracked with guilt every time I saw my poor toddler have to pause his session of Temple Run so that he could make his own little run to his regular potty and I'm sure I would have felt guilty for longer had he been born any earlier and given me the opportunity to. The look on his poor, straining face as he sat on his traditional, analogue throne, literally feet away from a high-score was like a dagger through my heart. Although he struggled to express himself as eloquently as he wanted to on the subject, the betrayed look in his innocent eyes pierced my soul with the keening cry of "Why, father? Why? You know you never get your momentum back after coming off pause!" and I knew that there was nothing I could say or do to make it better.

Until a friend told me about the iPotty.

With its tough, colourful plastic mount leaping up from the base like the command console of a starship, my little man sits roguishly astride it like Captain Kirk (or possibly Chekov) as he swipes his way to three star-scores on whatever he turns his little mind to, without having to suffer the indignity of having to put it down just to poo. With the iPotty it now means that no call of nature need ever interrupt that 10x multiplier, and while he's still potty-training he needn't even worry about the need for hand-hygiene and can simply keep on playing until it's time for a change. In fact, these little hygiene breaks are now the only thing that gets in the way and I my wife and I are now looking for a baby-change mat with a similar screen-mount. Then again, with the iPotty's adjustable tilting bracket, it won't be too long until he can take care of such things himself without even needing to get up.

Overall I can't recommend the iPotty enough and only remove one star for the fact that it doesn't quite adjust far enough for larger users and I keep banging my knees on the underside of the frame whenever I try to give it a go myself. Imagine the time I'd save if they'd make a version for regular toilet seats!

In short, if you really care about your child's happiness and supporting their creativity and impatience you can do no better than an iPotty. I hope Santa has a strong back, because he'll be delivering a few of these to my friends and family this Christmas!'

Saturday, 21 December 2013

"Oh No, I Forgot to Measure Louis' Head For His New Ski Helmet!"

Mr Metrosexual was aghast when I uttered these words a couple of days ago.  "That must be just about the most middle class cry of angst that I've ever heard!"  Not bad for a girl brought up on a council estate in Essex don'tcha think?

Anyway the job is now done and dusted and  headgear suitable for a boy who loves a bit of a hurtle down a black run will arrive at Lovelygrey Cottage before our New Year's Day departure to Barcelona where we're indulging Lou's love of all things Spanish for a couple of days before heading off to the Andorran slopes.  I'm toying with whether my damaged knee swathed in a leg brace will make it down some gentle greens or if instead I should be uncharacteristically sensible and hole up in a mountaintop bar with a book and a beer  whilst Louis has lessons. Hmm!

Let's  get to the point of this post which is to tell all and sundry out there that  I've discovered that Decathlon,  now deliver across the UK. Check them out if you're unfamiliar with this sports and outdoor pursuits store.  Their merchandise is of good quality, is reasonably priced and I'm certain that their own brand helmet will pass muster.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Take a 10A Scalpel

It doesn't hurt to dream a bit.  What goes on in my old noggin is fantastical and almost certainly delusional at times.  Now, thanks to Toffeeapple, one of my lovely followers, I have equipped myself with a scalpel handle and 10a surgical blades and now think that someday I will be able to produce intricate marine themed papercut designs, possibly like this one by Sarah Dennis, within about a week or so.  I will then sell them for a song and be able to give up the day job for a life of financially rewarding creative bliss.  That's not too unrealistic is it?!
Let's come back to earth with a pretty decisive bump and show you exactly where I'm actually am with learning this intriguing craft.  Here's my first papercut fish, made over the last couple of evenings. From a beginner's perspective I'm quite pleased with him although if you look close up there's a couple of tears and a multitude of fluffy edges.  I'm certainly not in competition with those clever commercial artists and it doesn't look like that I will be for a long time yet.  So, now back to the cutting board and hone my slicing skills with another project.  Something Christmassy perhaps?

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

This Fine is Fine

Backalong I fretted about a library fine.  £2.42 for being a measly day late!  And it's happened again although this time I'm totally okay with it.

My reading habit has taken a tumble in recent months.  There's been far too much screen time but I'm rectifying that.  After all I can't let a lifelong book addiction die.  In the last three days I've finished one and now I'm on track to get through another tonight. I'm a fast reader when I get going and it looks like bookwormery has thankfully been restored.

The book that finished was Leonard Cohen: A Remarkable Life by Anthony Reynolds, okay but  rather  too heavy on discussions about musical production to be completely my kind of biography.  I'm a nosy bugger and prefer a bit of fruity gossip about people's personal life rather than all that geeky stuff.  Anyway I'd borrowed this from the library yonks ago and kept on renewing and renewing it until that wasn't allowed anymore. Finally the last page was turned on Sunday ready for it to be popped back on the library shelves on Monday, a day however, where my plans didn't involve a car journey as I was working from home.  A special trip would have incurred more costs than the fine and again a detour into Kingsbridge, the nearest library on my travels yesterday, would have also have not made sense from a financial perspective.   After weighing things up its better to cough up 44p today than spending a few pounds on diesel just to take a book back.  Sometimes it pays to take stock and get what we spend into perspective.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Eddie for Mayor!

\Photo:  NickJwebb (talk)

Men in dresses aren't usually my bag.   Give me an outfit that culminates in rigger boots as footwear any day.  But I'd fight Snobby Friend, who's also a fan, in a vat of custard for Eddie Izzard .  I'd put up with a frock or two in the wardrobe especially if they were ones that suited me too.

So, I was absolutely thrilled to hear that he, of the wonderful sonorous voice, is contemplating a move onto the political stage  and even has aspirations to be Lord Mayor of London.  He won't be the first in a skirt.  Doesn't Dick Whittington always have something short and frilly going on down below?

Monday, 16 December 2013

Fasting is Fun!

It's Monday and that makes it a fast day in my book, one where a 500 calorie intake is rigidly stuck to.   As I've mentioned before, Wednesday is the other day of the week when I restrict my food intake with a pretty much unwavering three courses of porridge, banana and then fish and vegetables for supper. And it's working.  My weight loss total now stands at around the twelve pound mark and I'm hoping to shed at least another half stone before my knee op in about six weeks time.

When I first started this way of eating, that I'm intending to stick to long term even after  I'm a ravishingly gorgeous size 10, I found my fasting days almost unbearable.  I love my grub, you see and not being able to eat what I wanted whenever seemed like torture, nay, worse than being poked with a sharp stick!

Happily things have changed.  There's been a shift in my mindset and blow me down if I don't look forward to my frugal food days.  They feel wholesome and restorative. Another thing that I've noticed is that I don't eat as much as I used to on non fasting days.  My tummy gets full really easily now. So, if you've just started a 5:2 intermittent fasting plan and are struggling, I urge you to bear with it.  Hopefully, like me you'll find that things get easier in the long run.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Alone not Lonely

Since my calendar seems ridiculously busy until mid January and then a knee operation looks imminent, I've deliberately chosen to spend this weekend, which is one that Louis is spending with his dad, largely by myself.  It's the last opportunity I'll get to be a lone wolf in a while and I'm loving it.  It's like a free little weekend retreat in my own home.

So what am I up to?  Well, reading,writing, tidying, meditating, listening to music and a bit of crafting have all been on the cards.  Amongst other things I'm having a go at the paper cutting that I'm so in awe of.  As anexactinglife pointed out in a comment on my post, it's not as straightforward as it looks. Still, I'll keep trying and hope to show some reasonable results shortly once I achieve consistent sharp cuts and not raggedy edged tears.

I know that there are others out there who do not love being alone, perhaps because lack of contact with others has been forced upon them rather than being a matter of choice.  It's a state I've been in myself in the past and those feelings of desertion aren't at all pleasant.  But for those of you where the social whirl never seems to end, clear some space and give solitude a go.  The effort is absolutely worth it.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Ladies: Not as They Seem

This video from the Huffington Post provides food for thought, proving that those picture perfect models in glossy magazines are really mostly a figment of an airbrush artist's not-so vivid imagination.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Saved from the Dumpster

Late posting today as, after a fairly sedate fish 'n' chips and beer supper I woke up on the sofa bed at the Brixham home of Mr. Metrosexual and was chivied to work far earlier than usual.   Hence no blogging, crossword or competitions.  I  turned down a bowl of breakfast of Frosties before I was herded out of the door.  Yes, Frosties, that nasty sugar laden kiddy cereal!   Can you believe that an adult can still be seduced by Tony the Tiger?

Anyway, I'm back home now and treating myself to a lovely quiet weekend before festivities take over.  To make room for the Christmas tree  I need firstly to move an old desk from under my stairs.  It was replaced by  the far better quality recycled find that I saved from the skip at work back in the autumn.  If you've got unwanted stuff in the home consider whether someone, somewhere might have a use for it, post it on Freecycle  andd get a grateful stranger to take it away for free.  It's a sensible approach to Yuletide decluttering.  After all, particularly if you have children,  you'll need to make room for a whole host of stuff that'll be arriving in your home in just a few days time!

Thursday, 12 December 2013

More Snippety Snip

Photo: Beatrice Coron
These artists who use the technique of paper cutting are really giving me food for thought at the moment.  First of all, I came across local artist Helen Snell .  Then I found out about Beatrice Coron on a conversation about which other artist that people would like to collaborate with.  Here's a flavour of her very clever work but please, please go and visit her website for more truly awesome treats.  I'm getting a hankering to get myself some black paper and a sharp knife and see what I can come up with myself!

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Newly Grateful

If money were no object for the present buyers in my life I'd be after a natty little car to replace my shitehawk of a Ford Fiesta Econetique.  An Abarth Punto Evo perhaps would a good thing to find under the Christmas tree.  But it's not going to happen so I'll settle for some nice soap instead.

It occured to me yesterday that I can be an ungrateful so-and-so.  I'm lucky to have a motor AND to be able to fill its fuel tank.  And the Fiesta does have a few redeeming features. It's rather nippy for a green car and it does have a Bluetooth stereo system so when there is a signal to my mobile I've got Spotify on the move.

If you too need a reminder of the benefits that being grateful can confer check out this link to a talk by the amazingly youthful looking 87 year old Benedictine monk David Steindl-Rast.  He reminds us that not only should be grateful of the material things around us but also for the opportunity presented by each moment.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Thought for the Day: The Big Fish in the Little Pond Called Earth

I don't really know what to say about this interesting spider diagram that I came across that shows all the brands that 10 giant companies own.  All those weird and wonderful group structures that you see haven't come about by accident.  Trust me, I used to be a tax consultant.

Now seeing that I'm a bit of a pinko leftie you might expect me to get on my high horse and say 'Look these greedy multi-nationals have taken over the world.  That's dreadful.  Now just make sure you ban every brand here from your  trolley and pop down to your local farm shop instead.' But I'm not going to do that.  Firstly it's impossible and rather more importantly I like Toblerone far too much! Also you cannot deny the positive economic impact that these companies have on the lives of thousands and thousands of people around the world who rely on them for jobs, some of which I hope that are well paid and rewarding.  Some of you might point out that there's probably exploitation as well and I won't deny this.  Let's just say that being a small employer doesn't necessarily make someone treat people fairly and pay a working wage either.

This is another example of how so much of what we encounter cannot be viewed in terms of black or white.  It's inevitable that those big players, who're not bad through and through, will be part and parcel of our everyday lives.  But perhaps it comes as a reminder to make room for those little guys, that we know to be ethical, who have much less marketing clout when we're choosing to spend our money.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Oops I Accidentally Bought a Painting

Sadly I didn't buy the Moomin print that I was talking about the other day.  It's not available in the UK at the moment.  That meant I would have had to order it from Sweden.  Okay, I'll admit that's not too onerous in an ever shrinking world. The problem though was cost, a tad more than I want to fork out.  Instead I bought a pair of boots as a weight loss reward, these ones by Doc Martens if you're interested in having a look.  They're a far cry from the bother boots than graced my feet in my mixed up youth and fit nicely under the leg brace that I'm destined to wear for just a little while longer.

So there was still a gap on the wall to be filled.  As I was passing by David Deakin's studio-cum-workshop in Dunster I spotted this lovely painting and fell totally in love.  I walked by the shop again, went in, took a deep breath, looked at the price tag and was amazed at the reasonableness.  So there you have it.  I own my first oil painting and love its gnarly surface as well at the balance of the composition, the retro feel, the colours, the roofs that look like they're dripping down onto the walls.  It's an early Christmas present to myself that'll have pride of place for many years to come.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Days Out in Somerset: Dunster by Candlelight

Note to self:  Must really learn to use a camera properly.  I had hoped to show you a host of photos from last night's event in Dunster, an ancient wool town on the edge of Exmoor but alas, my shooting skills were pitifully woeful.  Most of the pictures were blurry and crap.  There was a good one of carol singers but as the Christmas tree around which they sung, seemed to have been planted at a slant  even that made my photography look decidedly shaky. Honest guv,   it was the tree and not my dodgy camera angle.

So you can't see, amongst other things, the two Punch and Judy shows, the wood yard with its fantastical sculptures, a modern day take on a fairground organ. scouts making pancakes, drummers that made us tap our feet enthusiastically or the meerkat from Exmoor Zoo that we stroked.   Yes, we stroked a meerkat!  He was a bit rough. You'll just have to take my word for it that the event was brilliant fun, despite the long queue for the shuttle bus back to Minehead.  Best of all it was free to enter although let's hope that traders in the town and the St Margaret's Hospice charity, for whom the event has been held for the last twenty plus years, benefited hugely.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Education for the Childless

I am extraordinarily busy this weekend with  running the Scout Fayre,heading up to Somerset to see family and then returning home to see if I can turn a monkey onesie into a rat costume for the school play.  There's only time to cut and paste so I'm sharing this Michael McIntyre clip with you.  Louis agrees that it describes pretty typical scenarios in our own household.

Friday, 6 December 2013

We're Going On A Sock Hunt

I'm not sure how the collective we in Lovelygrey Cottage have managed it but somehow Louis has managed to accumulate twenty four unmatched socks in his underwear drawer!  It's not as if our house is in a particularly bad state of disarray.  Sure, it has its untidy moments but then doesn't everywhere that has kids and a rather erratic forty eight year old living in its midst.

Given that the little animals that live around here haven't been sneaking in a pinching child sized socks to use as stockings in their nests and burrows they've got to be around somewhere.  I don't buy Louis' explanation. 'They must be at Dads'.  Why would he being heading over to his father's house with just one sock.  It just doesn't make sense.There's nothing for it but to look in every nook and cranny to see just how many of the blighters that we can match up!

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Micro Cat Napping

I don't know what's happened to my sleep pattern at the moment.  It's completely up the creek for no discernible reason that I can fathom out.  There's no routine at all. Sometimes I fall asleep early. On other occasions I don't reach the land of Nod until after midnight. Then I'm waking up all over the place throughout the night.    As a past master of insomnia  I know it will sort itself out but it's a nuisance while it lasts.

As a consequence is that there are times  when I'm dead beat.  It happened the other afternoon. Complete exhaustion set it in the middle of the working day.  Had I have needed to drive it would have been unsafe.  That's how bad it was.

So, do you know what I did?  A retiring consultant left behind a massive leather office chair that corresponded to the size of his ego.  Mr Metrosexual purloined it and has been swinging around in it looking like a jumped up Mastermind contestant ever since.  As he was out, I snuggled up in it and had a kip. Not for the rest of the afternoon. I reckon it was only about five minutes before I was woken by the phone and had to take a call.  But I felt amazingly refreshed, perky and able to focus again.  I haven't got time to go off and do any research but here's what Wikipedia has to say about this.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

You Plank!

Is this a cheesy picture or what?  Or am I just an old cynic?  Anyway it was the best that I could do today.  Microsoft have thoroughly hacked me off.  I used to be able to go onto their website and pluck a piece of clip art from it just like that.  Now, it's a right royal palaver. Grrr!

The illustration gives no clues away about what this post is really about. I bet it'll really throw you when I start talking about exercise. For I am now on Day 4 of the 30 day plank challenge, a brilliant concept for time strapped individuals who are having trouble fitting active time into their hectic regimes.  Or girls with dodgy knees who aren't very mobile at the moment.   It involves doing one simple exercise for longer and longer periods with the aim of  strengthening those core muscles in the middle of the body.  So head on over to the website to find out what it involves and join me in getting yourself a washboard stomach to replace that belly flab!

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

The Right Salt

Given that I was brought up there I reckon that I can count myself an Essex girl, one from that most maligned of places.  Those of us who hale from there are not all orange you know.  I for one certainly haven't ever owned a pair of white stilettos in my life.

You don't have to delve very hard to find things that the county can be proud of.  There's Tiptree Jam, Grayson Perry, my beloved Southend Pier and the big fat cockles from Leigh-on-Sea.  And this stuff - Maldon Sea Salt.  Not  probably the best salt in the world but definitely!

It's hard to get in Devon.  Lots of the shops here now sell Cornish Sea Salt instead, also a fine product with less food miles.  But it's not the same!  Maldon salt has a unique flakiness, a satisfying feel on the touch   And there's a taste beyond the saltiness that I can't quite identify but seems to me to be the essence of all things seaside. I'm sure if you asked Jamie Oliver, another Essex person, he'd be in total agreement with me.

I had a little moan to the folks at the company about its relative lack of availability down here. To thank me for their troubles they sent me this lovely gift which includes a smoked variety of salt.  Now that's going to be interesting on my chips!

Monday, 2 December 2013

View from a Bench

Weymouth  called this weekend with the promise of a coastpath walk. Alas! my knee wasn't playing ball. It's now so unstable it's giving way within its leg brace and I have to stride out gingerly.  Now isn't that a lovely word?

The good news is that I've got an appointment  with the orthopaedic consultant next week so hopefully the operation that's key to getting me back to tip top fitness might be imminent.  In the meantime enforced stopping and staring is my lot.  But who can complain when the view is good as this one perched on Portland with Chesil Beach with striations from recent storms stretching out into the distance.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Getting My Oats!

Ha!  Anyone who thought that this might be a post about dating would be wrong.  I'm certainly not the kind of girl to move that fast!   A week into communicating online with men who I might have a coffee with has left me seriously unenamoured. That's even after I take account of the fact that the blokes that I've chatted to seem to be reasonable, pretty well adjusted human beings with more than half a brain cell.   It's just that the process takes up time and head space that I wonder if I could be using in a more productive way.   Perhaps at this time in my life I'm more predisposed to being single. Still, we'll see how it goes and let the subscription lapse at the end of the sign-in period if nowt comes of it.

No, the post today is about porridge,  organic, jumbo oats to be precise.  They're my favoured breakfast fayre these days and jolly healthy stuff.  What I want to get across is that they're so blooming cheap when compared to other cereals that have been mucked about with.  Yesterday's 400g scoop cost a mere fifty pence!