Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Confusion in the Heavens

It's springtime - no wait - autumn - no, it's . . winter - oh, I give up!!

Yes, the weather here in good old England has gone bonkers! After nice warm days with plenty of sunshine and daffodils sprouting forth everywhere we suddenly wake up to snow, hail, temperatures struggling to climb and strong winds (and that even without a night on the beers and a vindaloo!).
We don't think it's funny, as we have visitors coming today from Estonia and it would have been nice to show them the sights in a warmer climate.
Our neighbours are also not laughing, having received an extra entrance to their garden without asking for it, courtesy of a tree snapping off in the wind!



There are always people walking their dogs down there and we can only thank the Lord that nobody got hurt or killed!
Talking about the Lord . . . could we please have some warmer weather?!?!

Friday, March 16, 2007

The Boys are back in town!

Yesterday was the Annual General Meeting of our little Share Club which we lovingly called "The Leesons" after Nick Leeson who single handed brought down Barings Bank, England's oldest Investment Bank.

The Annual General Meeting usually takes place in London and follows the familiar pattern of "meeting in a pub for a drink - and another one - and another one - and . . well you get the picture . . . followed by a meal (usually Indian) and maybe some more drinks".

Alas, even though everybody had plenty of notice, most members of the Leeson’s gang showed themselves to be utter nappy-wearing slackers, making excuses and crying like girls as to why they couldn't possibly turn up.
For those who did show up, I think that we showed them up good and proper, having a good laugh, eat, drink and still do the club justice by actually coming up with the business stuff!

I can't believe how full I was after all that liquid and food and at the end of the evening my belly and I clambered into a taxi to get the train from Euston.
The taxi driver, who strangely resembled the love-child of Al-Fayed, the Harrods Superstore owner and Mike Tyson, the boxer (if that could work!), managed to hurtle me along Marylebone Road and Euston road in his shiny Mercedes, taking the under-path near Euston with such high speed that I turned around to see how close the Paparazzi were so I could yell “I am not Lady Di!!” at them before we would crash into some pillar in a "deja moo (haven't I seen this bullsh*t before)" sequence of events.
When we finally came to stop at Euston Station the driver asked me for £12!!! "Twelve Pounds??? Well, you'd better drive on then, since we are still some way off Milton-Keynes, which is where £12 should f*cking take me!!!"
Three things however convinced me to pay him after all:

  1. I was about 30 pounds over my ideal fighting weight

  2. He was morphing more into Mike Tyson rather than Al-Fayed

  3. He did get me to the station in such short time that if I would stop arguing now, I might just make the earlier train

I got myself a ticket from the automatic ticket machine with the slogan:
"In a hurry?? Try me!" written on it.
I was in a hurry and I was going to try it! After pressing various imaginary keys on the touch screen (my long I.T. education finally paying dividend) and swiping my credit card it did produce my ticket in no time!

My Virgin Train (you know, like the one that crashed off the rains in the Lake District) was waiting, ready to depart and I no sooner had hopped on, that we were on the move.

The temperature inside the train was nicely adjusted to the (always feeling cold) female passengers at a constant 1 Million Degrees Celsius but all the guys were sweating like bomb disposal experts with hiccups!!
The air was soon heavy with the smell of what can only be described as "old Sumo wrestler's jog straps", which is not what you want when you feel utterly bloated anyway.

But when I woke up this morning at 10 o'clock, had myself a toast and coffee and a short walk in the sunshine, all of yesterday's things are just good memories.

Sunday, March 11, 2007


Beccy at Peppermint Tea has thrown down the gauntlet for this week's Fun Monday!
The challenge is to (and I quote):

"post a recipe that would inspire her to get into the kitchen to chop, cut, grate, boil, steam, roast, chill, freeze and eat, eat, eat."

Well, Beccy, get ready to feast your eyes, lick your fingers and drool all over the place!
And just for you . . . all my recipes are dead easy and quick to make, yet tasty, tasty, tasty!!
Here goes:

Starter - Roasted Asparagus with Feta

(3-4 servings - 30 minutes incl. prep time)

2 lbs fresh crisp asparagus
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon lemons, zest of
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt (to taste)
fresh ground black pepper (to taste)
1-2 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
3-4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
1 lemon (juice of, no seeds)

Preheat oven to 400F.
Heat olive oil, minced garlic, lemon zest, oregano, and red pepper flakes in a small pan over low heat until garlic becomes golden and oil becomes fragrant; remove from heat and allow to cool.
Cut off a quarter of the thick end of the asparagus and discard ends.
Toss asparagus pieces with infused olive oil and place in a single layer on a baking sheet (one with a side edge).
Season asparagus with salt and pepper.
Sprinkle asparagus with crumbled feta cheese.
Roast at 400F for 15 minutes or until cooked to your liking.
Sprinkle with chopped parsley and squeeze the lemons over the asparagus, being careful to catch the seeds.
Serve hot.

Main Course - Sour Cream Chicken Casserole

(4 servings - 50 min incl. prep time)

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, boiled and cubed (I cheat and buy 'already cooked' chicken)
1 cup sour cream
1 (10 3/4 ounce) can cream of chicken soup (mushroom can be substituted)
25 Ritz or TUC crackers
1/2 cup butter, melted
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Boil chicken breast until tender; drain and cube. (unless you bought 'already cooked' chicken)
Spread evenly over the bottom of a square casserole dish.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Mix sour cream and chicken soup in a separate bowl.
Spread the sour cream and soup mixture over the chicken in the casserole dish.
Crush the Ritz or TUC crackers and spread over top of the casserole.
Spoon melted butter on top over all.
Bake in a 350 degree oven until top is golden brown, approximately 20-30 minutes.

Baileys Yoghurt-Cream Dessert

(4 servings - 10 min prep time)

3/4 cup Greek yogurt
3/4 cup double cream (heavy cream)
3/8 cup Bailey's Irish Cream
1/2 ounce icing sugar
4 meringue nests
1/2 ounce grated chocolate (or a Flake chocolate bar, crumbled)
1/2 ounce cocoa powder (optional)

Whip the cream until very stiff.
Stir the Baileys into the yoghurt with the icing sugar (powdered sugar or confectioners' sugar), then fold in the whipped cream. Refrigerate until it's time to serve.
When ready to serve, put one meringue mest into each dessert dish, spoon in as much of the Baileys yoghurt-cream as seems prudent, sprinkle with chocolate, then dust with cocoa powder (using a sieve for neat, even coverage).
You will probably have more of the filling than you need, depending on the size of your meringue nests - but better too much than too little!

So, folks, what do you think of these??

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Wroom, wroom!!

Today we went with son no.2 to pick up his new car.
Just couldn't resist to snap a picture and blog it!


Thursday, March 08, 2007

The first Week away from the Pet Shop!

Yes, it has been exactly 1 week since the pet shop told me that there weren't going to be any further deliveries of hay and that I needed to go elsewhere to graze!
So they captured the pet wasp from the shop window, handed it to me as a leaving present and like the proverbial dragon - pooff! - I was gone!
Luckily some kind and considerate person (me) spread the news that I am very fond of the Scottish National Brew and those pet shop boys 'n girls I call my friends came up trumps by slipping me the odd bottle!


So . . do I miss the pet shop? Am I yearning to see the dogs, talk to the goats, run after the ferrets, listen to the parrots, sweep up the crap from the cats??
Strangely the answer is "No!"
Oh, I know . . gone are the advantages of working at the pet shop, such as the overwhelming feeling of superiority, the appreciation by the animals for the care you provide and the great sense of achievement you get as they lick your hand and waggle their little tails in gratitude for feeding (their egos) them!
(Sarcastic mode OFF)

Since leaving the pet shop I have had various enquiries from job agencies and even went to a little interview with one of them who think they have just the job for me!
It all sounds good but "Hold your horses!!" I don't even know whether that is the type of job I really want to do. I am still in the middle of sorting all my private stuff out, doing all those odd jobs around the house and enjoying the clean fresh air, which anyone who ever worked at a pet shop will appreciate!


As Jamie and I were doing our morning walk in beautiful sunshine we both seemed to sense that life is good and springtime is coming! Time to open your cage and breathe deep!

To all my friends at the pet shop I just need to say:
"I miss you and watch out for the harmless looking scorpion in the corner cage. It stings without warning!"
Time for breakfast and a decent cup of coffee!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Behold!!! The Cake!!

As promised, here is a picture of the cake!
Not as you all suspected a chocolate cake but a yummy lemon & cranberry cheesecake - far less calories!!
Alas, it is confession time!!
My daughter made this cake all by herself so I just cannot claim any credit!
It is very nice though and I think it is calling me over right now!!
"VNM . . come and eat me"
I must follow the call!!
See you soon!


Thursday, March 01, 2007

Are you working hard???

Today is the first day of my redundancy and like you I am at home working hard.


It was hard saying goodbye to some of the lovely people in the office, some of whom I have known for 20 years but when you have to go - you have to go!
Knowing my liking for Single Malt Whisky I was presented with some very fine specimen of the amber liquid and have already started on one of the bottles last night! It's all my wife's fault! She wanted one, too (Whisky that is!!).
I'm off to the kitchen now to bake some sort of cake (pictures might follow!)
So, cheerio for now!