Monday, 16 May 2022

A Loverly Time!

Before anyone points out the error in the title of this post, can I just say that the typo (in this case anyway!) is completely intentional. Saturday saw me catching the train to London for my Mother's Day present, viz. a trip to the Coliseum to see 'My Fair Lady'.

L met me at Paddington and, after popping into her chambers to drop something off, we walked through Covent Garden to get to our pre-matinee lunch at a South Indian vegetarian restaurant called 'Sagar'. The masala dosa was, unlike the ones I attempt at home, wafer thin (can anyone else not say that without pronouncing it like in Monty Python?!) and the mixed Uthappam - a sort of lentil pizza topped with onion, tomato and coconut - was delicious.

Then it was a quick walk to the theatre where a 'loverly' time was indeed had by all. The Coliseum is a stunning bit of architecture and the play/musical was brilliant. Amara Okereke as Eliza could belt out a tune effortlessly and Harry Hadden-Paton as Professor Higgins and Sharif Afifi as Freddy were none too shabby either. I had been complaining of a slight bout of conjunctivitis in my left eye (note to self: don't rub eye with soil-encrusted hands whilst gardening!) and had spent the previous 2 days vainly trying to make myself cry in order to irrigate it thoroughly. Well, 'My Fair Lady' did the trick and it is now much better. :O)

We treated ourselves to an interval cocktail. Our 'Flower Girl' (one glass, 2 straws!) was a mixture of violet liqueur, elderflower and prosecco. The first sip was a little startling - think an alcoholic version of those parma violet sweets (do they still make those?) and you'll get the idea. Once the taste buds had got over the shock, however, it slipped down rather nicely.

After the play, we had time to grab a takeaway coffee and sat by the river in the sunshine, people watching and catching up some more. Then I headed back to Paddington for the train home and L met J (and her rucksack) at St. Pancras and caught the Eurostar for a few days in Paris! 

Other happies this month:

A trip to Bristol to see E. I admired her new flat - lots of light and a view to die for - then we had a lunch at 'the laundrette' - this was actually much classier than it sounds! There are indeed a few washing machines at the back but it is more a trendy cafe with yummy food, and drinks served in homemade pottery mugs.

Then we did a tour of the local plant shops and I treated E to a plant and 2 plant pots as a flat-warming present. 'Wild Leaf' was amazing and it's probably a very good job that I don't live closer!

A walk and a picnic around Ashampstead and Yattendon:

Our local vegan market, where we treated ourselves to some surprisingly nice vegan 'cheese' - if that isn't an oxymoron! 

Trying my hand at more macrame - inspired by the Bristol plant shops:
The pilea peperomioides in the above shot is a baby from one of the plants that CJ kindly gave me last year. I'm hoping that they all take. I do have a bit of a problem with fungus gnats at the moment - I think they arrived in a bag of compost, as it was only the plants that were potted on that were affected. I've tried sticky traps, Ceylon cinnamon, 3% Hydrogen Peroxide, bottom watering and letting the plants dry out more than I normally would ............. and the little blighters are still breeding! So, if anyone has any surefire way of eliminating these pests, all suggestions would be very welcome!

Trying my hand at making injera. They were very nice but, a bit like with dosa, the restaurants must have very large pans to make them big enough.

An evening of Opera at Dorchester-on-Thames:
We had a picnic by the river beforehand and then sat in the most beautiful garden listening to 4 singers and a pianist perform operatic highlights. To add to the joy, a local robin joined in..... all the way through!

Making lots of pottery blobs which my tutor kindly smoke fired in her garden - the plan was always to hang them from one of the apple trees but, as the smoke marks will gradually fade when exposed to the elements, I hung a few up inside:

Lastly, another picnic and walk at Fawley:
My favourite rape against a stormy sky:

Well, that's my camera unloaded for another month. I hope things are fine and dandy at your end and please do let me know if you have a cure for fungus gnats. It's like a flamenco event here at the moment with people suddenly clapping without warning!

Toodle pip for now. x

Monday, 25 April 2022

Spring Happies

It's gloriously sunny outside and I really should be out there doing some more gardening. I have, however, just been for a swim and, as I'm catching my breath and having a restorative cuppa, I thought I'd take the opportunity to upload the photos from the last few weeks. I'm going to try and keep it short as I'm feeling guilty about all the weeding that I should be doing!

A day trip to Wells. This is probably as far as I'd like to go in a day and we really could have done with it being a weekend break instead. It wasn't our first visit though, so it was really a whistle stop tour of the highlights with a nice lunch thrown in.

The wondrous Cathedral:

The Chapter House:

Vicar's Close - claimed to be the oldest purely residential street with original buildings in Europe:

The Bishop's Palace and Gardens:

Jack and Jill Hill in Kilmersdon. We popped in briefly on the way home and climbed it:

A Mozart Concert at Dorchester Abbey. We enjoyed Ave Verum, Eine Kleine Nacht Musik and the wonderful Requiem, which always makes me think of Oxford as they play the Lacrimosa a lot in Endeavour.

A trip to the Naturalist Gilbert White's House and Gardens in Selborne. He first described the Harvest mouse, the Noctule bat and was supposedly the first person to use the letter 'X' to represent kisses!

It also houses the Oates Collections focusing on 2 members of the Oates family, including Lawrence (Titus) Oates:

I always love a good kitchen!:

Watching Verdi's 'La Traviata'. The main character, Violetta, was played by Pretty Yende, who was incredible - both as a singer and an actor:

A walk along the canal at Hungerford. There was a kayak race taking place which was quite fun to watch - especially as they had to lift the crafts out of the water and run round the locks!

Easter Sunday circular walk at Nettlebed:

There were lots of lovely newborn lambs!

We picked wild garlic and I made some pesto. It was delicious, even if it did look as though I had liquidised Kermit!

Stumpy is still thriving. He now has a Mrs. Stumpy and a baby Stumpy! I'm so glad that the RSPCA didn't manage to catch him after his accident. He seems to be having a lovely life:

Watching Henry V. I have to admit that I wasn't that keen before we went, not being a huge fan of the war plays. R, however, had studied it for English 'O' Level (yes, we are that old!) and really wanted to see it. My expectations sank even lower when, during the introductory interviews with the cast, it became clear that the play was being set in modern times. To my surprise though, I really enjoyed it. They had me at 'Sweet Caroline' playing in a night club at the start! :O)

A trip to The Watermill with L to see Graham Green's 'Our Man in Havana'. It was a musical version of the novel and , whilst I did enjoy the Cuban music, I felt that it would have been better with a little more prose and a little less singing!

Last, but definitely not least, a walk and picnic with L in the Savernake Forest:

Well, that's it for now. I'd better go and hit the garden - those weeds won't pull themselves!
I hope there are lots of happies at your end this month too.

Toodle pip for now. x

Wednesday, 16 March 2022

Twice in One Week!

I haven't been into London since early December when I travelled in for my belated Mother's Day treat at the Van Gogh Immersive Experience. I also hadn't seen L since our holiday to Jordan, so I was feeling the need.

Luckily (or unluckily, depending on whose point of view you're looking from), her washing machine broke down. I only discovered this when she phoned me from the local launderette for a chat. The symptoms sounded familiar. Years ago when R was going abroad for work on a regular basis, I noticed that, as soon as he left the country, our domestic appliances sensed his absence and took it in turns to play up.  On one occasion I recall the drive belt falling off our washing machine and R having to talk me through replacing it over the phone. The problem sounded very like L's, and, after R had a chat and confirmed the fact, she ordered a new drive belt. As J was away, we offered to go round the following weekend and help to fix it.

The job wasn't as simple as it should have been - in order to get the washer out, the cupboard under the sink had to be dismantled so the dishwasher plumbing could be removed, then the dishwasher could be brought forwards, thereby allowing the washing machine to be extracted. See, not so simple! Their kitchen isn't huge, so it was a bit like one of those puzzles where everything has to be moved in the right order.

To cut a long story short, R fixed the washer (and also their door where one of the hinges was a bit dodgy) and then we celebrated by popping to the Van Gogh Cafe for a vegan Sunday Roast.

The beetroot and cabbage were the best bits:
Rhubarb Creme Brulee.  It turns out that there is a reason that creme brulee contains egg! This was very runny but tasted nice anyway.

The following Thursday, I was supposed to be meeting my friend, S, either in Bristol or Bath. She has been having some problems with her eyes and, the day before our proposed trip, she had an appointment confirmed at Moorfield's Eye Hospital in London, so we changed plans and went there instead. As I said - twice in 1 week! This time, I went in on the train and we met in the cafe at the V and A. 
I had never noticed this sign before but there is indeed a lot of bomb damage to the building. Still, given the current news, and other areas of London at the time, it got off quite lightly:
The glorious cafe where I had the best caramel pumpkin cake and coffee. It was so nice that I had eaten it before remembering to take a photo!
After a short catch up chat, we set off for the hospital and just had time for a quick lunch at Wagamama's before her appointment time:
The appointment over, we wandered round looking for a cafe, that preferably wasn't part of a huge chain, for a coffee and to catch our breath before the journey home. We were astounded by the number of Prets in the area - at one point we thought we must be walking round in circles as there seemed to be one on every street corner. Really, a ridiculously large number. Eventually we found a little independent cafe and finished our chat. Then, we walked to St. Paul's underground station and split up to catch our respective trains. On the way home I received a text from S to say that she had made it onto the Exeter train and had bought a sandwich for the journey ........... from the Pret at Waterloo!

St Paul's at dusk:

Other happies this month:
Making a reproduction of the 'Goddess of Hayyan' plaque from the Temple of the Winged Lions in Jordan. L took a shine to the plaque on holiday, so I made her one as a joke present:

A trip to Arlington Arts to see the comedienne, Lucy Porter. To be honest it was a tad disappointing:
She did, however, give out badges, as adults (unlike Brownies) don't tend to get them anymore. There were badges for making dinner, putting the bins out, flossing your teeth and (the one that R chose for me) :
This isn't strictly accurate as, although I am a member of my local gym, I only go for the swimming and have never lifted a weight in my life. It currently lives on my fridge and I might donate it to L next time I see her as she has taken up weights.

The Peasemore and Leckhamstead walk:
My Camellia in flower:

Making chilli jam. It is really delicious, although it took me several attempts to get the consistency right. I kept having to get R to chisel it out of the jars when it had over-set, so that we could add more water. 3rd time's a charm!
A partridge in the garden at dusk. We don't usually see partridges, mainly pheasants. We did try pointing out the pear tree to it but it wasn't interested!
Finishing my Persephone Mitts. As you can see, I'm not one for matching up my yarn so they are quirkily different. :O)
Finally, a trip to the Corn Exchange to see 'The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide' by the Black-eyed Theatre company. There was a cast of 4 and they were brilliant. I would definitely recommend seeing it if it comes to your area:
The set - the photo is a bit dark but there was some beautiful furniture amongst that lot!

That's all for this month. I heard today that Nazanin Zaghari- Ratcliffe is finally on her way home to her husband and daughter. At last, some good news among all the current horror going on in the World.

Toodle pip for now. x