Tuesday, 15 April 2014

The Perils of inappropriately timed Riverdancing and the joys of Grow Your Own.

Have you ever had one of those days when things go so stupendously wrong that you wish you’d slept through the entire day and woken up refreshed the next day?
Today has been just one of those days for me.. mornings I should say.. I still have time for it to either redeem itself or get terribly terribly worse.
I started off perky and full of joie de vivre,  I got up at 6am and went down and fed the cat and then, as is my new morning ritual, I opened the conservatory door to let the moggy out and stood listening to the birdsong and the clucking chickens and watched the sun coming up and thought how wonderful my life was.

That was when it started to go pear shaped.

I decided to have a lovely warm bread roll for my breakfast, and once baked, I put it on a little tray with a glass of orange and mango juice (I’m fancy, me) and a nice cup of tea and set off up the stairs to my studio to begin a day of creativity and general brilliance.
I got halfway up the stairs when I wondered.. ‘did I turn the oven off?’ I am very much a ‘check, double check, oh and lets just triple check to be sure’ kind of person.
So I turned around to make my way back down when it happened…
Da Da Daaaa…

My foot slipped and before I knew what was happening my life began to unfurl before me in slow motion.

My first thought was one of astonishment.. ‘OOoohhh‘ I thought ‘look at my legs doing the Riverdance!’
For indeed they were.

Now I have never studied Irish dancing professionally so cannot be 100% certain of the correctness of my technique. But to my untrained eye the quality of movement was outstanding. My legs twirled and kicked, they crossed and uncrossed, my feet beat out complex and painstaking rhythms on the stairs.
And this was just from the waist down.

From the waist up an even more extraordinary story was developing.
For within that split second, I had learnt to juggle!

And not your common and garden juggling, but Cirque du Soleil quality juggling.
I threw my tray into the air and the cup spun in a graceful attitude, the glass twirled and swirled around it. The fluids, once inside them, now made artistic patterns in the air.

The roll however, landed with a squashy plop in the inch of sloppy sodden mess that had only second earlier been my carpet.
Two seconds later I landed next to it.

It took probably about another 10 seconds of consistent and colourful swearing before I realised that my whole living room was beginning to flood and that my previously cream walls were now brown and orange polka dots.
Then in one moment of clarity I saw the full extent of my tray tossing escapade.

Not only had I managed to drench the stairs but as my Living Room is accessed directly at the bottom of them I had managed to spray my sofas, cushions, brand new rug and half the living room floor with the toxic blend of sticky fruit juice and strong tea and what wasn’t wet was covered in a smattering of bread crumbs.
I have never before moved so quickly. I sprinted round the house grabbing towels and cloths and I mopped and swabbed like a demon.

Orange and Mango juice is a delicious beverage.. but it is also kind of creamy in texture. It didn’t hit the walls and run down them in depressing streaks like the tea did.. it clung on and laughed at my attempts to wipe it. It sat in pools on my sofa and when I advanced towards it with a cloth it soaked into the fabric and spread. It is a really quite unkind drink and one I shall henceforth look upon with suspicion.

However, now those horrors are behind me and as we are on a gastronomic note I will get down to my real reason for blogging.

Though I must first quickly apologise to anyone who has been following me.
What a shock you must have had when you were alerted to this new post.
I'm guessing that you must have feared for my life after my long absence of writing and assumed that I had been, perhaps, trampled by a herd of rampaging migratory hedgehogs or something similar.

Well, worry not.

I am alive and well and have merely been.. working.

I know! It's surprising isn't it?  To think of me working. Tut tut, did you think that I spent all my time staring out the window daydreaming when I wasn't blogging?
Well, granted that IS how I spend MOST my time, but on the few occasions when that isn't what I'm doing, I do the odd bit of work. Lately however it has got to such a frenzied level that to the untrained eye one would really think that it was my real job!

**If you are interested in what I do when I am not waffling on at you, you can keep a beady eye on this blog..  
this is where I shall soon be updating people on how I laughably make a living!

But enough of that. This is a serious matter. I need to bring to your attention this picture.

For non gastronomes, these shiny little beauties are olives.. oh and some artistically placed pittas. (You can ignore them, they are not important and are merely there to demonstrate this is a still life and that the contents of the bowl are a delicious Greek delicacy and not rodent droppings)

Have you had a nice long look?

Well now for the mind blowing news...

wait for it..

These are MY olives!!

Yes, yes of course I own them. I don't go olive rustling or anything like that. What I mean is these are the olives grown and cultivated from my very own olive trees!

Let me tell you how this came about.

When I lived in North London scattered about my house were many twiggy olive branches.

Every time I, or a member of my family, went on holiday to Greece we brought back a little olive branch. I have no idea how this started, but it did. Deal with it. I hung these branches on the back of each door.. I had a lot of doors.. and I felt that they brought peace to my home. They reminded me of happy times and brought back memories of my homeland. (Being a girl who's parents are of the Greek variety.) When I moved from North London I swore that I would buy a little olive tree as soon as I moved into another home of my own.

Well many years passed with me being a general nuisance as I stayed in my parents house but eventually came the time for them to kick me out and I began on my quest to find my little house in the country.

So I found a house I rather liked the look of and with my sister and mother in tow we went to view it.

Now previously I had viewed some duds. There was the one that had a cupboard in the kitchen that turned out to be the bathroom. The one that had a pipe sticking out the ceiling that turned out to be a gas tap.
The one so derelict and unstable the estate agent didn't want to enter.
There were so many countless ones that were so utterly filthy my sister and I were too scared to touch anything in case we contracted the plague.. and then finally there was *cue angelic music* this one.

The moment we walked through the door we started to get excited. By three steps in we had decided it was a good 'un. The more we walked the more we liked it. By the time we had had gone upstairs I had begun furiously phoning my father telling him we needed to arrange a second viewing so he could see it.

When we left, it was in a hippy trippy haze of excitement. This was THE ONE.

To calm us down on our way back home we stopped at a supermarket for a sandwich. As we walked through the doors we were accosted by shoppers pushing trollies filled with what appeared to be trees.

As we pushed our way through we saw what all the fuss was about.

They had had a delivery of olive trees. About a metre and a half high and rather spindly but it felt like an omen.

We picked two. (Didn't that sound easy? When I say we picked two what I mean is we dragged twenty or so out and inspected them, poked the, compared then umm-ed and ahhh-ed and half an hour later picked two.) We squashed them in our tiny car and even though I travelled all the way home in a tangle of twigs and mud I was happy.

Now between this happening and me finally moving into my little house was many many months. I got to see them flower (who knew olive trees had flowers?)

           And then they became bitter little berries..

Before they were then harvested by my Mother's fair hand and left to soak in a jar with brine for a few months until they became these wondrous shiny examples of olive-y goodness...


Oh.. drat.. I ate them all.. Well worry not. I feel sure that there are lots more to come this year. In fact I'm sure within a year or so I'll be supplying all the top restaurants with them.

Until then,

Much Love

Friday, 3 January 2014

Unearthing the Gates to Hell!!

When I told a friend about my discoveries under my carpet and she suggested it could be the Gateway to Hell I did think she was being a bit melodramatic but as my woes unfolded I did wonder if she had a point.

You see, having lifted the stinky carpet of doom and pulled up the underlay beneath I was confronted with the original flooring.
This consisted of some sort of vinyl tiles in a maroon-y brown, bonded to the floor in what can only be described as some sort of desperate death grip. Reason being they would not budge.
A previous owner had foolishly attempted the job and this was evident by the fact many tiles had sacrificed themselves for the good of the others and shattered into a million pieces which subsequently needed to be re-joined and smoothed with copious amounts filler, clearly their plan worked because the previous owner abandoned their attempt and left the rest well alone.

Unsightly as this was it didn't pose any sort of a problem to me when it came to my plan of laying a wood floor over them.

What did was the volcanic eruption that appeared to be occurring under the floor in my bay window.

Now, when I bought this house I had a very thorough structural survey done and nowhere did it mention that my house was built on an ancient burial ground that the inhabitants may one day wish to crawl out of. So I knew it couldn't be that.

I did wonder if while laying the cement flooring a builder accidentally dropped a spanner.. or even his entire toolbox contents.. without noticing and poured the cement straight over it thus leaving many an exciting lump for future owners to discover.

I did not find it exciting. I found it very trying. The main stumbling block was: wood floor is flat.. volcanic lumps leading to the Gateway to Hell are not.

Only one thing for it. One of them would have to go.

This conclusion took a lot longer to come to than it did to write. It also caused many a bald spot to me an my merry band of helpers (Mum and Dad) who took to tugging out our hair in frustration as we tried to decide what to do.

Should we just cover the whole mess over again with carpet?
By far the easiest option but not the most cheerful of prospects. I had already bought the wood flooring and for the last two months it had been staring at me accusingly from a corner of my dining room.
Should we lay a self levelling cement scree and bring the rest of the floor up to the level of the highest bump?
Or should we smash through those lumps and risk letting out the unquiet spirits of the underworld?

Armed with nothing but a scutch hammer, my brave and valiant father bent himself to the task.

He smashed and smashed and smashed. And we swept and swept and swept. And do you know what we found under those lumps?


No little red pointy horned imps. No groaning spirits. No fallen spanner, no screwdriver not even a dropped spoon.


Just cement-y lumps which once excavated then needed to filled and smoothed which was duly done.

We put down the new underlay and then began to lay the wooden floor.

We were like machines, my parents and I.

We slotted, clicked and fitted planks. We sawed and planed wood. We bickered and bashed our fingers like there was no tomorrow.

The three months of manky flooring were becoming a thing of the past
as bit by bit they were smoothed out by the wooden flooring-y goodness.

Until finally da da daaa!!!

The floor was laid and as the sun streamed through the window and filled the room with a honeyed glow I realised what those lumps were.

They were Love Bubbles.

We only had to pop those cement bubbles to let the love spread out through the room.

Who would have thought?

So, now when I walk through my living room, the light gently playing on the whorls and knots of the wood you may hear me quietly sigh and say 'aahhh love bubbles'.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

A little word about Christmas.

As I wasn't spending Christmas in Elbieland this year I didn't decorate my house.
I wasn't exactly being a scrooge.. I do love Christmas and made sure when I moved that all the decorations were to hand.. problem was three and a half months later the house had become a bit of a bomb site and releasing the Christmas crate from its oh so convenient resting place had now resembled a military manoeuvre.

So here in all its glory is my lone decoration.

Do you like him? I think he is a handsome specimen. He sat atop a Christmas cake my Mother made me... I had to remove him fairly swiftly, before the excessive booze fumes emanating from it, melted his feet off!

So, Christmas was a lovely intimate family affair, quiet and companionable, an oasis of calm in an otherwise leaky roof filled life. But more importantly I scored some absolute crackers in the Christmas present line!

I got a lovely lot of books and amongst them was this little treasure.

It was given to me by my sister and written by my adorable long distance flickr friend Pamela and combined my love of photography books and dolls.

It is currently sitting pride of place in my living room.. which is getting very close to being liveable.. as you will soon hear.. brace yourself it's another one of those traumatic posts!

Until then, Happy New Year!

Much Love,

Monday, 18 November 2013

Woes and wows and how to prevent yourself kicking the bucket

Having never had a conservatory before, I have previously been oblivious to the charms of the sound of rain drumming on a glass roof.

It is so nice to be in a warm room and hear the outdoor sounds so clear.. actually though.. should it sound that clear?

The answer to that is NO.

What I thought was the sound of rain gently hammering on my roof was in fact the sound of rain coming through my roof and slowly turning my floor into a rather depressing soggy mess.

Now, living in the UK you have to expect rain, so I have started each morning with the dreaded walk of doom to inspect the bucket under the leak.

You're probably thinking 'why doesn't she just fix the leak?' Don't think I have been idle. I have been up chairs squirting silicon into any gap visible.. only to find it leaks somewhere else during the next rainfall.

My roof is now made almost entirely of silicon.

I have however found a cunning way of preventing the rain leaking in.

What I do is put a bucket under the drip. This is a sure fire way to stop the leak. You see, I have discovered that the rain is particularly fond of my carpet. So much so, that it will only rain on parts of my floor NOT protected by a bucket.

No matter how bad the storm if a bucket is under the leak.. well it just won't drip. Fooled into thinking the leak has been fixed I remove the bucket and Ta Da!! it leaks again.

I have found the very best way to stop any future leaks is to completely fill the room with buckets. My conservatory now resembles a trendy art installation.

I have also found the best way to not trip on any of these buckets is to close the door, pull the curtain and gently weep in another room.

You must now be wondering why I don't just give up and move into a tent in a lonely field somewhere.. I often think this myself.. and then something happens that makes me realise why I moved to this little blob of Buckinghamshire.

While washing my dishes and staring vacantly out of my kitchen window what did I see, but this, floating past my window!

Now I can safely say I've never seen a hot air balloon go over my garden in all the time I lived in London!
And though I had to sprint upstairs to grab a camera, turning my feet into little pincushions on the gripper rods as I went, I think it was worth it.
Now when I think 'Wwwwwhyyy???' when something happens with my house/moneypit, I look at this rather blurry photograph and think to myself 'Ah, that's why'.

After nearly three months of living in my house I now have.. da da daaa.. stair carpet! Yes, who would have thunk that something so uninteresting could cause me such delight? The prospect of not getting blood poisoning when going up and down the stairs is really quite a nice prospect!

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Slug herding for beginners

Now when I moved from London to Buckinghamshire I was looking forward to seeing a bit more wildlife. To be honest though it hasn’t been quite what I expected.
My first experience of nature was an arachnid. Never all that promising.
Not only do I have an unusual assortment of chairs, I am also vertically challenged when it comes to my sleeping arrangements ie. I have been sleeping on a mattress on the floor. My gorgeous sleigh bed that fitted so beautifully in my house in North London did not fit so well when I moved to West London so was, yet again, stored in my parents loft.
Now here is an interesting thing. Attics get very hot.. perhaps something to do with the fact they are nearer the sun than the rest of the house.. who knew?
Wood and extreme heat are also not the best of friends. Suffices to say when it came to rebuilding my bedframe to move to Buckinghamshire  it had warped beyond recognition and was now more suitable for traversing white water rapids than accommodating a mattress.
Hence the reason that the mattress is now directly on the floor.
Ordinarily that wouldn’t be a problem. Saves on hoovering under the bed and if inebriated falling out of bed is not a painful experience.
However it does mean that you are also near to wildlife.
In the first fortnight I had no TV so wiled away the hours by listening to audio books. I have a good selection as I listen to them a lot while working. But on the fateful night of this story I had decided to listen to one in bed. My small stereo was lit up as it played and out of the corner of my eye I saw the light blink.  Strange. It was almost as if something had passed in front of it. But as my cat was not with me I thought nothing more of it. A trick of the light. I was perhaps tired. Then however I heard it. A faint tapping noise almost like.. a many footed creature.. Holy Macaroni!  Then I saw it. A spider the size of a sparrow.
Now the realisation hit me. I lived alone. No one else here to de-bug my house.
It is times like this I wish I had CCTV. I could have made a killing entering that video into one of those home video shows because trying to catch a whopping great spider with legs like  coat hangers and bobbly knee caps when you are not keen/scared shitless of spiders is a real challenge. 
First you have the running about with a glass and a piece of newspaper. You parry back and forth like a pair of fencers.. I chase it .. it chases me.. I run away screaming before trying to creep up on it from behind and catch it unawares again. Then you have the horror THE HORROR of it glaring at you from the inside of a jar while you rush to a window trying not to throw up only to discover it is shut and somehow you’re going to have to open it by kung fu kicking the latch without the neighbours seeing your underwear.
I can only say it was a stressful first night.
I woke slightly dishevelled and went downstairs. I slid open the patio door and walked into the conservatory to survey my small yet perfectly formed garden. Only to see *shudder* a slug, an actual bloody slug on the inside of the glass ceiling.
How the heck it managed to get in when all the windows were shut was beyond me. How to get it out again was also beyond me.
Now, letting it climb onto a piece of card seemed good at first.. But do slugs adhere to cardboard? What if it fell off and landed on me? *Bletch* The carpet was good I did not want to risk throwing up on it. What about getting two twigs and gently tweezing it off? Seemed a sound idea. I tried it.
It appears slugs are extremely sticky. It did not budge but the middle squeezed in so it looked like it had a tight belt on *double bletch and much running around screaming*. (Honestly there are definite drawbacks to a) living by yourself and b) having a room made entirely of windows that neighbours can see you running in circles screaming and waving your hands in the air through.)
Then the truth dawned on me. I would have to herd it like a sheep. Slugs are an interesting species. They seem to have no sense of direction when it comes to making a bid for freedom.
I nudged it’s bottom and it moved a bit. I nudged it again, it moved again. Progress. It was now moving down towards the door I had opened. Now here was my mistake. I took a small break here to do some more running about and screaming and when my heart rate  had returned to a more acceptable level some 10 minutes later I returned to find… it had gone. *Phew*
Shit a Brick!  It hadn’t gone it was now on the other wall *insert more screaming waving of arms and running about* How on earth? It had bypassed the open door completely. So in order not to be outwitted I began my slug herding again.
It is a painfully slow business. Forty minutes of slug herding later it was gone and I was slug free.
There is I am sure a very good moral to this story, but the only one I can think of, is I have discovered that to add to my previous neurosis I am now scared of slugs, oh yeah, and wildlife is not always what it seems.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

The big move.. or the small shuffle

Moving house is always stressful, but I do wonder if most people have the same sort of experiences I’ve had or if I am just one super lucky gal.
On the first day all was exciting, looking at all the fabulous stuff they had left, the bedroom furniture and curtains, the curtain poles with big sparkly tie backs, they had steam cleaned the oven and repainted walls.. all seemed so wonderful.. except for the living room and the stair and landing carpet.. it smelled a bit.. well doggy.

I bought some doggy odour shampoo though and gave the carpet a good scrub, sure that all would be well in the morning.

In the night though, the smell was so strong I realised my throat was closing up.

I persevered.

The next night however was even worse.. I spent the night being sick... 5am next morning I went downstairs looked sorrowfully at the forlorn carpet and then in a frenzy spent two hours ripping it up and chucking it out into the garden.

Bliss. The smell of rubbery underlay.. but NO DOG!

Oh well, just buy a new carpet I can hear you saying. But for me it was a bit of a disappointment really on two levels. Firstly, though it was red, it was the thickest carpet I have ever stood on! It was virtually ankle deep! Secondly, I had planned to get a dog myself, but what if all dogs are so stinky and I became immune and ended up a mad old dog lady who people avoided in the street due to my doggy odours? My boyf’s family have a Staffy and I distinctly remember playing with her without the need for a clothes peg on the nose. A cloth to mop up the drool perhaps but that was it. Oh horror.. would my dream of owning a dog be dashed before I had even watched Crufts and browsed it like a catalogue to find my perfect doggy companion?
Apparently not. 
In the name of research I have since invited my friend and her wee pooch over and spent an hour sniffing it inbetween our chattery. All is well. I am now of the opinion that it was a particularly stinky variety of dog that perfumed my carpet for me.

Anyway, you would think that now that problem was overcome I could skip down the stairs happily without a care in the world. Indeed I actually tried this. But being a habitual wearer of floorsweepingly long skirts I instantly found after two steps that I was now held firmly in place.

Did I mention that I hadn’t removed the gripper rods?

Those blasted little batons of wood covered in sharp nails usually so useful at holding down carpets are now taking great delight in snagging me every time I pass them.

My poor shoes are now so filled with holes they would give a colander a run for its money, as for my feet.. words escape me.. in fact they have been involuntarily escaping me every time I stand on one of those prickly little feckers.

The problem is I am a bit of a bohemian and like to wander about barefoot which is a hard habit to stop.

Being a bit of a hippy though has come in very handy what with my complete lack of furniture.

The moving in date was delayed and postponed so many times that by the time we had heard for sure what the moving-in day was going to be, there were no removal vans available for hire, what with it being a Bank Holiday weekend. So instead my long suffering parents and sister agreed to form a little convoy of cars and bring up all the essential.. well all those that would fit in their cars.

And as there were no vans for a whole week they came the next day.. and then the next. Now as we looked at what furniture I had left it seemed a bit of a waste to book a van so they have continued to bring up my possessions in little car loads.

It has been a slow process. Not only did I have to move into a new house, I have also moved into a new Jewellery studio. I can heartily recommend that if you plan to do something similar YOU DON’T.

It is an utterly complex procedure. Trying to figure out what goes to what location is something you need to be a member of MENSA to do.

At last though we have squeezed everything into it’s rightful home… hmmm.. something appeared to be missing though.. oh yes.. CHAIRS!!

I had planned to order some new sofas once I had moved in, but that was before I massacred the carpets, so I have no comfy chairs to sit and chat on. Oh and my dining chairs are located in my parents loft, handily situated at the very back behind 7 years of accumulated rubbish.
Now, like a group of toddlers, we sit at the dining table with our armpits level with the top and and our eyes peeping over it. I have had to improvise you see, and at short notice this means we now tuck into our tasty meals while sitting at a fishing stool, a deckchair and a pair of library steps. It is all very.. um.. quirky.

An exciting announcement I do have is that I now own a refrigerator.

It is my second.
The first one arrived with a free dent the size and shape of a big hefty work boot in the side, which I decided was just not really my style, so I had to wait to have it picked up and replaced.

In the meantime I was very limited in my eating options. My milk had turned to butter and my butter had turned to milk and I was surviving on a diet of Pot Noodles. I think there is a reason why they have food like that in Space. Something to do with the fact that no one on Earth would ever want it. The novelty of a kettle based cookery system wears thin very quickly.

As you can see my first foray into life as a Buckinghamshire lass has been quite a challenge.

But now things are slightly more settled and I have Internet again (a month with no Internet and very cheap mobile phone that was less apple and more banana has been a trying experience… oh how I have missed my flickr friends in particular) I will hopefully be able to explore my surroundings and concentrate a bit more on my work that has been sadly neglected.. though this may well continue to be neglected.. more about that next time.

Until then,
Much Love


**On one last note, for those people worried about the safety of my moggy, he has not yet come. I will not bring him until the flooring is sorted and is safe.. he is currently still at my parent’s house where I visit him for kitty kisses regularly.


Saturday, 11 May 2013

Springtime in London

Back so soon?

Me too! How did that happen? Well, I felt I had to share this little bit of Springtime in London.

After months of dreary rain it's so nice to have bits of colour sprouting here and there isn't it?

Now I am no gardener so possibly this is not in fact a rare and exotic bloom, and that passers by were actually wondering why I was taking photos of a weed. But I loved how it looked like a dog that has got it's head stuck in a railing (though of course that would be bad and I do not recommend people squish their dogs heads through railings to see what it looks like.. perhaps watch Disney's 'Bolt' instead.. however do not google 'Bolt dog head in railings' though, as I have just done to check if this was the right film.. because I fear I may now be on some FBI data base for nutjobs.)
Where was I? Yes, I loved how it had pushed its way out from between the bars to cheer up passers by.

This is why I always carry a point shoot with me, to capture little bits of loveliness and because just a few steps away was this gorgeous sight of fluffy pink goodness.

I'm actually standing underneath the tree.. virtually in it and it was like being under a soft pink duvet.
And more importantly I didn't even die taking this photo.

I mention this because a very kind builder on his break moved a traffic cone and a 'Danger of Death' sign that were resting up against it so I could take this photo. Not really sure what they were for.. maybe people were expiring due to its loveliness.

Builders can be smashing :D

Now, I don't mean to sound vain.. but.. I can rarely walk past a builder without getting a comment.
Yes indeed, and though many girls get whistles, I'm guessing few,  like me, get offers of scaffolding to hold up their saggy bottoms.. or cement to fill in the cracks of their face between the worry lines :P

I'm sure they mean well!