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,