Friday, August 18, 2006

What a Week

This has been one of those weeks when all I've wanted to do was to hide in bed and pull the duvet over my head. Nothing seriously wrong, just a lot of niggles.

It all started on Sunday evening. I'd cooked a meal for the three of us (the Stepson is with us for the moment) of a chicken roast in the oven with batons of leeks and, when cooked, the flesh of the bird, the leeks and the juice from the chicken all mixed with some cooked tagliatelli - quick, easy and nothing one would think to hurt one. However while I was eating there was a crunch and one of my crowns came away, leaving a nasty hole and no existing molars on the upper left side of my mouth.

Monday I had an appointment at the glaucoma clinic at St Thomas' Hospital, on the banks of the Thames for a regular check-up. They checked my pressures and they were fine at 18, which was a relief because at an appoinment at my opticians a couple of months ago they were worried about my pressures - fortunately a false alarm. Then after the fields test they took a picture of the back of both eyes. To do this eye drops are used to dilate my pupils and then a sort of flash camera is used. The outcome of this, though, is that afterwards I can't see properly for at least 4 hours. In particular any sort of light is very difficult and I cannot focus to read anything other than the largest of print. The Husband had promised that he would come up and meet me after the hospital appointment to help me home. Unfortunately when I finished he wasn't there and when I rang he said that he had decided not to leave home. So I ended up wandering around central London, fortunately cloudy and no sun, for about 4 hours until I could see well enough to find my way home.

Tuesday was the trip to the dentist where I discovered that my very good dentist is on holiday. The new one there was very complementary about my regular one's skills (he called the crown that had come adrift a "minor miracle") and didn't want to do anything to the tooth in case my own dentist could repair it somehow. So the hole in my mouth continues. My new appointment is at the end of the month.

Wednesday I felt grumpy, and generally rested after the tiredness and tensions of the previous two days.

Thursday was nice as the Stepdaughter came around in the evening . The Husband made a paella which tasted nice and we all watched "Topsy Turvey" about the writing and first performance of Gilbert and Sullivan's "The Mikado".

This morning the digestion of both the Husband and myself is not working properly - presumably the paella. (The Stepdaughter has just phoned up and she is having problems too - almost definitely the paella.)

Friday, August 11, 2006

My Red Hats, Part 2

Here is Nimrod investigating the hat I bought from eBay. I took this and afterwards I wished that I had crouched down to get more to his level before taking the picture. However If I had done that he would probably have promptly left the hat and approached me so that I could make a fuss of him {grin}

My Red Hats, Part 1

Just over a week ago Buffy said here that she would like to see the Hats I now have to wear to Red Hat Society events. Well here they are. The picture at the top shows the hat I bought on eBay, after I exhumed an old Hotmail e-mail address and reRegistered. (The things I do for my interests!) The lower of the two pictures shows the hat I bought in Debenhams and wore to the gospel concert I went to the first week in July.

As you can see Nimrod decided to get involved in the action. I also took another picture of him with the second hat and I'll try to post that one too.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Good News

What I thought would be a difficult day turned out, in the end, to be a really rather good day. I spent a lot of it in hospital for yet another appointment with the consultant about my asthma. OK, I had to do loads of waiting, as usual for anyone attending a NHS hospital, but when I eventually saw the consultant he gave me some good news. My breath was stronger then before and it appear that the asthma is finally under control for the first time since I was diagnosed with it exactly two and a half years ago. Basically I've still got it, and will have it for the rest of my life, but I've learnt to manage it and can cope with it, at least for now. He has decided that I need not be one of his patients but to be treated by one of the asthma nurses at my GP's surgery - they will decide whether or not I need to go back to see the consultant again. Oh, and I am to try doing without one of the lots of medication and see how I get on.

As you can imagine I am really cock-a-hoop about this as it is the first indication that my health is really on the mend. Clearly I shall have to be careful at times, especially when it has been raining (fat chance at the moment!) or when certain pollens are around, but this is the first time I have had positive news about my asthma since it was first diagnosed.

Changing the subject somewhat why is it that waiting for a bus seems to take much, much longer than waiting for a train? It is an absolute nightmare trying to park at Broomfield Hospital. I have driven round and round before now trying to find a space - and when you do find one you have to pay a substantial amount to the privilege of doing so. So I decided to take the bus, which runs not too far from our house. It was a quick and easy journey and the total bus fare was only fractionally more than the car park fees, let alone the cost of runiing the car/fuel, etc. However waiting for the bus seemed to take forever, even though I have waited for much longer in railway stations for a train.

Monday, August 07, 2006

My Very Easy Gazpacho Recipe

I mentioned in the comments here that I was looking for a Gazpacho recipe for a nice chilled soup recipe in this hot weather. I found lots of recipes for it but decided in the end to devise one based on the major ingredients in most recipes. I didn't want all the faff of peeling loads of tomatoes and removing their seeds. So, I went for something simple and so here is a nice easy way of making Gazpacho:

I blended together until smooth a 500ml carton of Passata, a peeled cucumber, half a green pepper, a few spring onions and a handful of chives. Then I added some salt, freshly ground pepper a good slosh of Worcester Sauce and passed the Tabasco Sauce bottle over the mixture. Then I just poured the lot into a bowl and added a litre of tomato juice, mixed well and then put in the fridge to cool.

I had meant to add some garlic but just forgot -but it didn't need it. It is really nice and spicy and well worth doing again.

A Request to Everyone Reading this Blog

Last year, as I mentioned here, the Husband got together with some friends and made an amateur film. Basically they had a reel of film that couldn't be edited at all - everything had to be done once, so they had to get it right. first time. Anyway theirs, produced and directed by his friend Nick Scott is called "Earth to Earth" and was good enough both to be shown at Leicester Square and at last years Cannes film festival. Anyway now the film has the opportunity of appearing in a major film competition in America if it gets enough votes.

So I am writing to ask everyone to vote for it. To do so all you have to do is to click on the link, Register, get their e-mail with a password in and then vote for "Earth to Earth".

Incidentally it is possible to see the film. To do so you need Quick Time, which comes with iTunes. I've tried and it does work. All the actors are, of course, amateur and the two oriental gentlemen just happened to be around when they were filming it and got roped in. Nick also managed to borrow the telephones and the car close to the allotment where he was filming in South London on the coldest day of winter early in 2005. (The Husband is, of course, wearing a wig part of the time and certainly when holding up the trophy in the picture on the Slamdance website).

Also, if you could pass this request to any of your friends and ask them to vote also I would be very grateful.

Sunday, August 06, 2006


I've never given much thought to knitting. Let's face it there are only two stitches to learn - knit and purl and each is so easy to do they take only about 30 seconds to learn. Casting off is just a matter of passing one stitch over the other and casting on takes only very slightly longer to learn. I've been knitting since I was about 6 years old and the whole thing is just second nature to me. I have huge problems sitting in front of the tv without some knitting to do.

Having said all that there is one job connected with knitting that takes a little longer: picking up stitches. This is one task that takes me a little longer to do, necessarily to make sure that all is even and looks right. Picking up stitches evenly around the neck of a jersey is relatively easy and doesn't take too long, however the task I have been doing the last few days has taken a huge amount of time, concentration and frustration.

I have finished the five major pieces of the cardigan I have been working on. I then put it aside for a few weeks to gather my strength for the task ahead [grin]. This week I have taken it up again and started work. It has taken hours. The band goes up one side of the cardigan, round the fiddly bit from breastbone to neck, around the neck, round the other fiddly bit and down the other side of the cardigan. A total of 511 stitches to pick up, small stitches given the weight of the yarn (4 ply - don't let's go there again!). I was aware that I had to get it right as if the border was done hurriedly there was a risk that the finished cardigan would just look tatty. It took me ages to get it right. All that frantic counting, never easy on a circular needle which, of course, moves a lot (I'd never get all 511 stitches on a straight needle).

To make it easy and the stites regular throughout I broke the long bands up the front of the cardigan into smaller sections, with a set number of stitches to pick up in each, each section divided by safety pins (using the pins I use when sewing together pieces of knitted fabric - the sort with big plastic heads doesn't really work as they work out of the fabric too easily when you don't want them to). And on the end of the circular needle that I wasn't actually using to pick up stitches I threaded a ball of Blutak covered with cling film to stop the stitches sliding off.

I did it in the end, it took ages but it looks right. Now all I have to do is to knit the band, not a straightforward task as it takes frantic counting to work out exactly where to put the increases to make sure that the fiddly bits on the way to the neckline lie flat.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

The Husband and I reek of garlic at the moment. After weeks of hot weather and high humidity I've been looking for cooling summer recipes - there is a limit to the amount of salads you can eat, day after day for weeks on end. So I went looking for a good cooling recipe that didn't take too much cooking and found one in Delia Smith's book on "Soups" that I tried on Thursday. Basically it is half a pint of natural unsweetened yoghurt put in a blender with two peeled and sliced cucumbers, 5 fl oz of soured cream and garlic cloves, blended until smooth and then seasoned, put in a tureen add 2 teaspoons of chopped mint stir and then chill until really cold and then serve.

Anyway, the blessed Delia always suggests too small portions of garlic - for example she suggests 1 clove in her Minestrone recipe when I find we need 5-6 cloves. So with this I used about 5 good sized cloves which proved far too much and so it's a good thing that we both ate it. However, the recipe is nice and refreshing in this hot weather and I'll certainly try it again only with slightly less garlic.

Oh, her recipe also suggests adding 2 tablespoons of lemon juice - not a good idea as it curdles the mixtrue, although it makes no difference to the taste.