Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Once a month my local chapter of Red Hat ladies, the Crimson Crumblies, meets in a local restaurant for a meal and a good chat, trying to find a different restaurant each time. This time we went to a place on the outskirts of Brentwood, not too far from where we live.

It's really nice to have a meal in good company, and this was definitely good company.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Root Soup

This is a great favourite of mine, easy to make and nice and warming so great for the winter. I found the recipe in a favourite recipe book I bought from here, although I've adapted the recipe slightly to suit my own tastes.

250g parsnips
250g sweet potatoes
250g carrots
150g red onions
150g leeks
150g celery
1.5 teaspoons cumin seeds
1.5 teaspoons crushed dried chilli
salt & pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
25g butter
1.5 litres vegetable stock or water

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C; 375 F. Peel, trim and chop all the vegetables.

Put the parsnips and sweet potatoes in a baking tray with half the carrots. Add the spices, some seasoning and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and shake the tray until the veg are thoroughly coated. Put the tray in the oven and cook until the veg are fully done, about 45 minutes.

In a large pan heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil with the butter over a gentle heat. Cook the onion until translucent, about 5 minutes, and then add the remaining carrot, with the celery and leeks. Season with pepper, cover the pan and soften the vegetables for about 20 minutes.

Add the stock/water, the roasted vegetables and plenty of salt and then simmer for a further 10 minutes. Cool slightly and then liquidise until smooth. Check seasoning and warm before serving if necessary.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Well, the Husband and I now have a new personal e-mail address. Finally. I hope I have written to all our friends and family with it but if I've missed sending it to someone just add a comment below.

It's quite incredible just how many places on the web that I need to access to change my e-mail address.

UPDATE: 24th February
Once I had sent out to friends and family my new e-mail address I began to receive replies (thank you everybody). One was from my cousin who actually works for British Telecom (BT). He has just moved house to start a new job within BT. It took BT three weeks to sort out his Broadband access even though he was staying with the same ISP. So I suppose I am lucky I am back online so (relatively) quickly.

Still, at least CopCar can stop tapping her feet now (grin).

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

February 10th: Lady Boz's Birthday

I kept on meaning to post some pictures of the last Red Hat event I went to and eventually I managed to do so. The Saturday before last was the birthday of Lady Boz, Mistress of Hattitude, a member of our chapter of Red Hat ladies. So some of went around to her house for a birthday party and we chatted and laughed and ate and all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Thank you Lady Bz for inviting us all. And may the year ahead be as good for you as you deserve. The top picture is us all together and the one below is the birthday lady herself.

From the Meditation Tip of the Day

Life is a constant flow and it never stops.
The experience of today is only valid for today...
tomorrow will be a new day where all has to be started again.


From Deeshan

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

I am still awaiting another password from the new ISP. I telephoned them on Friday and was told that it was in the post. Now this to me sounded suspiciously like an adaptation of one of the Three Great Lies that are omnipresent in modern society but I'm willing to wait a couple more days before I moan at them again. {The three great lies are universally known, of course, as "No, you don't look fat in that"; "Yes, I will respect you in the morning"; and "The cheque is in the post".}

Other than that we've had a quiet time, mainly because we have a bout of "Man Flu" in the house and the Husband has been suffering....... vocally.......extensively.

Generally, though, life is uneventful.... oh, except for the fact that the vacuum cleaner burst into flames this morning. You don't have that everyday, thank goodness.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Now I need to mention things I've been doing while I've been away. Just over a week ago, Wednesday of last week to be precise, I decided to start tidying up my pots of herbs. The Oregano I trimmed back all the dead growth off the top and discovered on it a few baby plantlets appearing. The plant itself was just on one side of the pot so I added the plantlets as cuttings in the rest of the pot. The following day we had yet another heavy bout of snow (well, for England) followed by a freezing (literally) night. You can see what happened to the pots.

I am hoping that the snow acted as a blanket and protected the cuttings from the cold weather but at the moment I haven't the heart to check whether they have survived. If they have not then it's my fault for jumping the gun with the weather.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Well, I'd no idea that changing your ISP could be such an experience. Well it was.

I think part of the problem was that there were four parties in the transaction: myself; the old and the new ISPs and British Telecom (BT). I know little about the subject but it's my understanding that BT is responsible for virtually all the telephone lines in the UK and used by the general public. So, given that the type of Broadband service that I have is provided down BT's telephone lines means that when a final date for the service of the old ISP was sorted out then BT had to transfer the Broadband cabling to the new ISP. Well, something like that anyway. Anyway, the end result, given that as far as I could make out the three parties don't talk to each other properly, was that it took some time to sort out my new internet access. It's online now, with some difficulties that I am still trying to sort out with my new ISP.

Internet access may have been painful for me but it's nothing to the difficulty I am having setting up a new e-mail account. The new ISP sent a password by snail mail that is supposed to give me access to that part of their website so that I could set up a new e-mail account. Wonder of wonders their password didn't work. They are supposed to have sent me a new one, again via snail mail, as yet it hasn't arrived. I am currently contemplating (and experimenting) with an alternative option. I've not enjoyed not having access to an e-mail service. I've felyt quite lost and disorganised.

The bottom line is that I am back, sort of, and I hope to write soon to friends and family with an e-mail address that works.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Chelmsford and District Gardener's Association

An interesting evening at the Gardener's Association yesterday evening and I've decided to put here what I can remember, as a record for me for the future. Everyone else reading it - I hope you find it interesting.

The title of the talk was "Compost Heaps and Practical Gardening" and it was given by a gentleman called Tony Budgen, who described his career as being a Head Gardener of a big house not too far away. His talk was very much of the practical aspects of gardening (as a matter of fact he clearly loved the subject - he didn't stop talking about it all the time he was with us.)

The idea compost heap will be a minimum of 6ft by 3 ft square with two posts placed equidistant in the center. Fill the heap as follows: 2 inch layer of vegetation, 2 inches of soil then a dusting of lime. Repeat until the heap is 4 foot high. Then pull out the posts, which will give the heap enough ventilation. After 4 months turn the heap.

In fact, of course, most of us last night (including myself) have the plasic compost bins which are Dalek shaped. He said don't forget to add spadefuls of soil to this along with the vegetation. And don't use the spent soil from pots when you've repotted the plant (or it's died) instead, as this will have no goodness in it.

The square plastic compost bins are better than the Dalek shaped ones as then compost can be removed from the little door at the base while you are still adding stuff to the top. Do not use the bins with wire netting or equivalent around the sides as the wind will just dry out the mixture and most of it just will not compost.

Any vegetation can go into the compost heap with the exception of bindweed and couch grass (guess what is found in my garden). Also you can add shredded paper, coffee grounds and tea leaves. Not egg shells as they just don't break down.

Sulphate of ammonia does exactly the same job as the much more expensive compost maker mixtures you buy in garden centers.

The way to start off Hyacynth bulbs is to plant them in a pot, put them outside and cover their pot with an upside-down one large enough to cover the pot completely so that it touches the ground all around. Sufficient water for the bulbs will go through the holes in the covering pot, which will otherwise keep off excess water. There will be no need to bring this indoors at all until the bulbs germinate and the shoots appear. Then treat them as usual.

Any seed or bulb should always be planted 3 times its own depth.

Now (February) is clean up time for herbaceous plants, so that new shoots find it easy to come to the surface. Then feed the ground. Good feeds for this are: blood, fish and bone; pelleted chicken manure; or Growmore.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

I walked this afternoon to Oaklands Park Museum. It's actually two museums in one: the Chelmsford (local) museum with displays covering the archaeology and natural and social history of the immediate area; and the Essex Regiment Museum. I must admit that I have never been in the latter as military history isn't really an interest of mine. The local museum, though I like to pop in every few weeks. In addition to the usual local things there is a room with a significant sized collection of 18th century drinking glasses which I always find fascinating. They also have 1 or 2 rooms where they have visiting exhibitions too, which I always try to see. I took the external shot of the building from one side. It's a bit early in the year for the flower beds to be full of flowers, however two of the beds were very interesting. Both were full of ornamental cabbages and have a real visual impact at this time of the year.