Posts Tagged ‘tea’

Sorrel soup, rye bread and bluebells (or: Back to my spiritual home)

“Every day is like a day on the farm. Every meal is a feast. That’s a day in the Marine Corps.”

Well, not the Marine Corps at all. My favourite farm.

What’s that you say? You don’t have a favourite farm? Pffft. All the cool kids have a favourite farm. And mine is Waltham Place.

I went there in March on a fruit preserving course and had been itching to get back. Since getting my groceries from Abel and Cole, I am totally on the soup scene, for using up the leftover vegetables the day before my new delivery. So when I saw the soup and bread course, I booked myself in straight away!

After my last traumatic journey to the farm, this time around was relatively easy. In fact, on the bus to the farm, I saw the exact same two ladies who had rescued me last time and went and thanked them again.

Arriving at the farm, I saw the familiar faces of Nikki and Adrian, who run the courses. You feel you are in safe hands as they gently take control, ensuring everyone has tea and biscuits and helping the group of strangers to gel.

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We got straight into some chat about what makes good or bad bread, the fact that bread has been around for thousands of years and about mixing your dough with the end of the wooden spoon.

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Apparently that’s how the Italian grandmothers in Tuscany do things!

I mixed and kneaded and shaped and then left it to prove in the warm kitchen….

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…before starting on some sorrel soup.

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I’ve not eaten – and certainly never cooked with – sorrel so I was a little nervous but Adrian ripped off a leaf tip and got munching, encouraging me to do the same. And it was surprisingly tasty – lemony but not sharp. More like a salad dressing which had been made with lemon. It was bursting with flavour. I couldn’t believe I’d never eaten it.

After making and straining the soup…

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…the bread was also finished proving and baking. Mine was a rye bread made with a sourdough starter Adrian had been brewing up for five days.

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We each then quickly threw together another loaf. I did a plaited white loaf next (which I got started on before I could photograph it, sorry!).

Then we had a fabulous lunch of our own soups and a previously baked loaf for dipping. It was so good. Sorrel soup, people! It’s the way of the future! Lemony but savoury. It didn’t need any seasoning as it has such a rich rounded flavour of its own.

Then we went for a lovely walk around the estate, which was much greener than my last visit

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The chickens!

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One of the cows! (Danda says I can have a cow, although it’s still a no on the chicken.)

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Any day now, this place will be head height with long grasses and colour!

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The Japanese garden will soon be looking lovely too.

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The lime tree lined walk.

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The blanket of bluebells starting to cover the forest floor.

We returned to the centre, oversaw the baking of our second breads (one person had decided to mark his with what can only be described as a nipple, a bread nipple, if you will….)

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…and sat down for some well earned tea and cake…

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A coffee cake on the left and a fruity tray bake on the right. Both were delicious, obviously.

A lift back to the station from a fellow course student would have finished the day off nicely, apart from the 3.5 hour journey home because of train delays. But even that couldn’t ruin the loveliness of the day 🙂

N is for…

NIBBLES!

There has been a work-based emergency so I don’t have time to write much. I thought I’d just show you a few of my favourite things I’ve eaten recently.

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Beautiful bruscetta at the deli

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Turkey escalope with a fried egg and shaving of truffle (the little black bit on the yolk) at Jamie’s Italian

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Tarte Tatin in Paris

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Chocolate and pistachio biscotti that I made at home

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Fig and walnut bread, also homemade

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Asparagus and pea risotto at one of the restaurants at the Paralympics last year

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Sea bass dish in Trastavere, Rome, last year. Amazing.

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Pig’s head and rabbit terrine at The Bingham

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Jerusalem artichoke and truffle risotto at the Savoy

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Afternoon tea at The Tea Box

Interview with a Danda

See what I did there? Interview with a vampire, interview with a Danda… Here are a few basic facts about your favourite Danda before we get started.

1. He likes ice cream.
2. He drives a taxi.

Hello, Danda. How are you feeling on this fine Sunday morning?
Yeh. Alright.

Rumour has it that you recently watched The Sweeney starring Ray Winstone. Was it your opinion of this film?
Unprintable.

What is the silliest thing anyone has ever asked you in your taxi?
I was driving under the Picadilly underpass with some Americans in the back and one of them said to me, “Is this the tunnel where Princess Di was killed?”

Regale us with a story from yesterday’s taxiing.
One of our local colourful characters, Jeannie, was spotted walking down the middle of the road waving her hands at cars to try and stop them. She was walking all shuffly because her knickers had fallen down around her ankles. I did not stop for her, unfortunately.

How do you feel about Laura’s new project in which she aims to live more responsibly?
So far, the cooking’s good.

What is your favourite book in the world?
Well, the books that I can read and re read and still enjoy almost as much as the first time I read them, are the Flashman books.

Would you say you have become “reliant” on tea, much as one would on drugs?
Yes.

What is your favourite thing Laura has cooked?
Oo, so many to choose from. Er. Thai chicken curry.

Why won’t you let Laura have a chicken in the garden?
Cause I’m mean.

What is your opinion of Laura’s blog and is it your favourite blog in the world?
Laura does a blog?!

How do you feel about breakfast?
Don’t eat breakfast.

And now, the question that stumped Gordon Brown in the incident now known as BiscuitGate…. What is your favourite biscuit?
Chocolate digestives. No problem with that one.

…Cor, is that it, Laura? Not exactly Jeremy Paxman, are you? There was no really hard questions at all was there.

And that, my friends is the end of this interview with Danda. I feel we can all learn something from the things we’ve read here.

AND to China and Namibia

Ok, everyone, it’s time for Rambler5319 to take over again as it is Wednesday. Get your thinking caps on as last week’s challenge is answered….

First off remember how we finished last week:

And finally on a lighter note – can anyone tell me how it is possible to use the word “and” five times consecutively in a sentence? That means you have to write a sentence that will have “and and and and and” in it with no words in between. Answer next week folks – you didn’t think I was going to give it straight away. Have a think and see what you come up with.

And the answer is:

In UK we have a lot of pubs with names like the “Coach & Horses”, “Dog & Partridge” and so on. Sometimes there are companies called, say, “Smith & Jones”. The answer to the puzzle goes something like this. The owner of the pub called the Coach and Horses was having a new sign made to hang outside. When speaking to the sign writer who was going to do the job he said to him, “the old sign was badly done so when you make the new one I want you to make sure you put a proper space between coach and “and” and “and” and horses. I’ve put quote marks round the “and” just so you can see that when it appears like that it is being treated as a noun (i.e. a word on the sign) and when it is without it is being used as a normal conjunction just joining parts of the sentence together. In ordinary usage the quote marks wouldn’t be there and you would have the 5 consecutive ands in the sentence and it still makes sense. It’s all in the way you say it, where you make a slight pause. You read it as “between coach and and (pause) and and and horses.”

Now onto this week’s subject: China. No not the country of China, the material for making cups, saucers and things like a china tea service or dining set. It can also be used to make mugs. I was given a real china mug recently. Now I have plenty of ordinary mugs: they have a fairly thick lip compared to a cup. Cups can of course be just ordinary thickness or they can be china cups in which case much thinner and more delicate to use. They also often seemed to have handles I couldn’t get my finger into to hold even when I was younger. My gran would only ever have a cup of tea in a china cup. Also my Mum used to leave a china cup at my house, along with a tea cosy, so that when she came over I would make tea (of course brewed in a teapot with the cosy on) and hers would be poured into her own china cup. She didn’t like to use a mug or an ordinary cup. They both said the tea tasted different depending on whether you drank out of a china or non-china cup. Of course I thought it was all just psychological and there was no difference at all. That’s how it continued for many, many years until recently – until I made a mug of tea in my new china mug. Because the lip is thinner and the material it’s made of being different I think I too can actually sense a slightly different taste or at least a different experience. Are there any china cup/mug folks out there?

I’m not a coffee drinker but I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone talk of wanting to drink coffee out of a china cup/mug. Btw, a couple of days ago, I had a pot of tea at a local National Trust Museum place where they made it using those old fashioned things they call tea leaves. I ordered the same type of tea I drink at home and I tell you what – there’s definitely a better flavour from the leaves when compared with tea from a tea bag. Anyone out there a “leaves” person?

Here’s a pic of my new (china) mug.
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(You will notice my standing in the family has now been recognised – I was overcome with emotion as I realised I have now been recognised as a GENIUS!)

Here’s a pic of my normal mug

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Those of you who know of the Pink Floyd album Dark Side Of The Moon will recognise the mug decoration. (Worldwide sales of the album up to 2005 are estimated to be around 50 million. In 1998 the Recording Industry Association of America certified it as 15x Platinum meaning 15 million sales in the US.)

Because of their heights and different thickness of the sides the mugs are of different capacities: China mug smaller in height but larger in diameter.

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I was curious to see what their different volumes would be so I got the ruler out as they’re quite similar but you can see obvious differences:

Ordinary mug (inside measurements) – 8.8cm high/deep, 7.5cm diameter

China mug (inside measurements) 8.2cm high/deep, 9.0cm diameter.

Now do you remember back to your school maths (or math in US) for the formula for the volume: πr2h.

Substituting my figures gives –

ordinary – π x 3.75 x 3.75 x 8.8 = 389cc

china – π x 4.5 x 4.5 x 8.2 = 522cc

where π=3.14

Now I know you wouldn’t fill to the brim but it does mean I have to fill the china one to a lower height or I could be drinking nearly a third more with every mugful!

So what’s special about bone china? Basically it’s to do with how it’s made. It has a very strong construction which is why it can be made thinner than other porcelain. It is called “bone” china because quite simply bones from animals go into the making of it. (This is why some ethical/green folks won’t buy porcelain made like this.) The first attempts at making it were in the late 1740s but it wasn’t until the 1790s that Stoke-on-Trent based Josiah Spode developed what turned out to be the best mix of the various elements required to make it: 6 parts bone ash, 4 parts china stone, 3.5 parts china clay. (Some of you may have heard of Spode china.) That mixture has remained the standard ever since.

Sadly in 2009 the company went into Administration (bankrupt) and was bought by the Portmeirion Group (which owns Portmeirion Village). Head of this group is Susan Clough-Williams who is the daughter of Sir Clough Williams-Ellis who was the architect of the Italian style village called Portmeirion in North Wales. Some of you may remember that the 1967-8 TV series called The Prisoner starring Patrick McGoohan (as Number 6) was filmed on location at Portmeirion.

(A 2009 updated version, starring Sir Ian McKellen & Jim Caviezel, which aired on the American cable channel AMC, was filmed in Swakopmund in Namibia. It’s about an agent who wakes up in a strange place and doesn’t know how he got there or why he is there.

If you didn’t catch it here’s part (10 mins) of the first episode to give you a taster.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8LXsb4COaEM

Perhaps, I wonder, has LLM been there or know anything of the place? (He gets to the Village at about 4m 10s so you can see the residence buildings then a bit later the town itself.)

And there you have it: this week a journey from AND to china to the Dark Side of the Moon to Portmeirion to Namibia.

A day at Waltham Place (or: I want to live on a farm too!)

Yesterday, I had the most fabulous day out. Someone had got me an early birthday present, which was a place on a course about preserving fruit. The course was on a farm called Waltham Place just outside Maidenhead.

The journey there was quite eventful, after coming out of the station, seeing a bus already at the bus stop, leaping on and being what I can only describe as ‘adopted’ by two ladies on the bus. After I had asked if the bus went in the direction I needed, the ladies said it didn’t but I could get off near an airfield and take a short walk to get to the farm. I got out my purse to pay and the driver reminded me I needed the exact money. After scraping around among my change, the ladies almost got into a fight offering me the 20p that I was short of!

The journey to the farm then was smooth, after another man getting off at the same stop, pointed me down the right road. As I approached the main entrance, there didn’t seem to be any signs of where I should be…

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I was once again thrust on the mercy of the locals as I helplessly ran after a man I saw in the distance and asked where the course was being held. He pointed me up the road to the Ormandy Centre which, of course, I now remembered reading about in my notes before coming.

I found the centre eventually and was greeted by Adrian, the chef, and Nicki, his ‘gopher’ (her own words) and three of the other women on the course, for of course it was all women! The other women arrived and we started the day with chitchat, tea and biscuits.

Everything they gave us was made (and often grown too) on the farm. Adrian does all the cooking there. And that means everything. Absolutely everything. No help. He’s surprisingly calm and good-natured for a man who’s responsible for the feeding of a family and entire staff of such a big estate.

So our teas and coffees contained milk from the cows in the next door fields and the only non-farm ingredient in our macaroons and Viennese whirls was the sugar. The flour is milled on the farm, the milk from the cows is turned into cream, butter and cheese, and the eggs are harvested daily from the chickens who live in the next field to the cows. It was like taking a trip into the past, all the things we were offered to eat were homemade with produce from the surrounding fields. I started planning what my own small garden might be capable of and, so long as I don’t mind living on tomatoes, chillis and herbs, I could totally do this self-sufficient thing too. Maybe.

After tea and biscuits, we got stuck into a bit of teaching. Adrian gave us notes and talked us through the process of jam-making, the essential components and what does and doesn’t work. It wasn’t quite as ordered as that though. There were regular delightful tangents off into the obscure – long discussions about what goes into commercially produced jam, whether to keep one’s jam in the fridge, what fruits work and how long to keep jam for (a jar of Adrian’s, made in 1996, is still going strong today).

We were then given aprons and invited into the kitchen. We approached cautiously and told that this morning, the jam tasks were: raspberry jam, three fruit marmalade, lemon curd and blackcurrant jam.

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The other women piped up, excited about one of the other of the jams. They were paired up and given lemon curd, marmalade and raspberry jam. Finally there was just me and the blackcurrant, which Adrian said he’d help me with.

I was presented with a pot of blackcurrants which I went off to a corner with and put on a hob to heat.

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I heated my blackcurrants for quite a long time as they needed to reduce down by quite a lot before I could add the sugar. While the others were lemon zesting, butter melting or draining their fruit out….

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… I stood next to my blackcurrant pan and watched. I started to feel like the slow kid at the back of the class, still trying to work out times tables while the others progressed onto long division….

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It boiled for quite a while before Adrian gave me the ok to add the sugar and mash the blackcurrants a little bit. By the time I was pouring out my jam, even the slower lemon curd lot were long finished and on their second round of tea and biscuits. They do say, though, that good things come to those who wait, and my pot of blackcurrants yielded the most jars. Check out my harvest!

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We then stopped and had lunch, made by Adrian, of course. It was leek and potato soup and bread, fresh from the oven, spread with tasty yellow butter from the farm.

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After a long chat about recycling with the other ladies and me digging in to the bread, again and again, Nicki finally cleared away lunch, thank goodness, and Adrian talked us through different ways to preserve fruit.

So the afternoon tasks were ketchup, tomato chutney and bottled fruit. I ended up on the bottled fruit but had someone with me this time. We chopped and peeled the fruit and packed it into the jars to wait for our syrup, which was just a basic mixture of sugar and water. This we poured over the plums and rhubarbs. For the pears, though, we did white wine, sugar and cinnamon. Once all the fruit and syrups were in the jars, we put the lids on loosely and baked them on a very low heat for an hour.

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In this hour, we all donned wellies and coats for a walk around the farm. We saw the chickens who provide the eggs…

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…the cows who’s milk was in our tea….

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…and the gardens which are beautiful and colourful in summer…

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By the time we got back to the kitchen, our fruit was ready, the chutney was thick enough to go in jars and our day’s work was put on the table for admiring.

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By this time, there was nothing else to do but to have another round of tea, accompanied by two gorgeous homemade cakes (a tea brack and a Victoria sponge)….

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….and to chatter about what a brilliant day it had been and what other courses were they running and could we come on all of them please and how I wish I could become a lady of leisure and just spend all day homemaking everything I wanted to eat and not have any processed food in the house and o, if only! If only! Get thee behind me, Heinz, for I shall consume only homemade ketchup from this day forth!… Maybe… If I get the time to make some tomorrow after work… If I’m not busy practising piano and trying to become a world famous concert pianist.

A lovely Irish lady who was rushing off a little early to pick up her son from school had heard the story of my arrival and offered me a lift to the station. So all of sudden, in a bit of a rush, I was accepting her kind offer, grabbing my bag and running off. The journey home was fuss free and Danda looked very pleased when I arrived home with my crop from the day….

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We then spend an evening, nibbling some of each, especially the beautiful beautiful lemon curd, which is thick and spreadable and divine on bread.

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I honestly can’t think of anything about this day that I didn’t enjoy. If you are anywhere near Waltham Place Farm, I can fully recommend their day courses, for the experience itself, even if you’re not actually going to become the best jam maker the world has ever seen!

Laura to the rescue!

Yesterday, I resolved to get back to my promise to be more useful. Life took over a little at the weekend. But now I have my superhero outfit on again and I am totally on it. So here were my missions for the day.

Shop for something green – try the environmentally friendly option of something you usually buy.
(The Difference A Day Makes by Karen M. Jones)

Use organic toiletries
(Going Green by Simon Gear)

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Thankfully, they’re pretty similar and I needed to go shopping anyway, unless I wanted to feed Danda some quince jam and eggs for dinner.

Off I went, to my favourite Waitrose, and crossed my fingers that they wouldn’t let me down. And it went well, everyone. It went well. Check it out.

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This one isn’t too much of a revolution in my home, actually. When I took it to the bathroom, I almost laughed because the pack of toilet tissue that is currently sitting there is the exact same one! I’m not a stranger to being environmentally aware so I must have, on a subconscious level, whilst mindlessly pottering about shopping, grabbed it because I saw it was recycled paper.

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The next thing was conditioner, which I’ve needed for ages. I keep forgetting what it is I need and when I get to the shop, I pick up a shampoo, guessing it must be that. So I have about five shampoos and almost no conditioner. Yesterday, I finally remembered to get the right thing and looked for something organic, on the advice of Simon Gear. I found one called Avalon Organics, which I’ve used before, and then another one with a foreign sounding name and a useful list on the side. If the list is to be believed, it lacks all the usual crap that makes toiletries so bad for the environment. It was pricey (almost a third of the cost of my entire shopping!) but it’s one of those things I don’t buy often and what’s the point of having money, if you’re not prepared to try and do something useful with it.

Next I went to buy a card in a different shop and saw a chance to be environmentally friendly again.

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Now, Danda is a man who drinks a lot of coffee. And a lot of tea. Every day. All day. A lot of liquids. Very often. And he buys them at local coffee shops. All those paper coffee cups add up. More often than not, he brings them home and recycles them but it would be better to avoid using the paper cups altogether. So I saw this flask in the shop and got it straight away, knowing that Danda would be filled with glee at the prospect of joining me on my world-saving mission. Upon returning home, I presented him with this beautiful ceramic flask, a potential revolution in his coffee-drinking world. Excitement and apprehension flitted across his face…

“Don’t you like it? Should I have got a different colour?”

“No, I love it. I just know I’ll break it. I’ll try not to. But I’m clumsy. We both know this is true.”

I had to admit that it is perhaps true. I mean, I haven’t even told you all the story yet of him making dinner on Thursday and managing to somehow throw my entire plate of food across the kitchen floor. We crossed our fingers and decided to give it a good go. So far, he has had it one day. Let’s see how long he can keep it.

And lastly, a follow up from my second day of world-saving…

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This lovely renewable energy company sent along some info and contracts and will get started imminently. Excited!

A bit of world-saving and a bit of award-receiving

My instructions for yesterday went as follows:

Install solar panels for your water heating
(Going Greener by Simon Gear)

Say it with pixels – save a tree and send an electronic greeting instead.
(The Difference A Day Makes by Karen M. Jones)

The first one, unfortunately, wasn’t the best option for me. I had some rubbish news about a friend and felt rubbish so needed things I could do from the sofa, drinking a cup of tea. So, my version of installing a solar panel was getting in touch with a green energy supplier, called Good Energy, and enquiring about switching my gas and electricity to them. All their energy is local and renewable eg wave and wind power. I did the initial stages of giving them my details so that’s in motion at least.

The second challenge was easier as it is a good friend’s birthday today so I sent him a silly e-card of three pigs singing happy birthday, instead of buying an actual card. Done!

And now onto an award, presented to me by the wonderful JumeiraJames who, coincidentially, lives in an area of Dubai that I lived in when I was a baby.
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The rules for this one are as follows:

1. Display the award logo on your blog.
2. Link back to the person who nominated you.
3. State 7 things about yourself.
4. Nominate 15 bloggers for this award and link to them.
5. Notify those bloggers of the nomination and the award’s requirements.

Ok, here’s my seven things…

1. When I was younger, my favourite chocolate bar was Yorkie. Then they brought out that advert saying ‘Not For Girls’ so I stopped buying them. That showed them.

2. I don’t definitely know the difference between bio and non-bio washing powder.

3. I love wildebeest. I just think they’re quite majestic and beautiful.

4. Last night I stayed up quite late doing a jigsaw puzzle.

5. At age 27, I still sometimes put my shoes on the wrong feet. I did it yesterday actually.

6. Today I have a day off. I have been waking up quite early every morning for a little while. To celebrate not having to wake up early, I slept in til 10.20am and am seriously considering eating strawberry cheesecake for breakfast.

7. I don’t drink alcohol. Not to make a statement about anything. I just don’t. Herbal tea is my preferred drink of choice.

Now for my fifteen nominations. Here goes …

1. Lovefoodlovefashion – new on the blogging scene but fabulous. I can’t understand what took her so long to start!

2. The Waiting – following the adventures and photoshoots of the little one is the backdrop to my days.

3. A Londoner in Dorset – once an adventurer in far off lands, she is now exploring parts of England in her new home. Always something lovely to read here.

4. Fiammisday – beautiful clothes, beautiful shoes. Despite being childless by choice, I sometimes wish I had someone small to dress in these outfits!

5. Bagni di Lucca and Beyond – the first place I look when planning a trip to Italy (Naples in April).

6. Someone Fat Happened – what’s not to love about a farting dog accompanying your yoga session or childhood pictures which prompt laughter? All of life is here. Wedding jitters, work frustration, family life.

7. Jump For Joy Project – the perfect pick me up if feeling rubbish or wondering what to do with your life.

8. Campari and Sofa – there is tons to love in this blog (a mutual appreciation of the Tube being one of them) but I think the recent post about the treatment of women is one everyone should read.

9. Blogging For A Good Book – you can never have too many good book recommendations!

10. Our Adventures In Croatia – reading this blog gives me adventure-envy. Lots of beautiful pictures. I must travel more! The recent post on Venice bridges got me planning my next-next trip to Italy (the next one is already planned and waiting to come to fruition!).

11. Ordinary Lisa – just lovely honest writing. If ever there was a blog that encouraged me to notice and appreciate the things and people around me, this would be it.

12. British Museum Blog – loads of great stuff here. They are doing a small series of posts called London in 20 objects which is fascinating. Have a look!

13. Le Zoe Musings – now it might just be the Instagram effect but this woman’s life appears to be lived in varying shades of beautiful.

14. Live To Write – Write To Live – if I can’t think what to write about or just need some inspiration or writing advice, I don’t need to look any further than this blog.

15. Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast – I have been following this blog almost since I started blogging. The stories this plantation has to tell from the past and the present are amazing. I can’t wait to visit, which I will do one day!

Silly things that have happened to me in the kitchen

1. I was once, foolishly, trying to squeeze too many things into the cupboard and the precariously balanced cheese grater at the far end was being steadily pushed closer to the surface. Eventually, I put one too many mugs in the cupboard and the grater fell. On instinct, I just reached out my hand and caught it…. And grated my little finger on the side that you zest things on. It was torn apart and in tatters for weeks afterward.

2. I sometimes store things on the very top of the cupboards because I have run out of space inside the cupboards. I had put some flour up there and was trying to get it down. Being the LazyLauraMaisey that I am, I couldn’t be bothered to get the chair or a step ladder. Or anything in fact. I just kept jumping up trying to grab it. Eventually I had tugged it to the very edge of the cupboard by jumping and grabbing it a little each time. When I had run out of energy, I just looked up and thought I’d probably have to give in and get a chair to climb. It was at this moment, standing underneath it and looking up, that it eventually tipped and fell. On to my face. My nose and top lip to be exact. About a third of the bag of flour also broke free at this point so my head was left in a cloud of flour and my nose felt broken as the bag fell to the floor and tipped almost the rest of the flour out in a nice little pile at my feet.

3. Left the tea box on a hob which was still turned on and burned through most of the tea bags inside the box. As a ps, burnt tea bags smell Dis. Gus. Ting.

4. (This one wasn’t me.) A friend once dropped her phone in a pan of oil then panicked and ran it under the tap to wash the oil off…!

Danda and the croissant

On a recent train journey, Danda and I were up early so neither of us had eaten before leaving the house. We got one train, then a tube then another train, which had all taken about an hour and a half. By the time we sat down, we were feeling light-headed from tea-deprivation and hunger.

Danda, in a fit of generosity and helpfulness, offered to go and get some victuals from the cafe cart, further down the train.

“What would you like?” he asked.

“Oo, just something small,” said I, not wanting to sound like a fat pie by asking for two muffins and a chocolate bar.

“A croissant, perhaps?” he suggested.

“Yes please. A little croissant would be nice.”

“And a drink? Some tea?”

“Yes, I think so. And a bottle of water.”

“Ok,” Danda said and started to leave.

“Actually, no. Not a tea, thanks. Just a water.”

“Just a water?”

“Yeh, thanks.”

And off he went, to the cafe cart. He was gone quite a while. I was getting hungry and couldn’t stop thinking about the croissant Danda was bringing back to me. My throat hurt and I was looking forward to having a nice cool drink of water.

I waited and waited and wondered what had happened.

After about fifteen minutes Danda arrived back at the table and gave me a bottle of water. I looked in his hands and couldn’t see anything else. Not a coffee for himself or a croissant for me or anything. Hmm.

He sat down, super casual, and started making idle chatter about the recent snow.

“Danda,” I said, timidly. Clearly something had happened here and I did not know what it was. “Danda, where are all the other things? I thought you would have got a cup of coffee?”

“O yes, I had one. There are little tables there where you can have your coffee so I had it there.”

“And the croissant?”

“Yes, I had one with my coffee. It was quite nice. They give you two little ones with your coffee.”

“And the other one? Where is that one?”

“I started it but got quite full. I threw most of the second one in the bin.”

“Um, in the bin? Why did you put it in the bin? Didn’t you bring one for me?”

“O. I thought you just wanted the water. I threw the other croissant away.”

Yes that’s right. Not only had he thought I only wanted water but he had eaten a croissant whilst there, then had a bite of a second and thrown it in the bin. The bin, readers. The bin in carriage number 13. While I starved in carriage number 18.

Any advice on what I should do about this situation?

Advertising nonsense

The other day I was flipping through one of the many catalogues we get sent at work. They are full of new products on the market and cool discounted deals and all the usual advertising jargon you see in the world of products of this sort. Occasionally, though, I come across something which is utter crap.

The most offensive one I saw recently was this nonsense tag line for a coffee company…

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What can this possibly mean? Hand-roasted coffee? Hand picked, maybe. Even handmade. But hand roasted? How is that even possible? The workers at Union have limbs which can reach temperatures of over 100 degrees so they simply hold the coffee in their hands for a while? Or they have huge walk-in ovens so they each take a handful of coffee and walk in the oven to caress the coffee beans gently whilst they roast, in the process roasting themselves alive and getting third degree burns, but they don’t mind. They sacrifice their bodies for the sake of bringing us ‘hand-roasted’ coffee. How lovely.

What?! What can it mean? Hand-roasted? Any suggestions?

Next up, a tea company.

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Design led. Is that supposed to be a good thing? I’m not sure why that would seem good. Do I want a tea company which is taste led? So I know I’m getting a nice tasty cup of tea? Or even innovation led? So I know that maybe I’m getting something new and interesting. Perhaps a fantastic new tea experience which could change my life.

No! This tea company doesn’t give two hoots about the taste, the innovation, the potential for new experiences. It couldn’t give a cuppa for my morning being made or ruined on the strength of my tea-drinking experience. No. What they care about is the design.

The design. That’s right. They’ll throw any old PG Tips in the box without a care in the world. So long as the design is good, this company is happy. They are design led. Good to know.

The next nonsense is geography-specific.

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Stonewall Kitchen, advertising their product in a UK magazine, which is being sent out to small delis and shops around the country, are enticing me to buy their product and stock it in my shop by telling me that I will recognise their product from ‘artisan shops in the US.’

O, thanks for pointing that out. I couldn’t think where I recognised it from. I just knew I’d seen it somewhere!

Because I’m always hanging out in artisan shops in the US.

Always.

I’m never out of them.

I practically live in them.

Ridiculous.