Posts Tagged ‘water’

O, I do like to be beside the sea

Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to Danda!
Happy birthday to you!

Hip hip hooray and all that.

As you’ve probably guessed, it was Danda’s birthday yesterday so, in true birthday style, we ran off to the beach for the day. And it was glorious. The weather stayed warm enough to spend all day walking around but breezy enough to not be uncomfortable.

The day started with fancy lunch. I love a fancy lunch, as some of you may already know. I love fancy lunching. I love Michelin stars. I love pretty food.

This lunch did not disappoint.

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It started with bread, after which we were presented with calf’s tongue with piccalilli. Did I ever mention how much I love the free extras at nice restaurants?
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We had the same starter, a leek and potato soup with white truffle cream. My goodness, do I love a truffle! I love a truffle. I went crazy for this soup. It was really really good with some of the fresh bread dipped into it.
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Next up, Danda’s main was mackerel with mashed potatoes, spinach and tomatoes.
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Mine was a confit duck leg on a bed of lentils and bacon with cavolo nero and thinly cut, fried potatoes.
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It was easily the best duck I’ve ever eaten. It was so soft and fell off the bone without any resistance at all. The skin, which I worried about because it can be quite fatty and disappointing, was crispy and beautiful. The jus was fantastic too. I just ate and ate and hoped it would never end. Sadly, it did so off we went, out into the daylight, to seek our next adventure.

We found it on the Brighton Wheel, looking down at the seaside town from the sky.
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We then went for the longest walk ever in search of the Naturist Beach. O, what? Wait. I mean. I meant. I didn’t mean we went looking for it. I meant we were walking and then we saw it. By accident.

There was one bloke with a cap on chatting to a fully dressed couple and that was it. Disappointing.

We headed out to the marina to see what fun could be had there.
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There were a lot of generic could-be-anywhere shops near the marina so we decided to wander back to the beach but not after spotting an amazing ‘5D’ ride thing that we just had to go on. It was one of those rollercoaster simulator things and it was really good. We got given 3D glasses and were splashed with water or blown with wind. It was fast and furious and I yelped quite a lot!

We finished the day by splashing about in the water and lying on the beach looking at the sky.
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Showering and shopping

Yesterday, I was having a working-from-home day. There’s a lot to be said for staying at home in your jarmies to work. But I also had my instructions from Simon Gear to follow. He had asked two things from me in his book, Going Greener.

Eat fresh fruit in season to avoid the air miles, flying things across the globe so I can eat it all year round.

Shower rather than bath to save on water.

I adapted the first one slightly, given that I was looking for vegetables, not fruit. But the message was the same. Buy as locally as possible to avoid the air miles, one of the most environmentally-damaging things I probably take part in, on a day to day basis.

I decided that, actually, I would shop entirely British for eveything I needed for my planned cottage pie. So I approached the vegetable section. I needed tomatoes, carrots, potatoes and herbs.

Well, I almost gave up on the tomatoes and the herbs! All the tomatoes were from Portugal and Spain. After searching all through the different varieties, I found one variety of vine tomatoes that was grown in Britain. Phew! The cottage pie could make a start.

The herbs were from everywhere but Britain. Jordan, Egypt, Spain, Morocco, Mexico… Nothing. As I wandered off, I saw pots of herbs with little British flags printed on their labels! Hurrah! My cottage pie could have flavour! I got myself some thyme and some chives and suddenly, the world of reducing my air miles and shopping British smelled fabulous!

Next was potatoes and these weren’t hard to find. The carrots were also British, not too much trouble there.

I didn’t need mushrooms but in my excitement that so many of them were British, I got some anyway.

I learned, at this point, that lots of vegetables are from Israel. The other British ones I saw were chicory and lettuce, neither of which I needed but will keep in mind.

The beef mince was easy enough because the nice stuff in Waitrose happens to be British beef so no compromises needed there.

Getting cereal bars was fine because I know Jordans is a British company but a surprising amount were from America.

I wanted to pick up some tupperware to keep left over cottage pie in (another instruction from Simon Gear is to freeze down individual portions for emergencies then you never end up eating rubbish takeaway or bowls of icecream for dinner) but the tupperware was made in Vietnam so that was out.

I must say, it was a bit of a faff checking the small print on everything I bought but I felt sooo much better leaving the shop and knowing I’d made the effort to reduce my personal environmental impact. I also didn’t wrap my vegetables in plastic and I brought my own bags to pack my shopping in.

And now for the second challenge. This one, I knew, would be more of a mental hurdle than anything else, due to the simple fact that when it is cold and wintery, I like to have a hot bath and listen to an audiobook and pretend I am a lady of leisure.

As Simon rightly points out in his book however, when taking a bath, you use more than twice the water of a shower and, disgustingly, all the dirt that was on your feet ends up in your hair, and vice versa. Now I know this, of course I know it. But I like to pretend I don’t, due to the lady of leisure thing already mentioned.

Yesterday, despite the current cold snap and flurries of snow, I resolved to stop being a water-hog (one who hogs water, not a pig who lives in a river) and get a shower instead.

I put the plug in, to test the theory about how much less water it uses, turned it on hot and danced around a bit to some music to stay warm. After a few minutes, I could stop dancing and just enjoy it because it was quite nice actually. The cold from outside was like a test of strength. If I was tough enough to handle the cold, I could do anything!

At the end of my shower, which took 5 minutes instead of the requisite 30 for my lounging around bath sessions, the water was only just approaching my ankles. It was barely a tenth of what I use for a bath. I felt great, tinged with guilt for all the other times when I had bathed instead of showering.

And that was that! Two more boxes ticked on my quest to become more useful!

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!

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?

The bucket of fat

The other day I was in work. It was quite busy. Not rushed-off-your-feet busy. Just I-need-a-cup-of-tea-now busy. We got the food delivery in and, as usual, we started to unpack some stuff into the display fridge, put some stuff away, etc.

There was a huge bucket and when we opened it to look inside, we saw the slightly cloudy water that the poached chicken has been cooked in. Great, put that in the kitchen and I’ll unpack the chicken into tubs, when I get a chance.

Cakes went on stands, cheese went in fridges and salads went in bowls. It was all looking fab and under control. I went to the kitchen and that’s when we got loads of orders. There I was, heating, pouring, chopping, plating, and the bucket of chicken stood on the side, in my way, while I struggled to find time to deal with it. On and on it went, every time my hands went to the bucket to unpack the chicken, an order came in.

It was big and in my way but I didn’t want to move it out of the way, for fear I’d forget to deal with it.

Finally, I got the lid off. Then about four orders came in. I dealt with them and sent them out and then there I was again, alone with the bucket of chicken, finally. I was going to do this! Nothing could stop me.

Now, I don’t know how many of you are frequent poachers of chicken but it’s a fabulous way to cook it. It’s a lot more moist than roasting or frying. But as the chicken takes on the moisture from the water, so it releases some of its fat. So what you end up with is a pan of beautifully cooked chicken, floating in a sea of slightly discoloured water with fatty blobby bits on the surface. Should this water then cool down a little, the fatty blobby bits merge together to form misshapen white islands bobbing about on the top of the water. It’s not pretty, as you can imagine.

So this bucket of chicken had the inevitable floating blobby fat islands on its surface and the water itself was quite cloudy, so that I couldn’t even see the chicken in the bottom. It was a huge bucket, which was wierd because they never usually sent this much chicken. They usually sent a far smaller bucket.

Anyway, I got out two tubs to transfer the chicken into. I wrote the date on them, so we’d know when it came in.

I rolled up my sleeve… And plunged my hand into the fatty watery pit, to seek out the chicken from the depths below.

I swished my hand around. And around. I felt right to the bottom, around the edges. I swirled around in the fat-water. Around and around. And I didn’t happen upon a single peice of chicken. Not one. Puzzled, I kept swishing my hand around.

And then it dawned on me. They’d obviously made a mistake at the other deli, where they cook the food. They’d sent us this instead of chicken. They’d got mixed up, kept the chicken and sent us the bucket of water they cooked it in, clearly meant for throwing away.

So now, here I am, elbow deep in a bucket of fat, for no reason. A chickenless bucket of fat. With my sleeve up around my arm. The floating fat islands gently colliding with my forearm as I plunge around desperately, looking for poached chicken. Poached chicken which is not in this bucket. This massive bucket of fat.

It was not my finest hour.

Wierd dream I had last night

I’m feeling a bit low on inspiration so I’ll just tell you about a wierd dream I had last night.

I was just going about my normal business in the dream and everyone was talking about this place. It was like a little town underwater in a lake somewhere nearby. And people lived there.

I went on a day trip there, or something, I’m not sure. Anyway, I was there. Just walking about, getting stuff at the underwater shop etc. There was a funny glass dome thing over some areas of it so you could walk about as normal. But then there were parts where you had to go out into the water to get to the next building. I was still walking fine, there didn’t seem to be any problem of me floating off or anything. It was more the inconvenience of having to hold my breath. I wasn’t even getting wet. Just having to hold my breath.

Then someone said to me that I should move there and live there all the time. I was really really gutted because I love where I live now. I was being such a martyr about having to move there. I was getting all teary and going ‘I’ll really miss everyone and everything but ok, I’ll move to the underwater village.’ I remember that I was emotionally torn by this decision but I knew it was the right thing to stay there.

Mental. I wonder what mixture of things I watched on TV or talked about for THAT to have come up in my dreams.

Also, I have a secret that I’m dying to tell you but I don’t want to spoil the surprise on the very small, very unlikely chance that the person who the surprise is for might read this. So you’ll just have to wait.

Top Tips, doctor’s letters and strange dolls

It’s time to check in with the crazy world of Chat again. But first, let me just mention an odd dream I had last night. I went on holiday to Marbella (I think) but I forgot to book the week off work so I was there, swimming and sunbathing, then I was flying back to England in the evenings so I could work in the morning and flying back to Marbella in the afternoons after work. Wierd.

Anyway, let’s get started. There’s a surprising lack of ‘I used to be 20 stone but now I’m not’ stories. Not one single weight loss story. Disappointing. Never fear, though! Chat never lets us down. We have instead a picture of a cat pushing another cat in a little trolley. I’m not joking. Look.

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Then there’s the usual page of photos about nothing, e.g. here’s a photo of me and John from Jedward. She waited eight hours for him apparently. I’m speechless. I didn’t think anyone took then seriously enough to wait eight hours. Another photo is just of a cat asleep. The caption says ‘Here’s our little cat Tigger, he’s fallen asleep in our bed.’ Nonsense.

Top tips next. This is always a good page. One of the tips is from a woman who says she covers her oven shelves in foil to save on the washing up. Another is a woman who has the answer to one of life’s big problems. You know when you try to fill up a large bucket with water but it doesn’t fit in the sink? Well, you shall struggle no more!

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Put your dustpan under the tap and direct the water down the handle and into the bucket waiting underneath.

Another lady has cut her old net curtains up and sowed the floral patterns onto her top. I mean, thanks for sharing, but I think I won’t be using that old-net-curtains tip.

There’s a really random letter on the doctors page too. Check it out.

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What. On. Earth. An extra thumb!? And she’s writing to Chat about it? And then Chat are like, ‘O yeh, tie a thread around it and it will fall off.’ Something feels a bit dodgy about all this. I’m going to have a serious think next time I put anything around my finger….

Another letter says, honestly, “I have a phobia of mice. I really freak out and have to run if I see one. Can I be cured?” Now, I shouldn’t imagine that this really needs writing to Chat about. How often do you see mice in everyday life in England? I saw one in the garden ages ago and before that it must have been years. So a mouse-phobia, however serious, is not really a major setback, is it? If the intervals at which you see one are years apart. Anyway. Maybe she lives in the country and sees them all the time. Who knows.

Lastly, a woman who collects and makes wierd dolls.

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She thinks they’re ‘cute’ and gives them to people for their birthdays etc. She gave one to her mother in law for Mother’s Day. I honestly don’t know what I’d do if someone gave me one of these for my birthday. Well, I do, I’d hide it somewhere no-one would see it. But I don’t know what I’d say right there in the moment, when you’ve just opened it and present-giver is looking at you, eagerly awaiting your reaction. I mean it’s fine her making and collecting them but what on earth would I do with one? I guess I’d give it a little hug and say ‘Wow, thanks, I love it. I was hoping someone would give me a little strange gothic doll thing for my birthday this year. And now, at last, my dream has come true. Thanks. You know me so well. You knew I’d love this. And I do. I really do.’

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