25 September 2009

and all because ... the lady loves ... le Creuset

That'll come off I reckon!

Popped out to the pub for a couple of liveners, as the pot roast beef and carrots were working their way to ready the moment we walk through the door.

I do like a thin sauce, but just in case, I'd rescued some out of the pot

................. for a beautiful reduction, it tasted wonderful when I went out for 2 hours

& what about our smoke alarm? It goes loopy when I use the toaster. Not a peep.


Tony's cleaned it with Vanish heated on the hob. It's fobby, but Zing! Look at that finish.
I wish my windows were that clean.

22 September 2009

Cotswold blackberries "on the vine"

Go into Winchcombe, turn into the Greet road, pass the Steam Railway for enthusiasts, pass the Harvest Home pub, pass the Manor House (I wish I lived there) and continue until the road becomes a track becomes a dead end.

& there's shed loads up the lane still. I've left some for you.

So in the Sunday Telegraph there's a blackberry and brown sugar loaf recipe, by Diana Henry. I've not had a dud from her yet.

I need to tweak that 175g sugar though, and make it with 50g.

& it's perfect.
moist, subtly flavoured, soft & light and so gently melts & breaks apart as you eat it.


175g becomes 50g sugar
pinch cinnamon becomes 3 cardamom pods
no dusting of icing sugar

all other ingredients are as the original states.

No cooking times I see and mine took 2 hours at 160deg, plus 10 minutes outside the tin to catch that just not quite done feel.

17 September 2009

District 9: the movie

Contains no plot spoilers

We love the movies. Used to go 3 or 4 times a week in London, when we didn't have a telly.

So, we go to see District 9 yesterday, Orange Wednesdays style.

& whilst we think we've got real good seats like, in comes 4 pick 'n mix twenty year olds who plonk in front of us, and now render our good seats as the black spot.
They continue to talk and talk ................. & talk. But it's the adverts.

So they continue to giggle - rather falsely I feel - during the film clips.

Now I like the film clips as it helps me decide on the next films to see. But no Gill, be cool, it's not the main feature yet.

So the film starts - and a jolly good Peter Jackson one it is too. A smashing film to go and see, but it's odd, eh.

& they are trying to disguise it, but they are still talking. For people with the attention span of a goldfish, they've certainly got my attention.
So I kick - one, two, three times - at the back of each chair. & as they each turn round to confront, my eyes flick sharpishly up to the screen. My sense of timing is impeccable. And they do indeed shut up.

But what's this? Oh man! One of them is flashing their mobile phone round. I can't keep my eyes on the film & I'm inconsolable.

So I lean over and deeply whisper from behind ................... "I've been watching your mobile phone for the past 5 minutes & I don't like it, shut it off"
Snap! it's away faster than a Nigella speedy speedy supper.

As the film ends and the lights go up, they look round to see who their assailant is, but my eyes aren't connecting with them.

It's not often in life I get the opportunity to tell such deserving people to shut-the-fuck-up!

Ah! That felt good.

16 September 2009

I've just picked up the ...........

to my new studio

I'm so excited I could burst ............ I'll be starting to paint in there at sunrise tomorrow.

12 September 2009

Driving Miss Crazy: through France and Spain

Our annual holiday is taking our little blue car, stuffed to the rafters, over the channel & down through France touring via logis hotels or UNESCO sites, and then into the Costa Brava to Tossa de Mar.

Now Tossa de Mar is stunning, romantic & still very much a holiday destination, all at once.

If the weather isn't good enough, we drive further, but this year had temperatures over 30, so we walk into the local estate agency, Finques Navarro that only speaks Spanish, and as usual, rent an apartment for a couple of weeks or more, this occasion was rental property 377.

get down on your bad self!

the only cd I'd packed in the car was Bill Withers, the best of ..............................
Luckily, I knew 3 songs to sing along to, but Tony finally cracked and refused to let me play it any more after my 20th rendition of "lovely daaaaaaay, lovely day lovely day lovely day"

& seemingly I was murdering "ain't no sunshine" at the "I know I know I know I know know know" bit.

So in Aigues Mortes

at the Cistercian festival within the city walls, I bought a refresher cd to break the music impasse.
Choral chants by a tattooed leather-clad chap, who sings like a girl called Luc Arbogast - here he is on youtube:

He was at the bar in the beer tent when I approached him to buy some sounds...............

Alas nay!
I wasn't allowed to play that one in the car either, for some reason.
So on we drive without music, from Aigues Mortes, to Tossa de Mar

painting in Spain

So, the deal is, I set up my easel wherever I lay my hat, with medium and canvas & paint

This was on the beach looking out to a rock formation, protected by a spirited tree growth which sort of reminded me of the beach umbrellas around me as I worked

Day One, is just getting the canvas covered, but with no detail or strength of colour.
Leave it to dry in the sun

Day Two, where it is almost finished now. I'll have to work on the sea in the studio, but nothing more....

click on the image to see detailed brush strokes if you wish

I cut it off the stretchers with a stanley knife in order to get it onto that back parcel shelf of the car, but it's got home intact thank goodness, just needs a couple of touch-ups

Spanish food

not that great this year, in spite of it being my preferred cuisine.
Since I make quite a meal of cooking at home, we choose to keep it popular and simple on holiday. No elaborate restaurants or fancy frills eating.

But this year has floppy calamares a la romana, flabby overstuffed pizzas. Nothing special fish.
Here's a selection but it did lack something

The good dishes:

almejas al vapor, my favourite:

sobrasada pizza

buñuelos de bacalao

ensalada rusa

the logis de france food in Orleans:

duck leg confit

offal terrine - in there somewhere

veal paté

drinks in Spain

we managed to find a no-alcohol beer that didn't smell of vomit.

You can't even tell you're not getting tanked up on it, marvellous stuff when you need to pull in the reins a little

Estrella Damm, Free.

Tony keeps asking how to pronounce Estrella - just stay Australia - but it doesn't sink in.

Not like when he asked me what the Spanish for smelly finger was - show him/her the smelly finger. Unfortunately, dedo apestoso - that sunk in first time.
We did get looks each time he said it and laughed, how he laughed .... ha ha ha!

& cuarenta y tres = 43 with a coffee

memory lane for me. I love the stuff.
If you ask for a tia maria, the likelihood in Spain is you may be served 43: the local equivalent that is sherry, brandy & coffee flavoured liqueur rolled into one.

Holiday pictures

Tony getting vaporised in "the garden of atmosphere", it was supposed to cool you down, but was rather uncomfortable really

Me - haven't I got wobbly fingers! I really should delete this picture

Tony is supposed to be doing the V sign on his head, but he's not very good at it

and back home on the le Havre to Portsmouth ferry

11 September 2009

the back parcel shelf of the MX5 ........

is all mine, and this is what I have brought back from Spain & France
coupled with my painting easel, canvases, stretchers and materials, & the laptop

- 5 litres of Spanish extra virgin olive oil
- a Spanish pot that I intend to blacken for bbqs, into the oven and for the stove top cooking, like all good Spanish mamas have
- Granxet dried beans from a Catalan market stall
- A stash of 10 tubes of Amora mustard that lasts till about February - so I've brought back extra
- mucho soap that doesn't make you sneeze
- a chair for my painting studio, I couldn't manage 2 in the back of the car
- and a new handbag

crammed into the 15 year old little blue MX5, which is sadly on it's last legs:

I confess I felt a bit sorry for the Border Control guard who felt the need for a rummage in our car - especially the boot.
I think he got oil paint on his hands and jacket!

1 September 2009

met my sister in Spain! how odd

My oldest sister Jane was by coincidence in Pineda de Mar, with only one day window overlap at the end of her holiday - as Tony and I rolled into Tossa de Mar to start ours, 20 or so kilometers down the coast.

So we decided to catch the flying boat down the coast and say hello.

It was wonderful to see them, chilled and ready to go home, as we were starting out on our vacations.

So here we are

left to right:
Tony, Jane my sister, Abby my little niece, and Chris her partner

I wonder if she has stopped crying yet after our leaving .......