Monday, 28 February 2011

Funny? Interesting? Cool? Good Grief!!!!!!

Jackie has just nabbed the comfy chair from under me.

I now sit upon one of the dining chairs...


'So this is love'.....

I have just finished reading Jaqueline and Les's latest instalment on "So this is love " blog.

Good grief!!!!

You actually made me cry, you b*st*rds!!!

Okay, so here's how it goes.....

I got in tonight from a God-awful day at the Hole-Making Shop. I am absolutely banjaxed, tired out, knackered, and in every which-way exhausted......

(Hole-making is a serious game. Sod-it-up and you are in big-serious-go-away-and-stop-messing-with-me trouble........suffice to say that having been forced to run before I could walk on the 'Extremely Advanced Hole Making Course', (it doesn't help that my Sainted Mentor was absent today due to a family bereavement, so I was left to the tender mercies of less sympathetic people... i.e I was sodding-things-up left, right and centre....)

I tune in to Blogger.

There it is: Jaqueline Almdale's latest blog.

Okay, so I cried.

I cried at 'Sleepless in Seattle', which should give you a clue.......


So now I'm over it.....

Jaqueline, please could you send me your address, complete with zip code, via "The Lucky Duck's" blog? Amy Duck has a cunningly concealed email address on their site, and I've asked her permission and she's happy for me to use it....('Pippin's' blog won't let me comment on any other blogs, or maybe only once before the icons disappear, and I promise you I'm not being blocked as a whack-job as James and Amy are dear friends and I can't comment on their blog at all !!!.).

The reason I ask is that I have in my possession a little book which I think you will enjoy. I would like to post it to you. It is by L.T.C. Rolt and is about the origins of the canal preservation movement in the UK.

You and Les are welcome aboard wb Pippin for drinks, lunch or supper whenever you choose to take us up on the offer.

With love,

John and Jackie. XX

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Quite a week........

Not only did we see our friends James and Amy Duck, we met Jasper Fforde, and then lost a job and a bike.

Where to begin.....?

The Ducks have blogged already about our meeting with Jasper Fforde at his talk organised by Topping's bookshop in Ely. It was great fun! I especially liked James Duck's choice of pew in the church where the talk was held: right at the back, bang next to the table with all the wine on.

James doesn't actually care for wine over-much, but bagsied the seats to ensure he and Amy were in close proximity to the radiator. (It was fairly chilly...). Never have I been more approving of this seeming lack of hardiness in the younger generation: it enabled me to nobble a top-up!!

Suffice to say, Jasper Fforde was brilliant. Jackie came to meet us after the talk finished (she couldn't get away from London early enough to join us for it), and we bought fish and chips, ate them down by the river, then repaired to the Cutter Inn for a little something to rinse away the grease. (A pint of Broadside and a half of Doom Bar in my case..... )

Good job Jackie was on hand to drive us all home......

The next day, the company Jackie has been editing for folded. We had been expecting this though, as it seemed a pretty fly-by-night operation. It's a shame as Jackie had just turned down an offer of six weeks with a reputable company in order not to leave her employers in a pickle, but hey, that's showbiz.....

Today, I went down to the tip at Milton to drop off the recycling. A few weeks ago, I bought a 1950's Raleigh Superbe ladies bike there for a tenner. I am rebuilding it with the help of ebay and our landlord, who, handily, is a Raleigh dealer. However, some bits are missing. Today I saw them all, along with some very desirable period accessories, all attached to a another dumped bike at Milton. I turned around to see if one of the lads knew what they wanted for it, only to turn back to see some thoroughly undeserving git wheeling it away!


But then again, some you win, some you lose.

They say trouble comes in threes. I hope this doesn't hold true for disappointments.

Marvellous Marmalade

Amy from nb Lucky Duck was very complimentary about my marmalade. Thanks!

I'm definitely not a domestic goddess but my culinary secret is a copy of 'The Silver Spoon' cookbook published by Phaidon. I'm told that it's traditionally given by Italian mothers to their daughters on their wedding day and contains hundreds if not thousands of very simple, classic recipes. Most don't contain more than 3 or 4 ingredients and the instructions are always very straightforward. So, it's perfect for beginner cooks like me.

Last year was my first expedition into jam-making and I attempted the marmalade recipe. It worked and worked well again this year! So if you're interested, here it is...

2kg oranges
Granulated sugar

Prick the oranges all over with a fork and place them in a large bowl. Add water to cover and leave to soak for 12 hours.

Drain, dry and peel the oranges, reserving the rind from three of them.

Using a small, sharp knife, remove all traces of white pith from the reserved rind and cut the rind into extremely thin strips.

Bring a small pan of water to the boil, add the strips of orange rind and cook for 3-4 minutes, then drain.

Thinly slice the peeled oranges and remove the pips. Weigh the slices and then put them in a saucepan with an equal weight of sugar.

Bring to the boil over a medium heat and simmer gently, without adding any water, stirring frequently for about 1 hour or until the sugar starts to form threads.

[Jackie note: I drip a bit of marmalade on a cold plate and if after 20 secs or so, it starts to wrinkle when you touch it - it's about done]

Add the strips of orange rind and cook, stirring constantly for 2-3 minutes.

Ladle the marmalade into warm, sterilised glass jars while still hot.

Leave to cool and them seal tightly. Store in a cool, dry place.

(This makes about 3-4 jars worth.)

Done! As Mr Ramsay would say. Or 'Beautiful! Gorgeous!' as Mr Oliver would exclaim. Or 'Ooh! It's worked!' as we would say.

Jackie x

Monday, 21 February 2011

The news is generally, er, good.......

This week, I am determined to accentuate the positive.

However, listening to the news on the wireless, there seems to be a dearth of anything remotely good.

Libya is in flames.

Doctors are saying the government must increase the price of alcohol to prevent a liver disease epidemic.

'Dave' Cameron is going to sell off virtually everything in sight to private owners under the entirely mendacious cover of "The Big Society".

More locally, some spotty oik in A Well Known High Street Electronics Retailer has properly annoyed Amy Duck. (See Lucky Duck's blog).

All in all, more than enough to send a grown man reaching for the Citilopram......

So now, the good news.

Mum and Dad celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary at the weekend.

We all had an an absolutely brilliant time!

Nigh-on seventy friends and relatives joined Mum and Dad for lunch at a local restaurant on Saturday, which was excellent, then went back to theirs for a continuation of the party. Everyone then had a short breather before coming round for a buffet lunch on Sunday.

It was all just lovely, so thanks Mum and Dad!! And well done for Fifty Years of happy marriage!

Further good news: The Conservancy of the River Cam has backed down for now on the highly contentious issue of charging powered craft an additional licence for having the bad luck to be moored in these waters.

(By the way, the wide-beam brethren I called on for aid in the January post "War is declared" have now been re-tasked. They're going round to Maplins to 'have a word'........).

Also, the Secretary of State has just been forced into the sort of screeching u-turn that used to be the sole province of T.V. detective Jim Rockford. (If you're under the age of thirty-five, you may have to Google that one.....) Yes, it seems The Big Society has delivered the biggest raspberry to 'Dave' and his cronies plans to sell off our forests and woodlands.

Y-E-E-E-E-S!!!!!! RESULT!!!!!! And, dare I say it, HURRAH!!!!!!

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Reversing down Memory Lane..........

Last week I had some annual leave, which was nice.

I eschewed the bucket flight to Sharm-El-Sheik in favour of a "staycation" aboard.

(Jackie's working again anyway, and even if she wasn't, who would look after Thomas Cat?)

Also, we're skint........

I did manage a couple of trips into London, though.

The first involved supper and a night's stay with our chums Claire and Andy.

After booze-ban Jan, a torrent of wine was unleashed, so it was with a low-to-medium-level hangover that I left their place the following day.

(Incidentally, the high-level hangover is of the sort that precludes not only any semblance of sentience, but getting up at all....for several days. The scale stops there, because if you aren't actually dead, you really, really really wish you were....)

Jackie had preceded me into town to get to work, so I tottered from Waterloo station in the vague direction of Soho at about 10.30. (I'd arranged to meet my old pal Ellis for lunch at The French Pub.)

On the way, I took in the National Film Theatre.

Ellis and I used to work there in the '90's when it was home to the late, great, gone, but never-to-be-forgotten Museum of the Moving Image.

Memory Lane?

More like a six-lane highway........


The work!

The nights of drinking and carousing!

The great friends!

The mortal enemies!!

The time of our lives!!!


All gone.

Not a vestige of that once wonderful place now remains.

Walking around the NFT was actually disorientating. So much was familiar, but so much was simply....... missing. Perhaps it was the hangover, but I felt almost ill, like I was suffering from vertigo.

They say you should never return to a place where you have been happy.....

I crossed Waterloo Bridge and headed slowly up into The West End.

I had an excellent lunch with Ellis at The French: we talked of anything and everything.

Except the past.

That we left where it is, back-aways down the winding road.

No matter how much you might wish to, you simply cannot reverse down Memory Lane.