Friday 31 May 2024

Take It With A Pinch Of [Sea] Salt

 A couple of weeks ago,  I posted about mending my favourite yellow SeaSalt Jacket, by taking one of the pockets to use as fabric for patching. I subsequently had an email from one of the Sues, thanking me for the tip. She'd subsequently been able to fix her favourite linen Seasalt dress by using the pocket.
I'd just ordered some socks [gifts] and a belt in the SeaSalt 80% off sale, and replied to Sue's messaging telling her about this.
I went off to Paris, thinking no more about this, and was expecting to find a parcel on my return. It was not here. But when I checked my emails, there was one from Sue, warning me it was all a scam.
Am I embarrassed to be caught out in this one! I am usually so careful about these things. I have bought goods in their genuine sale in the past - and I just did not check it clearly. It was a fake site and I completely fell for it.I am so grateful to Sue for alerting me to this. I checked my credit card transactions, and there was the right amount - to an unrecognised company.
I rang M&S who provide my card.The woman was so helpful - when I read out the name, she said "oh, yes, we are investigating that one, they've caught a lot of people out" . Because they have my card details, that has been cancelled and I will get a new one in the post shortly. Fortunately there have been no dodgy transactions on the card in the past fortnight, but maybe they wait a while before trying anything.
So please don't get caught out like I did. I'm not the sort of woman who buys off the internet late at night and ends up with a lot of pointless purchases. I thought I was genuinely thriftily stocking up on quality stocking fillers, well ahead of the Christmas rush. I feel really stupid.
If you are scrolling through Facebook, and you see an ad for a company you know and trust - do not make the same mistake as I did, and click on the link to the website.Go directly to the genuine store site from your browser, to see if this is a true sale offer. Seasalt of Falmouth are really upset that this fake website has been conning people. Especially that the ad implies they are selling off stock 'because they are closing stores and going 100% online when in fact they are planning on expanding their High Street Presence.
I hate to admit I have been an idiot - but if this stops even just one other blogfriend being caught out, I'll put up with the red face.  Thank you again, Sue, for alerting me.

Thursday 30 May 2024

We're Back!

... and once I've had time to sort my pictures, I'll share them. So grateful for a wonderful week, and safe travels. And for a lovely home and comfortable bed to return to. [Bob pointed out they are new pillows, we replaced our old ones in April!] 

Wednesday 29 May 2024

Signs And Wonders

My French accent is dreadful, but most of the time I can work out the words if they are written down. I was able to watch The Big Bang Theory on the TV in the hotel bedroom, and understand the subtitles. But Parisian street signs occasionally caused me to wonder...
Chanter is to sing - so is it forbidden to sing in public? Or must you wear a hard hat whilst doing so, and stand still [don't walk along] I wondered about this one for ages. 
But chantier is a noun, not a verb. It means construction site, and the sign explains that the public may not enter it. 
Then there was this one 

Then there was this one
Sauf desserte locale SAUF
I wonder... Is it
"Save the local puddings" do you think? **
Well I'm all for that one 
- we enjoyed some splendid desserts this week. 
I had Iles Flottantes twice. 
The second of these was huge, the size of a small melon.
 Bob had a large millefeuille, stuffed with cream and red fruits 
- and I had an amazing 5-part pud, comprising three different pots of deliciousness, plus a slim gauffre [waffle] and a tiny cup of coffee. The three pots contained 
  1. chocolate mousse with whipped cream, 
  2. vanilla mascarpone with cream, apricots and almonds, 
  3. a little serving of batons of fresh pineapple with strawberry garnish. 
**I was sort of sad to discover it actually means "no entry, save [excepting] local traffic, and excepting bicycles"! 

It will be strange to get back to Britain where the road signs usually make sense. 

Here's a favourite of mine, from Wiveton up on the Norfolk coast 
I wonder what a visiting Frenchman would make of this sign? 

Today's schedule...Breakfast at 7, Eurostar leaves at 10, back to Romford to collect car from Julian's. Then Norfolk in the evening.

Tuesday 28 May 2024

Sunny Delight

"Isn't it delightful, sitting in the sun like this?" I said to Bob - and suddenly remembered Sunny Delight orange drink. It was so popular in the 90s - "Do they still sell it?" I mused "And didn't a boy in Wales go orange after drinking too much?"

So of course I looked it up - yes they do still sell it, [in Tesco, Asda and Iceland] reformulated and rebranded as SunnyD and focussing on its healthy Vitamin D content. And yes sales took a massive hit after a four year old girl turned orange. You can also get  SunnyD "blue raspberry", which has Brilliant Blue FCF colouring [a synthetic dye with dubious side effects]

But enough of that - the food I am more interested in was in the two books I was enjoying, both very appropriate for delightful sunshine

Frozen Yogurt is by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi, two sisters who started a chain of food outlets in Paris and elsewhere called It Mylk selling Frozen Yogurt, about 10 years ago. Sadly these have all closed now, or I should be eating in one this week! But as I make my own yogurt, and want to avoid UPF supermarket icecream, I thought this CS bargain might help me with this. They have two basic recipes - using 'whole' or 'fat-free' milk for their end product.

Also there are instructions for those with an ice cream maker, and those [like me] without this gadget. The book gives the basic recipes, recipes for flavoured ices, and recipes for 'extras' - milkshakes, gateaux, cookies, toppings etc. It makes your mouth water! I decided to try one recipe out, but realised I did not have any single cream to hand, even though I had plenty of yogurt.
I cheated, and used a can of evaporated milk to make the 'salidou' salted caramel version. It was OK, although it taste a little of evap. I think I will definitely try these recipes again, using proper cream. You have to beat the freezing mixture every hour for four hours, to break up the ice crystals. After the final beating, I poured it into individual plastic tubs, so It was [a] easer to portion, and [b] thawed a little to a softer consistency for eating quickly. Please note artistic strawberry garnish.*****
My second sunshine read was "Taste- my life through food" by actor Stanley Tucci. I love this clever and funny guy. He has been in so many films - my favourite is Julie and Julia, where he stars opposite Meryl Streep as the husband of Julia Child. There is a lot of food in that film! Tucci is of Italian Heritage, and has recently done some TV shows where he goes to Italy, in search of his roots, and eating the local foods. 

Jay Rayner describes the book as "A delicious story of appetite, family and pasta...the ever tasteful Tucci invites us to his table, and feeds us all the good stuff."
Lots of great Italian recipes, mostly meat based, plus some cocktails, I looked up hopefully at my tomato plants, willing them to produce lush crimson globes so I could make the ragu, timpano, tropiano sauce and more. 
The book is full of anecdotes, the story of his life, his first wife [who sadly died of cancer] and his second very happy marriage.
But I am only giving this one **** - partly because he uses the f-word far too much, and quite unnecessarily [being American is no excuse] and secondly, there is no index for the recipes, they are dotted about through the book and not easy to locate [and have no pictures either] 
But definitely two delightful books to read in the sunshine.
A final thought - do you think Donald Trump drank too much SunnyD and that is why he is that absurd orange colour?

Monday 27 May 2024

Holiday Update #4

All continues well, but weather rather less sunny. We cut short our day out yesterday because we both felt tired. Back at hotel by 3:30, which was good. We were safe inside when the massive cloud burst happened at 4pm. Today we bought filled baguettes for a picnic lunch, but the rain came just as we were about to eat. So we repacked them in our bags, and jumped on the Metro back to our hotel. We had a HOT lunch in the restaurant round the corner. 
The picnic became our evening meal, eaten in our room! Random questions:
  • Why are so many Metro stations sorely lacking in escalators or lifts? The Paris bid for the Olympics stressed that they would make disabled access & travel across the city easier. [see BBC report
  • Why do the couple in the next room come in around 11:45 each evening, and both have long showers and noisy conversations till 1 in the morning? 
  • Why is the tea so awful? [and why did I forget to pack my own teabags?] 
  • Why are there so many little dogs, on long leads, in the busy city streets? 
  • Why has Tati closed? The glorious cheap&cheerful homeware store has gone the way of Woolies and Wilko... We went into IKEA instead! 
I DO like the Paris 2024 Olympic logo. It is very cleverly designed. And it's everywhere, all over the city. 
PS thank you for all your kind wishes for Liz on her birthday. 

Happy Birthday Liz

This is a favourite picture of Liz - I see it every day on my fridge! Jess was a baby then - just like a little doll. This is my daughter and her girls, and I am so proud of the woman that she has become.
Here they are in the park last summer
I am sorry we cannot be with you on your birthday - Bob and I will be in Paris - and you and your crew will be in The Netherlands, with Steph and her family, all having a holiday together. 
I hope that you, Jon and the rest of the family, all have a wonderful time together. Love you lots - see you soon! 

Sunday 26 May 2024

The Lord's Day

It's Sunday, and so whatever else I do today, I shall be thinking of the friends back home in our little chapel, joining to worship God. [We briefly joined in a service yesterday in Sacre Coeur] But the wonderful thing is, whether in a chapel with a few, a cathedral with hundreds, or just alone, I can pray and praise God, and feel his love, peace and joy in my heart.

Worshipping alone is good - having friends with me is a bonus and a joy. May you be blessed today, however, wherever you choose to worship

Saturday 25 May 2024

Holiday Update #3

Friday - another museum, a church, a little bit of souvenir shopping, and more good food. Bob tried unsuccessfully to get an ice cream in Galleries Lafayette. He managed this in 1981, 1992 and 2006. But sadly not this time. I visited somewhere I'd wanted to see for over 50 years. 
Saturday - two churches, a cemetery, and at last, a splendid ice cream. The weather is wonderful, sunny and warm. 
I should say that this being our 4th trip to Paris, we're visiting an eclectic set of different places. So NOT the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Arc De Triomphe, Boat Trip etc. A full report on our return... 


Words are strange - how is it that the word for something unpleasant in English is the same as the word for an essential food in French? This week I am forgetting about carbs and aiming to sample as many wonderful pains as I can
I have already tasted croissant, baguette, petit pains, pain aux raisin,  boule de compagne and others . I'm not sure that this chart is accurate. A bagel is not especially French, is it? And where is the golden egg-enriched brioche? I would like to try the leaf shaped fougasse
Following a comment from SencoSue on Monday, I've done more reading up on the Sourfaux Scandal.
The Real Bread Campaign took Lidl to court over their Rye Sourdough, which was mostly made with regular baker's yeast - and they won. The loaf is now a Crusty Wheat and Rye Bloomer.
The RBC is not against bread made with baker's yeast - but it is against shops promoting breads in a misleading way - calling loaves 'sourdough' when they are mixed doughs, and doing the same with wholemeal. Shops which say "Baked in store" - technically correct, but the dough has been made elsewhere, and merely gets 'browned off' when it arrives onsite. These shortcuts make the product cheaper - and militate against proper artisanal bakers who want to make the best, authentic product for their customers. It will be interesting to see what Parisian bread tastes like.
I do know that if bread is good, I find it satisfies for longer than the cheap white sliced "Chorleywood" stuff. 
The simplest loaf in my breadmaker contains
flour, yeast, water, sugar and salt [and a splash of oil to soften/preserve the crumb]
Tesco white sliced contains 
Wheat Flour [Wheat Flour, Calcium Carbonate, Iron, Niacin, Thiamin], Water, Yeast, Salt, Preservative (Calcium Propionate), Soya Flour, Spirit Vinegar, Emulsifier (Mono- and Diacetyl Tartaric Acid Esters of Mono- and Diglycerides of Fatty Acids), Rapeseed Oil, Flour Treatment Agent (Ascorbic Acid).
I am truly sorry for those of you who have to avoid gluten or excess carbs. That's a real pain.

Friday 24 May 2024

Daisy, Daisy...

A year ago, I was on holiday in Scotland, and I had a disastrous fall. As well as smashing up my teeth and face, my bag also got damaged. I was a quite upset- it had been a birthday gift from Liz, and I'd only had it for a few weeks. It's a neat little Uniqlo banana bag, made of nylon. It's ideal for holidays - cross-body style it holds a surprising amount.
But it had half a dozen small holes and done larger ones, from where it hit the gravel.
I thought I should repair if before the Paris trip. Sunday afternoon I sat and sewed, whilst watching a fascinating film about actress Dame Margaret Rutherford. 
An invisible mend seemed impossible - so I decided to make it bright and beautiful.
First I stitched the holes together with blue thread.
Then I stitched lazy daisies over them
Finally I sprinkled some silver sequins around the flowers. 
Smart enough for the Champs Elysee, do you think?

Thursday 23 May 2024

Holiday Update #2

Journey to St Pancras efficient, uneventful. Lunch with Liz utterly delightful. Eurostar excellent. Thanks to advice from Fat Dormouse we have been able to load tickets to our phones enabling easy bus and metro travel. So straight out of station, and onto bus, which stopped right opposite our hotel.
Room has everything we need, 4th floor, good views. Comfortable bed. Surprised by sheets and blanket. Maybe these are easier to launder than duvets if there are bedbug issues? Breakfast buffet varied and delicious
Wednesday evening we had a little stroll then relaxed. Slept very well. 
Thursday we saw Notre Dame, a Museum and a few more things. Full report once we are home and I can edit photos on pc. I'm keeping a travel journal, thoughtfully supplied by a very good friend, so will have good notes for future blogposts. Currently weather and food both very good. Bob's back pain is limiting the amount of walking but we are still having a fabulous time. Thank you all for kind remarks. 

Sacre Bleu!

 I don't believe it! Following the peroxide incident, Bob thought it would be a good idea to set That Woman to be bilingual. He walked into the bedroom on Tuesday and asked
Alexa, quell heure est-il?
and to my surprise, she replied in perfect French
Neuf heures et demi
He explained what he'd done, so I tried a question - the first I learned at school
Alexa, comment appelez vous?
And she replied [I kid you not] and started to play a tune
Playing 'Poo Bum, Pooh Bum" from Apple Music...
She does not understand my accent at all. I give up!!

Wednesday 22 May 2024

L'autre Femme

I have something of a love/hate relationship with Alexa.  I wasn't sure we needed her, and sometimes she really annoys me. Bob loves technology, and so I refer to her as The Other Woman. Rosie loves her, and uses her for composing stories and learning facts. Jess gets frustrated when she will not play her exact choice of music.
In my "getting ready for a week in France" I've been trying to converse in French occasionally. But my Essex accent is evident, and I although I can usually read and comprehend text, I'm not that fast at conversation. Bob [half Belgian] is Very Competent.
On Monday morning, Bob decided we should be listening to French Composers. "Alexa, play music by Debussy" he requested [nb, people mock me, because I often end my requests with the word please] And off she went, with the lovely piece  "Pré
lude a l'après midi d'un faune". But a little bit too loud, I felt. Bob clearly felt the same, and decided to put Alexa in her place. 

In his impeccable French, he said
"Alexa, un peu moins fort s'il vous plait!"
to which Alexa blithely replied
"I've put peroxide on your shopping list"
See, you just can't trust her

Tuesday 21 May 2024

Holiday Update #1


Isn't this a cool coach? One of my girls spotted it and sent the picture.
After a busy morning of "last minute tasks" we ate the remaining fresh food for lunch and drove my car to Romford. It was good to see Julian and catch up properly. He took us to a local Turkish restaurant for a delicious meal [thanks ]] Really heavy rain! We came home and dried out while watching MasterChef and Sewing Bee. Tomorrow we will go up to London, meet Liz for lunch and then board the Eurostar to Paris. 
Thank you everyone for your kind wishes. 

Après Le Feu

I first visited Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, on 29th July 1981[memorable, because it was the day Charles married Diana] It was my first ever holiday abroad, just before Bob started training for ministry. 
So I was really sad when the Cathedral burned on 15th April 2019. "I wish I had a jigsaw of the Cathedral" I said to Bob. We hunted everywhere...Eiffel Tower, L'Arc de Triomphe, Sacre Coeur, but no Notre Dame. 
Finally Bob found one of Notre Dame at sunset. It's lovely. It is most unusual, as every piece is a different shape. There are 1000 pieces!
Over the weekend I completed the jigsaw. And I am really excited, because this year, for our 45th wedding anniversary, Bob and I will be going back to Paris! Not later in the summer, but now  [to avoid the Olympics] Later today we drive to Romford and leave our car at Julian's, then tomorrow, train into London, and Eurostar to Gare du Nord. 
Not sure how much blogging I will do [I may set up a few posts before we leave, if I have time] But do not worry if there is a hiatus. 
There have been days recently when I wasn't sure the holiday would happen, but here we go! Au revoir! 

Monday 20 May 2024

Wild Oats!

There were some oats left in the bottom of the jar. More than enough for two bowls of porridge, not enough for four. I used it all up, served our two bowls for breakfast then left the remainder to cool. Then I made Porridge Bread with this recipe. It came out looking just like the picture in the recipe [always a good sign !] 
It sliced well and tasted good. We toasted some - and I have to say that when it's warm, it does have a "porridgey" taste. 
Apparently, making porridge bread with leftovers is a recognised thing, among the Zero-Waste cooks. Although I enjoyed it, I'm not sure I will make it again!

Sunday 19 May 2024

A Prayer For Pentecost Sunday

Tenderness, joy, and hope seem to me to be good things to aspire to, on this, the "Birthday of the Church"

Saturday 18 May 2024

So-Ho, Sew-How

If you are a crafter, can I recommend the Purl Soho website for a treasure trove of free patterns and projects to inspire you. This is where I found the cross back apron which I made 5 years ago.
I saw a simple Boxy Top on the site, but didn't think any more until I saw this idea, using the Purl Soho pattern to turn a shirt into a top. 
It seemed like a fun project. I kept my eye open, and a couple of years ago, I found a suitable shirt.
It was on the £1 sale rail, a size 17 M&S men's shirt. I was surprised how little fabric was left when I'd cut out the pieces: collar, cuffs and a few scraps. 

I think it would be a good alternative in hot weather to a regular Tshirt, and will go well with my navy blazer.
As I've had the shirt in my drawer for so long, I reckon this does not count in my Take five challenge

It took four hours to make. I like having the buttons at the back [although they are stitched down, and do not open] 
Have you ever recycled a shirt into another garment?Have you ever used any of the Purl Soho patterns? 

Friday 17 May 2024

St Eustachius, Can You Hear Me?

There's a very old joke about three old ladies chatting on a bench
Isn't it windy?
No, it's Thursday 
So am I, let's have a cuppa!
But this week I'm not finding it as funny

The Nurse Practitioner at the Surgery says a minor throat infection has caused a blockage in my Eustachian tube, and this is why I am deaf in my left ear. Hopefully the nasal spray will clear this and I should be hearing again soon. Fortunately it is not painful. 
I looked up St Eustachius, he is the patron saint of hunters, firefighters and the city of Madrid. Nothing to do with ears. He was out hunting, and he found a deer with a crucifix between its horns and was subsequently martyred for his faith.
This is Bartholomeo Eustachi [1505-1574] anatomist and physician, who discovered how the ears, nose and throat are connected. Those tubes in your head are named after him,  nothing to do with the saintly huntsman.

If there were NHS loyalty points, I think my family would have enough for a free appendectomy by now, considering the amount of time spent in surgeries and clinics recently...

Thursday 16 May 2024

The Red King

Well, to be honest, I am not quite sure what I think of the new portrait of the King. I think the face is very good. It certainly looks like him, which is a relief.
And the butterfly about to land on his shoulder is a nod to his interest in the natural world and the beauties of creation [and apparently to the way that Charles has metamorphosed from Prince to Monarch, according to the artist, Jonathan Yeo]
But I cannot get on with the fuzzy red background, merging into his uniform. JY says he did not want anything to detract the viewer from the King's Gaze.
However, I find that bit of braid which appears to be from his right shoulder, in a loop to his collar, then diagonally down to his hip is a real distraction,
But I don't have to hang it in my lounge, so that's OK.
One other Royal image you may or may not have picked up on is the new Gov.UK cypher on their website, and some official correspondence.[that came out in February]
At the top is the one which was used during Elizabeth's reign, below is the new one chosen by Charles. If you compare them, you will see the EIIR has the St Edward's Crown, with the top sections curving down, whereas CIIIR has the 'Tudor' crown, which is domed.
As from 5th June, the new King Charles Banknotes will enter circulation. More info here, or you can watch the brief Bank Of England video.
If you are in North Norfolk, you may struggle to pay for your bus with a £5 note - they have stopped taking them after twenty six forgeries were used on the buses last weekend. 
I don't suppose that Charles and Camilla have OAP bus passes, or take bus trips to the coast from Sandringham...

Wednesday 15 May 2024

Back In The Saddle

The sunny weather has got me out on my bicycle. I love my ancient velocipede, with its pretty flower basket and ding-a-lying bell. In 2013, Liz gave me a Cath Kidston saddle cover. A beautiful rose print 6000 were given away in London to celebrate CK's company celebrating its 20th birthday. At the time the tag said "it would fade beautifully"
Mine has not only faded, but also started disintegrating. So I sat in the garden and took it to bits. I made a template from the old cover and thought about what to use for a new one. Among the fabrics from my dismantled patchwork was a heavier weight cotton with a bright summery print - originally flowers, bees and butterflies. I sewed the pieces randomly to make a rectangle. From that I cut the seat shape and edge strip. 

I took the sewing machine outside, and set to. When Bob got back from The Shed, I was just finishing the new saddle cover. It looks much more cheerful! 

Tuesday 14 May 2024

Beans, Beds, and Buckets

 The garden is coming along nicely. Just a few pictures to share with you
Moving clockwise : Top left, the raised bed - with potatoes, broad beans, salad leaves, and courgettes.* Top right, my new mini raised bed. Bob found some "pallet collars" at the Wiveton Junkyard. They are usually around £20 each, these were two for £15. The Range were selling 4 bags of topsoil/compost for £10, so this worked out quite cheaply [it measures 1200x 800mm] Currently I've sown salad leaves in one half. I'm keeping the other half covered till I get round to putting stuff in it. Bottom right, my potatoes are growing in their buckets alongside the smart new fence. And finally, my weird, triffid-like Egyptian Walking Onions. 
We are enjoying the radishes and salad leaves... I hope to have spuds before too long. There are beans and tomatoes in the mini greenhouse. Lots of herbs on the patio, and some flowers too. 
*Garden Club was much better last week. I sat with my friend Judy, who introduced me to her neighbour, who offered me some courgettes. She brought them round a few days later "can I have the tray back though, please?" Once I'd planted them out, I realised I didn't know where she lived. So I went round to Judy's [she has a phenomenal garden] and she gave me Jean's address. After a good chat, and some helpful tips, I went on to Jean's and returned the tray along with little jar of homemade chutney.
French dwarf beans on the kitchen windowsill. Zut Alors!