Archive | January, 2019

Misunderstandings and Moussaka (FMH: 21)

31 Jan

Today was an unbelievably sunny day. One of those beautiful winter days where the sky is blue and the ground is crisp and I, annoyingly, had to stay home and work while my visitors gallivanted off to have fun around the tourist sights.

Anyway, my treat for later was that we were going to have a traditional Greek Moussaka made for us!

Later that night, the intrepid tourists return shopping bags in hand, ready to whip up a feast.

“We got some wine that was a really good offer, Sam!” They proudly present to me two bottles which are clearly labelled ‘Alcohol Free Wine’. I hesitate and dither. Do I say anything? What do I do?

“OK, great” I reply, backing off for fear of spoiling the excitement.

And so the great cook-off commences.

I open a wine I already had in the fridge (with alcohol) and we chat about the day.

Then the girl tourist asks me if I have any more wipes in the bathroom so she can remove her make-up.

“Sure,” I reply and jump up to locate said item in the store cupboard.

“These wipes are really good for taking off make-up, much better than the ones I have at home,” she declares.

“That’s good,” I reply, and then pause, I didn’t think I’d left make-up wipes in their room and so I’m now unsure what wipes I’m meant to be looking for. “Do you want to show me what ones you’re after?”

She goes off to the bathroom and comes back with an empty packet of Andrex toilet wipes.

I look at her agog.

“But, these aren’t make-up remover wipes,” I say, horrified, checking her face to make sure she hasn’t taken half of it off.

“Aren’t they, what are they for?” she asks.

“They’re wet wipes for wiping your bum!” I manage to say through screams of laughter.

 “Oh,” she says, looking a little crestfallen, “you mean I can’t use them?”

“Well,” I say, realising maybe I don’t need to be so autocratic, “I don’t think they’re intended for your face…”

“But, they can be used on my bum?”

I nod.

She looks at me triumphantly. “Well,” she declares, “I will then have a bum face!”

Embracing My Inner Tourist (FMH: 20)

30 Jan

Pushing through hordes of sightseers it’s all too easy to swear about ‘bloody tourists’. All they do is stop and see and take selfies and get in the bloody way.

But actually, being a tourist is a wonderful thing. To be that person who is looking at things for the first time. To have the wonder of ‘child’s eyes’ as you ponder and peruse. And just to have the time to stop and stare. The world is different when you stop to look.

And so, having relatives over from Greece, I now have the chance to embrace my inner tourist.

Camden market was the first stop. Personally, I don’t see the attraction – it’s a market full of tat and a gazillion tourists. However, my visitors were in awe.

“Oh how magical,” they declared, their faces hanging in wonder.

I looked about me. All I could see (through the throngs of people) were a load of stalls with stuff for sale that you don’t need, don’t want and don’t even like.

“Oh it’s so wonderful!” they exclaimed again and turned to me with shiny eyes wet with excitement.

I looked again at the scene. And this time I tried to see what they could see. I took in the historic cobbled pavements, the stone archways, the bustling atmosphere, the riot of colours and smells overwhelming my senses, the jostle and busyness of the market – of life.

Yes, there were right. It was magical. It was wonderful. I just needed to wear the right pair of eyes.

In Search of a Sausage Roll (FMH:19)

29 Jan

I don’t know how cravings work, but at 5am this morning I woke up wanting a sausage roll. And no, that’s not a euphemism.

Given it was a little early in the morning and I wasn’t meaning a sausage roll of the Gregg’s variety I set about trying to distract my brain with other things that didn’t involve thinking about the yumminess of a piece of meat wrapped in pastry.

Now, I don’t know how you are when it comes to cravings, but me, once I’ve got the idea of a food-stuff in my head that I want, I cannot stop thinking about it. Over and over my brain goes about the details of the deliciousness and before I know it I am salivating just thinking. And the pleasure and the pain and the anticipation builds to such a breaking point that I think I will just, well, break unless I get it! In fact, I think it should be called food crazings rather than cravings because I know for me, the desire just send me loopy!

Fast forward to 11am and I am starving. I’ve had no breakfast on account of not being able to eat the dry washboard feel of a slice of toast or the milky cardboardness of a bowl of shreddies, because, well, it’s not a sausage roll.

Such is the level of my obsession.

At this point, I should now convince myself to eat something else. But given I’m on this new mission to Find More Happy, I decide to build the ‘mission’ into my day and make it the day.

Convincing the Other Half wasn’t difficult, a fellow carnivore, he was up for a random miniscule mission such as this.

So off we jaunt to a pub about a mile away which I remembered from Time Out had gourmet sausage rolls. Pushing open their doors just one minute past their noon opening time, I launch myself on the bartender.

“Hello, I’ve come for your sausage rolls!”

He looks at me uncomfortably.

“Sausage rolls?” He repeats, as though I’ve asked him to chew on my hair.

“Yes, sausage rolls,” I echo excitedly.

“Sorry, we haven’t got any sausage rolls,” he says looking a little downcast.

“Will you have some later?” I ask, not willing to lose hope. “Like maybe when the kitchen is open? Am I too early, is that the issue?”

The manager glides over at this point and shows me a menu. “We have a pop up this month, it’s Mexican food, I can tell you the tacos are exceptionally delicious.”

“But no sausage rolls?” I repeat, just to be sure.

“No,” he says, shaking his head.

I exit the pub. So much for Time Out’s recommendation.

Unsure how to search for outlets selling sausage rolls in the local area, we proceed to wander to a number of different establishments to complete our mission. The sausage-rollness is not forthcoming and in a complete departure to the original mission, the Other Half suggests a French Patisserie around the corner with stellar reviews.

I’m unsure about the choice, but given the amount of time that had already been given over to this mad mission, I am willing to yield…until I spot a pub across the road.

“Shall we just pop in and have a last check of this one before we commit?”

Entering into the coal fire smoked surroundings, my clothes and hair quickly absorb the scent of burnt embers.

“Can I help you?” asks the female bartender, eager to please, given we were the only punters. Suspicious of the empty pub, I ask her if I can look at the menu. She passes me the cream sheet of paper and my heart does a flip as I scan down the list: Pork & fennel sausage roll, onion & grain mustard chutney.

Fearful this is too good to be true I check: “Do you have sausage rolls in stock today?” She says she’ll go and check with the kitchen. Nervously I wait by the bar, will my mission be complete? Will my craving by satisfied?

She comes back smiling, “Yes, we have sausage rolls.”

“Oh thank goodness,” I reply with such happiness and relief “I’ve been looking all over for them.”

She smiles it me with a hint of incredulity and eyes the clock on the wall, Just gone 1pm and already the crazies are in. I think that’s what she thought.

I Got A Fondue Set – How Very 80s! (FMH: 18)

28 Jan

OK, so there is a back story to this love obsession and it is this: I recently went to St Moritz in Soho – the home of all cheese fondues.

It was awesome.

I would’ve taken photos, but by the time I remembered, I’d wiped the cheesy bowl clean. But, there was a sting – St Moritz, while being awesome -is spendy. I mean, you will pay here for a bowl of hot cheese, the same as you would a steak. Plus, they only bring you bits of bread. If you want more – you pay more.

So, the thing is, money, as you may have noticed, does not yet grow on trees, daffodils or anything else around my neck of the woods. And so I’ve been looking for a cheaper, more affordable way to recreate the wonderful cheesy-ness of St Moritz.

Fortunately, I don’t think I’ve been the only person thinking about this because in Waitrose I found a ready-made bag of cheese fondue for £10. And so I bought it. I did winch at the price for what is essentially a pretty small bag of blended cheese – but still, I told myself I was paying for the convenience.

So the Waitrose cheese-bag-fondue – held over the saucepan with me and the other half, was yums. This time around (and because we’d been to Waitrose and they have a smashing deli section), we had a load of other great stuff to dip into the cheese – we’re talking cornichons, honey roast ham, black treacle gammon, wine-soaked chorizo – you get the drift – it was totally tasty stuff.

Anyway, so my love of the melted food stuff increased even more after this experience – even if it did see us hovering over the saucepan on the low-heat hob.

So, as you do, when you start an obsession…I started looking into more things I could do if I owned a fondue – this involved meat recipes and also chocolate recipes.

Ah my heart was on fire!

How I didn’t Buy It Now on Amazon was a minor miracle – but I told myself, No, I am not falling into this constant consumer crap trap and unless I see one for a bargain I’m not allowed.

So, today, I am passing by a charity shop window and there in the window all new, shiny and boxed up is a FONDUE SET!

In a tizz I run into the shop, stumble into the window, retrieve the item and run to the till.

“I’ve been looking everywhere for one of these!” I declare to the assistant, who frankly doesn’t care and takes a sneaky puff of his vape.

“Really?” He says giving me an insouciant smile.

Narked by his lack of interest, I reply “Do you know what it is?”

He takes the box and looks at it closer, “Oh it’s a fondue,” he says with a bit more spark, and looks me up and down with a sardonic eye “How very 80s.”

Stopping Damp & Spreading Happy (FMH: 17)

27 Jan

So I think being in property is an occupational hazard, and I can tell you from a recent visit to a friend’s new rental flat, it’s also an embarrassment.

I don’t know why I cannot shut my mouth when I see a damp patch on the ceiling. And I don’t know why I feel compelled to tell you about issues with condensation, ventilation and inadequate fans in bathrooms and kitchens. And I don’t know why I cannot stop my eyeballs from scanning ceiling seams for signs of damp spores. Or behind units – but that’s rather more difficult to get away rather than just a cursory glance. Excuse me while I just look behind your wardrobe…

Anyway, I blame it on the weather. Fact is, when it’s cold people don’t like opening their windows. They want to shut up warm, have lots of heat and think about how not to be cold. The problem is, they forget that properties need to breathe – and we as humans create a lot of hot air. I’m not going to get all boring on you here, and this story does go somewhere which made me happy – and it is this: I gave my yawnsome (though practical advice) to my new neighbours who were complaining about damp (which I knew would be condensation), and how they were having to run a dehumidifier all the time.

“Just leave your bedroom window open at night, just a little, that’s it, that’s all you need and you’ll be sorted.”

The neighbour girl looked at me in disbelief. Seriously, I could see her rolling her eyes at me even though she was staring right at me. Her expression was saying: WTF. Are you seriously telling me to open my frigging window? That’s your expert advice…

I nodded to her voiceless, disbelieving expression and concluded again, for emphasis, the simplicity and effectiveness of my advice.

The subject got changed and I thought nothing more of it. Until today, because today I have learned my eyeball-rolling-suspicious-of-my-simple-advice-condensation-suffering-neighbour has taken my advice.

Hey presto it worked!

So here I am not only making more happy – I’m also preventing more damp spores in the world J