HAPPY HOME: Teresa’s Birthday!

Teresa’s birthday bouquet!

Today was Teresa’s 55th birthday. My how the time flyeth!

I bought her some pink roses. And her workplace gave her some other flowers. We combined these, and it resulted in the rather fulsome bouquet, pictured above. This provided enough flowers for four different smaller displays throughout the house.

Polishing off breakfast in bed, with bucks fizz.

Breakfast in bed for ‘the other half’ is a tradition with us. Usually accompanied by a bucks fizz. Teresa likes two croissants, with bacon, fried onions and tomatoes, and a fried egg. Tea and plain orange juice round out the food and drink.

Moules Mariniere for lunch…

After a relatively lazy morning – although I did do a bit of tidying round the house – it was time for lunch. Lunch was moules mariniere, with garlic bread, and salmon and spinach on olive bread. Mmm… dee-lish!

… with salmon sarnies.
Table, cluttered with flowers, pressies, etc.

Simple but hearty and tasty fare. The flowers, a candle, and other pressies make the rather cluttered table look pretty. Beady eyes might also spot some big reference tomes. I got those earlier in the week, off Freecycle.

She doesn’t want me photographing her!

In the afternoon we went to Ely, to have a wander round Waterside Antiques (a tradition for Teresa’s recent birthdays). I got her some earrings and a pretty little brooch, of her own choosing.

Dinner at The Lamb, in Ely.

And to bring the main action of the day to a happy conclusion, dinner at The Lamb Hotel, in Ely. We traditionally eat at Prezzo in Ely on my birthdays. And Teresa almost booked us in there this time. But it turns out she could’nae ha’ done that, as it’s closed, permanently! Bummer.

Bangers and mash for two!

The Lamb is a nice old fashioned Hotel with attached pub/restaurant. We’ve eaten there many times. I was going to have pasta. But Teresa persuaded me to join her with bangers and mash. And I’m glad. ‘Twas ver’ ver’ noice indeed!

Neither of us managed to polish off the whole meal. A glass of house red and a jug of water washed it all down. There was no room for dessert! Particularly as we had chocolate cake waiting ‘back at the raunch’.

From Waterside Antiques.

‘Sparkles, spangles, Her heart will sing,
Wearing baubles, Bangles and beads.’ Blue was the theme for this little lot. Really pretty!

A little pre-bedtime Baileys.

The blue theme continued at home, with these cute miniature glasses, that Teresa bought years ago at an antiques place in Market Deeping.

Rounding off the day with a hand of rummy.

After a long and fun-filled day. It’s up the wooden hill to Bed-fordshire, and a few hands of rummy, before lights out and off to snoozeville.

‘Did you have a good birthday, my love?’ ‘I had a brilliant birthday.’ Fab! Job done.

MiSC: Squirrelympics!?

A friend on Facebook just shared this. How great are squirrels? Just watch to learn. A fun and uplifting video.

We have squirrels. We also have a walnut tree, actually in a neighbour’s garden. But overhanging ours. When we moved in here, I wondered, for a while, how and why we were continually being carpet-bombed with empty walnut shells.

Reflecting rather poorly on my Sherlockian powers of deduction, it wasn’t until I was literally sat ‘neath the trees at the back end of the garden, that I twigged. I could hear debris falling around me and I could hear an odd ‘scrit-scrit-scrit-scrit’ sound.

I looked up, and cool as a cucumber, there was a rather ballsy (very literally) squirrel, leisurely enjoying chomping away on his walnuts. I don’t know how many squirrels we have living nearby. The most I see is a couple chasing each other.

As this video demonstrates, it can be quite rewarding to pay more attention to these fabulous little furry critters.

MiSC: Childminding at Hannah’s

Sofi making her pizza base.

For a while now Teresa and I have being doing alternate weekends looking after Hannah’s girls, our nieces, Ali and Sofi.

Sofi with her completed ‘za!

This weekend is a first, inasmuch as I’m looking after the girls on my own. Teresa decided to stay home and do homey stuff.

Ready for the oven… (pizza, not I!)
My little ‘za, in’t oven.

Hannah and the girls were having home-made pizzas. Even though I’d already had a lovely curry, with couscous, at home earlier, I had to have some home made pizza!

Pizza base, tomato sauce, chorizo and cheddar.

Ali disappeared off to her room for a video call, with her friend Ash, who now lives in New Zealand. Hannah, Sofi and I watched Austin Powers, International Man of Mystery. So silly! Mike Myers’ pastiche/homage to the ‘60s (transplanted to the ‘90s) is fab, baby!

So silly, but so funny.
Kind of ironic, given Burt’s passing only yesterday!

MiSC: Lazy Sundays

Chester grabs hold of my arm, adorable!

Today was a terrifically relaxing Sunday, after a rather odd Saturday (about the latter*; least said, soonest mended!).

What a funny boy!

For once we actually got properly stuck in to doing next to nothing. And boy was it worth it! It’s actually incredibly hard to really stop and do very little. Modern life has this way of making one feel permanently plugged in to myriad little chores and worries.

Of course we didn’t literally do absolutely nothing. It was Chinese New Year, so we had a Chinese meal, partly from the local takeaway, and partly home cooked. We ate at the dining table. A rare event! Mainly because it’s usually overloaded with detritus.

The Sunday Scrabble board.

We also played our usual game of Sunday afternoon Scrabble, after taking some turns on Crash Bandicoot 2, on my ancient but still functioning PS1. Whilst playing Scrabble we watched The Fast Lady, starring Stanley Baxter, James Robertson Justice, Leslie Phillips and Julie Christie. Goodness me, Christie really was something!

What a great poster!**

I think we must’ve watched this movie before? Either that, or it’s almost identical to another we’ve seen!? The weird thing is that I have memories of watching a film with almost exactly the same plot (and possibly even the same actors?) but in black and white, not colour. And with a different car at the centre of the action. A car with all kinds of weird pipes coming out of the engine? Or am I conflating two different films into one? But of a mystery either way!

Screen blankets…
… prevent frosting.

And talking about cars: my Mazda needs these protective window doodads Teresa bought me, which keep the two main screens frost-free. And I’ve also been putting a blanket in the boot, to wrap up the battery, and prevent it causing no-starts!

-3° according to my iPhone weather app.

* This little asterisked note is a much later (23/3/‘23) addition to this post; only much later – the gravity of the situation at the time eluded me – have I come to realise what a complete effin’ nightmare might ensue from my getting thrown out of our local ‘Spoons, aka The Hippodrome.

Teresa and I used to be model customers, and regular patrons. Not because of Tim the Twat’s appalling politics, or the enlightened way in which he runs his business, but because it was just good enough on the cost/benefit scales, when it came to eating out as an occasional treat, to work well for us.

I am now a leper pariah, barred entrance!

A sporran affair: ‘Och, worra lassie!‘

** If misleading: Leslie Phillips, his babes, and JRJ all really take a back seat to the two stars missing from this poster, Baxter & Christie!

DAYS iN: Home – F-F-F-flippin’ F-F-F-freezin’!

I put all this lot on upon entering our home!

We just got back home, from childminding duties at my sister’s. As we occasionally do, we stayed a second night. I was exhausted after an evening shift delivering for Amazon, and then sharing a bottle of wine with Teresa and Hannah.

Amazon were taking the piss royally yesterday, on two fronts: first I arrived a few minutes late (2-3, or thereabouts) for a midday shift. The crappy Flex app then proceed to load so slowly that by the time it was up and running I’d ‘missed your [my!] slot’!

So I returned later the same day, and did an evening sesh. I try not to do these, on account of it being harder and more stressful in the dark of winter evenings/nights. And herein was the second Amazon piss-take:

Actually this was a double-barrelled piss fest: first I had an order ‘to be delivered no later than 4pm’. Yet it was the second delivery of about eight or so, and I didn’t start collecting the items, never mind delivering them, until 4pm, when my shift officially commenced!

I told the recipient that I’d have bent the laws of physics to deliver to him by 4pm, if it lay within my powers. And, if he was unhappy – fortunately he was a jovial and understanding chap, and was absolutely fine – please take it up with Amazon, and don’t blame me!

But the real piss take the second, was the sheer distances they had me travelling. I started in Cambourne, then went to Royston, then Potton, then Sandy, then home. I reckon that the fuel costs of this run will prob’ have accounted for half my earnings.

Lobster, a very hirsute, handsome and charming chap!

But my main prompt for this post was returning to our frigidarium home. Our car was plenty warm en-route home. With two of us in the the confines of a little MX5, plus the car heating, we were very cosy. The house was 8°C, according to our wall mounted central-heating doodad (thermostat/controller?).

The pic atop this post is how I got myself up to brave a trip to our littlest room! Which used to be an outside privy, when the house was built. And today feels like it still is! I was worried my bowels would refuse to open, so damn chilly was it!

I’m now enjoying that most plebeian of pleasures, a pot noodle. Pornography for the palette, granted. But warm and flavoursome. It maketh me happy!

SPORT: Football, World Cup ‘22 – Day 2, England vs Iran

Bellingham celebrates his first World Cup goal.

I managed to get home early enough to catch the England Iran game yesterday. I missed the first ten minutes or so, and arrived back during what turned out to be a marathon time-out, due to the Iranian goal keeper bashing heads with one of his defenders.

This wound up adding 14 or 15 minutes of extra time to the first half. Is that a record?When I got home I knocked on our neighbour’s door, knowing he had the day off, and thinking watching the footy on the social might be fun. It was. Too much fun, in the end!

The match itself was goalless when I arrived. But, once play resumed, the goals started coming thick and fast. I think it was 3-0 by half time. Not the dull game I had worried it might be.

Saka – scored twice – celebrates.

In the end we wound up having dinner round there; I picked Teresa up at the station, and Regina very kindly fed us all. The only bum note was my excessive intake of alcohol (ah, the irony!*). I bought a couple of cases of Shipyard Ale, on a two-for-one (almost) promo’, at Sainsburys. And then drank way too many cans.

Now I’m paying for it. With a hangover, and a gassy bloated tummy. Aaargh…. How I hate being an idiot! Still, at least the football was fun.

* Qatar tried banning booze altogether, upsetting sponsor, Budweiser. I’m still not clear what the situation is! Here’s something on the subject.

Pickford and Kane celebrate.

Amazingly, with six goals, Kane – instrumental in a few of them (feeding Sterling the third goal, and Rashford, the fifth – on his third touch! – for example), and still key to our success – didn’t actually score any of them. He must have been both very chuffed at the result, and a bit gutted not to be on the scoresheet. Speaking of which:

J. Bellingham 35'
B. Saka 43', 62'
R. Sterling 45+1'
M. Rashford 71'
J. Grealish 90'

M. Taremi 65’,90+13' (P)

Taremi’s first goal for Iran was superb. His second – a penalty – prob’ shouldn’t have been given. But you can’t begrudge him or Iran their two goals, in the end. England’s emphatic dominance and victory were still more than adequately reflected in the final result.

How good was it to get off to such a good start!? Amazing.

And, amidst all the political controversy, it was lovely to note that Jack ‘Calves’ Grealish dedicated his goal (England’s sixth of the match!) to a young fan:

Grealish meets Finlay.
A celebratory move is agreed upon…
… and, very sweetly, a promise is kept.

BTW, the politics of the region once again made itself apparent: the Iranian players didn’t sing their own national anthem – which caused Gary Lineker to make the observation that it was ‘a powerful and very significant gesture’ – and there were protest placards in the crowd, with slogans such as ‘Iranian women’ (in ref’ to the death in custody of Mahsa Amini).

On a lighter note, I met Miklas’ pet rat (very cute!), and had a go on their Carlsbro e-kit. I was so drunk and the kit is set up for southpaw Chris… I could barely sit on the stool, never mind play!

HEALTH & WELLBEiNG: FODMAP, & ‘free from’ texture/flavour pasta

Today’s lunch.

My FODMAP diet is suffering from our total lack of any money. I can’t be buying expensive sourdough loaves, and non-dairy alternatives to milk (Oatly is prob’ my favourite, thus far), when the bank is bereft.

As a consequence, my diet has gotten rather patchy. I’m still avoiding wheat stuff and milk as much as poss. But I am having it with cereal at breakfast most days. Ironically it was seeking to wean myself off that routine that was where FODMAP started for me!

Anyroad, my lunch today – ‘free from’ macaroni, with two fried eggs, omelette style, grated cheese, ‘free from’ pesto, sat’n’pepper – has prompted this post. The pesto at least has a little flavour. Sure,8ts shite compared to the real McCoy. But the macaroni? What that’s free from is texture flavours, or any ability to promote joie de vivre.

It’s the food equivalent of sackcloth and ashes. Why? Surely those of us seeking alternatives to the things that upset our digestion still want food to fulfil that fundamental role, not just fueling our bodies, but bringing us pleasure!

This macaroni, as utterly bland as it is, is at least not totally revolting. Several free-from pastas I’ve tried were, frankly, inedible. Inedible food? Deliberately manufactured as a ‘healthy alternative’!!! That’s got to rank as one of modern humanity’s greatest follies!?

Just stepped outside the front door. Inside I’m sweating buckets. It’s unbearably close and hooomid! Chester is still AWOL. I’ve been out looking and calling for him. When I stepped out front just now, the weather looks and feels like it’s changing. Rain was forecast for today. But has slipped over to tomorrow. At least on my iPhone weather app.

Got the fan on full, and I’m more or less naked! My naturist side is very much in the ascendant these days. Leastways within the four walls that are our home. It’s because I’m always sooo g’damn hot! I associate this with my current meds…

HEALTH & WELLBEiNG: Caffeine & Sleep

Watching a video on YouTube, with Dr Rangan Chatterjee and Matthew Walker about caffeine and it’s effects on sleep.

Caffeine is, as they discuss, a psychoactive drug, and a stimulant. According to Walker caffeine is the second highest traded commodity after oil! I’ve heard it said before that coffee is the drug of capitalism/consumerism. If Walker’s claim is true, nothing could better illustrate the link between this drug and our self-medicating slave-driver culture.

‘Caffeine is a sleep disruptor, there’s no question about that,’ says Chatterjee. Two answers these guys give are de-caff, or, better still, no coffee, or caffeine – tea, inc. green tea, also contains caffeine – after midday. The third and more radical option is to go tee-total, and simply cut caffeine out altogether.

Just ordered a copy of this.

According to the very little skimming of Google I’ve just done on Walker, in light of this YouTube vid and re buying his book, he’s ‘in love’ with sleep. So am I! But I imagine his love for and knowledge about sleep are far healthier than mine!

One reason I love sleep is that it’s an escape from the constant and oppressive demands of waking life. And I suspect that both this basic fact about my love of sleep, not to mention my actual sleep habits themselves, are not as healthy as they ought to be.

Anyway, a very interesting and informative podcast style YouTube video, well worth watching. And I’m looking forward to reading Walker’s book.

HOME/DiY: Sleepers, Lunch, Practice Pad

There has been change, even if not discernibly so!

I didn’t take any more sleeper pics. Or rather, more accurately, I did. But they don’t show the progress I made. I basically levelled the sleepers better, and raised the soul with the spaces. Esp’ along the edge that’s going to be the footpath, along Ruben and Anne’s side (the left as you look away from the houses!).

I’m trying to maintain the FODMAP diet. And I’m convinced that my tummy is less distended than formerly. I’m not sure I’ve lost much if any weight. I just think I’m carrying a little less gas around in my guts! Sometimes it’s hard to be motivated over food choices. That’s when any diet is at greatest risk.

Today’s lunch. Sausage omelette (!?) and salad.

Today I made a three-egg omelette, with two Heck sausages (high meat content, no gluten containing cereals or dairy content!), fried in olive oil and chopped up. The orange cubes are Red Leicester cheese. I’m glad I can still have cheese, as I love it. I just have to keep portions small.

The salad was a leftover from yesterdays dinner. And speaking of leftovers, our dinner tonight was the remains of Satay #2, with the addition of rice, edamame beans and water chestnuts, some Thai red curry sauce and gluten free soy-sauce, all drizzled with lime juice.

Both lunch and dinner were, thankfully, delicious, nutritious, and FODMAP friendly.

I’ve even started to add some little bits of exercise into my daily routines. I’ve started doing timed squats. The idea is to work up to 30 days of 30 mins (in smaller bite sized chunks) squatting on flat feet. And I want to add some free hanging in to the mix as well…

I’m trying to cultivate other good habits. For example I’m doing a Stick Control ‘Summer Challenge’: trying to do at least a page a day of Stone’s ancient but venerable tome. Hopefully by summer’s end I’ll have finished the whole book?

All this stuff feels good!

FOOD: Satay #2!

Just finished cooking, and dishing up.

Teresa liked my previous satay so much she asked me to do it again! That’s nice. I’ll take that!

But I didn’t have quite the same ingredients to hand this time. We did, however, have chicken. So in that respect I was truer to the orig’ recipe. But in several others, I wasn’t.

We still had carrots, broccoli, pak choi and green beans. But we had no beansprouts or bamboo. Gluten-free soy, peanut butter and ginger, etc, made up the home-made satay. And the whole thing was finished with sesame seeds, ginger and chilli flakes.

I put in twice as much of the latter this time. As previously we couldn’t really taste it!

Chester likes to daydream in this planting box!

We ate dinner outside, in the muggy heat of a summer evening. Chester was chilling in the greenhouse, whilst we quaffed first Portuguese then Spanish red wines. Nice!

This satay recipe is a good ‘un; easy and very tasty. A one pan (wok) wonder, if desired. That is, one pan if using noodles. But two if, like us today, you go with rice.