Watching the telly and thinking about your holidays

Watching the telly and thinking about your holidays

That’s entertainment.  So goes the song. And it goes. Round and round my head at the moment.  Although why Jam lyrics should want to camp out in my head all day every day for the past week I don’t really know.  Perhaps it’s because of the constant warnings I’ve been waking up to every morning spreading the news about the possible health implications to those fools who persist in eating well done TOAST! Funny how the brain works,  desperately reaching out to make connections while it still can.   Suppose I should be grateful and listen attentively to its subliminal messages while my mind is still in a reasonable state to transmit them. And so, as I sit in front of the telly more evenings than I care to admit, while working out where to go in the summer when ‘Silent Witness’  (or whatever else it is I’m watching), hits a dull patch, I realise that  it’s true. I have arrived at that point, the point where every angry young person who has ever listened to the words of Paul Weller (The Jam and not The Style Council) vows they’ll never go.

Sitting. Watching. Thinking. Sometimes eating. Maybe drinking. As opposed to doing. Oh but of course I hear you cry out to the screen in ridicule,  all verbs imply that you’re doing something. But really, there’s doing and doing.

And all I’m doing is watching the telly and thinking about my holidays.

Perhaps it’s a sign.

And while the tune is going over and over in my head a poem that I studied for ‘O’ level has also popped coincidentally into the space (because, at the moment, there’s lots of room).

Lollocks by Robert Graves (although when I first remembered it I could have sworn it was by Louis MacNeice).

I fear those accursed lollocks have come to haunt me, multiplying and weighing me down by making me eat the chocolates left over from Christmas, and the rich fruit cake which no one really likes (and even if they did they’re not around to eat it), not to mention the peppermint creams I made for the first time.


‘Women can see them —
O those naughty wives
Who sit by the fireside
Munching bread and honey,
Watching them in mischief
From corners of their eyes,
Slily allowing them to lick
Honey-sticky fingers.’

Though not quite a picture of me, this black month of January, when my children have all gone, leaving me sad and lonely, I’ve come perilously close to the lazy grazer loafing on her comfortable Loaf sofa nibbling on Lindt chocolates while warming her cold feet (no doubt due to poor circulation as a result of lack of exercise) by the  woodburning stove.  This explaining the sum total of this month’s entertainment – the telly and the holidays.

Jam on toast (from bad to worse…)

And so, with my bleakest January ever almost  behind me what am I to do?  Perhaps it’s time to look at the Robert Graves poem again for an answer to that:

‘Sovereign against Lollocks

Are hard broom and soft broom,

To well comb the hair,

To well brush the shoes,

And to pay every debt

As it falls due.’

So, it’s time to get dressed up  and go out.  Sound advice Mr Graves. As for the jam, it’s probably a good idea to stop eating it and start listening to it again. Just to keep me on my toes.

Here’s looking forward to a fun filled February.

It’s strange how the mind works.  Although I’d better get booking that holiday! And keep off the toast.

Cocktail Tuesday : Moscow Mule

Cocktail Tuesday : Moscow Mule

If you’re not having a dry January (or perhaps you were but have fallen off the wagon), you might want to cheer yourselves up by with slow ride on a mule, a Moscow Mule.

Over the past few years I have fallen for cocktails in the most head-spinningly giddy of ways.  An as yet never ending source of amusement to me, they have injected a sense of fun and often  lurid colour into my otherwise drab little world.

That’s why, on this most damp and gloomy of Tuesdays, I would like to share a simple-to-make  Moscow Mule  with you to kick back at those January blues.

Here’s how –

Ingredients: lime/lime juice/vodka/ginger beer/ice cubes


  • Add 1 part lime juice to 3 parts vodka (egg cup measure)
  • Dilute with ginger beer (half cup measure)
  • pour into a cocktail glass and add a wedge of lime and ice cubes

    not 1 but 2 Moscow Mules
za zda-ró-vye   To your health!

Food for Friends : Russian

Food for Friends : Russian

Our latest Food for Friends evening was January 7th  and the cuisine was Russian. It turns out that January 7th is Christmas Day in Russia.  (Who knew?  Obviously not me. ) So that meant that we were able to prolong the Christmas revelry, which we did, kicking the night off with a Moscow Mule.

We then had some pagach, a bread served with honey then chopped garlic. It’s traditionally the first thing eaten after the fast on Christmas Eve. The honey represents the sweetness of life, while the garlic represents its bitterness.

A type of porridge, called sochivo or kutya, consisting of grains, poppy seeds and (again) honey (where the grains represent hope, the poppy seeds peace and the honey sweetness again)  is then usually brought out. However, we forewent that pleasure and went for borscht instead.

Borscht, a beetroot soup served with soured cream and a sprig of dill, was worth serving for the colour alone.

We had this with vodka which went surprisingly well.

Then came the main course. Goose with soured cream sauce is popular on Christmas Day in Russia but the thought of cooking a big bird so soon after the turkey of a few weeks ago did not appeal. Instead we had a Russian stroganoff, beetroot, cabbage pie and spatzle.


The cabbage pie was a revelation, tasting as it did like a frittata. We then had to stop for a break, a Russian cocktail break, this time a White Russian.

Feeling a little full we listened to some rousing Russian music to give us strength for the dessert.

And then it came.

I was expecting some kozulya, biscuits in the shape of reindeer, goats or sheep, as these are very popular at Christmas time in Russia. But no, instead we were presented with not one, not two, but three Russian sweet treats – a honey cake, another honey cake and a fruity little number accompanied with a sweet syrupy juice (to put down the layers of fat no doubt needed to cope with the extremes of those Siberian winters).

a trio of desserts







We finished the evening with a warming vodka shot before smashing our glasses in the fireplace and making our way home…or is that a national stereotype for another country?

Recipes to follow.




                                                  Russian peasant-lookLena Hoschek F/W 2013, Berlin Fashion Week:




Happy New Year

It’s a new year and time to brush away the cobwebs…

take down the tree (distraction activity one)

show you my oh-so-funny Proust Christmas card. He’d have split his sides at this… (distraction activity two)

re-assess why I’m writing a blog.  Do I really quite like the cobweb look? Goes with my home after all.

As you might have guessed I’ve let it slip for a while.

Easily distracted, I lost focus which led to a phase of existential angst. I mean, why was I writing a blog in the first place?  To give some meaning to my formless little life? Failed on that score. To keep a record of places I’ve been? Couldn’t keep up. A file to keep the notes for the Proust reading group? Now that would have been so useful today at the first Proust reading group meeting of the year. And what about the sewing? What about that? As for the cooking and the eating?

As my formless little life became more formless so I had to let it go. It was all getting out of control.

Too busy (cooking and eating most of the time), I let it drift off,  sad and lonely, bobbing about,  anchorless, until it got swept out to the very edge of the big world wide web (because, as we all know, it’s a flat world, like any other), only to fall over the side and float about in a big, getting bigger  all the time, cloud, full of useful things, as well as cobwebs and other stuff that nobody knows exist.

And I was happy with that. For a while. But then 2 things happened. Plus one discovery.

The first was that I wrote a novel. Surely I should have written about that? But I felt too self-conscious to confess to this.  Then I wanted to look back at my notes on Proust on Mme de Villeparisis (who? Quite. That’s why I wished I’d uploaded them here). But I’d been too lazy to add them.

As for the discovery. Oh how sad for me! I’d curbed my worst writing excesses, sparing my nearest and dearest from reading about their foibles and idiosyncrasies of which they have many (instead forcing myself to go to cafes and restaurants to have something useful to post here). I hadn’t wanted to upset the poor, sweet loves. In fact, subconsciously, and on every other level, I’d wanted to please them. However, when I realised that not one of them (and I have an unbelievably large family) could be arsed (yes, arsed. Swearing can be such a comfort in times of family betrayal) to even remember that I had a blog, never mind remember what it was called, I decided that I would start again.  Evidently there was going to be no chance that they were ever going to read it so I decided to give it another go. And vent my inner bad fairy who’s  not been invited to the all-the-fairies-in-the-kingdom party.

Wonder if I’m adopted?

Now, in an ideal world I should have two blogs, one for Proust and one for my novel (and three if you count the rest of the hotch-potch of posts and pages) all far, far away from one another BUT in the real world, my real world, life is just a mish-mash to which I struggle to give some intelligible order.  So, why try? Why pretend by imposing a perfect structure on a gloriously imperfect, haphazard  set of disparate experiences?  Why indeed. Let the writing chaos begin.

Happy New Year and I wish you every joy and success in your own gloriously imperfect lives and endeavours.