28 November 2015

Ugly Veg

My carrots could be famous! well ok not famous on a national scale, more like here at chez O&P. 
The carrots I grow on my allotment aren't neat or straight, they are crooked, strange and some have been downright rude, resembling all manner of body parts - boobs, bottoms and, ahem, dangly bits. My daughter tells it as it is, she says they are mutants! 

I was reading an article recently how Asda have announced they will be extending their wonky fruit and veg range which was rolled out in 25 stores at the beginning of the year. Labelled "Beautiful on the Inside" the new range features crooked carrots, knobbly pears, wonky spuds and more, all sold at reduced rates. Jamie Oliver has long been a pioneer of healthy eating, he says "If most Brits had half an idea of the amount going to waste, they’d be snapping up ugly veg by the trolley load. There’s no difference whatsoever in taste or nutritional value. This is perfectly good food that could and should be eaten by humans.”

And he's so right. My carrots don't look pretty, but they taste dam good, they have just grown wonky.  
There are only a few left now, and a few cabbages and some parsnips, the sweetcorn has finished, the brussels and swede were dismal failures, but the purple brocolli is looking good.

The mutant carrot was about to take over the kitchen, the Assasins Creed, dinosaur and canon ball lobber surrounded it on all sides, but to no avail, the carrot was just too strong, only one thing could stop it in its tracks - 

yes the mighty peeler and my worn out chipped little knife with which I can cut, peel, slice and dice anything, almost with my eyes closed, without cutting myself! 
This monster carrot was about to become part of a shepherds pie dinner.

One of my favourite meals

24 November 2015


Scent, described as "a distinctive odour, especially when agreeable" was originally a hunting term from the Latin sentire - to feel, perceive, sense. I like the word scent, It's not used much nowadays, I suppose that's because it's old fashioned, having been replaced by perfume. I adore perfume, it's important to me, I couldn't be without it, I wear it most days. I also use body spray from M&S and Next. I like trying new perfumes but my all-time favourite is and always will be Chanel Allure. 

The reason I have this little cluster on my chest of drawers is twofold, I like the decorative bottles, and it reminds me of perfumes I have used and liked, should I want to buy them again!

Perfume is evocative, like music it captures moments from the past, nice memories of people and places.   

My mother had one of these spray bottles (didn't everyone then?)
Evening in Paris was an easy one to remember my mum using, it was such a significant blue bottle. 
Then came Coty L'Aimant and later she loved Estee Lauder White Linen.

I think the first perfume I used was 4711, there have been many since then - Tweed, Rive Gauche, Anais Anais, Chanel No's 19 and 5,  Tresor, Youth Dew, Eternity, Lulu which I loved but my boyfriend at the time thought it was too strong! It didn't stop me using it though! 

More recent ones are Coco Chanel, Coco Mademoiselle, and my current favourite Modern Muse. I'm also using Gucci which smelt great when I tried a tester but I can't smell it at all when I use it! I'm sure the testers are extra strength.

I read recently that a perfume called "Suddenly Madame Glamour" from Lidl is a very good likeness to Chanel's Coco Mademoiselle. Both have notes of bergamot, rose and jasmine, both come in glass bottles of pink liquid topped with white lids and both are packaged in white boxes with gold trim.

 Independent tests carried out by the respected Perfumers Guild found that 90 per cent of women who took part actually preferred the ‘fresh citrus and floral notes’ of Lidl’s Suddenly Madame Glamour over Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle, with guild founder John Bailey saying the former’s ‘alluring, exotic Oriental accord’ made it a ‘timeless, affordable and classic fragrance’. 

Read more at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2849602/Yes-4-bottle-perfume-smell-good-Chanel.html#ixzz3rB6UIlNa

So I took myself off to the store to try it out. It is a very good likeness and I'm not sure I would be able to tell which was which. There are a couple of significant differences in usage though - I use more than just a couple of sprays so it won't last long, and with good perfume you get that lovely lingering scent the next day on scarves, collars, gloves etc., that doesn't happen with this one, however it does last all day, and at £3.99 a pop compared to £54 (and rising) for the real thing I can cope with no lingering aroma!
I've bought two bottles.

“A woman who doesn’t wear perfume has no future.” – Coco Chanel

A tad dramatic maybe, but coming from someone so iconic and stylish it ably emphasised how
indispensable perfume is.
Chanel No. 5 is one of the most popular fragrances of all time, a bottle of it is sold every 30 seconds.

"Where should one use perfume?" asked a young woman
"Wherever one wants to be kissed" replied Coco Chanel.

But that doesn't mean poured on, there is nothing worse than being in close proximity to someone who smells overwhelmingly of a cloying fragrance. Perfume should be delightful and intoxicating, and as far as the opposite sex is concerned, only smelt by someone a little bit closer than is polite!

When asked what she wore in bed Marilyn Monroe replied "Why Chanel No. 5 of course"

What is your favourite perfume, how do you feel about perfume, how important is it to you, would you use a cheap one if it was a very good copy of an expensive one?

22 November 2015

A Good Read

Complicity by Ian Banks

Involvement, connection, liability. Are we guilty by association?

Cameron Colley is a substance abusing fully paid-up gonzo journalist hack on an Edinburgh newspaper. His source is tenuous but he senses a scoop and checks out a series of bizarre deaths from a few years ago. Meanwhile bizarre deaths are happening right now and eventually Cameron is questioned by the police. Does he know more than he cares to admit…….

This is an excellent study of the morality of greed, corruption and violence, venturing into the murky depths of human purpose. Stylishly written, compelling, sinister, funny, a very good thriller, thoroughly enjoyed it.

19 November 2015

Bygone Days

A blog I was reading the other day had an old photograph of a young girl on a motorbike probably circa 1950's, which put me in mind of a photo of myself and my cousin J sitting on my father’s motorbike dressed up in my auntie Margaret’s clothes. We loved dressing up in auntie's clothes and jewellery.

Me riding pillion circa 1956

Auntie Margaret was my mum’s sister. She worked for WH Smith at their office in Leeds, she always had nice clothes and lots of accessories. Her bedroom was an Aladdin’s cave of goodies. My mum had nice things too, but auntie was able to afford little extras. She never married and I often wondered why, because in those days most women married and had babies. I’m sure it wasn’t for the lack of suitors. One day I plucked up the courage to ask. She replied that she had had a couple of proposals but she didn’t want the responsibility of another person and preferred to stay single.

My mum’s family lived in Leeds and we would visit at Christmas, Easter and during the summer. 

I only knew one grandparent. My father's parents died before I was born, my mum's father died when I was a baby and I only have vague memories of my grandma above.

We lived in Peterborough so the journey on the A1 was straightforward.  Mum sat in the front of the sidecar and I sat in the back. Our 1 case was strapped on the back. That journey seemed to take forever. When my father bought a car I thought we were ever so well off! The journey was more comfortable but still took forever! Even when the M1 was built my father still preferred to use the A1. When I was older, maybe 11 or 12 I would go up for 2 weeks during the summer holiday. I have a vague memory of being put on a train at Peterborough and auntie Margaret meeting me at Leeds. I don’t know if it was a direct journey or whether I had to change trains at some point. My stay was divided between auntie Margaret and two other aunties.

I loved auntie Margaret’s house, probably because it was so different to ours, having four levels! It was a two up two down back to back terrace house with a cellar and an attic. It had a small neat garden. Steps led up to the front door whilst a smaller staircase led down to the cellar. Entering straight into the lounge there was a small kitchen on the left with stairs down to the cellar. The lounge was a lovely room with a big bay window that let in lots of light and sunshine. Auntie had her dining table in the bay. A door from the lounge led up stairs and curved round to the first floor with a bathroom and auntie’s bedroom. Another door led to more curved stairs up to the attic. From the attic I could see for miles, cobbled streets, rows and rows of terraced houses and washing strung across the streets. And I could see the rag and bone man with his horse and cart calling out that familiar “Ragbooone”. 

I enjoyed visiting auntie's neighbours, or taking the bus into the city to meet her during her lunch break. Sometimes  I would meet her from work and we would go to the pictures. She would also take a day or two off work and we would go to Roundhay park or visit her friends and elderly relatives. 

The only one I can remember was great auntie Annie who was profoundly deaf and used one of those huge hearing trumpets. She was very old, very kind and had a terrific sense of humour. 

Me, auntie Marjorie and cousin J

Auntie Marjorie’s house was a two up two down with an attic. Cousin J’s room was on the first floor and I slept in the attic, it was great. J and I spent our time talking, experimenting with make up and going into town to meet auntie Margaret during her lunch break.

Auntie Clara’s house was in Guisley, a lovely cosy semi det that was back to front. It was down a lane, so the front door and hallway were at the back of the house overlooking fields, and the side door and porch were at the front off the lane. Directly opposite was a cemetery with a high stone wall. From upstairs you could see almost all the graves. The room I shared with my cousin M overlooked a grave with a beautiful white stone statue of an angel, I always thought she was my guardian angel. Cousin M’s brother, cousin D had the middle bedroom because he needed the space for his amazing railway set that he had built. It was awesome but he wouldn’t let anyone operate it, we could only watch. 

Me at the front, cousins J, M and D

Holidays with auntie Clara always involved walking into Ilkley, over part of the moors, a picnic, then catching a train back, or vice versa, train there and walk back. On our return we would often have fish and chips for tea. Auntie Clara taught me how to prepare fresh crab. 

Me, auntie Clara and my friend P. She was one of 7 children, her father and my father met during the war and remained friends. They couldn't afford annual holidays so she sometimes went to Leeds with me. 
Happy days.

15 November 2015


Feeling so very sorry for all those lives suddenly ended, and for the
families and friends whose own lives will never be the same again.

13 November 2015

The Dolls House Garage

A few months ago whilst browsing in a dolls house shop I saw these real stone tiles and decided that
despite the cost (2 boxes = £37),  they would be perfect for the garage floor.

I started by placing them in situ to make sure that I had enough, which I did, just.

Some had to be cut, a job I wasn't looking forward to, I couldn't afford any breakages
as I didn't want to buy another box.

I used the Stanley knife to score the tiles, then the saw to cut through.
I only broke one, which I put at the back.

I spread PVA glue on the floor, put the tiles in place and used toothpicks as dividers but then .........

as I was taking this picture I realised I didn't need spacers to keep horizontal tiles in place - doh! I could gauge the space between each tile, I just needed a straight even space between the rows, for which I used these highly technical torn off pieces of cereal box ......

After painting a solution of half PVA glue and half water over the tiles they were ready for grouting

Job done

Ready for the Porsche now!

8 November 2015


Sitting with my feet up, a glass of Asti in hand looking forward to watching Downton Abbey. 
I'm devastated that tonight's episode will be the last one ever!!

It's been a bit of a busy day, morning walk with the dogs. It's getting very slippery under foot now. I slipped over the other day, I was climbing over a stile and my foot just slid from under me, thank goodness I was holding on to the top of the fence.

I don't clean my boots very often as they just get very dirty every day, but this morning I decided to give them a quick clean.

Catching up with emails, followed by a bit of work on my dolls house. 

Ham sandwich for lunch, then over to my allotment for some carrots and parsnips for dinner.

A bit more work on my dolls house

prep time for Sunday roast, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots

mmm 50 minutes in the rotisserie, cooked to perfection

potatoes and parsnips cooked in the Actifry

Frozen Yorkshire puds, I like cooking and usually do everything from scratch, except these, I've tried but I just can't get them to rise and taste as good as these little beauties.

put it all together

with sage and onion stuffing, cranberry sauce 


and of course a glass of my favourite fizz

oooh I think Downton is going to be a bit weepie

PS The trailer for Downton said it was going to be the series finale, but at the end they announced there will be a Christmas episode. I thought it strange that such a popular series wouldn't have a Christmas episode.

4 November 2015

Bucket List

I have been busy de-cluttering cupboards and drawers. I'm not a natural de-clutterer, I like keeping things, either for sentimental reasons or because "it might be useful one day" so whilst some stuff was thrown away, when it came to my diaries they stayed in the cupboard.
I started my first diary after I was married in 1968 and have kept one every year since. I don't do anything with them, they just stay in the cupboard but I can't bear to throw them away, my photos are a treasured pictoral history of  mine and my daughter's lives, and my diaries are a written history.
I made a cup of coffee and settled down for a trip down memory lane. In 1998 I was surprised to find that I had compiled a bucket list which I had completely forgotten about! 
1. Take a trip on Route 66   drove along part of it in 1996 in Williams en route to the Grand Canyon
2. Travel on the Rocky Mountain Train Route
3. Walk the Great Wall of China   Would've loved to have done this but over the last few years I have          come to dislike China's politics and therefore won't be going.
4. Visit India   did this in 2009
5. Travel on the Trans Siberian Express
6. Trek to Everest Base Camp   did this in 2012
7. Do the Sydney Harbour Bridge Walk
8. Climb Ayers Rock   did this in 1994
9. Walk the Inca Trail
10.Visit Lapland to see the Northern Lights
11. Scuba diving    Had a trial run in 2014 with a diving club but didn’t get very far down, it                             appears have an inner ear problem, so no exotic diving holidays to the Maldives for me!
12Go on safari   went to Tanzania in 2013 and Zambia in 2014

mmm 6/12 better get a move on if I am to complete it!! 

China is being replaced with visit Cuba, which is booked for next March.

I'm not sure I want to do the Inca Trail now.

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