Thursday, 31 March 2011

'I have often wished I had time to cultivate modesty...

But I am too busy thinking about myself'

Dame Edith Sitwell

Isn't she just wonderful?

Another superb photograph of her 

What must she have thought gazing on such beauty?


Good Oh, a rainy Thursday (my free stay at home day)
and what do I do?
I waste blooming time blogging that's what!
So much to do, so little time...
Tra la la la la

Off out to walk the dog then studio bound.
Must settle to work, must settle, MUST!

Monday, 28 March 2011

The old girl's chilled today because...

 look what our lovely postie Mike delivered today...

isn't it just beautiful?
Not sure I want to tell you where I got it from because,
I'm an only child and I definitely DON'T DO SHARING!
However on this one occasion I will, it was from Julie from the Cloth Shed.
All my grumps from yesterday just dissolved when I opened the parcel.
Retail therapy is the panacea to all ills I find!


After we got back from walking the dog at sparrow-fart.  I decided to tidy the studio,and this time carried it through.  I'd indulged myself yesterday by tackling the veg plot, so I had run out of feeble excuses.
What a lovely time I've had; I've found lots more bumpf on Masterchef so more instalments will be along shortly.  I've just re-read that sentence and decided I sound a real boring old lass.  Anyway I have to keep reminding myself I'm doing this for me.  In the attic last week you wouldn't believe the diaries I've got going back to the year dot.  Which reminds me I will one day tell you the story of wee Dot in the Highlands who I met doing the census in 1981.  She was the Highland's answer to Nell Gwyn, only she wasn't selling oranges, nor yet tangerines, more like prunes.  Anyway I've gone off at a tangent.

This is my Monday make:-
Alright I know it's not on a par with my crafting idol - Viv @ hens teeth 
but hey-ho a cat can look at a king or queen in this case.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Who will buy my sweet red heart?

My Sunday was going so well...
walking the dog, weeding (alright I know that's sad!) chilling with a glass of wine and the Sunday papers, UNTIL..... DRUM ROLL...
Hubs drew my attention to this article in the Sunday Times...

I have been on the donor register for as long as I  can remember and 
in true me tradition have said 

"Take every last bit of bone, flab and gristle."  

If it helps my fellow man then I'm content my life hasn't been in vein!?!

I don't think I'm being mean spirited by feeling incensed by this article.  Or am I?
I thought I was being altruistic. 

Hang on a mo, suddenly my bits are worth something in this world of me, me, ME GREED.  And this ME, aint happy.

What do I do?

I know what I want to do.

Tell them to go stuff their organs right up where the sun don't shine.

What do you think?

Help me!

"So I could see it at my leisure
Whenever things go wrong
And I would keep it as a treasure
To last my whole life long



Saturday, 26 March 2011

My tears were washed away by chlorinated water...

as I bobbed up and down in the pool determined to rid myself of the lifebuoy that seems to have taken up residence around my girth. 

I couldn't get out of my mind the love letter I had discovered in the attic yesterday.
Sent in October 1911 from my grandfather (the wood carving bank manager mentioned in an earlier post) 

to my grandmother
on the eve of their wedding.

The sentiments and extremely proper passion contained in the letter sorely tugged at my heart-strings.

The book of poems by Tennyson explains without a word being spoken, of my father's love of poetry, mine too. 

The ground was being prepared, the seed was being sown and here we are 100 (yes one hundred) years later reaping the rewards.
And me their only hoodlum grandaughter at 63 going on 13 has to beg the question...

Seeing me now...
"Would they have thought it worth it?"


Friday, 25 March 2011

The one question everyone asked me was...

What's Loyd Grossman really like?

He is a lovely guy, very knowledgable about food and a genuinely good egg.

So many people came up to me after my talk and said 
'We love the programme, don't like Loyd though!'
I always used to say in television you only get on, if you're universally liked or loathed.    
I'll leave you to decide which category he fitted into?
Probably the mid Atlantic drawl irritated and made viewers wish he was exactly there!
Take it from me - One of life's cheeky chappies.


Meanwhile back at home on my little red fergie

scraping the aforementioned brown stuff.  
I got to thinking...
"Wow I've done it!  I've actually been chosen!"

From a luke-warm starting position I really wanted to WIN.
My time doing mindless tasks around the farm gave me ample opportunity to mull over recipes.  Test drive them on friends and generally lose myself from the daily grind.

The biggest shock in the sheaf of instructions was, that this series of programmes watched over the course of thirteen weeks, is actually filmed in TWO weeks.  One programme in the morning and one in the afternoon.  And for this reason beforehand you must submit all rounds' menus, in the unlikely event (in my case I thought!) that you get through to the final.
British food with an interesting twist, no faffing, just good ingredients prepared and cooked with love.
The wheels turned, my mind whirled, the shit swirled and all was well down on the farm.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Bum in the air I've spent the hottest...

day of the year clambering about in the garage loft.
Don't want to appear snooty, perish the thought!  However, how many folk can claim a Persian carpeted attic? 

Not many I suspect.
Where else could I put the moth eaten old specimen?  

Trouble with this blooming Kitsch and Stitch event is it has made me realise just how kitsch I am.  It has been brought horribly home to me by all the camp treasures I have collected over the years.  And I thought I had such top drawer, cut glass taste (even that's old hat now, nobody would be seen dead serving drinks in crystal, I ask you!)

The old tutt was preying on my mind - I just had to sort it.  Along the way I might even find my much loved Ted (I've written about him before, he was my first love) alright he had a squashed face and a broken button eye but I loved him most in the www.
What about the gravy granules jar of antique buttons that also make me lose sleep.  I was hard-up after Simon died and did a antique fair where I think I probably sold them for a quid or so.  Little knowing that I would become a sewing diva and blooming NEED them.

Anyway today dawned bright and after a fishwife encounter over the fence with my horrible neighbour; who for the last three days has been burning wood in one of those dustbin things with a chimney. I felt I could tackle anything.  I wouldn't mind but I'd sent the diplomatic corps (Hubs) round yesterday.  

Diplomacy 0 - Neighbour 1
A few well chosen words 

Her indoors 1 - Neighbour 0

I've had a superb day sorting out stuff ready for the fair.  Old family photo's and memorabilia carefully boxed and more importantly contents marked on the outside of the boxes. I've 'glowed' buckets and really did feel in need of a large glass of something cold and sparkling.  Which of course I got - red grape juice topped up with sparkling water.

Monday, 21 March 2011

With the aroma of cows hanging about my person...

I flew down the corridor, huge leather portmanteau clanking with pots and pans.
I was hot, bothered and still gently steaming about the bloody cows' sugar beet!

The producer was waiting for me
"You're late!"

I was taken into a classroom full of beautifully calm and well prepared would-be contestants.

Last to arrive and in a tiss...
hardly the recipe for success?

Obviously on this first untelevised round they needed to know how good your culinary skills were and more importantly how you reacted under the pressure of competition cooking.
By this time I thought 'Bugger it, I'm gonna have fun and even if I make a total cock-up  the world will still go round and in the grand scheme of things this is nought!'

I did settle and got quickly on with getting my pressure-cooker primed ready to roll, in order for my oxtail in port to be ready in time.  This I served with Hedgerow jelly made from sloes, crab apples and blackberries gathered on the farm.  Together with bubble and squeak parcels.

My whole aim of applying to appear on the programme was to cook good honest British grub.  None of this artistically arranged pictures on plates carry-on for me.
Little did I know then, that back in 1992, I was ahead of the times for serving rustic fare.
My idea was to cut through the pretentiousness of nouvelle cuisine.
Good honest grub was my mantra!

I even forgot I was competing for a place against 19 other folk.  And had the cheek to ask the producer how he'd got his black eye!

At the end of the time we all had to wait to see which three were chosen.
Against all odds and with the fragrance of Doris Day in Calamity Jane, I was one of the lucky three!

Saturday, 19 March 2011

At last I've got my finger out...

When the weather is glorious, the temptation is to dig the veg plot.
Trouble with that is, my hands get rough, which doesn't bode well for hand sewing.
This morning I was up at 6 ish. The house was quiet so I silently sewed.  

These badges are the fruits of my labour for 

I've sharpened my elbows ready for a skirmish up at our local jumble sale.
Bag lady rides again - better be off.

More on Masterchef soon - cliff-hanger or wot? 

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

A titbit for Maggie...

As finalists we were asked to demonstrate at the Good Food show.  I demonstrated my recipes of this and pepper pizza.  I used the peppers as mini pizza cases filling them with all the usual pizza type toppings.  My culinary dreams on the little red Fergie weren't in vein!

After our demo's Martha and I chummed up to trawl the stalls.  At each stand she would produce her card and we would be offered the very best of fare.  Champagne, a mixed and varied array of tasty delights, the like of which the hoi polloi never got to see.
By the end off the day I said to Martha
"I don't know how you do it?"
I knew some magic was being worked but couldn't work out what!
"My husband always says you must have everything in life!"
Through my muzzy champagne filled brain I thought -that sounds good to me!

She suggested I meet the rest of the family over dinner that evening.  Unfortunately I had made other arrangements so declined her offer.  Little did I know then, I would have been in a den of thieves.

To be continued much further along in the story of my time on Masterchef.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

After I picked myself up from the floor...

I carefully replaced the receiver
"Crumbs!  That little ploy didn't work."

And I thought I was being so clever.

Within a few days a sheaf of papers arrived with full instructions and a date for me to attend the first round in a catering college in Middlesborough.

From the two thousand plus applicants, they choose twenty from each region to compete in the non-televised round.  They obviously want to see what your food is like and also how you perform under pressure.  From those twenty they find the best three in that area.

In the application I had submitted my menu of

Hot sauce of smoked wild salmon on a green salad

Oxtail with hedgerow jelly with bubble and squeak parcels

Baked Bramley apple with cobnut stuffing and cardamom custard

My style of cooking has always been British with an interesting twist

I was planning to drive up to Middlesborough in the pick-up, however the morning had other ideas.  
Thick fog, a regular visitor to the Vale of York.

"As the weather's so bad, please will you take me to the station?"

"Can it wait until the cows have had their sugarbeet?"

Powered by expletives ********** I roared off down the drive...

Friday, 11 March 2011

Odd little foibles of mine...

I always think I'm younger than everyone else

I'm loud, larger than life

From the age of 13 I've been on a diet...
ever since my parents took me on holiday to Teignmouth to stay with Great Auntie Gertie.
There's a name to conjure with; she was a very proper Edwardian lady with a tweed suit and a bun.
The minute she clapped eyes on me she loudly declared
"That gel needs to go on a diet!"
On and off I've been on one since, thanks to her and that, I'm sure is why I've had a life long battle with my weight.
This photo I ought to say is of me taken a few years ago in one of my many and various slim, well slim for me phases.

I'm confident, at times over confident.

If I've enjoyed a book I bully pals into reading it, no matter it isn't the sort of book they usually read.

I never get to tell the hairdresser my problems, because they're always telling me theirs.

I'm an addict...
Cheesey Wotsits are my drug of choice

I always think people don't recognise me?

I'm a fool.

I always look on the bright side.  If things worry me I have a lucky lever inside my head that when I've got fed up of worrying I can flick.  Magically the worries disappear.

I'm getting increasingly deaf and big brave me has a problem admitting it,

In all other things, I say it like it is!

I have a major problem with people who fret about ageing and worse than that, do things to their faces and bodies.  The future generations will say they did what...
Inject poison into their faces?
Have bands fitted in their guts?
Had everything known to man lifted and tucked, 
even the bits that don't see the light of day?

Although having said that, I do not like what I see in the mirror every morning
I do try and convince myself that the lines are laughter induced 
And I am BLOOMING proud of them
(that was a tiny lie)

I'm brutally honest, sometimes I wish I wasn't.

I wish that as you get older you should do less not more.

I do aqua-aerobics three times a week, walk the dog most days, gardening
and all I really want to do as I sink into my twilight years, is to lay horizontal on the sofa with a glass of chilled sparkles, a bag of 'you know Wots' and a thumping good read.

Not a lot to ask is it?

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Roll up, roll up! I'm getting SO excited...

a date for your diaries girls...

Saturday May 7
'Kitsch and Stitch'
Vintage and Makers' Fair
Vestry Hall

be there or be square!

What do I sound like?

Ageing hippy?

Old dear - going through her second childhood?

Careful how you answer that!

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Cow muck was the main ingredient...

in my life in those days!

Back in 1992 I used to live and work on a dairy farm in the Vale of York.
Twice a day on my little red Fergie tractor I scraped out the cow muck.  Not a very glamorous job I grant you, however it gave my brain free rein to dream up lots of interesting recipes.

The one (yes, that's right ONE!) television programme I insisted on watching was BBC's 'Masterchef'.  Sunday afternoons would find me sat in front of the box avidly watching the  programme.  You could bet your bottom dollar, that would be the time the cows would choose to escape.  I would sink lower into the armchair pretending I hadn't noticed cows flashing past the window.

Watching from the comfort of an easy chair I thought 'I could easily do that!'
I sent off for an application form.  When it arrived I took one look at it and thought I haven't got time to fill that in;  between milking cows, feeding calves, tractor driving, leading big bales, silage making and all the hard graft that goes with living on a small farm.  How could I possibly find the time to answer a pretty comprehensive form about me?  It was hard enough getting through each normal day, without taxing my brain as to how my friends perceived me; together with, searching culinary questions.

Just prior to putting it in the bin I showed it to my son Aaron, who took one look at it and said "You'll never be bothered to fill THAT in!"

Red rag to a bull springs to mind and on a dairy farm quite apt.
His words were echoing exactly my thoughts.
My dander was well and truly up.
I thought  "I show the little bugger!"
I filled the form in with the minimum of effort, to give you some idea - one of the questions was 'Which countries' cuisine has most influenced your cooking?'   I replied
"None really!"

My idea was to send it off, then when no more was heard from Masterchef I could hand on heart say to Aaron
  "I've never heard another word!"

A couple of weeks later I get a phone call - guess who from?

Yes, it was the programme producer.

"We really like the sound of you!"

And that is how 19 years later I'm sitting here telling you what a fabulous experience it was.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

A fishy business...

These beautiful fish knives were bought by me last week from a local charity shop.
They had been calling me for months - £5 for 6 - "Please buy us, we've been much loved, then forsaken.   Even worse than that our other halves were NICKED!"
The reason I didn't buy them months ago was because they didn't have the matching forks.  Now don't get me wrong, I'm not a matching ANYTHING sort of person, however these beaut's do need an appropriate partner.  I'm not a snob or anything but I do really feel that  anything short of a marriage made in heaven just wouldn't cut the mustard with these upper class beauties.

Can you cotton-picking believe some low-life would stoop to pinch things from a charity shop?  No, me neither!

This little tale started a few months ago when Wend said in her blog "What things would you  bring back?"  It got me thinking of my lovely Pop who would always used a fish knive and fork, when eating fish obviously!
I had seen these only the week before, so in a funny way they were meant to be mine.

Please everybod can you keep your eyes peeled on your travels for -


fish forks
A reward will be paid.

If you do come across any similar I would be chuffed if you'd let me know.

I'm off to sewing class now...

Heigh ho, Heigh ho
its off to work we go..
Vainly trying to be sensible with a 
Sew ho, Sew ho, Sew ho.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Aaaaah! I don't think I can do this...

the main reason being I 'was' horrified at the then and now photo's.
That was until today when I heard the sad news that my cousin Diane had died.
Suddenly my self absorbed worries about my podgy bod didn't seem to be that important.
Diane was just a year younger than me.  She is the first of our generation to die.  She fell and broke her hip, a simple thing you would have thought.  Not so for Diane!

I'm wandering around in an aimless fashion,  Thursday, my 'at home' day I usually love - not so today.  Lots of work to do for my stall at our first 
I just can't settle.  I think it's called displacement therapy, where even re pointing the chimney (or worse than that HOUSEWORK!) seems more appealing than settling down to my crafting.  Does anyone else suffer the same being a dodger trait?

It's Hubs birthday today so we will celebrate later with a glass or two of my favourite tipple.

I will soon let you know of my time on Masterchef. Promise.  In the meantime, feast your eyes on the photograph of Martha Spencer.  A more honest woman you couldn't wish to meet you might think?


I did at last settle and I've made the most kitsch-est of kitsch tablecloths for my stall.
It's shot net - one side blood red and the other blue.  I've cut out very naff seaside scenes and appliqued them on to the fabric.  Why Oh WHY?  was I at the back of the queue when good taste was dolled out to the great and good?
If you could get a Ph.D in naffness I would be off the brilliance scale.  Sad innit?


Have never a fear, cos what I'm going to tell you about Martha isn't defamatory - It's the BLOOMING TRUTH!

Up-Up update...

Trouble is, she only really, rears her head in the final and afterwards....