Sunday, 29 May 2016

This and that...cabbages and Kings !(Not really!)



Hello everyone! It's lovely to welcome you here, whoever you are and however you get here, whether you decide to stay or to move on. 

This week has been busy - and I think it's possibly how Things Will Be for a while (although I am finishing with one student next week, so that will cut down a little of the work.) This month I think I have earned the mosty I have ever earned, since I've been working for myself, which is good, as August is likely to be a "thin" month.

Because of working a lot, I don't have free time to plan, so yesterday morning was spent catching up on Lesson Summary e-mails (for my phone students), planning my Wednesday lessons, and preparing all the bills for May.  I did some more planting on Saturday afternoon – the balcony looks very good now, especially with an astro turf lawn!! One of my students had put artificial grass around his swimming pool and had some off-cuts he was going to throw away. I asked if I could have a bit, and now we have a tiny lawn on the balcony!! Three out of four cats quite like sitting on it, while the fourth is very suspicious and avoids going near it!

Then this morning I finished preparing for other lessons in the week. I hope to start a new Zentangle today (sorry, Michelle, your horse is being put on hold as I have a paid commission! Oooh, exciting!)
I know Kezzie has received her TARDIS zentangle, so I can show it to you now:


 Although the idea itself wasn't original, the design and zentangle bit was all my own work...


 I'm quite happy with it. And it was certainly different! Both Trish's Beatles zentangle, and Kezzie's TARDIS have challenged me quite a bit!

I'm preaching and leading the service for the next two Sundays. This is not a problem, save for the fact that I won't have time to write the sermon until next Saturday, and so I'll have to choose the hymns a bit "blind" (as I can't wait till Saturday to let the organist know what we're having.) so they may not be very well linked to the theme. Mind you, I do wonder how many people notice that I try to link the hymns with the theme anyway!!



Despite being busy I've had the chance to catch up with apèros at Friend Cathy's - once at her house, and yesterday here. I was hoping we could sit on the balcony, but it poured down, with some dramatic thunder and lightening. 

This week's food is planned as being a simple as possible... Things got moved around last week, and we didn't go out on Friday. Instead we had the duck breast (that had been planned for Wednesday), and the pasta dish from Thursday was moved to Saturday, as I ate lunch out and was too full for dinner. Mr FD cooked himself liver (yuckity yuck) for his dinner, and was Well Pleased.

In fact this week's food is so simple there's no recipes! 

TODAY: Roast chicken, and everything that goes with it. I bought a big one, as I plan to use it for…

MONDAY: Chicken and vegetable stir fry. Mr FD will be preparing this, as Monday is a get home around 7.00 day.

TUESDAY: Chicken-and-bacon pasties, and vegetables of some kind. 

WEDNESDAY: Sausage casserole – or something else with sausages. Again, Mr FD is in charge, so he can decide.



THURSDAY: I’m not sure. Something quick-ish as I’ll get back from shopping about 6.00. I think there may be a couple of things that need eating in the freezer.

FRIDAY: We are out tonight at a “Northern night” at the Relais d’Urfé. The owners of this restaurant hold monthly “international” evenings, where various ex-pats in the area get together (not just English ex-pats) to eat and chat. It’s quite cheap as well, & the food is generally cooked by one (or several) of the participants. Last month was a German evening – I didn’t go, but Mr FD said there was lots of pork products on offer – and this month, a friend from t’North of England is providing the food. I offered to help but (rather snippily) was told No thanks. I think it will be my turn (scouse and pickled red cabbage) another month.


Northern cat in flat cap. (and what appears to be a polonecked jumper!)

Thank You for comments - I love getting comments from people, so thank you those who do make the effort.

TRISH was complimentary about the extracts I've posted from "Teaching Donkeys to Dance" - my unpublished novel. 

ANG - we are fighting slugs at the moment....courgette plants decimated, lettuce plants (bought yesterday!) munched to the soil level, and seedlings gobbled. I don't want to use slug pellets but we may be forced to if we require any veggies to grow. On a good note, we harvested our first three strawberries - delicious!!!

KEZZIE: Please don't call Bib gross. (smiley face. Honest. Not a reprimand!!!)  She just pees in the wrong place. Actually, now we have added another 2 litter trays there does seem to be slightly less misplaced peeing. Fingers crossed anyway.

 FINALLY....
 ...here's a bit more from "Teaching Donkeys.." Just for Kezzie, it's another description of FOOD!!! Katie, and her fiancé, Rob, are having lunch, while preparing to view the houses that they might buy in the countryside of France...


A few minutes later Katie and Rob were toasting each other with L’Aperetif de la Maison, a kir made with white wine and sirop of chestnuts. A pale, woody brown, the drink tasted tantalisingly of sweetness, and of autumn, with a tang of the forests that surrounded the village.
“It’s a strange flavour, but I think I like it,” Katie said, tipping her glass towards Rob.
Rob hesitated.
“Yes, it’s OK – but I think I’d rather have a pint of Bass.”
“Philistine!” Katie broke off as the waiter brought over two plates. With a deal of ceremony, he placed them before Katie and Rob.
Bon appetit,” he said.
They surveyed their plates – a mound of green salad leaves, studded with nuggets of foie gras and walnuts, dressed in a smooth vinaigrette.  Katie picked up her knife and fork, and then paused, a small smile on her lips.
“This is it,” she whispered. “This is the start of something good. No, something great. I can feel it. I can tell.”
“It’s only lunch,” Rob protested. “No need to go over the top about it.”
“No. It’s more than just lunch. It’s our first meal in the place where we’re going to live.”
“You’re just getting stupid and over dramatic now, Katie. We don’t know that. We might find all the houses are crap.” Rob took a huge bite of his salad and chewed pensively. “But I have to say, the salad is good.”
Katie looked down at her plate, and bit back a retort. Why get the trip off to a bad start, she thought. The houses would be perfect, and the only problem they would have would be deciding which one to buy. Looking up, she smiled at Rob, and said,
“That’s the first time you’ve eaten lettuce without complaining about rabbit food.”
“I know – but there’s something different about the salad here. It’s more interesting, it isn’t just iceberg lettuce, it’s stuff with frilly edges and it actually tastes of something. And the dressing is so good…” He wiped a hunk of baguette around his plate, soaking up the last few spots of vinaigrette.
“And the foie gras?”
“Fantastic. One of my favourite things – just don’t think too hard about how it’s made!”
Rob picked up the carafe of wine and poured himself another glassful.
After a plateful of meltingly tender boeuf bourgignon served with gratin dauphinoise, and a little bundle of green beans, Katie sighed.
“I couldn’t eat another mouthful. That was delicious.”
“Well, I’m not turning down the cheese board. Just look at that.”
She turned around to see the waiter wheeling an enormous trolley towards them, laden down with cheese of so many different varieties Katie thought it would be impossible to name them all. But not for the waiter, who was rightly proud of the huge choice of cheese that he was offering.
Bleu d’Auvergne,” he gestured with his knife towards a creamy looking blue cheese. “Forme d’Ambert” Another blue, “Saint Nectaire “, this time he indicated a cheese with a strangely unattractive greyish-orange rind. Its flesh however looked delicious, a semi firm texture, and a whiff of the forest about it. Crottin de Chavignol.”  His knife hovered over a cheese that looked suspiciously like droppings.
“Hey,” hissed Rob, “I believe crottin means goat turd, or something like that. D’you fancy a cheese made of goat shit then?”
Katie hesitated only for a second.
“I’m very full,” she said, glaring at Rob, “But I must try some of that delicious looking cheese, thank you.” And she pointed to the small, greyish-white circles of goat’s cheese.
The waiter placed one of the pieces on her plate, and passed it to her. After Rob had made his selection, and their bread supply had been replenished, Katie cut into the cheese. The interior was creamy white with a slightly flaky texture. It certainly didn’t look as though droppings of any sort had been used in its manufacture, even though the aroma was strongly that of goats. She took a bite, and, as she relaxed, she realised how tense she had been about trying this new cheese, allegedly made from the waste product of goats.
“It’s delicious,” she said. “Really, really nice. You should have tried it, Rob”
“No thanks,” he snorted. “I’m not trying anything made from goats’ shit. Stinky creatures. I don’t know how you can put it in your mouth.”
“D’you know, sometimes you can be really pathetic…” She took another mouthful, and pointedly looked out of the window onto the typically French square. Even in the depths of winter, with a grey sky, clouds laden with rain, the place looked inviting. The Christmas lights were twinkling, strung across the street from lamp post to lamp post, the words “Joyeux Fêtes” wishing the townspeople a happy and peaceful holiday. The huge tubs, empty now, Katie could imagine full of bright geraniums, and the trees, stark in their winter bareness, would be softened with the green of leaves and blossom. She couldn’t do it, she couldn’t stay angry with Rob for long, not today. Not with this being the day that they find “their” house.
“Coffee?” she asked, brightly, turning back to face him.
“Coffee? Not on your Nellie. Not yet. Have you seen the puddings?”
“Where?” She craned her neck to see them.
“No, not there. Over by the entrance. I saw them as we came in. They look gorgeous.”
Katie looked over to another trolley, this time covered with a glass dome. Inside she could see gateaux, creamy puddings, bowls of jewel bright fruit and other delicious looking desserts.
“Rob, can you really fit one of those in?”
“Fit it in? I’ve been saving myself for one of those. One of those profiteroles, please,” he said to the waiter, “With loads of cream on it.”
Madame?”
“Nothing, truly, thank you.” Bravely Katie tried out one of the phrases she had been learning. J’ai bien mangé. C’’était un bon repas.”
“Merci, Madame. Vous désirez un café?”
“Oui, merci” The waiter left.
“Look at you then, with your fancy French phrases.” Rob seemed to be mocking her.
“Well, at least I’m trying. You could’ve taken lessons with Madame Duchovie too, you know. In fact if you’re planning on starting a business here, then you really should be learning.”
“Oh, there’ll be plenty of time for that when we’re living out here.”
He tossed his spoon down onto his empty plate, and sighed contentedly.
“That should keep me going, I think…At least until this evening.”
“I should think that would keep you going until the middle of next week! We’ve eaten loads.”
Katie drained her coffee cup, wincing a little at the strength of the bitter brew.
“Come on. Let’s get the bill and go. Otherwise we’ll be late meeting Piers.”