Thursday, July 31, 2008

Make Do and Mend: Banana Bread

Take the very end part of one jar of white sugar and one jar of brown sugar and using a wooden spoon bash out any lumps and combine to make a pale brown colour (175g). Add half a packet of cooking margarine which is definitely past the shops date but which looks and smells absolutely fine (125g). Cream together until combined.

Take 2 eggs which went out of date 2 weeks ago but when floated in a jug of water still sit on the bottom. Break one egg into a separate bowl and smell it, just in case. Add to the butter&sugar mixture. Beat well. Repeat with second egg.

Sieve 280g of plain flour into a bowl before adding half to the mixing bowl. Stir well. Add 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda.

Measure 125ml of milk. Add half to the mixing bowl. Stir well. Add the rest of the flour. Stir well. Add the rest of the milk. Stir.

Take up to three old soft bananas (depending on how many you have and how pronounced a banana flavour you wish) and mash. Fold into mixture. Add 1tsp vanilla essence (if you remember) and 75g chopped walnuts (if you have any).

Tip into greased loaf tin and bake on gas mark 4 for one hour.

Eat warm with butter and a cup of tea.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Books I have read

Diary of a Surprise Mum says that "Someone” reckons that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books "they’ve" printed ( I coudn't work out who 'they' are). It’s not the Big Read though — they don’t publish books, and they’ve only featured these books so far. So here we go…

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read
2) Italicize those you have read part of and will go back and finish when you get some time
3) Underline the books you LOVE
4) Highlight the ones you still want to read but just have not had a chance yet*
5) colour red the ones you own but have yet to read
6) Reprint this list in your own blog so we can try and track down these people who’ve read 6 or less and force books upon them.

1. The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
2. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
3. The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
4. Lord of the Flies - William Golding*
5. Life of Pi - Yann Martel
6. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
7. The Color Purple - Alice Walker
8. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle*
9. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
10. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
11. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
12. Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
13. His Dark Materials (trilogy) - Philip Pullman
14. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
15. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
16. The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien
17. Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
18. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
19. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
20. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
21. Chronicles of Narnia - C.S. Lewis
22. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis
23. Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne
24. Animal Farm - George Orwell
25. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
26. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
27. On The Road - Jack Kerouac*
28. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
29. Charlotte’s Web - E.B. White
30. Hamlet - William Shakespeare
31. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
32. Complete Works of Shakespeare
33. Ulysses - James Joyce
34. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
35. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo
36. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
37. The Bible
38. The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
39. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
40. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
41. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
42. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
43. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
45. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
46. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
47. The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
48. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
49. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
50. Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
51. Little Women - Louisa M. Alcott
52. Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
53. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
54. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
55. Middlemarch - George Eliot
56. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
57. Bleak House - Charles Dickens
58. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
59. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
60. Emma - Jane Austen
61. Persuasion -Jane Austen
62. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
63. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden*
64. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
65. A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving*
66. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
67. Anne of Green Gables – L.M. Montgomery
68. Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
69. Atonement - Ian McEwan
70. Dune - Frank Herbert
71. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
72. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
73. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon*
74. A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
75. Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez*
76. The Secret History - Donna Tartt
77. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
78. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
79. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
80. Bridget Jones’ Diary - Helen Fielding
81. Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
82. Moby Dick - Herman Melville
83. Dracula - Bram Stoker
84. Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
85. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
86. Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
87. Germinal - Emile Zola
88. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
89. Possession - A.S. Byatt
90. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
91. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
92. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
93. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
94. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
95. The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
96. The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
97. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
98. Watership Down – Richard Adams
99. A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
100. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas


Friday, July 11, 2008


We found him lying on the floor half way up a footpath leading from the station to the main road. He was being helped by a lady who could not speak much English and she seemed grateful that we stopped. He half made it to his feet, hauling himself up on the railing before staggering and falling back to the ground. His rucksack was unzipped and we could see medication inside. He pulled himself to a sitting position and mumbled incoherently. Then the heavens opened and rain started pouring down, soaking us all in an instant. We asked him what was the matter, he said he didn't know but he felt 'heavy'.

Decision time: we couldn't leave him there but it didn't seem enough of an 'emergency' to call an ambulance. The mumbling and the rain continued. I called 999. Asked for an ambulance, explained our location and said it didn't seem a proper emergency but I thought he needed help. Five minutes later a paramedic arrived in an ambulance-car. He established the man was an alcoholic who had just been released from hospital and who had other health problems. The man who wouldn't tell us anything beyond his first name seemed to trust the paramedic with his uniform and accompanying kit-bags.

We waited for a few minutes to see if we could do anything else but the paramedic said that there wasn't anything but that we had done the right thing in calling him. So we left, walked on to our intended destination: the church where we hope to get married next summer.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Wedding Blog

For anyone who is interested I have set up a new blog Peacock Feathers & Diamond Rings where I intend to write about all wedding related topics thus leaving this blog to my usual topics...

Also, the ring picture is now on the Duttson Rocks website.

The Wedding Planning Commences...

Who knew that planning a wedding would be so complicated?! Obviously, being a girl, I have dreamt about the day the man who would become my husband would propose to me and the beautiful wedding that would follow. I have dreamt about it and formulated plans, colour schemes, ideas. Only I never had to think about practicality; how all the plans would fit together and more importantly, how much they would cost.

Yes, cost, the bug bear of my life and currently, the wedding. Add the word 'wedding' to anything and it seems to triple in price. Obviously on a Saturday in June there are limited reasons for wanting a marquee venue for 120 people. It doesn't take a genius to work out what is going on. What it might take though is a genius to work out how to incorporate all our plans and ideas into a budget that we, my parents and my future parents-in-law can afford.

Thankfully, M and I have pretty similiar ideas about what our wedding should be like. It took us about 10 minutes to agree on our ideal location followed by a week convincing the investors. We know what we would like in theory but finding the people to make it a reality is slower to come. Perhaps the most frustrating thing is finding out pricing - most companies wish to provide individual quotes which abstractly is fine but rather time consuming when you are looking for ideas. What we immediately want to know is roughly what their average quote is. Do they routinely charge over £1000 or is it more like £500. I don't really want to waste my time getting personalised quotes to find that it was never ever going to be within my budget at all.

Other observations regarding the wedding business this week relate to church weddings. I can see why people don't bother if they are happy with a civil/registry office wedding. Aside from the initial meeting with the vicar there are at least three wedding preparation sessions to attend (well intentioned I am sure, but after 6 and half years together we are already aware that people tend to like to give and receive affection in different ways...) and many many extra costs to pay. And that's after the realisation that you can marry in one of about 4 churches unless you have a 'special connection' and a licence from the Arch-Bishop, which is what we are relying on, a London wedding not been an attractive or affordable option. I know they don't want people entering into marriage thoughtlessly but surely the church as a whole should be making it easier not harder to have a church wedding.

Still, small rantings aside, I am so excited at being engaged and really looking forward to the wedding already. I keep looking at M seeing how much happier he looks and thinking this man is going to be my husband. He really will be with me forever. And after that, wedding budgets don't seem to matter that much after all.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Engagement Parties

What a busy week it has been. One week on since we got engaged and we have been out to dinner 6 times and had almost as many bottles of champagne. We have decided where (ideally) we will get married; we now have to convince the Chaplain and find the perfect venue for the reception. I have got some ideas for the theme and yesterday bought some shoes(!) by Rupert Sanderson. The ring has now been photographed so I might even post a photo when they are e-mailed to me.

Tonight is our informal engagement party and I am cleaning, tidying, ironing, washing and gardening in preparation not only for tonight but for also practising my wifely duties. All whilst watching the Wimbledon final, of course.