Tuesday, 16 August 2016

My difficult relationship with poached eggs

Poached eggs and I have a poor relationship. Oh, I can eat them all right - no probem - but I cannot for the life of me make one.

Look at the poached egg in the picture. Lovely, isn't it? The yolk neatly swaddled like a newborn baby in its smooth white blanket. But not mine. Ooooh no. Mine all, and I mean all, turn out to look like ghosts, trailing flimsy strands of ectoplasm (or even "trailing clouds of glory"*) behind them. Half the ectoplasm always remains behind,  drifting forlornly in the saucepan, too decimated to bother with, and then sticks and is impossible to scrub off.

Please don't tell me to:
Use boiling water
Use simmering water
Use off-the-boil-altogether water
Add vinegar
No vinegar
Swirl the water
Don't swirl the water
Use fresh eggs
Use old eggs

For I have tried all these things, and the result, every time, is another ghost.

So I bought an egg poacher; one of those saucepans that have little plastic nests for the eggs. That'll teach them, I thought. They can't jump out of that. But this didn't work, either. They stuck to the nests, and weren't done properly, because how do you know when they're cooked underneath?

So I've decided to give up on the poached eggs. Next time, I shall fry them. You know where you are with a fried egg.


Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Why I am not an Olympic athlete

Just imagine doing this: spending your life - and in particular, the last four years - practising (for example) long jump. Every day consisting of run-run-run-run-run....and JUMP....and land in a sandpit. And that's it. Again, and again, and again. It makes my brain hurt just thinking about it. The sheer monotony of it. And the effect on normal life:

'Cup of tea, dear?'
' I'll just do one more jump first.'
'Glass of wine?'
'I can't, because of my diet.'
'Oh, of course, silly me. Then I'll just have one myself, shall I?'

And so on, and so on. For four years.

I'm sure they have to do the whole keep fit thing,  as well (which presumably makes a change). But still.

Then there are the really weird ones, like  putting the shot (what exactly is that for?. And you don't just put it; you have to throw it. A long way.

Running I just about get because running can be useful (think wild bears and missed buses), but most of it just leaves me bewildered.

But never mind. Good luck to them all, bless them. They certainly deserve it.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

A writer's life: waiting

One of the hardest parts of a writer's life is waiting. Waiting for That Important Reply. Waiting for editor/agent/publisher or whoever to get back with a verdict on the last precious (or not so precious) offering.

Today, I have faffed about, checked my emails about a hundred times, faffed about some more, visited some blogs, bought a birthday card, chatted to daughter on the phone ( a favourite waiting activity), done a crossword puzzle,  and ....waited. I'm still waiting. Will that person email after 5.30? Of course not. On the other hand, she may be so carried away by the brilliance of my work that she just has to let me know NOW, even if it's two in the morning. So I'll carry on checking my emails. Just in case....

Tomorrow, we have to go to Bristol to buy a bed. That should take my mind off the waiting, but of course, it won't. Waiting and bed-buying are, sadly, not mutually exclusive. So I shall probably just buy the wrong bed and lie awake on it worrying.

 And waiting....

Friday, 29 July 2016

Things I have learnt recently

1. That Phoebe really misses my posts, although she's not a follower (come on, Phoebe. Make me up to 128). So this is for her.

2. That marrying off my youngest son is both wonderful and emotional (I'm not his next of kin any more, although he has a wonderful new wife who has taken over the job. I'm not being a creep here as none of my family read my blog, apart from Phoebe).

3. That applying nail varnish to the eyelashes ( having confused it with eyelash stuff) is an exeptionally bad idea. Think about it.

4. That the best way to find unswept-up fragments of broken glass is to walk about with bare feet, and voila! There they all are!

5. That we need more sticking plaster ( see 4 above).

6. That I haven't got any more things done since cutting down on the blog (so what exactly HAVE I done? ).

7. That there are bee orchids on the downs where I ride. I've seen every other sort, but bee orchids only this year. They are truly beautiful.

8. That my daughter really is a domestic goddess. Sadly, she doesn't get it from me.

9. Something I haven't learned yet: what exactly do those gangly spindly spiders that live in sheds eat? We have lots (of spiders, not sheds), and they just dangle there, waiting. Come on, spiders. Even I can see there are NO FLIES. Ours is a no fly zone. What exactly are you all waiting for? Please go away ( I never kill spiders. I just Hoover up the webs. Making new ones gives them something to do).

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Open letter to an optician

Dear Mr. Smithers*

You're probably a busy man, and may even be a little bored, but can I make a few suggestions?

Firstly, you are supposed to put me at my ease, not the other way round. Chat, talk about the weather; anything but that dour professional silence. I'm on your territory, so it's your job to make me feel at home.

Now I know I'm not the most hilariously amusing person you've ever come across, but humour me. When I try to crack a little joke or make some merry quip (I do this to put myself at ease, since you're obviously not going to), at least smile. Come on, now. It wouldn't hurt you,would it? The receptionists laughed heartily when I was filling in that form without my glasses, and said I needed my eyes testing. That wasn't funny, either, but they humoured me. I like your receptionists.

When I ask whether I'm safe to drive, instead of going all po-faced and telling me I'm legal, but you 'can't possibly say that I'm safe', explain yourself. I know you're covering your back, but a little more information would be nice.

Don't puff that thing at my eyeballs. I don't like it. It makes me jump.

And don't turn your nose up at my Amazon off-the-peg glasses. They work just  fine.

Lastly, had you ever though if being, say, a chartered accountant? I think it would suit you better than your present calling.

Your reproachfully etc.etc.

PS Your parting shot was that you'd see me in two years. Well, not if I see you first, you won't. Next time, I'm going to Specsavers.

*Not  your real name. But then, you know that.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

A fashion post

While out shopping with my daughter, we found this. Now like the Chinese painted quail, this begs several questions, the main one being, WHY? What are the appendages for, exactly? (Access is from the inside.)

Here are some suggestions:

1. Long, droopy boobs (obviously). Being wool, they would be kept nice and warm, but retain their characteristic droop.

2. To keep a spare pair of socks. One in each pocket.

3. Newborn twins (though they might suffocate).

4. Your packed lunch.

5. Kittens. People like kittens.

6. In fact anything else you want to keep about your person.

So it (they) could be useful. But attractive? Well, judge for yourself. And guess what. It was in the sale, so the buying public do have some sense. Phew.

(Any ideas/suggestions welcome. I really am bewildered.)

Friday, 24 June 2016

There's always someone worse off...

This is a Chinese painted quail (you see? You're riveted already; admit it). This bird spends most of its time on the ground, which is just as well, since when it takes off, it flies in a straight line until it bumps into something.

This poses one or two interesting questions, the major one being: if this bird is only capable of flying in a straight line, why is it not obsolete? After all, there are only so many times you can bump into things (while flying) without sustaining fatal injuries. Even the dodo didn't fly into things, and look what happened to that.

There. You've learnt something today, haven't you? And I haven't even mentioned the R word.

 You're welcome.