Friday, 2 November 2012

Catching Up

Well I am still with my lolly pop mountain. I had hoped that as it was a fine dry night the trick or treaters would take a chance and come around a day late but it wasn't to be.

Feeling better I decided to keep my date with my best friend and I'm so glad I did. There is nothing like a good natter with someone you utterly trust to clear the mind and make you feel more like your old self.

We met twenty years ago, became firm friends and have been in and out of each others lives ever since. We may not see each other as often as we should but we are always there for each other for the important things. It was like stepping back in time the minute I got out of the car. We are so comfortable together that there is none of that awkwardness you sometimes get with someone you haven't seem for a while. We chatted and laughed and I was stunned to see how grown up her children were, time really does fly far too fast. By the time I left my spirits were totally uplifted and I felt happier than I have in a long, long time. Diana is the sort of friend everyone should have. She doesn't judge, she doesn't fuss and she sees me as I was when we first met, not as I am now. I am so, so lucky to have found her. We made a firm agreement to meet up again in the New Year and I can't wait.

I cannot express my joy and sheer delight to find that the Young Apprentice is back on our screens and the contestants are lining up to be a truly awful lot.

Of course being the first episode it was difficult to get a handle on all the contestants straight off. I quite liked the mad fashion designer, Patrick I think is his name, and the trainee accountant who headed the girls team and by putting her foot down won them the task.

I have already identified two annoyances though.  An Irish girl who had a tendency to pout if she didn't get her own way, as she didn't when it came to spending money, and rather fancies herself as the next Alan Sugar. She answered a direct question by reeling off her entire CV and got firmly slapped down for her efforts.

My early front runner though has to be 'personal tutor' David. How do you become a personal tutor at seventeen? Anyway to my delight he announced that 'whatever ever you think I am that is who I am.' The immediate word that sprang to mind was 'twit'! Roll on next week.

I am on my own again today so potential for mischief abounds. However mindful of my recent illness I've decided to spend the majority of the day on the settee with Harry Potter. I say majority as I'm planning a quick raid at our local supermarket. Peter won't be home until gone eight tonight so I want to get a Cawl (Welsh stew) bubbling away in the slow cooker so it is ready for when he gets home. This means popping out to get the ingredients. It will be a quick shop and will just mean a quick scurry around the veg aisle.Now I know that for most people this does not sound like mischief but believe me when you have not been out shopping on your own for going on two years it feels naughty. I might even celebrate with a chocolate bar.

In the news I was outraged to read of a woman being thrown off a Ryan Air flight for carrying a small scroll and a paperback in her hands rather than in her bag. This action is classed as having excess baggage by Ryan Air and carries a fine of £50 which by all accounts she refused to pay. The result of this defiance was the woman being forcibly escorted off the plane by two policemen. This is the same airline that still charges its disabled customers for in flight oxygen and wants to charge to fly people standing up. How are they still in business?

We had a text from Andrew today regarding his bike insurance.

Despite having been riding without event for three years and having passed his test the insurance people still want to charge him £500. Even more outrageous this is only third party, fire and theft and an excess of, wait for it........£1,400. That is more than his bike is actually worth. However this was the cheapest he could find and so took it. Now he's had a call to say they've made a huge mistake and have offered him no excess for £50 extra. Still not a great deal, it has to be said, but better.

Below is my recipe for Cawl, true Cawl involves hours of boiling bones etc but I'm beyond all that so this is the quick version.

For eight people
500g diced beef or lamb
250g each of carrots, swede, potato, parsnip all diced or sliced.
1 large onion sliced
2 small or one large leek sliced
Bouquet Garni bag
A good twist of freshly ground black pepper
A small pinch of salt
2 beef or veg stock cubes

If you have time brown the meat in a little oil and set aside to drain.
Layer the veg into the slow cooker or casserole dish and place the meat on top. Push the bouquet bag down into the middle and season dish well. Dissolve the stock cubes in half a pint of water and pour over the top. Cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on slow and serve with herby dumplings or if you want to be really traditional cheese and bread. If you don't have a slow cooker place in a slow over approx 160C for up to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

For the veggie version just replace the meat with veg of your choice.

I always make this quantity as it freezes and microwaves well and makes a quick satisfying meal on a cold evening when you can't be bothered to cook.