There was & There were & There will be – a year on

Time is a easy to measure;seconds, minutes, hours,days, weeks,months and years. But in real life you spend the entire time wondering what has happened to time, wishing your life away, making the most of every minute or just wasting time. It’s a mystery. People fill your world and time and then leave. Mummy did that a year ago and I have been spending days wondering how I should mark it. Silly me, all I have to do is just be with loved ones and cook in her house, our home . 💕

There was a lifetime of normal.

There was a lifetime of being independent.

There was a lifetime of being strong.

There was a lifetime of being a daughter, sister, wife, mother, aunty.

There were two children – one of each.

There was a lifetime a lifetime ago.

There were many hours at the mandir.

There were countless steps along the Broadway.

There were yards and yards of sarees.

There were never ending supply of shoes.

There were countless people fed, my cooking was in demand.

There were the strokes, they were drawn to me.

There was the dementia, when did it arrive ?

There were the months of being incomplete.

There were the piles of dosset boxes.

There were the glorious months back home in India.

There were the endless adaptations to make life easy for me.

There were the wheelchair walks to the park.

There were the attempts at frame walking, I was an unwilling participant.

There were the fun days with family.

There were the visits from the grandchildren;Nanimum and Daadiji.

There were the times I couldn’t stop talking.

There were the days I made life bleak for those around me – they didn’t seem to mind! They pretended…

There were the flowers that Guddi always bought.

There was the smile that Simon bought.

There was the love that Sam showered me with.

There were yet more ambulance rides.

There were the worried looks on faces.

There were many hospitals and many wards.

There was the garden where I soaked up the sun, the amazing tilt & space wheelchair.

There were the ups and downs of the hoist machine, some escape from the bed.

There was June who shouted all the time but she didn’t know why?

There was the lady who was beside me for many weeks and then wasn’t.

There was the young girl who lied and made lots of noise.

But she couldn’t help it, I saw the cuts.

There was the young woman who moaned all the time. She wanted a hotel experience.

There were the women who had no visitors, my heart breaks for them.

There were the nurses who called me Aunty.

There were the nurses who cared.

There were the young doctors who seemed too scared to speak.

There was the giving consultant.

There was the “get the bed emptied” consultant.

There were the relentless needles, hunt the vein.

There were the unforgivable hospital meals that Ramesh fed me.

There was the nasty thickener in everything, even the tea.

There is this room, with Sky TV no less

There is Zee, Sony and religious programmes, I want my soaps.

There is Gayatri Mantra every time Guddi is about.

There is the missing tea.

There are flowers, photos and a little temple – this is my new home.

There are the people standing over me, wanting me to acknowledge them.

This is Meadowhouse Hospice , this is my last stop.

There was my family.

There was the love.

There was the worry.

There were the tears.

There was hope.

There will be a future for all.

There will be someone watching closely.

There will be light again.

💕💕💕💕💕

My mummy

Shashi Bala Sharma

10th July 1946 – 11th October 2019

Have you seen my mojo?

Don’t worry I am not changing careers and taking you down the path of some life coach. I suppose it’s important to actually know what mojo is before I can find it again. Mojo isn’t my dog or cat if you were wondering. My favourite definition of mojo is “your personal power”.

Luckily for me it wasn’t missing for long. But it prompted me to mention it to a few people and also try and understand where it went and why?

So why could it have gone.

⁃ Delayed reaction to turning 55?

⁃ Lack of exercise?

⁃ Persistent grey and wet weather that seems to have no end to it. Surely the earth must be hydrated by now.

⁃ Dark evenings … yes I know it’s autumn and it happens every year but how quickly we forget. I think I may become more of a sun worshipper going forwards.

⁃ The uncertainty of house buying and selling. Don’t even ask me to elaborate at this point.

⁃ Missing the student…surely not !

⁃ I had seen lots of family over the weekend and was just missing them.

⁃ Week leading up to mum’s death anniversary.

⁃ Thought of another lockdown. Head is spinning as to what projects I could take on and how would papa cope.

Things I did to get my sparkle back

⁃ Cooked, my go to place. Just need to bake over the next two days and that will make both me and hubby happy.

⁃ Went swimming early morning to start the day with gusto.

⁃ Have arranged to see friends so we can have long lingering conversations that help to put everything back in place.

⁃ Got stuck into work and embracing being back full time, no really I am.

⁃ Got out my boots and gilet. Every weather change throws up new fashion possibilities that can brighten your spirit.

⁃ Ordered another book , to go alongside the numerous others that need reading. I refuse to turn up to book club just for the chat 😂 next time;twice is enough.

And it transpires that I wasn’t the only one feeling a little “meh” on Monday. I’m sure everyone has lists of their own and it’s good to understand those.

The trick is not to try and think you need to resolve whatever this feeling or phase by yourself, even if you are an independent, confident, positive human (most of the time!). I wonder who that could be ?

🙏🏽

Seema

NB: I don’t think Donald Trump has lost his mojo. 😂. Common sense possibly, but not his mojo… I suppose the drugs may have helped.

NNB: I think Boris may have lost his mojo though. 😂

NNNB: Richard Gere never loses his mojo 😉.

NNNNB: Stay safe and well 🥰

Back to work, turning 55, selling and buying houses, the majestic sunflowers and are those olive trees too big?

No I am not having a mid life crisis . And no that is not why there hasn’t been a blog for some time.

Keep positive

The truth of it is that real life got in the way. How very dare it! But so much has happened that I need to get it off my chest! Coming out of furlough. Dad back from India. Celebrating Indian Independence Day, because that’s what one does in Bedford on 15th August . Student moving to London. Brixton to be precise. Buying student a car; read mum buying student a car. Eating out to help out ; Rishi’s got a lot to answer for, namely the demise of my cooking days (it’s good to blame others sometimes)! The burgeoning garden and the never ending supply of tomatoes and courgettes. Buying and selling houses – part one only, because you know it’s always a drama of many parts. Staycationing a la weekend breaks. The arrival of the sunflowers. And not forgetting the transition from Stay Alert to Hands/Face/Space, god bless Boris. Oh and I thought it would be a great idea to learn Italian through Babbel, not doing too well and brain frazzled.Let’s take each drama one by one. I may have to revisit some of these as I may go over the “optimum” blog length. Seriously is our concentration level so damaged in 2020. Well here we go.

So I went back to work on Tuesday 4th August on 2days/week. Guess what date my papa decided to come back to the UK; yes you’ve guessed it 4th August. To be fair, it wasn’t really his fault, he had no choice in the matter. No international flights out just returning Air India planes involved in repatriation.Anyway he got back safe and sound and at 84 he’s doing ok. We are just testing out tiffin services at the moment for him. Reminds me of the film Lunchbox 😂.

The eagle has landed

2days/week was rather pleasant but terribly frustrating as one couldn’t really get the work done . So would you believe I had to go back to 4days/week in September. How rude ! Anyway, as I keep telling you all, we are the lucky ones . I have a job, great colleagues and a wonderful industry that you’ve all helped to maintain by cooking and baking and doing up your homes and gardens ! Please do carry on. I’m getting used to doing lots of Zoom and Teams calls instead of running around the country, but I do miss the personal contact. We’ve talked about the comedy element to virtual calls before; children barging in asking questions, dogs barking, deliveries to be taken mid call and technical glitches. Even with all this they are a godsend.And like me do you occasionally catch yourself focusing on your lines and grey hairs; vanity has a lot to answer for!

Zoom call anyone !

Talking of lines and turning grey. I have an important announcement to make. I turned 55 on 11th September.That’s more than half a century. I’m on the wrong side of mid-fifties. It takes one into the next age bracket on surveys.Some people even start talking about early retirement. What the hell ? Unless you are absolutely rolling in the ££, have simple tastes, lead a monastic lifestyle in a house in the middle of nowhere (I don’t want to appear gauche or materialistic) or don’t have an addiction to shoes,clothes, holidays and life in general you can simply carry on working. Oh, and the small matter of the student’s Masters and “independent” living in London care of the bank of mum & dad. Sorry , I digress. It was supposed to be about my birthday. Had a lovely time celebrating with some friends and then family; spreading the love appropriately during Covid times. The trick now is to hang out with older people and pretend you’re still young ; thanks hubby!

Birthday
More birthday

The garden is looking magnificent. The sunflowers rose up and carried on growing to look majestic and when they flowered I was full of joy and posted pics with the following quote from Helen Keller.

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadows .

It’s what the Sunflowers do!”

I made hubby stand by them to illustrate their grandeur. And then made him take photos of me to illustrate how short I was.I grew these from seed. How clever am I.

The tomatoes and courgette ms have been coming through all summer. I have a new found love for courgettes and pasta sauce.

Nephew helping with tomato harvest
Tomatoes tomatoes tomatoes

The Cosmos plant below finally produced flowers, the Marigolds have gone mad and the bloody rose is diseased!

Just beautiful

The hubby outdid himself and bought two olive trees; we love them. Remember our garden is relatively small. I present the olives below ! In a survey of friends , 100% thought they were big!

🤦🏽‍♀️

The kitchen activity has slightly gone down the pan ! Literally. Hubby is tres disappointed with my wifey kitchen performance and the near 10 is slipping towards 4 at the moment. I’m sure that I will rise again but for now simple meals are back in force. No need for food parcels just yet.

Quick simple dishes

I blame Rishi. We’ve really been helping out by eating out 😂.

One of our best eat outs! Afternoon tea at 3St Peters.

As for overseas holidays they are a distant memory; Oman, Italy, Palma and Kerala. This may be another reason why early retirement will never be an option for us! We came close to Croatia but then decided against that too. I think we can survive a year without air travel, or can we! To compensate we indulged,like many, on a trip to the Lake District and then to Norfolk, day trips to Cambridge and Kingston and off to the Cotswolds and Northumberland by year end. I only have 21.5 days holiday to take. The weather gods were kind to us and it’s something when the B&B man in Keswick says that he’d had the best season ever and he himself was off to Turkey to get away from the crowds! You couldn’t make it up! And in Norfolk there were queues for beaches that are normally deserted. I recommend Winterton-on-Sea, cafe and toilets. What more do you want? £7 parking for the day and no passport control . Bargain.

I can do it
Keswick centre
Lake District
Norfolk
Winterton-on-Sea
The Broads
Cambridge
Kingston Upon Thames

Some of you know that I belong to an Indian Women’s group called Bandhan and part of the what we call the Planning Team (committee). We are a 130 strong bunch of women from varying backgrounds but all of Indian origin. We may be small but we think big, always. In the midst of all the COVID restricts we managed to pull of an Indian Independence Day celebration. Virtual and with just a few people at Bedford Town Hall- our Mayor and The High sheriff. Supported by ‘command centre’ in a house with three people and three laptops.We will never forget this one…sarees and masks and getting over 200 people to join on zoom for a live event. We are available to help you Boris, just find us on Facebook.

Spot the mayor
The planners

We decided to sell our beautiful home and found another (again. more detail is needed but perhaps when the whole process is over)! So when it came to getting the house photo ready one went to Homesense to buy cushions and faux plants !! But before that we had to declutter. How many chairs do three people really need !!! And 6 cake stands ??? Student is 22, do we still need the box of fluffy toys and dress up boxes? How many towels – are we running a bloody spa. And I’m not even going to discuss in public the level of cookware and kitchen tools & gadgets. Wish us luck. I will surely return to this story. And thank goodness for storage facilities. Marie Kondo we are ready to be your test case.

So tidy
Box out of sight with all the clutter

The hubby , he’s still around, occasionally working from home. I can hear him and now have to share the WiFi with him. But I have noticed that he seems to prefer going into the office . No I’m not going to read too much into that … perhaps we should start a tea round? That must be where I was going wrong? Didn’t make my new home -office colleague welcome enough? Hmm …or perhaps he just uses it get some rest from being a DIY and delivery man here at home. The student has impressed us all by finding a job in a warehouse. Motivation for a 6am-2pm shift; money. Can’t fault her work ethic though!

The end of August also saw us remembering my mother who passed away last year. It was a beautiful, quiet religious ceremony that allowed us to remember and free her soul onto the next stage of her journey in this world. If you believe..

Stay safe, sensible and sober and show gratitude.

🙏🏽

Seema

Some other observations and incidents from first world living ..

1. So I decided it would be a good thing to join a detox weekend the same time as moving the student. If I use the phrase ‘colonic irrigation’ you will understand that perhaps that wasn’t the wisest of moves. Will be back in this.

2. Hands, face and space.They rhyme so surely the public will get it ?

3. I notice that Sainsbury’s are back to giving me vouchers. My stupid level of lockdown shopping has long gone. Whatever was I thinking? I know your games Sainsbury’s.

4. You may be wondering what happened to the cycling and yoga ? Well all the great work during lockdown in getting the body into shape has come to a temporary stop as I try and get the ankle back to good form. But hubby did manage to get me on a 42km bike ride. And we are still talking.

Still smiling

5. We moved the student out. The van was hired, loaded and whoops . Need a part 2 because hubby misjudged the size we would need. Just saying. I think that whole adventure needs a separate blog.

6. I hope you are surviving this post lockdown , six in a group, but you can play football and still go to the pub. I’m going to set up an auntijis football division and if it’s near a pub I think it would tick a lot of boxes !!

7. I have been addicted , thanks to the student to a Netflix show called Selling Sunsets- based on super glam LA estate agents selling multi -million dollar homes to the rich and famous . Highly recommend as no brain needed, entertaining and you get to see serious house porn. What’s not to love ?

8. Please excuse me if I don’t recognise you in your 😷 mask ! Just wear the mask, even if there is a small chance it helps why wouldn’t you ? Don’t want to hear about discomfort- talk to all those who wear them all day long along with heavy duty PPE.

Week 15 & 16: Birthdays, the art of Mezze, the student does good and courgettes anyone?

Hello, are you feeling weary ? Week 15 saw me feeling a little “meh”. I blame the weather. I then saw the excitement around me at the prospect of pubs and bars opening. As someone who really doesn’t drink (alcohol that is) all that has bypassed me. I am certain that it is an age thing. Well I decided not to tell you how little I did that week so I just didn’t write the blog. I know very lazy and possibly disrespectful. I apologise. There was also an incident which shook our little cycling group.

Back to less exciting things ; the domestic goddess in me came riding to the surface and became the laundry machine. For 14 weeks I had avoided going upstairs to sort my clothes (I obviously have been going upstairs but have not addressed the clothes). Have I ever mentioned that I think I may have too many clothes. I blame the fact that I have to have an Indian wardrobe too. You can’t blame me for that! And boy those Indian outfits take up a lot of space and not forgetting the accessories. I often wish I had a walk-in wardrobe like a wag(#first world issues). I suppose I should warn hubby that we may be losing one of bedrooms soon if I have my way. And any visitors, well there are plenty of hotels in Bedford. Back to the clothes. I decided to attack my mountain of hand washing – joy of shopping in India. I also realised I have a lot of yellow tops and that I manage my clothes like my work files : filing is good.

All my clothes are in categories and then they are colour coded.This has nothing to do with lockdown. I was like this before. I even found some stuff that I had bought before lockdown !! At least I don’t iron my socks ; yes there are those amongst us who do this too.

Colour coding : makes life easier

All this tidying made me book a second trip to the tip. Look at that clean and tidy passageway apart from the empties.

Tidy passage

I will have to do the bottle drop and face the drop of shame as I stand there for some time and have the look of “not me honest”!! I may pass that task on. We still have bags of “stuff” that needs to be taken to the charity shop; that is what the spare room is for surely?

In the kitchen we have been back to simple meals and using the freezer stock of late and even had a takeaway-it is allowed !!!

Everyday pasta
Pilau with yoghurt & pickle

However during the weekends we have invited friends to eat in the garden (thankyou British weather for supporting our cause and not raining). Note-we need a fire pit, but it may take up the rest of our small garden. Thanks to some of my own recipes and the lovely Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s book Veg I think I have mastered the art of a mezze. I would like to share some do’s and don’ts.

Book of the moment

⁃ ensure you have plenty of bowls ✅

⁃ ensure you have a big table ✅

⁃ Ensure you have copious amount of olive oil ✅

⁃ don’t worry that you have random flavours on the table (Indian, Italian, Middle Eastern and Chinese)

⁃ don’t get side tracked with dips ( I went down that road. Homemade baba ganoush, beetroot and walnut , lemon and red pepper and coriander & apple chutney. And I had already a supply of a date/lemon & lime one. You know you’re on the wrong path when your hubby says what are we having for dinner and all you have to show for it is four bowls of dips. To be honest it was the lure of the homemade flat bread that got me… served with dips. In the end I ran out of time anyway !)

Pepper and lemon dip
Date , lemon and lime
Baba ganoush prep : smoking aubergines
Beetroot boiled

⁃ don’t get carried away because every recipe looks so yummy. Thank goodness for good old pakoras and hubby’s prawns and salmon.

Pakoras

⁃ do use vegetables that cook quickly not aubergines and beetroot! Although aubergines are my favourite veg.

Courgettes with mozzarella and lemon dressing

⁃ do make Caponata, I even used celery. But be warned it asks you to de-seed and peel tomatoes; I chose not to peel, life is too short plus I was running out of time.

Caponata

⁃ do remain disciplined and not add to your menu because you can.

⁃ don’t get offended when someone thinks the dip you’ve made comes from Sainsbury’s!! Do correct them quickly.

⁃ do make the red onion tart . Easy Peasy .

Red onion tart

⁃ do enjoy the leftovers for a few days 😂

Oh, one last don’t ; don’t agree to go for a bike ride on the day of the mezze making. The beauty of the mezze is that everyone eats together but no more for a while. It has been wonderful creating recipes that reminded me of the deli counter at Carluccios and seeing friends. Still no hugging , especially as we are in Bedford.

If I could describe the garden, the words lush and green would not be an exaggeration. We’re seeing more bees and butterflies because of all the flowers.

The herbs are bountiful uth a second batch of coriander on the go, the courgettes are here finally and delicious. The spring onions are sharp and strong.

We normally pick 2 at weekends. They have to be rationed. The tomatoes are everywhere and just about to ripen. The runner beans and beetroot are still alive. We have a jalapeño peppers but the other peppers have yet to show their face.

Jalapeño

The sunflowers are getting tall but we are still waiting for the flowers: I can’t believe me make children go through this at school. Even I’m wondering how much longer !

Sunflowers 🌻 higher than fence

I am sorry to report an incident that happened during one of our last “old ladies coming through cycling” outing. We were on a familiar route. Our friend Roz unfortunately fell and we ended up having to call the ambulance. I have her permission to tell you all. Thank goodness the ambulance could get to us quickly after some guidance. Anyway, the paramedics were fabulous and funny and professional and looked after her well. We were the support team.

Woman down

She is back home after an op and will be off her foot for 6 weeks. She is already searching for her new bike; she is a tough and pragmatic and no doubt be showing us her scars for years to come. The rest of us went on to cycle just for a further few minutes. I won’t lie it scared the &&&@& out of me but thankfully it hasn’t put any of us off from cycling. And ofcourse I baked , a lemon drizzle for her and one for us!

Cake is the answer

I would just like to say to pedestrians (I have been one) on a shared path that when you hear a bell would you

a) move and get a loud thankyou

b) just stand there talking

or c) turn, look register and still ignore demonstrate your anti-cycling credentials with mumbling and grumbling.

And to those professional type cyclists, get a bloody bell. I don’t want you whispering in my ear to move.Please respect my personal space and those of my fellow old ladies.

To finish I just want to do the proud mum moment. I know it can be a little too much and thankfully there was no FB around for me when she was younger! The student got her degree result last week and she managed to bag a First Class Honours from University of Nottingham in Nutrution. She is certainly set for her Masters in Public Health at Kings College London.My job is done , and as a friend said I can start looking for a good boy for her —- joking !!! No seriously I am joking, unless he’s a builder ? No I am genuinely joking.

Part of my “meh” that I mentioned earlier was because my Papa turned 84 on 2nd July and it would have been mum’s birthday on 10th July. So a tough few days for us all as we are not together. But good friends helped me celebrate mum’s birthday and we did all the things she used to enjoy; eat pakoras, eat cake, drink gallons of tea and round off with shopping and chatting.

Let’s see what the next few weeks bring with masks galore, wishing for no more lockdowns and hoping a positive trend for businesses.

Staying safe and trying to stay with the personal yoga practice.

🙏🏽

Seema

NB: You’ll all be delighted to know that I’m finally going back to work in August for 2days a week. The blog contents will definitely need to change. I’ve even got myself a new diary!

NNB: Ofcourse I’ve had a doggy walk or two since last time.

NNNB: Week 16 saw better weather. Good enough for social walks and ice-creams. As opposed to walking for Exercise. Of course the ice-cream is for energy.

NNNNB: We have booked two summer holidays. We are off to Norfolk to visit my MIL for a weekend . And even more exciting we are off to the Lake District for a long weekend. And for the hat-trick we’ve even booked a restaurant for this coming week.

Week 14:M1/M25/M4, The heatwave, the rain and I’m 5’4”++

Hola ! It’s been like the Costa Del Holiday here in Bedford this last week. Holiday talk seems to be the main topic of conversation now whenever I meet anyone. It is always tinged with sadness, “we were supposed to be there, they’ve cancelled the flight, we should be going to, we will see and so on.” As an avid wannabe traveller I am actually quite relaxed about not going anywhere overseas. I can’t believe I’ve said that. We have Croatia booked for October; will it happen I wonder?

I made a concerted effort this last week to try and see friends that are just a little further afield.

So after seeing a couple on Monday and Tuesday from surrounding villages, on Wednesday I headed south said souf. I recalled that I was nick named motorway mamma years ago because of all the driving I used to do. But this was only the 3rd trip out of Bedford in 14weeks and infact the only one where I drove. I can report that the M1 is still there as is the M25, unfortunately! I spent two hours in my mum’s house in Southall , practicing being Mrs Mop. My mum would have been proud. Then headed over to Windsor Great Park via M4/M25. Oh I so miss these busy intersections.

Cow Pond Windsor Great Park

Who knew there was such a huge area behind the Long Walk and the Copper Horse statue perfect for walkers. It just also happened to be the hottest day and we were in the hottest part of the country. So our walk was more of a gentle stroll. I looked as if was on a hike and Rupinderjit in her pretty dress ready for afternoon tea. My friend of 42 years (no, stop , you didn’t think I was that old. You did ?) and I walked and talked and shared a little picnic she’d bought. My request actually as I was leaving Southall,”can you bring me a cucumber sandwich, please and thankyou.”.She did better! The park was beautiful and as we sat and looked at the castle , planes flew overhead to Heathrow to our right. It made us giggle as it completely ruined the vista. If we were in the olden days I’m sure the reigning queen would have ordered them to find a new route ! Or even moved Heathrow to the midlands. Catch-up was perfect and she’s promised to take me to Saville Gardens next time or even venture upto Bedford. And to end the journey as per usual I got stuck in a jam by Luton, what are the chances? High at anytime I say.

Windsor

But to make the most of the remaining summer evening, hubby and I went for a stroll by the river and ate icecream . I asked him as we were strolling back holding hands,”do you feel as if you’re on a city break?”. He replied,”No”.

Because of the lovely hot weather I had not stepped in the kitchen most of the week. Not a cake in sight. The food in the evenings was provided by hubby; a stir fry , a mezze and pizza.

Colourful food

But Friday changed all that. It was a day of cooking .. and I mean a whole day of cooking. Not really sure what got into me. Normally Bala (regular takeaway) supports my efforts but not on this occasion. Their takings will be down this week. I’m sorry. I was cooking for 6. So here goes . Not too many photos as I was busy; just goes to show how much time my little bowls take up.

Starters : Fenugreek & banana pakoras, Okra Fries, mango salsa and coriander chutney

Mains : Spimach & Paneer (have you ever blended 1kg of spinach!!), Black daal, Chick peas and Mix Veg (potatoes, cauliflower, aubergines, carrots and peas)

Desserts: Gajar halwa (carrot) – again grating 1kg of carrots shows real commitment and stupidity. One can speculate as to why I don’t have a food processor after being in the industry for many years. I have smaller tools and gadgets. I’m going to blame the size of my kitchen and storage issues ! Moving on.

No one can accuse me of not getting my five a day, even with the pudding. I am always thoughtful. I won’t detail the amount of ghee and sugar that went into it though. I’m a feeder ..if you hadn’t gathered that by now. I blame my parents.

Continuing on from the comparison on cycling with the girls and hubby I started last week I am happy to add further evidence to the slight difference in the approach. I was due to cycle on Thursday afternoon with two friends. It was a lovely warm afternoon. We set off after much faffing at my house. Well actually just sitting in the garden chatting and eating. We could only have cycled a few minutes and a detour was in place and we ended up sitting by the river.

The sitting shifted to the friend’s garden and then back home;all in all not much cycling. I had asked hubby if I could borrow a small bum bag (apparently that’s not what the cyclists call it).Anyway he told me to pick it up from the shed. Unfortunately it was bigger than my small rucksack, which is also not suitable cycling gear I’ve been told. Oh, so much to think about!! I need at least 3 different sizes of bags I reckon; depending of length of ride and amount of snackage needed. I have a yoga bucket so perhaps need to start a cycling bucket. You may wonder what is in the yoga bucket – leave that for another day.

Counter that with Saturday morning which was grey and wet; but we held onto the 30% chance of dryness . The girls were due to cycle but in the end it was just one friend so I dragged hubby out. 30k later we came back home; it must have rained 95% of the time we were out. But it was warm and actually a great session.I have gloves which were a god send. We were rewarded with a few minutes of dry weather – long enough to have a sandwich and a hot tea !

Wet wet wet ride

Hubby says I may be ready for the next stage! He said something about cages and cycling shoes ? I wonder if that is why he gave me some of his old trendy glasses. Oh, he also commented that I hadn’t whined the whole time we were out in the wet. Little does he know …Either way a new bike is looking likely, surely?

Hmmmmm

The garden is still growing and I mowed the small lawn on Thursday. I thought I would share some before and progress photos of the plants, you must be wondering if I’ve killed anything lately. Sunflowers -now and then. The veggie area – now and then.

Think growing veg in particular is a labour of love, there is a lot of emotional investment and I’m at that point. The weather has not been kind to the beetroot; am trying to stay calm. The unwelcome visitors are not welcome and have my permission leave. I’m normally more hospitable . I harvested some kale before the caterpillars got to it all.

Bloody caterpillars

The ants are making themselves at home much to my annoyance. The patience needed is huge, can you remember when I planted those runner beans and sunflowers; could we please have a sign of flowers and beans.

The tomatoes and courgettes at least are being good and developing lots of crop.

Hello courgettes

The pepper plants are flowering.This is the trial I’m doing on Fenugreek seeds growing indoors in a colander

Fenugreek

. Hydroponics don’t you know. The garden did us proud on Friday. It looked great in the sun and was a perfect setting for alfresco dining (the meal I had spent all day cooking) and golf lessons (without balls) whilst playing Glastonbury legends on the BBC in the background.No, don’t worry I’m not getting sucked into golf just yet.

No ball golf anyone

And to finish off some quick highlights front the week.So our yoga teacher said join in for 108 sun salutations for an hour on Sunday mornings over the coming weeks.I had managed about 24 previously. She said it would be fun; leave that one with you. The yoga mat was ready and at least it wasn’t 6am.

We started at 9am and I made it to 10am having done 102. Was so close , hot and sweaty and with some encouragement did the remaining 6. It’s wonderful knowing that others are suffering with you (I mean working towards a common goal). The sense of achievement was immense, I really didn’t think I’d get past 50/60. I ache today but it was well worth it.

I seem to have forgotten some other doggies in my life. This is Teddy and Obi ! You know how sensitive these dog folk are.

Teddy at top and Obi below

Pent up demand has led to these purchases from Sainsbury’s. Because we need another bowl in this house.

Not that I’m pushing Sainsbury’s

I’m not sure hubby has realised that these are new. We also did our bit for the economy and went to Go Outdoors, Frosts Garden Centre and Homesense. It’s all about the leisurewear and the garden. Marketing strategies are being rewritten as this new way of life continues.

Hubby was happy again as his coffee finally arrived ;he had run out and was being miserable.

This is the coffee, you know the one, where they tell you who nurtured the plant, picked and roasted the beans and carefully weighed them into bags and decided on an extortionate price; yes that one. The only thing I’m now expecting is someone to come and make it for him! I don’t touch the coffee machine; it’s his baby.

And I leave you with the prospect of Project Speed which is coming our way! This is Boris’s plan to get the economy back on track. And thanks to Boris I’m going to start saying I’m 30+ and 5’4”+. Make of that what you will. 1m+, plus what ;2cm , 25cm, 100cm? We needed signage for 2m, how are we going to cope with 1m+??

There seems to be some unpleasant stuff going on so please take care and enjoy Wimbledon in whatever form it is served up. Perhaps I should do a blog about what my week could have been like or was like 10 years ago or maybe 2? Food for thought.

🙏🏽

Seema

NB: We’ve booked a weekend away in Brighton in September. I promise not to leave any rubbish on the beach !!

NNB: No WOTE (women on the edge)weekend away to Palma in July. Babies, marriages, new jobs, new houses and much more could not stop these for 17years but Covid-19 has. Give it some respect and your attention.

NNNB: I’m going to have to go to the petrol station again. I know, it’s an event now.

NNNNB: The student isn’t about so here is the snack box refreshed !

Recognise them all?

NNNNNB: Hubby needs his third haircut .. here we go again. Enter the danger zone of the unknown again. Neither party really confident of outcome but relying on luck and trust whatever happens.

Week Number 13: Hubby vs. the girls, dog folk and the “floret”

You must be wondering how long can she go on for. If you know me you wouldn’t even entertain that thought, I would just see it as a challenge. Anyway as it is out of my control I continue to do and watch with amusement and at other times with incredulity the world around me. I am on furlough till end July so need to engage the grey cells by doing something a bit more , have yet to decide what that could be.But no worries on the exercise front as the watch still hounds me when needed.

Leave me alone watch

The garden story continues to write itself thanks to this glorious weather.

The bloody non existent cauliflowers that bolted decided amongst themselves, the few that I hadn’t pulled out that is, to tease me. They had nominated one to produce a “floret”. That could really provide Cauliflower three ways for a doll perhaps!

If you look hard enough

The courgettes are like triffids; I feel like telling them to calm down and stop hogging my small veg area. The sugar snaps are starting to get comfortable and I reckon will be climbing up those poles any day.The beetroots (grown from seed) have been planted out; here we go again. I will watch with baited breath and report on their progress.

Lettuce , kale, courgettes, beetroot and tomatoes

There was a time when I used to grow a lot of beetroots and once I nearly called the surgery for an appointment because I ate so many that my wee turned red! Too much information but I consider that a public health information service. The tomatoes are popping up everywhere. Did I tell you that I actually hate fresh tomatoes (weird texture and taste), along with celery; devil’s foods, both of them. I’m sure student and hubby will be snuffling them down unless I use them in a curry or pasta sauce first. It must be my age but I am now starting to share cuttings with friends.

Indoor plants gifted

I thought it was only my mother in law who did that sort of thing. The rose that I’ve coveted is here , blooming and fragrant.If you are interested it is thornless too, clever rose, Zephyr Druid.

The rose

My longing for a larger garden continues and I gaze at my plot and wonder what else I can squeeze in without upsetting the student and the hubby.

Because the weather has been so good it has meant less time in the kitchen. There is a definite correlation. Since last week I’ve baked and cooked a few things. On Monday I made what I can only call something between a pie, a quiche and a tart? A peiche perhaps. The contents were spinach, feta, ricotta, pine nuts and sultanas. Those observant ones will say that is a spanakopita, ok so you got me! But there was no filo pastry so is it really?

The pieche

Then on Tuesday I rustled up a quick pasta bake, which was one of the best ever. Left over asparagus which was limp as anything, sliced courgettes, diced aubergine, red onion and plenty of mozzarella and parmesan with good old tube pasta.

Best pasta bake

When the weather was bad on Wednesday I decide to cook a feast for a friend’s birthday bash. For starters I made Banana and Fenugreek bhajiyas (pakoras) with a coriander/chillies/mango/tomato/apple chutney. I know what you’re thinking, what’s fenugreek and what are you doing putting bananas in a pakoras, surely it’s for banana bread! For mains it was okra, cauliflower & peas and lentils. I really enjoyed making all the food and it was well received, thankfully.

Home cooked not takeaway

I baked a carrot and walnut cake which was yummy, and I did put more sugar in the cream cheese this time (I take on feedback, it’s a gift I’ve been told). And some of you may be wondering if I baked that cake for the ex, well I couldn’t say no to the student. I did the Lisa Faulkner Fantasy cake, which is essentially a Strawberry and Almond creation.

Carrot & Walnut
Strawberry & Almond

Then on Sunday I recreated mummy’s mooli (radish) parathas. Perfect Sunday treat, comfort food at its best and served with yoghurt and pickle and washes down with mug of tea.

Mooli parathas

The bike came back from the bike hospital in quick time. I couldn’t wait to join the MAWIL (middle aged women in lycra)gang again. Actually it’s more MAWICC (middle aged women in comfortable clothing). One of the group now has Strava. I know right. We just need to learn how to use it and actually read the route as we are cycling. So I wore my new bike gloves on my last long bike ride and I can certainly confirm that they are a great addition.

Hand modelling

Below I just wanted to compare the differences between my bike rides with hubby (few as he keeps leaving me for his biking buddy) and the one with the ladies. Work out which is which?

Speed of ride : ok or bloody fast

Length of ride : 20km or how far do you want to go?

Problem : forget it or good chance of resolution

Photo taking: mandatory or only if you push it

Stops: Several or None – unless you’re crossing a road !

Food: Carrots & houmous/cake/dates/popcorn/sandwiches/hobnobs or Energy bar

Conversation: Flowing or Minimal

Feedback on your cycling: None or Plenty (apparently I am better and faster – my speed was like a walker before 🤨)

Bike fun
Selfie !! Ofcourse

I’m not going to say which one is more fun at this stage, perhaps you can work it out. I need to keep hubby on side as I am working upto him giving us a tutorial on cycle maintenance. I haven’t actually agreed this yet but with my negotiation skills I’m sure it will be soon; perhaps I can ask the student to intervene.

I have realised that a lot of people around me are dog owners. I am not quite sure how it happened but it just has. I am now going on doggy/pooch walks with a certain Raffa and Betsy.

Raffa on the left and Betsy on the right . Gorgeous

I have nothing against dog owners, some of them are my good friends and family. But I know that they are a sensitive lot. A walk in the park is never easy. The ‘stay alert’ mantra comes in handy. You never know when your “baby” (the dog) will encounter some rude and unfriendly dog or even owner. It’s best to keep them on the lead. I love the small dogs with attitude, coming up close to the big boys and almost saying, “come on then”. A friend said recently, “I think I would really like a dog but I don’t think I could cope with the “pooh” pick ups”. The dog owners jump straight in, “well you did it for the babies”. Yes, but we stopped after a while! And god forbid if you’ve got a big dog, the maxi size bags needed for sure. Also you just get used to it.

However, I love going for dog walks. They are more a series of mini walks with lots of stops; calling for the dog, admonishing the dog for trying to eat something; stopping the dog from getting into any altercation with another dog and then making sure they are ok when another dog doesn’t want to play. It’s a mine field, they are just like children and can make or break your day or your bank balance. Like anything they come with a host of opportunities to accessorize, my favourite of the moment is Betsy’s bassinet. I defy you not to make cooing sounds when you see it.

Betsy cosy

We actually have a talented neighbour who creates images of your pet.It is a winner, no pet owner is going to say no to these wonderful images.

Local business creations

So, if I ever ever talk about owning a dog, you will know that aliens have taken over. I can barely look after myself ! Don’t hate me you dog lovers and I know some of you know that dogs are better than humans.

On the summer solstice a small group of us met to practice yoga outdoors under the sun on grass by the River Ouse. Yes we gave the passerbys some entertainment but as I had my eyes shut for quite a lot of the time I am not sure what they made of it all. I’m sure that’s nothing compared to what else is on offer in Bedford town.

Beautiful Bedford

So a few weeks ago we came to an asana called The Plough, where you essentially flip your legs over your head as you lie down on your back. Sort of thing kids are always doing, god bless them. I don’t think explained that well.

The plough

This image will show it better. I would like to announce that I completed it on Sunday, thanks to our teacher.

The social diary is getting busy now that everyone seems to be opening up their gardens for small groups. I may have to go back to using a diary. We even played bingo on zoom recently; feel free to try. The tension was there and it was actually good fun. Not quite Bongo Bingo.

Concentration for bingo

I leave you with my most important purchase this week . to ensure my credentials as Mrs Mop don’t wane. Yes a new mop. I bought it at the local Sainsburys and I was suckered in by one of the brands! All these years around marketers and still haven’t learnt. Hubby can now really call me Mrs Mop. I may even use it this coming week.

🙏🏽

Seema

NB: I wonder when we will go to 1m. A new dance in town, the one meter shuffle. Kerching for all those sign makers. Out with the 2 and in with the 1. So much for being green !!

NNB: Marcus Rashford (note correct name) we salute you ! Next time I need anything doing I am going message you and not my MP. So impressed !

NNNB: I was telling someone (you know who you are) that the hubby and I have been watching Celebrity Gogglebox. She said , “so you are watching famous people watching their televisions.” There was a silence…. and then they came. “ Oh, the student introduced us to it a while back. It’s really good downtime tele on a Friday night. I like looking at the houses of the rich and semi famous.” Think I did enough to recover my credibility.

NNNNB: So am keeping an eye on the business news and the following two cliches caught me eye ;

“Pent up demand”: cos we just can’t wait to shop. Some of us have been doing it already don’t you know!! No penting upping going on here. “Kicking the can down the road “: this can be applied to anything at all. All it requires is deciding on indecision I’m sure.

NNNNNB: I did a good deed this week. I was very proud of myself. It was difficult but I worked at it and shared my mango box with a friend! Those who love mangoes will understand what a sacrifice that was, especially towards the end of the season.

Week 12: No more 5.30am get ups, bike talk and the anniversary walk

Hello, yes I’m still here. Hubby and I should have flown to the Amalfi coast on Saturday 13th June for our walking holiday. Oh well,that’s another week ticked off in sunny Bedford. Not sure what was happening with the stars last week but the spirit of “dippyness” had entered our house. You’ll understand later. The week was again filled with walks, a bike ride, a little bit of cooking, some baking, selling face masks and some social distanced gatherings. No chance of having my own support bubble as the hubby is still here ! I think that’s a positive; I think he’s my support.

There are days when I over commit (those that know me will be rolling their eyes, I can see you) and Tuesday seemed to become that day. It starts with the feeling I now have the whole day ahead and no meetings or schedules; what can go wrong. So I start off with 6am yoga. I do my Mrs Mop routine. Can someone please tell me how a house that has only two adults manages to get so dirty! Mystery of domesticity. And why is the shoe cupboard in chaos now, who did that ? I cleaned it in week 1 or 2. Back to the day, I then went for a long walk, more chat than walk. One can’t walk in Bedford now without bumping into (not literally as we’re all still doing the 2m shuffle). This add extra minutes to your planned day but it’s a good thing. Then I race back home as had agreed to go for a bike ride at 1.30pm.

Jagtar

It was one the longest ride my friend Susan and I had done, 24km, possibly a little more. My bike had started to make a funny noise a couple of days earlier and it seemed harder to pedal but I just put it down to me being tired and my yoga thighs and quads. We decided to come back via roads that included a couple of hills . It seemed like a good idea. We both needed more time on the roads. Those lorry and van drivers race by intentionally just to give cyclists a little scare …Anyway I spent most of the journey saying , “you go ahead , you’re much fitter than me, I’m tired.” We manage to get back in one piece , the second hill did defeat us though. Roll on 24 hours and hubby just does a quick check on the bike. He asks if I have been riding the bike in this condition. Bloody stupid question, he knows I’ve been out. He tells me that there is something wrong with the gears which effectively meant that I had been riding with some brakes on. So much for Susan being fitter and my tired thighs. Don’t say anything at all !! Yes I’ve already been told, “know your bike”. On a positive note my trendy new padded shorts are pretty awesome, it feels like I’m wearing a nappy and it looks like I’m wearing a nappy too. The bike went into bike hospital on Friday to make it better. The hubby had to come with me. Because you know that I couldn’t deal with it !! Another one banked for future disagreements.

Damn that hill

So let me introduce you to the world of bike talk. Basically take a word , affix some letters and digits to it, pretend you’re on a space mission you’re nearly there. Hubby was suitably embarrassed by me and accused me of behaving as if I was in a clothes shop when we went to drop it into Flame Rouge, trendy name don’t you think?

The amazing Flame Rouge

It was as if he was talking a foreign language. I felt like an out of place uncool kid. As we walk out he says you need to up your bike speak. So over the following day or so I’ve been pulling together a few;

⁃ Do you strava ?

⁃ Do you go padded or au natural ?

⁃ Do you stop for tea and cake when you go out?

⁃ What do you think of hybrid tyres?

⁃ Do you go out when it’s raining?

⁃ How many gears have you got?

I’ll keep exploring my new inner cyclist.There has been tentative talk of a second bike, again that may be me just getting ahead of myself. I really do like the idea of an EBike. I just need to conquer my fear of busy roads , high speed and a sore bottom. But they really do look supersmart. I also need to add that to the list of wants #firstworldgreed.

Onto Wednesday, the day after the mammoth bike ride (remember it’s relative) I moved from bed to sofa to kitchen without having brushed my teeth. You’ve all done it ! I can’t really remember much more of that day.

Thursday June 11th, the great day arrived . Our 9th wedding anniversary. At our age these single digit anniversary dates are also important. The year known for gifts of pottery. Our annual trip to Brighton was obviously impossible. I didn’t want to be on the BBC news.So we scratched our heads and decided to go to a place called Grafham Water for a walk. When I say a walk, you might think a romantic walk. Not this one. Walking boots, layers (don’t forget your layers), waterproofs, no shades (schoolgirl error) and we were prepared. But in the end the sun came out , the cafe was open and more importantly so were the toilets! We broke for our anniversary lunch on a bench. Sandwiches and tea from the cafe accompanied by some crisps. Followed by some of my home made banana bread. We watched some birds, fishermen and other folks enjoying the great outdoors.I was jolly and sprightly and I promise the whining and whinging only started around 12km. Hubby reminded me it was around the same place last time we walked. Well at least I’m consistent. The whole walk was just over 15km and I can’t think of a better way to spend the day. Well actually if I tried hard I possibly could; a spa day , a day in Brighton, Delhi, Rome, you get the drift.

Anniversary

Back home the garden is doing me proud. So lush and green. We are starting to reap the rewards. We’ve had lots of lettuce, some spinach, coriander, a handful of strawberries and two spring onions.

My lone okra plant doesn’t seem to be enjoying its time in the garden, I wonder if hubby had fed it something! Have cleared half the cauliflowers, now we know why they bolted (pm me if you would really like to know). Will be planting my beetroot seedlings there shortly and perhaps the carrots if they are ok.

The runner beans and the courgettes are flourishing and I’ve just added some sugar snaps to replace the spinach.

I’ve even erected little teepee for them. And onto the show offs in the garden, they are all going well. We have the pinks/purples and whites clambering for attention .

Pinks and whites
Greens and yellows

On the other side it’s a more sedate greens and yellows. All colours are welcome in my garden. I did scare the hubby again by saying wouldn’t it be great if we had a greenhouse. I really should give you an idea of how small our garden is; it’s a garden or greenhouse scenario. It really would save a lot of money. Perhaps I can get one of those plastic pretend ones, you know the ones that look like a wardrobe and if the wind picks up so do they. What I’ve learnt about gardening is that one gets anxious, excited, disappointed, wowed and overly involved but it’s buffered by lots of joy. A little like a child.

We have come to the conclusion that since the student left us we have become lazy on the food front but our shopping bill is considerably lower. Although I cleaned the fridge and the contents are rather excessive for two.

Need to get cooking

I actually haven’t said we are missing her! One day, infact it was on the overcommitted day I decided to make a quick pilau.

Note to self for the nth time, be careful when you start using a new batch of chillies. So instead of having pilau with a bit of yoghurt it became yoghurt with a bit of pilau. Having said that hubby loved it.

Pilau

We had a incident of too many bananas due to miscommunication and there was nothing else to do but make some Mary Berry Banana Bread. It just so happened that this was on the same day as I made rhubarb crumble (Greg Wallace’s recipe). I have never cooked rhubarb before, another bucket list item don. Taste feedback, it was bloody delicious with custard.

Rhubarb crumble and banana bread

Home grown spinach and coriander allowed me to make some pakoras and chutney and I felt pretty smug.

Pakoras and chutney
The prep mess

I continue to cook okra and spinach & paneer. It makes me happy.

Spinach and paneer another way and okra

We are also eating the home grown lettuce and we added the two spring onions to our salad. Let’s just say that Sainsbury’s has nothing to fear from us lockdown gardeners.

The student calls when she has time or wants something . So I get a call from the student. She starts by asking for some Indian recipes . She’s going to be cooking for some friends. Then she drops in, “don’t suppose you can post if mum, just joking, it won’t be as good as yours.” And I leave you with the gem from the student this week

⁃ Could I post some Bala samosas????. They do have shops and restaurants in Nottingham I say.

The final outcome was that her dishes turned out great and she sent me the photo to prove it.

Student’s offering

Are you ready for the list of things that we have been involved in this last week. Much of it is related to me, so I may need to get my brain working a little harder going forward. I can’t speak for the hubby !!

⁃ one set of car keys lost (accidentally slipped into an open bag)

⁃ hubby lost his watch (found within the motorbike cover!! I lost 20 minutes of my life for this)

⁃ I turned up a day early for a birthday celebrations (at least it wasn’t a day late!)

⁃ After chasing a number of people to pay our mango man, turns out it was actually yours truly who hadn’t paid.

Perhaps I need to get my list making back to full force.

The 12 week Yoga programme has finished. No more 5.30am get ups four times a week. But damn that body clock, I’m getting up then anyway. What to do ? I am more flexible, stronger and actually calmer (more eye rolling). Will be repeating it but 6am has now been replaced by 7am. I still have some purpose. I am strong .. what’s your affirmation in these tricky times.

As I leave you remember to shop shop shop to get our economy back into shape.

🙏🏽

Seema

NB: Papa’s tip of the week was how to get mint chutney right. Don’t use lemons. Thanks papa!

NNB: At a recent gathering someone said, “my BA Gold card, won’t be gold anymore.” #firstworldproblems

NNNB: What do you call a group of furloughed people …. I’ll let you know when I’ve worked out something 🤷🏽‍♀️.

Week 11:More Mangoes , our summer holiday and #blacklivesmatter

Hello there !! Yes I’m still here and carrying on and staying calm and trying to be productive. Are you back to socially distanced work or still home going square eyed with the lovely Teams/Zoom/Skype or WebEx. Have you noticed the downturn in the zoom parties and quizzes? So all those people that you rarely saw over the year but were meeting virtually and weekly can go back to a sensible level. It’s hard to describe your weekly update and make it sound interesting… oh dear, stop now Seema, it’s exactly what you do!!

Standing strong

Just as a side thing the hubby said,”do you have to share everything in your blog”. If only be knew how little I share. I’ll let you decide if I share too much .

I’ve made it known that we need to move house . I haven’t really understood that we can’t afford it. All this cooking and gardening has meant that I want more space #firstworldproblems. I have had to stop watching Gardener’s World and the Chelsea Flower Show reruns on IPlayer (god, how middle class do I sound but am not, girl from Southall, said Soufall). This leads me onto the start of my teachings on basics of couple strategies. Start talking up your wants, keep repeating and just wait. You’ll understand this shortly.

So this was the first full week without the student amidst us; so much of my material lost. She’s gone back to the student house in Nottingham with her housemate. I think 10 weeks with the oldies was enough. There could have been a murder. She’s doing well and has now officially finished her degree. We hear from her and have catch-ups;especially when something is needed from Amazon Prime.This time it was sports socks; yes she is still on the keep fit routine. The piece de resistance from her yesterday was her thanking me for helping my ex, her dad, with honey sales and would I be up for baking his birthday cake shortly ? I’ll leave that one with you. Answers on a postcard, sorry on text/WhatsApp/messenger or simply call me.

Kitchen action has been pitiful this week. It went from a cheat meal, for the second time ever I used a pasta sauce (don’t hate me) but I can’t help tweaking it. So actually I should have just made my own !

I made a quick strawberry tart for a friend’s birthday.

Simples

We had pizza a la Sainsbury’s but again with added mushrooms and something! I returned to baking on Wednesday, my day of mooching. I made a raspberry & almond cake and a sort of apple upside down cake (psssst it only became an upside down cake because I over baked very slightly). I really should not be left at home too long.

Cake anyone ?

There is a petition to get me back to work (thankyou Lindsey Hoyle and Debbie Acquaye) and I’m happy to sign it too. And on Wednesday night I asked the hubby to make dinner as I was busy with yoga. We had a plethora of veg in the fridge and wondered what we would be feasting on. I enter the kitchen and he’s watching Killing Eve on the IPad and I casually ask what’s for dinner and he points to the hob. Oh! He has simply taken out the Indian food from the freezer!! There are two daals and the spinach & paneer curry. Thankyou to me for dinner then. This will form another part of the couple strategies. Just bank it. Is it only me who thinks this was wrong !! On a grey Sunday afternoon I returned to an old favourite, Veg by Hugh Fernley Whittingstall to try the recipe for Aubergine Parmigiana. Comfort food at its best.

Comfort food

The garden is lush, thriving in the sun and occasional rain. My new babies the beetroot seem to be doing well. I’m going to have to pull out the cauliflower; I need to be strong and not be too attached.

Green is good
Pot for the rose
Runner beans

My strawberry crop is light but then I only have 5 plants.

One each

I treated myself recently and purchased an okra plant, although it looks a bit pathetic. The runner beans are literally running away with themselves. The courgettes are spreading out and the tomatoes are the steady Eddies of the group. I’m trying not to be impatient but need to pick something pretty soon! Think the lettuce is virtually there …great . 🤦🏽‍♀️

My 12 week yoga program is coming to an end. Will this mean that I no longer get up at 5.30am. I know I will need to develop my own practice, perhaps starting a little later. We are now at the stage of connecting our mind and body to work as one; complete awareness through breath work to achieve physical and inner consciousness (that’s a quick summary, but will surely be sending a blog your way).

The hubby finds it tres amusing that I have started cycling after so many years of rolling my eyes at his obsession. I now think it’s ok to leave my bike in the dining room and off like a child given the chance.

Rest time

I have a new gadget that holds my phone just Incase I go somewhere new. I decide I need another pair of padded shorts, those seats weren’t designed for comfort as I found out on bumpy country fields. So I start googling and end up ordering some ladies Castelli padded shorts, let’s just say that I will never live that down. I’m not and don’t think will ever get to the bib stage … hope everyone knows what I’m talking about. So all these years I’ve been teasing hubby over his expenditure on his biking gear, now I am working my way to his thinking. I may even want another bike, no really I’m not joking(again, one for the couple strategies).

Gadget alert !
Dry bumpy land

The watch and I are friends again as I have walked lots this week and made sure to report that to the watch authorities!

Walking everywhere

We had a day’s holiday to Oxford to see some friends. It was whole day out with eating , walking and chatting and being somewhere different. It was such a relief, we imagined we were in the Lake District or Italy. We did a 12km walk through beautiful Oxfordshire villages. We tried to get into Blenheim but with no booking during a pandemic is a no no. So we skirted the edge and sneaked into Woodstock where all the coffee shops and food stores were open for takeaways. I sipped my tea and tucked into a vegetarian pastie as I sat on the doorstep of the Aga shop!Then we got on a bus home.

Summer holiday
It’s not sinking I promise

This week I was the mango distribution centre (ok it was only 18 boxes). Wonder what the neighbours make of it all. People arriving at the doorstep and walking away with honey or mangoes . I’m hoping next week brings something just as nice as mango season is coming to an end and no more honey for me. Whilst I gorge on mangoes I need to remember it’s the fruit with the highest sugar content;why wouldn’t it be, I love them, that’s why!! Life is cruel.

😳

So if you remember I had managed to get a slot at the tip on Friday morning. The best till last. The hubby had managed to squeeze a tonne of cardboard and numerous bin liners filled with who knows what. I’m rarely late so was in plenty of time arriving at 9.00am for my 9.15 slot. Can you believe it there was a bloody queue. No panic needed, there is a nice man with a clipboard . Oh how my life has changed . Normally I’m the support team for tip visits or not even invited. It’s a bit of macho thing to go to the tip. I just let him believe that, so don’t ruin it. I was home within 40 minutes. No drama , no traumas, no rejection of my rubbish.

Meet my new friends

You may be wondering, what is this couple strategies you kept mentioning. Well it goes something like this. Your hubby mentions only a few days ago,”darling I’m thinking of upgrading my motorbike”. I roll my eyes, but know that this has been in the planning for sometime. He rides off towards Northampton on Friday afternoon and comes back a few hours later with an even shinier machine. I can see that it’s beautiful but it’s a motorbike. This is where the couple strategies come in. I make no fuss but know that I can ask for anything …. well at least for a while. I know it’s not cricket but I hate bikes. Oh, and look what arrived in an oversized box a day later!! What else do I need !? My list is getting longer.

The old
The new
Wonder what this is for ?

So as we enter the summer, schools open with social distancing in place, Easy Jet are playing around with flights, Ryan Air are full steam ahead, or are they, I’m waiting to get back to work. I hear hairdressers may open soon and the MK John Lewis too. What else do we need ?

The school wall

Who knew I could sink this low? Oh and then the Lockdown is loosening… but we still need to stay alert.🙏🏽

How can I finish this week’s blog without mentioning #blacklivesmatter .We are in 2020 and are still talking about equal rights. As a woman of Indian origin, and of relative privilege it is important to stand shoulder to shoulder and call out all that is wrong. I did attend the Bedford protest, which was peaceful and conducted with the pandemic in mind. Everyone wore masks and stayed 2m apart. I am proud to live in a multicultural town like Bedford. I am super proud of the student who is teaching us so much more about her world and the views of the youth. It gives me hope for the future but we cannot be complacent whatever your background. I would like to leave with the following poem

First They Came for the Jews

by Martin Niemöller

First they came for the Jews

and I did not speak out

because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the Communists

and I did not speak out

because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists

and I did not speak out

because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for me

and there was no one left

to speak out for me.

🙏🏽

#blacklivesmatter

#blm

Weeks 9 & 10: My baby has arrived, the veg trug, oh it’s runner beans 😂 and yeast anyone?

Hello, sorry I’m late. Well actually a whole week too late; what’s a day, a week, a month these days anyway. Between feeling a little flat after being told that I was to be furloughed till end June (yes I know it is an extended holiday and I am grateful but I actually enjoy working, well sometimes anyway) and the warm weather, it was all too much for me. I felt I needed to keep busy and perhaps overdid it… judge for yourself !

The weeks of waiting and the anticipation were at an end; the bits of wood that would eventually make up the veg trug arrived.

It’s here !

In true childlike excitement I ran to tell the hubby that his weekend project was here. I’m not sure I can pen that expression. Anyway roll onto Friday evening, he didn’t even wait until the weekend. I now understand it wasn’t enthusiasm it was purely “need to get this off my list” behaviour. As with any diy task my approach is to watch from a distance, perhaps with a cuppa and a slice of cake. One doesn’t want to be rude and stare. So I watched casually and watched a bit more. And then it came, the call for help. Understandably a second pair of hands is much needed sometimes and I would be churlish to refuse. I do as I’m told and then retreat again. And then it comes again and we stand there, walk around it, look at the photo on the box, checking and rechecking (note to Veg trug – take a leaf out of John Lewis assembly instructions manual, see further down). We establish that he’s built it back to front and after a little adjustment (undoing basically) it seemed prudent to stay. It is my baby after all. I’m being showered with “you are more logical” and “you have a better eye for this sort of thing”. Anyway it was made and looks beautiful and the following day I introduced it into the rest of the veg family. If nothing else it’s a nice bit of furniture in the garden. A very expensive bed to grow some lettuce , kale, courgette and perhaps a handful of strawberries; don’t judge me!

The prep
Support team
And voila

Some things have started to grow and as we had experienced confusion over the seeds in the earlier weeks we finally realised it was runner beans growing so frantically in my fabric raised beds … who knew that these things existed ? The tomatoes are storming ahead; did I tell you that fresh tomatoes are the devil’s food? Yuk and super yuk. As is celery. Glad I’ve got that off my chest. The cauliflowers have unfortunately bolted – again who knew there was such a thing. I am pretending it’s my ornamental garden. The sunflowers are rising upwards , although hubby had killed one of the eight. Everything else is hanging in there and I look forward to perhaps having enough spinach to make a spanakopita. I don’t think I will ever add up how much I have spent to grow a few veg but the pleasure it’s giving me is immense. The sheer relief when the shoots of green appear from a seed tray is huge , try it for yourself.

The veg patch

The student had decided some time ago that she was too big for a single bad but I had conveniently ignored it. It would mean disposing of the beautiful single bed . Anyway it was agreed and during this lockdown/relaxed lockdown it’s impossible to hide from a job and within a few minutes a double bed and mattress were ordered. Who can remember waiting weeks for furniture. The mattress and the bed were to be delivered within 3 days ! And incidentally on the same day as the veg trug. Note to self , must make an appointment at the tip for an annual supply of cardboard, but I’m sure you can understand my reluctance. If it’s a choice between walking , cycling, gardening , cooking or going to the tip, which one would you choose ??? Actually I’ll book the appointment now. My 5 friends will not be able to get to the garden if I don’t clear that passage. Will let you know how I get on.

So the bed construction was the second diy job thrown at the hubby in one weekend. A bit mean perhaps you may think but he approached it with a calm manner and headed upstairs. I stayed firmly seated in the lounge. The student thought that she would be the support on this project ; too bloody right. I stayed away but couldn’t resist a little check. Why do these company do this people … how many pieces and how many screws and of different sizes . But don’t worry the twenty page booklet will save the day. The Hubby did good; he didn’t lose his temper, he didn’t throw all the bits and storm off .. no not this time. The single bed is tidily packed away into the spare bedroom, aka our tip.

OMG they did it

The kitchen adventure continues .The great weather has meant that we have been eating alfresco occasionally and also not too much Indian. But one day I did make okra again much to hubby’s disappointment. I’m determined to make the hubby like them and also I was following student’s mantra and working through all the fresh veg we had in the fridge. New okra recipe found that involved them being shallow fried beforehand ; and voila he likes it. Frying is the answer my friends. His exact words were, “you should add this to your repertoire”.

Bhindi, daal and roti

I decided one day to have an Indian cookathon. There is a method to my madness. Done and dusted for a few days and some for the freezer. Not so silly.

Spinach and feta pie was made again and again a quick shower in between meant that I left the pastry too long ..so actually what appears to be a rustic pie is the pastry falling apart. Perhaps I should stop being so honest? I made another quiche (it’s part of my repertoire don’t you know!) made with home made pastry (will I never learn)… where I egg washed the baking parchment after the blind baking and wondered why it wasn’t soft. It’s ok it was spotted before I filled. Then due to popular demand I made another Bakewell Tart. Note to self – focus and don’t try to multi -task and rush and don’t try and bake the wooden chopping board along with the tart. I am only grateful it was the 10minute bake before adding jam. Lesson learnt I think. Anyway one Friday the hubby and student had sushi. The student’s friend kindly delivered. It was like watching people eat for the first time … they savoured every mouthful. They both used chopsticks and discussed each mouthful and how delicious everything was. The hubby has a jumpy moment with too much wasabi.The student then proclaimed how lovely the salmon was but can’t have salmon too often !! I may have to rename her. Did I tell you she’s gone all healthy on us and is creating her own food She gave me a list and I finally went to Sainsbury’s after 2 weeks. It was an exciting trip as I was looking for plantain, black rice, hard tofu (easy). miso paste and much more. I also came home with YEAST! Yes yeast from Sainsbury’s. The pandemic is over This is a sign. Interestingly I also received the yeast I ordered from Amazon, it’s come from bloody Taipei! I can read the weight and morning else. Now to use all this yeast .

Rustic pie
Yeast from the East

The student ordered the bits I couldn’t find on Amazon as I refused to go to Waitrose. A few days later we received these .. they accidentally sent us an extra pack of Rude Health granola. Another mound of cardboard was added to my pile. No we are not returning them!

Breakfast for a student 🤦🏽‍♀️

So I became a saleswoman for a few days for my ex husband.. yes you read that correctly. He’s known as the Honey Man in the village with his two new hives . I just happen to mention on five Whatsapp groups that he was selling the most recent crop and before you know it I had a spread sheet with names /orders and was delivering or arranging collections. And did I get anything for that … just the student getting her cut as the very initial idea for him to get a hobby years ago was hers . She keeps mentioning this, she’s going to make a good negotiator. She said she was doing me a favour because she knows I love sales and knew I’d have a spreadsheet going. Well, I do love excel but it has proved to be an interesting project.

Honey orders

The hubby called me Mrs Mop again. I’m seriously going to have to have stern words. It was the day I started a deep clean of our bedroom. I’m not sure what possessed me, spring rolls all over again. When was the last time you moved your bed and vacuumed there! Oh , it’s just us then. Some time later, I’ve cleared all the crates under the beds and shoved them on the landing, refusing re entry. Why do we have so much stuff? #firstworldproblem. I even went to the bottle bank finally and seemed to stand there for ages ! And I don’t even drink any of this. Go figure. It kept me entertained for a while matching white, green and brown bottles into the right slots. It felt like a game show but with no prize at the end other than a tidier passage.

Is that a laptop case from the 80s?

Meeting friends for walks and cycle rides (socially distanced) continues – we now have a budding cycling group Cyclotron. Sounds good . My ambition is always to get back home without falling and without any incidents. A puncture would be an incident as I don’t know how to fix one . That is my next challenge, a mini course how to maintain and fix my bike . I may go in house and see if the hubby wants to barter. I continue with the yoga as it gets more challenging but satisfying.

Bedford
Wendover Woods
My bike

🙏🏽

Seema

Question 1: would you queue for hours for a McDonalds? If the answer is yes .. please Unfriend me now x

Question 2: Your eyes are not quite right ? Would you

a) get into your car and drive.

b) make and appointment with an optician

c) get your partner to drive instead

d) call in a favour and get a private taxi.

Question 3: Have you decided who your first 5 people will be? Don’t stress and just spread the love over the week.

NB: I had to go hunting for compost last week . My life is now complete.

NNB I did bake but didn’t want to promote unhealthy eating so sneaking them here ..don’t tell anyone.

Week 8: ROI on spring rolls, the road trip and too much exercise

Hello to you all again. Yes I’m still here at week 8. Hope you are all keeping well and continuing to make the best of this situation, whether you are working long hours, part-time,furloughed and any other status. Hope you are still friends with everyone that is with you? No? Oh well. Try harder. This is the week I put up two fingers to my Apple Watch after last week’s accusation that I wasn’t exercising enough. Rude! I have photo evidence to boot.

Every day this week I’ve either walked, cycled or done yoga or a combination of the three. Everything aches, especially my dodgy ankle/foot but I keep getting told it’s good for me and need to do if I want to continue to eat the amount I am indulging in. I am also sleeping like a log; bed at 10pm, no small talk and the book stays unread. The latter will not make any difference to my attendance at the virtual Book Club.After yoga one morning I asked hubby to do a photo shoot much to his horror. I is a yoga model, in my furloughed world!! It was bloody cold at 7am in the garden. I remain committed to the cause much to everyone’s surprise and wonderment. Well boo hoo to you all and have more faith! And to the hubby, I am not obsessed. It may appear that I am but I am not obsessed. I am on the quest for the sloth pose and when the teacher says, “if you want a little more” ,that will be the cue for the duvet.

Each of the my three bike rides provided plenty of material for you. The first one was with a friend (we’re allowed now, socially distanced). “Don’t worry about the route” she says, “I know my way around the village” she says, “I’ve lived here for years” she says . We definitely got lost and were skirting a local golf course. It was the first day they were open and they were all out in their gear getting away from the families. We ask for direction to Biddenham and the dog walker asks, “where have you come from”. “Biddenham”, we say! He smiles and laughs as I shout, “have only lived here for 22years”. Even the student seemed concerned on my return,”you’ve been gone three hours, it was meant to be 1.5”. Parents please feel free to giggle.

Social distance cycling

During the second ride, my fellow rider manages to fall and times it for when there was an audience. It’s ok she’s not hurt, and the nettle leaves only stung for six hours. Our ride was like a scene from those old Enid Blyton books….. Two (not seven) go on an adventure. The third ride was with the hubby, who has made it his mission to improve my confidence and cycling skills and create adventure . But I’m like the queen when we go out. Hubby carries everything so I can concentrate on the cycling.He rides ahead warning me of enemies and foul hills and narrow paths. Bless him, he knows I’m a fair weather cyclist; it must be dry, sunny, flat, all off road ideally (I hate the roads) a drink stop and ideally a food stop. Other than that I’m happy to go anywhere, anytime and ideally be lied to about how long we are going riding which he does admirably and I know he’s doing it. Not sure how all that works.

Help
Mr Cool

The walks vary and I’ve discovered new parts of Bedfordshire countryside.

I did double denim for one walk as it was so chilly.. I know it’s not a fashion show and I’m nearly 55 but the body was craving something other than leggings.

Double Denim

I’ve been better behaved and have worn leisure gear at all other times . We have even taken to carrying a mini rucksack, a 2.5 hour walk needs a tea break. This increase in exercise (all relative remember) means less time in the kitchen. But you know that whatever I will have cooked will have caused some drama.

Nelly the elephant

So let’s start with the family favourite; the vegetable quiche which nearly didn’t get made. In regular style I get all the ingredients ready and realise there are no eggs. Not really a problem as I was going for my favourite social activity later that day; Sainsbury’s. I meandered towards the eggs aisle and look in horror as it is bare. Did I miss something? When did we move from toilet rolls to eggs ?? Stay calm Seema there are other shops. I see my till friend and moan about the eggs and she sympathises. I make a dash for the smaller Sainsbury’s. Have to queue outside. Grrrr… the quiche is slipping away . I finally get in and go straight to the right aisle and there they are, eggs! Lots of them. Quiche is back on. I am on track the pastry is blind baked with baking paper and beans. The beans are removed. I egg wash the pastry , and bake for another few minutes. Did you spot the fact that I didn’t remove the baking paper 🤦🏽‍♀️! Anyway spotted it just before filling with vegetables. No quiche next week and perhaps for a while.

The quiche has arrived

Later in the week I decided, not sure quite sure what possessed me to make vegetarian spring rolls from the Prashad cookbook. I can’t explain what made me do it. I had all the ingredients and happen to buy the pastry sheets on my last trip to the indian shop. As you know I’m trying to become a 10/10 housewife and that requires that you must have all random ingredients in your store cupboard. A little like the Domestic Goddess Nigella . You many only use an ingredient once and then in next clearout out it goes. So the gazillion ingredients were prepped for this recipe. I got out the pastry sheets and as required kept them in the damp towel. I painstakingly filled and rolled 20 of the sheets. At 10 I wondered why had I started this? Perhaps we can just make toasted sandwiches with the filling? But I finished the 20 and even baked some of them. They were delicious but the ROI (return on investment) of my time I think is poor even with home made coriander chutney. Perhaps I’m using the wrong equation?

Spring roll ? Go to London Sweet Centre

And then on Friday I decided to make Bakewell Tart. Only because Mark Avery teased me with his efforts and it looked so tempting and not to mention the fact that it had been at least a week since I had baked. Standards were slipping. So I measured out everything on Friday morning to get to it after my walk and our road trip . I didn’t get to it until dinner time and I was so busy talking that I didn’t add all the flour I had weighed. Then I wondered why the pastry didn’t work. Both student and hubby rolled their eyes and questioned my sanity as to why I would attempt this at 9pm on a Friday. I cleared up and went to watch Gogglebox. Energised after my 6am yoga class on Saturday I started again with the sweet pastry . I now had 2 egg whites waiting for me for brekkie . Anyway the pastry would not roll, kept cracking. So I decided to put it in fridge. Sent an SOS to my baking helpline (no response). Had my breakfast and tried again. A little better but still didn’t roll. Stay calm, seems to be the week 8 Mantra. You can do this. What to do! So I just rolled as much as I could and then just pushed the pastry around the tin with my fingers. Hey ho! Whatever it takes. Anyway it tasted blooming marvellous , I know so because it was for 12. There are 3 here. One is not eating cake. That leaves 2. So being a feeder , I shared. Who knew that Bakewell Tart was so many people’s favourite and would be the cause of PRST (pastry rolling stress disorder).

The scrummy Bakewell Tart

I was late to the party in finding out about the opening of our my favourite Indian takeout in Bedford . On Thursday , I got whiff off it and and within a few minutes I had passed on the intelligence.It was the most rewarding task of my week.So those that live in Bedford or have known me for a while will know that Bala is place I get the samosas and our Friday night takeouts. In return for my news I heard back about another takeout place being open (god damn it had been open all the while 😂). I get spring rolls from there – you can see how cruel this timing was for me. By 5pm I had ordered . By 6pm I was collecting for 4 people and was the dealer for Bala and London Sweet Centre takeaways. Home cooking is good but takeaways are in another league.

So when you dream of a road trip, you imagine being in a convertible zooming along a lovely long road far far away with music drowning the wind and the sound of the engine. Perhaps a scarf keeping your hair in tact. Back to reality …this road trip was with my hubby on Friday, in a VW Golf down the M1! We get into the car and then don’t turn around within 10minutes – Bedford isn’t that big so the car must have realised something was either wrong or lockdown is over. The last time I saw my beloved M1 was on the 16th March. Well it was all just normal, nothing special , nothing has changed, same cars , just no jams. And it was the same on the M25 and M4. Not sure how I thought I would feel but it was just meh ? We collected mail and some bits from the flat, including two bowls and a cake stand; you can never have enough bowls 😉. Then onto Southall to Papa’s house to collect mail and check the house. We rescued his supply of beer and snacks. What an anticlimax that road trip was.

The student handed in her dissertation earlier this week, much relief and celebration. She surprised me again by arriving downstairs by 10.30am on some days. She has become so motivated by fitness and healthy eating. She keeps sending me recipe ideas.I wonder if I’ve influenced her? The whiteboard has been re-created for abs and full body workouts. Her runs are getting longer. No junk is being eaten, more for us and no need to hide anymore. Student has been creating some rather colorful salads and interesting recipes ; she just hadn’t learnt the art of bowlage (the creative and practical use of bowls to prepare ingredients for a recipe).

Prawn Salad ans Corn Fritter Ingredients

And in general news some entrepreneurial girls in the neighborhood have started a car cleaning racket. They are so good that we’ve booked them for a monthly slot. The smell of money to the young is so appealing that lie ins are a thing of the past- well that’s the rumor going round.

Girls hard at work

The Bedford tip has re-opened. Hoorah. But hold on you need to book an appointment. I can imagine the conversations, “Yes madam what do you have …. ummm bottles and cardboard. Does Thursday at 4.20pm suit? But we will need the bay back at 4.40pm.” The Garden Centres are open – I wish we had a bigger garden (#first world problem). But either way we are going, one day soon I hope, one can never have enough compost especially as we await the arrival of the Veg Trug during week 9.

As more of you go back to work in a safe manner. I wish you well. At least it will stop all those people who just come and loiter at your desk without invitation. Make enough room for a personal tea station as you won’t be allowed to go into the kitchens. Please don’t ruin your street cred by taking a flask!!

🙏🏽

Seema -staying alert !!

NB1 Has anyone seen Boris recently ?

NB2: Rishi Sunak are you sure you’re a Tory

NB3:Good luck today anyone working in London trying to social distance.