Follow my adventures. Promise you won’t be bored. I’m a British Asian who lives life to the max and loves sharing the ups and downs. Mixed with a bit of Indian spice all manner of things come to life. Come and meet my friends and family!
Why do we have to do this every year. Ok so no one is holding you down and forcing you to set up new year’s resolutions. Do you feel you should… I suppose that may come from something you’ve already been thinking about changing or improving or simply continuing in the coming year.
I will share a few of mine. What’s the harm I say. It’s just a little mental checklist with myself . In the past I’ve had varied success. There was the time I decided I would walk away from any negative conversation at work … I think I made it to week three. I was constant excusing myself. Note negative does not mean harmful. Then there was the time I said I would not buy any new shoes ….I did quite well but the following January I was a woman possessed !! Oh and the year that I said I would not buy any accessories – that was a total fail! I’m not painting a very positive picture of myself so to balance this out I will say that I have had lots of positive results over the years too. I love and thrive on lists so a focused target for the whole year works for me.
So perhaps I will start after the bank holiday tomorrow. These are my chosen few.
⁃ I will give more time for my Classics Masters . Did I tell you that I had started ? I was worried that I would drop out by now. Need to get reading and stop binging on Netflix recommendations – stop it you lot!!
⁃ I will shop for fresh foods more regularly so I stop the waste. I’m much better at freezing and creating random meals. After this December I also need to cook my own food 🤔😜.
⁃ I will strengthen my ankles so I can get back my fitness and dance more 💃🏾.
⁃ I will only eat samosas once a month! Hmmmm….
⁃ I will try to be a good member of my family & community.
Whatever you decide to do or not do or try to do … do it with gusto, belief and love.
We got you 2022!! You just wait and see.
Stay safe, stay healthy ans be kind.
NB:: I’m avoiding any more food related resolutions as I know that I can’t be trusted !! 😋
I have been coming to the Exclusively Housewares (now just Exclusively) show for many years. First with Tefal, then DKB and lastly with GreenPan. You may think I like being in the industry, but I have yet to decide !
2019 was the first time I attended the show as part of the BHETA team (two weeks into the job), but still not fully aware of the organization behind the show. 2020 came and went without the show happening because of the dreaded COVID.
Then as 2020 came to an end, plans were beginning to form for the 2021 show. Then we moved to the August dates. Yes, it wasn’t perfect for all….but when is anything ever perfect?! And who has the luxury of choice this year?!!
So here we were with plans done, marketing done, invites sent, trends forecasted, influencers informed, magazines scheduled. Had we forgotten anything?
I got on the train from Bedford on Monday the 23rd, both excited and nervous. Numerous dresses and “flat pumps” packed. Days of the heels are long gone.
London was back to its normal busy self and as the taxi pulled up in front of the Business Design Centre I felt happy. I couldn’t wait to get inside.
Even before I got through the doors I was met by familiar faces; do we smile, elbow tap, fist pump, shake hands or, god forbid, hug? We all laughed and smiled and did whatever we were all comfortable with at that moment.
Inside there was the normal organised chaos of unbuilt stands, boxes of products strewn in the aisles and casually dressed sales & marketing people. People missing cups, hooks, products and other bits in that last few hours of preparation. Oh, then there were too many tables and chairs/stools, not enough lighting, too much lighting, no passes, need more passes, when does the show open and close.
However, I know from experience that first thing on Tuesday morning it will be as if the trade show fairy has come and fixed everything for everyone. Didn’t you know about her?
The BHETA stand was expertly put together by the team.
The Trend Hub was beautifully created by team Scarlet Opus – how cool were those displays!
My lounge may be going into a Neo Luxe transformation – well I have the green sofa, just need the black wall and perhaps a gold bowl!? Richard ensured that all the suppliers taking part in the Brand-showcase were ready for the press, influencers, bloggers and anyone who can help with the sales and PR of their products.
Day one of the show was busy, buzzy, bustling and business focused. Buyers turned out in force to support the industry. The BHETA team were welcoming our visitors.
I even managed to capture Helen Miller on the Le Creuset stand and Sarah Wood at the Launchpad.
I got star struck by Lynsey Crombie, The Queen of Clean; her hacks are great!
No party this year but we were able to have a drinks reception; just drinks. Not even any peanuts for safety reasons. I did wonder if we could have handed out individual packets as per flights??
Day two I was lucky enough to meet Juliet Sears; bakes amazing cakes on This Morning.
Oh and I issued the contracts for Exclusively 2022. First one back with their contract – Ijaz. Just fabulous!
The show was full of beautiful, functional, eco, well designed, branded, unbranded and varied products from a number of categories. I intentionally didn’t take too many product photos as I would probably have killed my phone. But here are a few of people with some products .
The show was full of established businesses and newcomers.
The show welcomed more tableware suppliers.
The show saw buyers from independent cook shops, major grocers specialist stores to online.
And at the end of two days when it all finishes, the chaos reappears for the contractors to clear up.
I can report that I did 28,282 steps and climbed 38 flights over the two days. My poor ankles. Perhaps that will have worked of the yummy lunch and pudding served up by Liam and his team.
So, there you have it . We will see you next year. I can’t actually put into words how great it was to be with so many friends from the industry. Because we are friends now, aren’t we?
And fabulous to make new contacts and meet away from a screen.
Thanks for exhibiting and visiting and making this a great industry.
However you got home, I hope it was an easy journey. My uber ride back to St Pancras was rather painful, but it was a comfortable, familiar pain. Oh London… I’ve missed you.
Note to self – go straight home and don’t be lulled into a dinner date, even if it is your daughter. Exclusively Exhausted vegetarian at the German Gymnasium… all very wrong.
Well, I don’t know why I hadn’t written this before. Credit where it’s due, it was prompted by Manasi Desphpande, sending a photo of her masala dabba .
Then I remembered a sketch by Michael McIntyre about the spice cupboard and thinking what a boring bunch of unloved spices. It was shown to us by a marketing bod when I worked for Cole & Mason to get us all excited about spice . C&M are purveyors of excellent Salt & Pepper mills (please don’t offend by calling them pots, they are mills!) and spice racks. Other brands are available (I have to stay impartial now). However, I am sure an Indian spice cupboard would be a little more colourful, interesting and entertaining. Note – this is not a cookery lesson, just a little stroll through my cupboard.
So let’s start with what is a spice and what is a herb? Ok, so you don’t know and don’t really care, you just use and cook. But knowledge is power and great to impress dinner guests.
Good old Wiki says, ‘spice is a seed, fruit, root, bark or other plant substance primarily used for flavouring or colouring food. Spices are distinguished from herbs, which are the leaves, flowers, or stems of plants used for favouring or as a garnish’.
Storing spices has become a mission in my house. These big ones are for my tried and tested regular.
They are out when I’m planning lots of cooking on a day. Perhaps I should label the Lids. I thought I should just talk about the key ones I use again and again, otherwise this could end up being a long read (which I understand isn’t the done thing on these blogs).
The salt, excuse the heart disease but I can’t live without it. And perhaps I eat just a bit too much. Just remember you can’t take away but you can always add. And for those who want to push the boat out go for the additional varieties available – we have pink Himalayan and rock salt. Good old Saxa table salt never gets to go to the party.
I can imagine the haldi (turmeric) all dolled up saying “move out of the way, boys, I’m now the star of this show. I’m so much in demand I’ve had to franchise myself out into different forms 😂 All the Indians roll their eyes at inflated prices of turmeric infused milk/drinks/shots. Just find a an Indian grocer and treat yourself. Watch those posh white worktops though. When she finds you, she will stay with you!
And chilli powder. Shades of red, fiery and hot. I’m sure it would be a she. Don’t mess with her because too much will overpower and she will take control of the dish. The paprika is the gentler quieter cousin with a slightly sweet personality.
Garam masala is like the don of the spice cupboard. Don’t mess with him. A combo of many other spices. He is the answer to everything. Everyone has their own recipe for the perfect punchy masala.
Dhaniya (ground coriander) is the right hand man to the turmeric, I reckon. You can’t do without it. Again, coriander is such a show off! You can’t cook an Indian meal without the herb and then it ensures you have the seeds for certain dishes (!!!!) and powder as a staple.
Cumin seeds (jeera). They start the party going and once it starts sizzling you know it’s time to add Heeng or Astofoetida. Partners in crime.
Mustard seeds (rai) are a little like tiny shots of heat and, like cumin seeds, are used at the start. When they start popping, you can add the other spices.
Kasthuri methi or fenugreek Is a powerful beast. The fragrance lingers and also emirates from your pores – trust me. But I love it.Methi leaves fresh can be used for so many dishes and the dried version just add depth to a curry. Fenugreek seeds are a must for aubergine dishes. Also let me introduce you to Amchoor powder (dried mango powder). For any dishes that need a little tang..)
But basically, I have Indian, Italian, baking, Mexican, Middle Eastern ie Ottolenghi and randoms (One off recipes/used once eg …. marjoram? Mace?)
My spice cupboards need attention. Yes, they really do. I’ve tried to divide them into the following groups and now I’m in the new house it’s gone to pot!
Perhaps I should go back to the dabbas and create one for the following as a start ⁃ North Indian ⁃ Rest of India ⁃ Italian ⁃ Rest of world ⁃ Baking ⁃ Random ⁃ Didn’t look before we bought it again tray
Happy cooking and buying! You never know when that is going to come in use. Hopefully, this will prompt you to have a little explore in your spice cupboard.
Remember Spice is for life 😂.
So a simple recipe shared with me by Simantee. It’s for a spicy tomato chutney. No measurements given .. just trial and error.
Ingredients : Mix equal quantities of fenugreek /cumin/mustard/nigella seeds in jar. This mix is called Panch Puran. Freshly chopped tomatoes (10 medium sized) chillies (I used fresh but you can use powder). Sugar – half a cup. A little salt
Method: Heat a little oil in a heavy based pot. Drop in a heaped teaspoon of mix and when they start popping add in the chopped tomatoes and sugar/chillies/salt. And just leave to cook away until the tomato juice evaporates . The longer you leave it, the better. Keep tasting and you will probably need to add more sugar. Eat with anything 😉
January 2020 was going to be the start of a new chapter. Learning to live without mum and all the good and bad that came with her during her last few years. Holidays to be booked. Plans to be made. Lists to be written. Some calm to be restored. Hmmm, well, that didn’t happen, did it?!
February 2020 was when we started wavering; we did the elbow taps and foots taps, even if it looked like a country dance. IT was coming towards us. Yes, we could go to Frankfurt. Or should we? It’s work. It will be fine. No hugs and kisses, not even air kisses. The emergence of sanitisers was overwhelming – any size and brand to suit you. Oh, how we mocked those that were being cautious!
Work from home.
Wash those hands.
Toilet roll hunt started.
Shall we zoom?
We’ll be normal soon…. it’s just one Lockdown!
Daily briefings became an addiction.
Quest for one nugget of positivity.
The art of furloughing was thrust upon us. We were the lucky ones.
So much time and what do we do first!!
Clearing out, must do.
Gardening, grow something.
Cooking, most definitely.
Baking, you’d be silly not to!
Yoga, for sure.
Cycling, no doubt.
Walking, what, just walking ?
Blogging, why not!
TV boxed sets, let’s stay in the game.
Quizzes, affirmative. To stay connected.
Meditation, make time.
Phew, just enough time to sleep then!
Oh and don’t forget to mask up!
Long summer of glorious sunshine made us forget the pain and the missed “everythings”.
We kept moving forward counting the losses and thanking those who propped us up. We became addicted to online shopping and formed relationships with the delivery guys.
The vaccine to combat IT were announced but we were tiered again in November. December we were hopeful for a Brexit deal and the weather was as grim as the mood. Christmas came and went. Ah well, there will be others.
Lockdown 3? Bring it on!!
And here we are nearly at the finish line. A little overweight possibly with all the home cooking and baking. Less shops, fewer jobs and….more house moves! Go figure.
This blog is only two months late because of a certain house move which is covered in my next blog. However, it seems apt still as it is a year since the first BoJo directive to stay home ….
Just hang on and stay strong. 2021, we are ready for you…now we are into Spring it has got to be good, right? We have proven we are kind, loving, giving and resourceful.
We think of those we have lost and those that continue to work tirelessly so that the rest of us remain safe. The vaccine is getting to all and I pray that we will all be in a better place soon. Family is precious so we will be together again soon.
I will be available for hugs…. that goes for you too Mr G. 🥰
NB1. My daughter finished her degree with a non-graduation like many others. She then started and continues with a Masters online.
NB2. Captain Tom showed us that anything is possible as long as you are determined and positive.
NB3. Nigella showed us how to butter toast.
NB4: Sadly, I learnt about cauliflowers bolting, but to my delight, my sunflowers stood tall and towered over me.
NB5: I had some random moments that made me bake hot cross buns from scratch. I’m ok now! Phew.
NB6: I realised that I was reasonably good at following recipes. No more shop bought cakes here!
NB7: I realised that community means a lot to me. Supporting others brings inner peace.
NB8: We all learnt about the R number. And became fans of Chris Whitty.
NB9: We all know where Barnard Castle is, don’t we?
NB10: I became the proud owner of a veg trug
NB11: We ate a lot of Courgettes!
NB12: A bubble became more meaningful than what it is physically!
NB13: Chem Eng girlies stay together forever 🥰. Strong women together 👊🏾
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.
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 ?
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. 😂
No I am not having a mid life crisis . And no that is not why there hasn’t been a blog for some time.
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 😂.
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!
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!
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.
The Cosmos plant below finally produced flowers, the Marigolds have gone mad and the bloody rose is diseased!
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.
I blame Rishi. We’ve really been helping out by eating out 😂.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
All this tidying made me book a second trip to the tip. Look at that clean and tidy passageway apart from the empties.
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 !!!
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.
⁃ 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 !)
⁃ don’t get carried away because every recipe looks so yummy. Thank goodness for good old pakoras and hubby’s prawns and salmon.
⁃ do use vegetables that cook quickly not aubergines and beetroot! Although aubergines are my favourite veg.
⁃ 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.
⁃ 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 .
⁃ 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.
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 !
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 !
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?
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.
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.
The pepper plants are flowering.This is the trial I’m doing on Fenugreek seeds growing indoors in a colander
. 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.
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.
Pent up demand has led to these purchases from Sainsbury’s. Because we need another bowl in this house.
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.
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 !
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 🤨)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.