Friday, 30 March 2012

Retro Delight

Many memories are connected to 'things' or brought up by looking at 'things. Like this plate from Stavangerflint in the series Master Chef. My mother used to have this in her cupboard and it just makes me think of my childhood when I see it. After mamma passed away my sister got this plate.
But internet and Ebay is a saviour in many instances.
My delight knew no bounds when I saw this for sale on Ebay and I was quick to snap it up!
Talk about retro delight!

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Giving It Up For Lent

picture borrowed from
It is a long tradition here in the UK to give up 'something' for Lent.

The act of giving up something for Lent, stems from the Christians wanting to endure the sacrifice as a reminder of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice on the Cross and to commemorate the 40 days in the desert.
It is interesting to note that what was a very religious act has now become very mainstream and many might not really think too closely about the origin of the act. Many now give up alcohol or chocolate or some other 'luxery' and actually treat it more as a detoxing time rather than a religious act.

As I don't really drink enough alcohol for it to be something special to give up, I decided to give up coffee (no, not ready to give up chocolate yet). I don't drink very much coffee, perhaps on average 3 cups a day, but it was still something to give up. It wasn't too hard, I have to admit. Perhaps the slight head aches at the beginning might be due to coffeine withdrawal, but I have been rather good (ok, I admit I failed once), and found a passion for green tea.

Still, I am looking forward to a nice big cup of latte or cappuccino when Holy Saturday starts. Actually, I think I will try to limit my coffee intake the rest of the year and stick to green tea, but the occasional cup of coffee will be nice...

Did you give up anything for Lent or what could you have given up?

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Hard Water Challenges

Here in our part of England we live in an area with extremely hard water. This means that we struggle with the effects of limescale on our appliances. Limescale leaves a thin whitish film on the interior surfaces of baths, sinks, and drainage pipes. More importantly, it clogs up appliances like washing machines, dishwashers, kettles etc. and seriously reduces their lifespan (we are on our 3rd washing machine in 13 years).

This week two of our appliances decided to pack it in (funny how these things happen at the same time!).

The kettle has served us well for several years and was of a type with a Brita water filter in (I HATE the taste of limescale in my tea/coffee). I was disappointed to see that there was almost no choice in finding a new one that also has this extra filter in it, but a new red one from Morphy Richard's found it's way to our kitchen. It looks kind of funky when it lights up in blue when you turn it on!

The bigger appliance that needed replacing was our electric shower. It was making some worrying noises and I thought it was a good idea to have it replaced before our guests from Norway are coming over for Easter. My night mare scenario is a house full of people and no shower... But that is no longer an issue as the new shower was installed yesterday and is humming softly. And yes, the installation man agreed that it did need replacing - it was only a matter of time before it would pack it in...

Now I just wonder what the third thing to break down will be...
these things tend to come in threes
- don't they?

Monday, 26 March 2012

Did It Work????

I have been struggling for the looooongest time to find a way to turn of the
@&*% word verification
here on the blog and
I THINK I finally managed!

To be honest, I am not 100% sure I managed it - I need YOUR help to verify this...

What I did was that I found a way to turn off the new interface version of Blogger. I have fiddled a LOT to find how to do find the old version - nope, can't say how I found it - I just fiddled around.. and suddenly it was there! 

And in the OLD version you can find the option to turn off this silly word verification!

I generally don't mind word verification on other blogs too much, but lately they have become impossible to read!

So, please - SOMEBODY - leave me a comment so I know whether I managed to get rid of it!

Friday, 23 March 2012

From a Different View

I normally cycle to work, but today I had to stop in the park on the way in to the office and leave the bike to the repair shop. 

The bike was in need of some minor adjustments, so this is the quickest and handiest way to get it serviced. Lovely, friendly and chatty guys. But why wouldn't they be? Their repair shop is in this lovely park!

So, walking in to work was a nice opportunity for a stroll on a lovely spring morning. Suddenly, I saw things from a different angle when on foot as opposed to rushing in on the bike. I had never noticed how bent this tree line in the park is. And I pass it at least twice a day - for 13 years!

My favourite tree in the park is getting ready!

The Japanese Cherry tree (?) is in full bloom

I love the details on the old bridges over the various brooks in the park

Doesn't this look peaceful? 

I can almost 'hear' the bench calling me to come and have a rest...
The bike will be ready at the end of the working day so I get to walk through all this loveliness all over again!

Apparently, it has been forecasted to reach over 20 degrees today- and it is only March! 
It will be the warmest day of the year so far...

And to top it all - it is Friday!
Enjoy the weekend!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Not What You Would Expect...!

A new magazine has just come out about cakedecorating.
The first issue is being sold at a very reasonable 99p.
This first issue comes with a couple of cookie cutters as well as a paper stand for cupcakes.
In addition, there is a little box of sparkle glitter to decorate cakes with.

My concern is with the glitter -
 would you add sparkle glitter to a cake although the glitter 'isn't toxic', it 'should not be consumed' and should be removed before eating the cake...

The only place this glitter will shimmer in my house is in the bin!

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Black out...

Hmmm.... so what do you do in the office when there is a power cut and therefore neither computers nor phones work...?

It is actually rather thought provoking to consider how much of many people's (working?) lives are run with the computer.
We had a power cut over much of the city centre yesterday and it brought a lot of work to a grinding halt. Empty, black screens stared back at us and it was hard to think of anything else to fill the working day with that didn't involve the use of the machines.

A colleague had suggested some days ago that we should consider a day without the use of email and the internet. Instead, we should get up from our desks and WALK over to whoever we needed to speak with OR at least pick up the phone to talk with them.

Not sure how efficient I would be then.

Could you work without the aide of computers?

Monday, 19 March 2012

Not Exactly Snow... and Nowruz

The trees along the garages are in full bloom covering the ground with their pretty white/pink petals. Looks like snow, but this is the type of 'snow' I prefer

Lovely sunshine on a Monday is much appreciated, but WHY could it not have been shining on Sunday too???

Tomorrow is Nowruz (1391). Read here and here to learn more about the Persian New Year's celebrations. It will be a quiet celebration for us tomorrow as The Professor was home on the weekend and we had an early joint Nowruz celebration and Mother's Day celebration (yes, that was yesterday here in the UK). Got to be pragmatic when the Nowruz celebration changes time and day every year! This year it will Tuesday 20 March at 05.14 am...! And no... I will NOT be awake for that tomorrow morning!

Hyacinths are among the traditional flowers for Nowruz. I got these as bulbs from a friend of mine for my birthday in November. After potting them (and forgetting them), I left them in the garage over the winter. Purely by accident, I remembered them one day I was in the garage and brought them in to the house two weeks ago. Their blooms are now perfectly timed for the celebrations!

Eid-e-Shoma Mubarak!

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Yoga Milestone

I had a particularly good yoga session last night
- just love it! - 
but I have to admit I might never be quite as able as this lady is...

I think she is even more flexible that the cat on the cushion...

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

The Joys of Home Ownership - The Never Ending Saga

amazing how shabby it looks when you strip it all back...
I have had a weekend to myself as Our Boy was on a scout trip and The Professor was at a conference. Great time to do some house projects...!
Our house from 1969 is not very old by English standards, but by the time we bought it 10 years ago it had been a rental property for many years and it needed a lot of work doing to it. One of the first things we did was to change all the single glass windows to double glass window (triple doesn't exist here)... 
As I said at the time - I may come from a cold country, but I am not used to being cold indoors.

The rest of the house has been done step-by-step throughout the years and the only things left now are to change the interior doors, the stairs/stairwell, the master bedroom and the main bathroom.

So, this weekend I got busy with the main bathroom. When we moved in, it was army green.... 'nice'... NOT! At the time, my father-in-law painted it white for us and that was a great improvement! But that was now many years ago.

However, we didn't want to spend 1000's of £ on the bathroom at this point, but it was in dire need of some 'love' and I spent the weekend sprucing it up. I will get back with some pictures of the final result once I have had some help putting up some mirrors etc on the walls (no, I can't do EVERYTHING on my own...).

The next project will be my bedroom and then finally the stairwell and stair case. Don't think I can face another project for a while, so that probably won't be till after the summer. Isn't it amazing how the entire house becomes such a mess when doing house projects!

And then we can probably start all over again...
Oh, the joys of home ownership!

Friday, 9 March 2012

Recommended Viewing: The Best Marigold Hotel

Oh, how we chuckled!
I went last night with an Indian friend to see this starstudded new film and we very much enjoyed it. Not the deepest of films, and many issues could have been explored in more depth, but it was still a very enjoyable film to watch. One reason for it not beeing deep enough might be that there are too many main characters and a 2-hour film simply wouldn't allow for it to delve deeper.
I particularly loved Maggie Smith, Judi Dench and Bill Nighy, but they are all great characters. I won't spoil it by telling you too much, but watch the trailer below.

Yes, it did make me want to go to India!

The trailer is here:

Go and see it!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Tried and Tested: Marzipan Filled Apples

I can't eat raw apples as I tend to have an allergic reaction to them - my mouth swells and it is rather scary. It doesn't matter if I peal them or buy organic apples. But I can eat them cooked. Whatever I react to seems to vanish in the heat.

Clearing out the fridge I found some marzipan left over from Christmas which was still within the consumption date, but really needed to go.
I simply cored some apples and filled the hole with a piece of marzipan and put them in the oven (180 degrees) for about 20 mins (I think).

Ok, they were not the prettiest to look at, but OMG were they yummy!
If you want to go all out I could imagine some nice vanilla icecream, a dollop of whipped cream or custard would be nice.
But to be honest, they didn't need anything else, in my opinion.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Coming Over For the Olympics? - Tip For Accommodation

As you may know, I work for one of the famous Universities in the UK.
I feel really lucky to work in such amazingly beautiful surroundings with very interesting people from all over the world.

With the Olympics in mind, I thought I would share a tip for a different type of accommodation other than a regular hotel room:

Many colleges and Universities rent out rooms out of term (and some during term) at much more reasonable prices than what a hotel room would cost. The rooms are mainly available in the summer (July, August, September), Christmas and Easter (March, April) vacation periods, when students clear their rooms. It gives people a chance to see what it is like to live in anything from rather modern buildings to ancient historical accommodation. As it says on the website:

"You could trace the footsteps of graduates such as Newton, Darwin, Wordsworth, John Cleese, and Prince Charles. You will eat in the college hall, and could wander through the college's gardens and courts, learn about the college's history, and take a punt along the river followed by a drink in the college bar."

Doesn't look too bad staying in a place like this, does it?
picture borrowed from www
This website ( gives you options to see availability and search for accommodation in many different countries, so well worth considering if you are planning a trip somewhere (for some reason I wasn't able to embed the link today!).

A tip for 'thinking outside the box' is if you are planning to come to the UK for the Olympics is to consider staying outside of London. Many of the University towns are less than an hour away by train and you get to see more than 'just' London.

There is a lot more to this island than London, you know...

Sunday, 4 March 2012

That Lovely Spring Feeling...

Unlike forecasted, we have enjoyed a gloriously sunny spring day!
Almost feels a bit like cheating to already start working in the garden, but it was so enjoyable. 

Our Boy got busy sprucing up the bike after the winter. He has another bike to get to school with, but this is his treasured racing bike which he uses indoors on a stand during the cold and dark months. 
It is now time to hit the asphalt again!

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Tried and Tested: Turkey Mince

I like to have an open mind and try out new food products, but it has taken a while to try turkey mince. 
One reason could be that I find turkey rather bland and a bit boring... 
But actually, that just gives you more scope to add flavour!

I made these turkey burgers last night and they turned out very nice and with their lean meat they are a good and healthier version of beef burgers. 
I am sure they would work out well using chicken mince as well.

500 grams of turkey mince
1 onion
3 cloves of garlic (we liiiiike garlic)
3 tablespoons of potato flour (or white flour)
2 eggs
1 tomato

Mix all the ingredients well.
I used a blender to get it really fine.

Form into burgers/meat balls and fry.

Delicious both hot and cold
(if any are left over).

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Problem Solved - New Alliances and Friends

Look to the North!
(report from the BBC)