As in Life, So in Death

As I mentioned in a reply to a comment from Pat the other day, I had a nice wander around West Norwood Cemetery at the weekend. It’s a big place, forty acres, and has a nice rise to the chapel and crematorium at the top, with splendid views across London. There was hardly anyone about, not even many dog walkers, which surprised me given what a great space it is close to streets of houses.

Even in death, maybe especially in death, it’s easy to pick out the rich, the powerful, the self-important and the famous. I couldn’t always find a name on the various tombs and mausoleums, but it was pretty obvious which ones had been particularly costly. Some are the size of beach huts, some largish summer houses. It was an uncomfortable thought that some of our dead are housed better than the living; homelessness is rife in London. It’s a national scandal. Today a homeless man was found dead yards away from the Palace of Westminster, the seat of the UK government.

Grand resting place

Striking a pose in death


Cosy


Gothic


At least one pigeon had found itself a upmarket abode.

Pigeon loft

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Neighbours and Outsiders

It is often said that London is a series of villages. I’m not sure I buy that, but I would say it’s a series of neighbourhoods. Most people are very aware of and loyal to their neighbourhood. When I came to live in London people would talk about their manor. It’s not a term I’ve heard for a while, so I suspect that those a generation behind me would find it as quaint as I did expressions from the 1950s.

Celia, Octavia and I all live in the same neighbourhood. I couldn’t tell you exactly where our patch begins and ends, but two or three years ago Celia and I were walking in an adjoining neighbourhood when we spotted a notice for a book group. It was behind glass and the worse for wear from condensation. We peered at it, trying to decipher date, location and book. As we did so, a woman approached with a wide, friendly smile. Do join us, she said. We don’t live here, we answered, wary of trespassing on alien territory. We live up the road; we belong to a different tribe. Alright, we didn’t say the last bit, at least I don’t think we did, but I certainly thought it, despite knowing people from this other tribe. That doesn’t matter, said the woman, smile enhanced by a halo of blond curls. You’d be very welcome. Continue reading

Cooking for the Fritterati?

I’ve got so many ex-hummus pots in the fridge harbouring fritters, left-overs, fritters, baked beans, fritters, cold potatoes, fritters again that finding the one that has hummus in it is like Edgar Allen Poe’s Purloined Letter.

The builders were supposed to be coming tomorrow to do the tiling in my kitchen. Back in 2016 I had a new kitchen fitted and the guy who did a great job on the floor tiles was not around to do the ones on the walls. The result was amateur, so they’re going to be redone. One day. I think I have had four dates so far for this work. To be fair, I dodged out of one of them, the builder had the ‘flu for another, but it is beginning to feel like the cleaning of the Augean stables, a job that’s never finished. But until it is I can’t contact Tony the painter to begin the other less well known Herculean task of repainting the flat. Continue reading

A Welcome to New and Old Friends

In the past few weeks a number of people have signed up to follow this blog. Thank-you, and welcome! Most of my new readers do not have blog pages or WordPress identities and do not comment – my silent readership. I admit I am intrigued at this new, at least to me, trend. I recognise one person, that’s you Judy – hi! – but no one else.

Some new followers do have pages, though I admit I haven’t checked most of them out. The truth is I am not just an undisciplined cook, I am am also an undisciplined blogger. I get the urge to post in bursts and not at all, and the same goes for my reading of blogs I follow, so you may find, as Pat, Ruth, IngridD, Nitzus, Nadbugs and Gilly for example will have learned, that my comments and likes equally come in bursts interspersed with long silences. Other blogs I read, like or not, but rarely comment on. That doesn’t necessarily mean I don’t enjoy them. Continue reading

Action Cat

Most photos of MasterB that I post here show him lying down, sunbathing, sleeping, or looking out of the window, maybe sitting in the garden. The most active images show him taking a leisurely stroll. So it would be perfectly understandable if some of you thought of him as a fairly static cat, a sedentary cat. Understandable but wrong.

This may look like a flat to you and me, but to MasterB it’s a racing circuit, a feline version of Brands Hatch combined with elements of Aintree.
He races about it, leaps from one piece of furniture to another, weaves between chair legs, refuels with some biscuits in pit stops.

I’ve been trying to work at home, but no work can be achieved until we have had interactive play. The current favourite toys are the play cube, now somewhat battered, and the equally battered fishing rod feather toy.

So here are a couple of shaky hand videos to see the boy in action.

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A Walk in Kent

Last night I finally got the last of the mud off my boots. They were caked. Kent is a county that has a reputation for being dry, but the first two fields we walked across were lakes of mud. There was no escape. I’m a mucky walker at the best of times, coming home with mud splattered trousers whatever the weather, but Saturday was pretty spectacular. The ground sucked at my heels so that each step was accompanied by a distinctive squelching sound.

I’d caught an earlier train out of London than planned and it was wonderfully quiet and empty.

Empty train

The fields we passed by were covered with frost, and the sun shone benevolently. The walk, a Pluckley Circular, was organised by the Ramblers and shared between two groups which meant there were nearly thirty of us when the walk began. But I’m getting ahead of myself. If you’ve clicked on that wiki link you’ll have read Pluckley claims to be the most haunted place in the country. But how would you tell?

So I was at Pluckley station half an hour ahead of kick-off, though perhaps that should be step-off.

Station car park


The station has a legitimate claim to historical fame.

Sole survivor


An original


But it’s not actually in Pluckley. It’s a distance away from the village, over a mile. Here’s the pub that is beside the station, a pretty impressive pile, named for the Dering family who were landowners.

The pub at Dering

Dering Arms

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Better and Bigger than Trump

Lor’ love a duck, I have just read that Theresa May has again invited Donald Trump to these shores. I thought we were hard up, how on earth are we going to afford the security costs? It would be nice if he’d do the decent thing and stay at home, then maybe that money could be given to the NHS. Or maybe she’s planning to sell him the NHS and we’ll have Trump hospitals everywhere. Given Trump’s gung-ho attitude towards facts and knowledge that would probably mean anyone could get their hands on a scalpel and see if they could retire us when we need it. Lots of gold plating and no doctors, no nurses, no paramedics, but a director who claims he has the best wards, is the most medical person ever.

When I read that many people who voted for Trump still support him, call him one of them, cite economic growth pushing back ISIS as evidence of the effectiveness of his presidency. I went to see Darkest Hour yesterday, and it got me thinking about Hitler and how his rise to power was due largely to his promise to make Germany great again, how he appealed to people who had lost everything in the depression, who felt ground down and humiliated after the Treaty of Versailles. Hitler, like Trump, promised much, he had scapegoats, he painted a picture of a glorious Reich free from those who dragged it down – Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, communists. Women belonged in the home, cooking, bearing children who would fight for this Reich.

And let’s face it, at first he seemed to many in Germany to be delivering the goods. Here in the UK he had his admirers too. The Daily Mail and the Daily Express gave him their approval. The abdicated Edward VIII visited the fuhrer.
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What the GF?

One of the worrying things that has come to my attention during my Veganuary journey is how many vegan products and recipes are also gluten free.

Believe me, I’m not trivialising Coeliac disease. It runs in my family and I know how devastating it can be, especially when it goes undiagnosed for decades. My mother had it, at least one of my aunts, and we reckon an uncle died undiagnosed. But gluten free has become ubiquitous. A neighbour, who to be fair does have health problems, told me she was giving up gluten. Why? I asked. She looked surprised at the question, then assumed a slightly martyred expression and said it was for her health. But she hasn’t been advised by the GP to give it up, has not been tested for Coeliac disease, she’s just decided that for some reason gluten free is a healthier option.
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Carry On Veganuarying

Heading into the final week of Veganuary, and like my compatriots doing dry January, this could be a watershed moment, to continue or not. I think I know the answer, which is I shall return to being a flexi-vegan. Once I have eaten the few things already stored in the freezer that contain dairy I don’t think I’ll be hurrying to replace them. Consciously eschewing dairy has been easy, though I haven’t been to the pizzeria yet, and it’ll be the end of M&S meal deals as they barely manage a vegetarian option, let alone vegan. I’ve not bought eggs from a supermarket in months, so until and unless I can get them from hens kept as pets, eggs will be off the menu too. I have quite a bit of honey at home, and that’ll gradually be consumed as well. Whether I replace it or not remains to be seen.

So no, I don’t think I’m going to be a full-time, banner-carrying vegan, but 90% of the time you wouldn’t be able to tell. I’m certainly going to be eating a lot of fritters. After the success of the beetroot and spilt pea fritters I decided to play with my recipe, swapping the split peas for lentils, adding broccoli to the beetroot, and putting the rice flour in the mix to bind everything rather than the tahini. There were more ingredients – tomato purée, garlic, onion, turmeric, soy sauce if I recall correctly. The rice flour didn’t work as well as the tahini, I had to dust them all with more flour after I’d shaped them, yet still they were crumbly. I decided to cook two and have them with mushrooms and kale. I admit my hopes weren’t that high. Continue reading