Thursday, 30 June 2016

My Very First Pedicure in Rhodes, Greece

imageI think of visiting posh spas as a pastime for  well off ladies and have to admit I feel a bit intimidated, although had a good time at Bluestone Spa in Wales trying the outdoor jacuzzi in the rain.
Out of desperation I visited the spa recently at the Amathus Beach Hotel in Rhodes. With my broken shoulder it isn't impossible to reach my feet as I can tie my shoe laces but cutting my toe nails is another matter so that is why I braved the posh spa last week. I needn't have worried as the girl who gives out the pool towels remembered me and noticed I rocked up . without the sling. She was easy to get along with and took me to the treatment room with warm foot jacuzzi followed by electric dead skin removal and all the things they do. I am sure many of you have been down this path. It cost me 40 euros with the tip but was worth every penny in my current predicament. In a months time I will need the same and where I live in London is pedicure land, so I will go in pretending I'm a posh regular but it will no way compare to the pampering I enjoyed in Greece.  
Enter

Friday, 10 June 2016

FORBIDDEN LOVE

Since breaking my shoulder last month, there is little I can do and time is dragging by, so I am typing with one finger (very frustrating for a speed touch typist). I am using the time to edit the books I started to write ages ago.  Some of them didn’t even reach the 3 chapter stage, ready to approach an agent.
Here is Chapter One.  Do you want to see Chapter Two?  If so, let me know.
IS THIS LOVE FORBIDDEN?

CHAPTER ONE

Jane looked at herself in the mirror.  What had brought her to this?  She was bloated, overweight and podgy.  Having broken her leg some weeks ago and spending some time in a wheelchair, the pounds had piled on.  She was now more mobile and ready to ditch her crutches and get down to losing weight.

First Jane needed to get some medical advice on what was possible and she had an appointment with Mr Mark Walker this afternoon, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon.  She had broken her leg whilst skiing in Gstaad with Pete, her boyfriend.  She hadn’t wanted to go skiing, being more a sunshine and beach girl, but Pete was not the kind of man to deny his pleasures.

Disappointed with her reflection in the mirror, Jane tried on several clothes, now piled up on the bed in an untidy heap.  It had been several months since she needed to leave the house, preferring to hobble about the house on crutches and unable to face the flight of stairs from her first floor flat.  She lived alone, despite dropping hints to Pete about moving in together.  Goodness, she could have done with a more sympathetic partner, but he was more interested in being seen out and about with able bodied people.

All her clothes were tight, frumpy or old fashioned.  She finally decided on a woollen grey dress which stretched over her lumps and bumps and with a supportive piece of underwear, she turned sideways on and at least her stomach looked flat.  She couldn’t wear heels of course, but chose some gunmetal ballet pumps with matching tights.  She accessorised with a long gold necklace and a red scarf.  All in all, she started to look like the old Jane.  Somewhere deep inside, she felt some excitement that the worst was over.

Pete was too busy to take her to the appointment, so she bumped down the stairs on her behind and opened the front door to the awaiting taxi.

At the hospital, Mr.Walker came out of his consulting rooms to apologise that he was running an hour late.

When he finally called Jane, she hobbled into the room, feeling somewhat awkward, but hopeful.

“I’m sorry you have been waiting so long Jane, and thank you for your patience,” he said.

“That’s OK Mr. Walker,” Jane mumbled, wishing she was somewhere else.

“Please call me Mark,” he told her.

“I need to take a few notes he told her,” pen poised over a blank sheet of paper.

He asked her how the accident happened and how long she had been recovering, then he asked a few general medical questions such as “Have you ever smoked?”

She replied, “No”.

Then he asked about her drinking habits.  She felt a bit guilty but decided it was in her best interests to tell him the truth.

“I drink more than I should, to be honest,” was her reply.

“How many units?”

“I don’t know about that, but half a bottle of wine a night and then two vodka and tonics. Sometimes, after dinner, I also have a liqueur.”

“So you use alcohol as your anaesthetic?” he asked her.

She just nodded, feeling somewhat embarrassed.  If only he knew all the things she had to put up with, he would understand why she had to numb herself with alcohol.

For starters, she had discovered condoms in Pete’s luggage when he went away on a business trip.  She hadn’t confronted him as she felt so lost and lonely.  Who else would look at her on crutches?

Mark’s deep voice broke into her thoughts, “I shall arrange some water therapy sessions for you twice a week and then I’d like to see you next month to assess your progress.”

She left the hospital in a haze, called the taxi and sat on a bench with her thoughts.  She was thinking how good it would feel to be able bodied again.

When she reached home, she made a cup of tea and sat in her favourite armchair, looking out of the window, her mind in a turmoil.  She was glad Pete had a business dinner in the evening as she felt the need to be alone with her thoughts.

A few days later she attended her first water therapy session.  Getting changed in a changing room with a slippery wet floor was a challenge but she kept one crutch at her side at all times and had a swift shower.  The physiotherapist told her to get into the water, using the steps with a handrail.  She joined 5 other people, walking the length of the pool, followed by various exercises to strengthen the muscles.
Despite messing about with other women himself, Pete was very jealous.  That evening he questioned Jane about the physiotherapist.  He wanted to know if it was a male physiotherapist.  When she admitted he was, the third degree began about whether he touched her, massaged her leg or looked at her cleavage.  In fact, he hinted it would be better if she didn’t go to any more sessions.
Not wishing to set off his bad temper she reluctantly agreed to give up the physiotherapy.

A month later, she kept her appointment with Mark.

Whilst she was lying on the examination bed, he asked her why she hadn’t attended all the water therapy sessions to strengthen her muscles and she hesitated to reply.

“You can tell me anything,” he ventured.  “Your secrets are safe with me.”

She suddenly burst into tears and he asked her to get off the examination table and sit in a chair. 

Whilst climbing down, she slipped as she jumped onto her good leg.  Mark caught her and she was aware of his strong arms around her and the closeness of his full lips as he supported her.  It all happened in seconds, but the moment seemed to last forever and she started to blush.

When she composed herself, he asked her to restart the water therapy and come and see him the following month.  He asked for her email address so he could chase up her progress and ensure she attended the treatment.

Pete had invited her to a business dinner on Friday evening.  She felt happy that at last he seemed to be including her in his life.  He even offered to come around an hour earlier to help her get ready,

which she appreciated.  Pete worked as a salesman for a large marketing company in the City.  All the salespeople were expected to attend the dinner in a nightclub and partners were expected.

She had set out a long red dress on the bed which clung to her shapely curves.  Next to it was a little black cocktail dress with matching shawl.  When she slipped on the red one, Pete was so taken with how beautiful she looked, he flung her down on the bed and kissed her until her lips were as red as the dress.  He jumped up suddenly, mumbling about being late for the dinner.

Jane felt flustered and confused.  Needing to feel relaxed and more than anything, comfortable, she changed into the LBD and sat on a chair to carefully apply some make up, finishing off with a light slick of pink lipgloss.  She hobbled to the full length mirror and was happy with her reflection.

Jane hadn’t failed to notice how handsome Pete looked in a grey mohair suit with a lighter grey shirt.  He didn’t bother with a tie, just leaving a glimpse of chest hair showing at the collar.

They arrived at Buddha-Bar-London before the others and went to the bar to order a cocktail.  Jane chose a Hotch Kiss 22 in the hope it would settle her nerves, even though some of the ingredients were not familiar.  Pete ordered the Manhattan and moaned about the prices, spoiling the mood.  It wasn’t long before the Head of Marketing arrived with his Plus One (always a new simpering young woman….at least then years younger than him).  They seemed to have already had a few drinks but insisted on having a cocktail too.  Soon Pete’s friend Andy arrived with his wife Miranda.  Jane liked Miranda who gave up studying law when she became pregnant with Natasha.  Now Natasha was at nursery school, Miranda had returned to her law studies.

Jane and Miranda ordered a glass of Viognier and sat chatting, waiting for the others to turn up so they could go to dinner.  As it happened the evening passed in a very pleasant way and as there were quite a few of them, everyone agreed to experience the sharing menu which was excellent.

About 1 p.m. as everyone decided to stay behind and listen to the chilled out music Pete whispered to Jane that his boss was insisting they go on to a “proper” nightclub.  He said, “I explained to him that you have a broken leg, but he is persisting, so I have called you a cab.”  Great, she thought.  Jane loved dancing and to be shoved off home, not even allowed to watch from the sidelines didn’t put her in the best of moods.

When she got home, she went to the bathroom and sat on a stool to take off her make-up and change into a nightie.  She had enjoyed the evening so much and was feeling on a high.  It had been her first night out for ages and she almost felt able-bodied again until Pete had decided to have a little dance at the restaurant with Hetty, a new recruit from sales.  She was of Russian descent and certainly couldn’t be called shy.  She certainly had all the dance moves and kept whispering in Pete’s ear.

After finishing in the bathroom, Jane, wandered over to their fridge and put ice in a glass followed by Tia Maria….and why not…..he hadn’t offered her a liqueur after the meal, always thinking about economising, even though she earned a higher salary than him as a freelance journalist..
catterygirl

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Breaking Bones Over 60

Supposed to have a day out with stepbrother and stepsister, not seen for 50 years as they were here in London just Tuesday. They live in America, one in Georgia and one in Wisconsin. Also best friend was over from Portland, Oregon for just 4 days and my City job reunion for pensioners was scheduled for the same day in a hotel at Tower Hill.  I was looking forward to a busy week.
Went on long walk Monday, round cemetery, along canal. Found a lively exercise class and a ballroom studio. Was a few yards from home when I tripped on a loose paving slab and broke my shoulder. Kind people got out of their cars to make me comfortable with a makeshift pillow, water and called an ambulance. As it was low priority, estimated time for an ambulance was 2 to 4 hours. I was unable to move so these people rang and rang for an ambulance, saying they weren't prepared to carry me to their car in case I'd broken my neck. They called my husband who arrived in 10 minutes and eventually the ambulance arrived after an hour. Lovely paramedics gave me gas and air and stretchered me to A and E. An X-ray showed my shoulder was broken. No plaster cast was possible so was given strong painkillers and a sling.  Prognosis is limited movement in 5 weeks. Could have been worse. I am not allowed to swim but they hope I can go on holiday later in summer.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

A Colourful Salad with Cornichons (dill pickle in the US)






Ingredients

A few baby potatoes, boiled and left to cool before removing the peel.
A few anchovies, left whole
A handful of croutons
One or two boiled eggs, shell removed
Half a cucumber
Baby pickled cucumbers (Cornichons)
Slices of turnip pickled in beetroot vinegar
2 or 3 tomatoes cut into wedges
A quarter of a cucumber
A few Queen green olives (pitted)
A few sprigs of flat leaf parsley
Extra Virgin olive oil

Method

Slice the potatoes into rings or wedges
Cut the eggs in half
Take the skin off the cucumber, if desired, and slice

Layer all the items on a round plate as in the photograph.  If you have a small bowl, place it in the centre with an olive, olive oil and parsley


Friday, 22 April 2016

Home Made Hummous






Ingredients

1 tin of chick peas
Half a lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
A few sprigs of fresh flat leaf parsley, picked off the stalk and washed
A good glug of olive oil

Method

Put the chick peas in a blender (reserving a few for decoration).  Add the seasoning, parsley, olive oil and the juice of the lemon, then blitz.

Place in a bowl and decorate with the remaining chickpeas and a parsley leaf.  If preferred, a drizzle of olive oil and a dash of paprika will enhance the flavour and the look of the dish.

 Serve with flat bread.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Things to do in and around Benidorm, Spain



Benidorm used to have a bad reputation as a town/city attracting drunken yobs.  Either you love it or hate it.  There is plenty to see and do during a fortnight’s holiday.  It has two long beaches, The Playa Levante (wake up beach?) and the Playa Poniente (sunset beach?) often claiming the prestigious Blue Flag for cleanliness.  Tractors clean the beach every evening and the promenades are washed down.  Cars can still drive in certain areas along the promenade next to the beach.



Just behind Benidorm lies Finestrat, a mountain village close to a shopping mall and Carrefour hypermarket.  Many new 5 star hotels are springing up in Finestrat which is a short distance from the theme park called Terra Mitica.  Terra Mitica grows each year with new rides and attractions.  The entrance is impressive starting with the Egyptian area where there are shops selling Egyptian souvenirs revolving around ancient Egyptians and  there is an Egyptian restaurant.  From this area, you can take a ship to the next area.  Once inside you'll see that this Spanish version of Disneyland has been given a Mediterranean theme with each sector of the park dedicated to a different civilization including the Egyptians, Romans, Greeks and Iberians.

A fairly recent addition is Terra Natura (a wildlife park where wild animals roam).  There is also a Water Park with a wave pool, beach, islands, spa, restaurants and generally, lots to do in the sun.

Also on the outskirts of Benidorm is Mundomar where you can swim with dolphins or sealions.  They also have parrot shows and offer the chance to be a park keeper for the day.

Aqualandia is another water park where you can try the Big Bang, Vertigo, Kamikaze water rides or if that is too much, then you could always laze around under a cool manmade waterfall.   The food on offer is anything from paella, burgers, to a barbeque.  There is the ubiquitous souvenir shop.

The lovely old village of Finestrat, 40 km. north of Alicante,  and a short drive from Benidorm, is a little unusual because it is an inland mountain village with its own touristy beach called Cala Finestrat. The picturesque village, which hugs the mountain side of Puig Campana, has beautiful views from the mountains down to the sea; the architecture has a distinct Moorish influence and many of the houses are colourfully painted.

A little further south of Benidorm lies Villajoyosa (meaning joyful town), a typical Spanish village, with a sandy beach and fishing port.  Villajoyosa celebrates the "Fiesta de Moros y Cristianos" from the 24th to the 31st of July every year and the central act is orientated around the Moros unship.
It is sheltered by the Sierra Aitana mountain meaning it has relatively mild winters.   There is a daily fish market, a street market on Thursdays, as well as a Sunday flea market.  The houses are painted in bright colours.











Baked Egg Custard


Ingredients    

Use a coffee mug to measure

3/4 of a mug of sugar for the caramel
3/4 of a mug of sugar for the custard
1 dessertspoonful of vanilla essence
8 eggs, beaten
5 mugs of full cream milk

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees centigrade.  Gas mark 5.

Melt the first mug of sugar in a pan until caramelised into a golden coloured liquid.  Pour the caramel into a large pyrex bowl.

Beat the eggs with the second mug of sugar.  Add the vanilla essence and the milk, then whisk until thoroughly blended.

Pour the custard onto the caramel.  Place the pyrex bowl inside a much larger ovenproof pan and add hot water to the pan up to 3/4 of the side of the custard.  Cook for 1 hour.  Carefully remove it from the pan, be careful as everything will be very hot.  Leave it to rest until it cools and then place in the fridge for 4 hours to set.



To serve, place a deep dish over the pyrex bowl and invert if you are feeling brave.  Otherwise it can just be served from the pyrex bowl as it is.

Enjoy!!