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)


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


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


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


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


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


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.


Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Arabic Minced Lamb Omelette

I think it is called "Mekloma".  My husband taught me how to make this and his father taught him.


400g of minced lamb
7-8 beaten eggs (medium) or 6 (large)
salt and ground black pepper
A little oil
Lemon to serve


Fry the minced lamb in the oil over a low heat for a few minutes, then add salt and lots of black pepper.  Cover the meat with water and cook for 20 minutes, adding more water if it evaporates.  When the meat is cooked and all the water has evaporated, cover the meat with the beaten eggs, stirring a little with a wooden spoon, so that the eggs sink in and start to cook.  When the eggs are cooked it can be divided into wedges and served with salad or potato wedges.  It is also nice when served cold.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

The A-Z of Cats - Pedigrees of the World - The Oriental Shorthair

The A-Z of Cats
Pedigrees of the World - The Oriental Shorthair

The Oriental is a man-made breed and comes in both a Shorthair and a Longhair variety. They were originally bred in the early 1950's in Great Britain.  The Oriental Shorthair has a short, fine textured coat, glossy or satin-like, that lies close to the body.  Despite their svelte, tubular body they have surprising weight and muscle tone and are not a fragile breed.

The Oriental Shorthair, also called an "Ornamental" or "Foreign Type" cat, was originally bred to produce the body and personality of the Siamese in a wider variety of colours and patterns. There are over 300 possible colour and pattern combinations but they are usually green-eyed.   It not only resembles, but also behaves similarly to its Siamese cousin.

Energetic and inquisitive, they require regular attention and are among the most vocal of cat breeds. A cat’s individual voice is caused by the way in which it produces its vowel sounds and some cats, mainly the Oriental varieties, often develop very distinctive voices easily recognized by their owners.  Oriental Shorthairs form deep and long-lasting bonds with their owners; their intense loyalty is sometimes likened to that of the family dog, particularly because they become so attached to people.  Oriental Shorthairs have been likened to a  Chihuahua or even a Greyhound in appearance.  


In the busiest moments, your Oriental will find a way to interrupt your activities; a little nudge while you eat, a close examination of whatever tools you may be using or some help tying your shoes before you leave in the morning.  They like to poke their nose in when you are choosing food from the refrigerator!  At quiet times they love to cuddle up on your lap, purring.

When you get home from work or shopping, they will chat away trying to tell you all about their day.  Don’t think of hiding their favourite toy on top of the wardrobe as they are intelligent and curious enough to get up there and find it. They have been known to open a drawer, or empty your purse to discover their favourite toy.  It might be a pen or a crumpled up piece of paper that they can chase around the kitchen floor. Give them the attention and affection they so desperately need, and they will do anything to please you. Ignore them, and they will show how unhappy they are. These elegant cats remain playful, spirited and loyal well into their old age.

Cats of Oriental descent loathe being left alone for any length of time.  If this is the type that appeals strongly to you, why not consider having two?  The cats, brought up together, will become inseparable friends, keeping each other company whenever they have to be left at home or in a boarding cattery.

When the Oriental Shorthair was accepted for championship status in 1977, it rapidly became one of The Cat Fanciers’ Association’s (based in Ohio) most popular breeds. In 1995 the Oriental Longhair was added into this family of sleek, muscular felines making it a cat for just about anyone.  With over 300 different colours and patterns to choose from, you’re guaranteed to find an Oriental that will suit your taste.

In 1995 Orientals added the bi-colour pattern to their repertoire. They have a clear white underside, legs, chest and inverted V on the face and are very popular.

Finally, they cost around £500 in the UK and life expectancy is 15 years.  They don’t have any major inherited health problems.