Monday, 26 January 2015

Acting with Nigel Barber who will be in Mission Impossible 5 with Tom Cruise - Part Two

Sunday, I woke at 5 and jumped in the shower at 6.  I went through the same make up, hair up, hat on etc.  Then the director told me where to get some breakfast.  Meanwhile Nigel Barber came in and introduced himself and shook my hand and asked if I had been in the business as long as he had and I quivered and said, "Er, I'm just an extra, first time yesterday".  He said he liked my look, he said it was perfect for the 30's.  There were no mirrors so I have no idea what I looked like.  He was so imposing, his accent, posture, beautiful clothes including an amazing mac, just couldn't place him... googled him when I got home he was in The Bodyguard which I saw at the theatre with friends in the West End of London. He was also in Magnum PI, TJ Hooker, Baywatch, Knightrider and more recently on Hallmark TV in The Sweeter Side of Life.  Well, we were sharing a makeshift dressing room so I went to have a coffee to give him some privacy to change, and prayed I didn't have a speaking part....came back up when he had changed into his 30's suit and was chatting to the director who is a very young guy but with a certain charisma....sure he will be famous one then I was called on set to come downstairs and walk to reception almost bumping into Nigel Barber carrying a goldfish in a bowl, so the timing had to be spot on....then the receptionist introduced himself to me and asked what I had been in before!!! He was Joe Grossi from The Da Vinci Code.....I mumbled something about working in the offices of television and yesterday being my first day on set, never mind with a speaking part.  We did about 8 rehearsals and then went for was a take in 2.  Then I had to walk across set again for a fresh scene, with me in the background....meanwhile there was a stills photographer taking lots of pictures.  I had my own camera up in the dressing room but felt embarrassed to ask these actors for a picture.  I attended the premiere at The London Film school with my husband a few weeks later.  It was hectic and very strange seeing myself up on the big screen, especially in the speaking part.  The short film is now doing the rounds of the film festivals and has been listed on IMDB. 

Since then, I have worked as an extra in a banking corporate film which was paid and such fun too.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Acting with Nigel Barber who will be in Mission Impossible 5 with Tom Cruise - Part One

Since returning from Spain and closing the boarding cattery, I have been trying out different ways to earn a living, including pet sitting.

On a totally different level, I always fancied being a film extra and last January I  managed to find work as a film extra (unpaid) which turned into a speaking part.  The audition was low key and I met the Director, Producer and Casting Director.  It was a short film at The London Film School in Covent Garden, a bit Downton Abbey meets Fawlty Towers set in the 1930’s.   

I so enjoyed the whole experience and I just cannot get over what happened.  It all seemed so unreal and still does.  I arrived at the London Film School early one Saturday morning in mid-winter.  Some of the actors I worked with are quite famous....I kind of recognised their faces but couldn't quite place them.   A nice girl did my make up and put my hair up and helped me into my costume and hat, then the director came in all friendly, "Hello, have you ever had a bad night's sleep?"  "Well, I want you to come on set shortly and start complaining about the bed and your back to the bell boy in the lift (it is set in a hotel) I walked onto the set and was shown to the back of the lift....the bellboy was at the front and I recognised him as the actor Joseph Macnab (Anna Karenina and The Borgias as well as the Suzuki advert)....after saying hello in a friendly way, he turned his back on me and I was instructed to talk to him and I complained he wasn't looking at me and the director, said that was the point.....I am a moaning guest and he is looking forward to the camera rolling his eyes with they let me do 2 rehearsals waffling on about what a bad night I had, the uncomfortable mattress, my poor back, my day's sightseeing ruined and now I needed to spend the whole day seeing a doctor or even a chiropractor (causing the crew to laugh at that point)....I complained about the drafty window and the sirens outside keeping me awake all night etc....just ad-libbing my way through it thinking back to a noisy night in Boston....then we had a practise at filming and by then my throat was dry as a bone from nerves as all eyes were on me and the director came and stood next to me and asked me to look at the light on the wall, not at the bellboy or into the camera....they were very kind to me.  Then it was "Lighting rolling, cameras rolling, actors ready," and "Action" ....I had to do it all again, remembering it best I could without a script and then I heard the words "It's a wrap" and Joseph turned to me and said "Well done, you did really well."  I told him my throat had constricted with fear!!!  Then we went to see the rushes are they called??? and I saw myself at the back of the lift moaning.  So that was that....I went downstairs to leave and met Angela Chirtofilou an actress and the producer then asked me to return on Sunday at 8 a.m. for make up, hair etc. and on set at 9.

Part Two coming shortly.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Chicken and vegetable soup - Great news if you have a cold

1 packet of Telma chicken noodle soup
1 large carrot, cleaned and diced
1 stick of celery, cleaned and diced
3 baby potatoes, cooked, peeled and diced
A few chunks of breast taken from a boiled chicken
Lemon to serve

Pour 1 litre of water in a large saucepan.  Bring to the boil and add the chicken noodle soup.  Stir gently with a whisk and simmer until the noodles start to cook.  Add the carrot, celery, chicken chunks and potatoes and continue to simmer for about 15 minutes to allow the celery and carrot to cook.

Serve with whatever bread you have to hand and with wedges of lemon.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Cats in films and books

Lots of cats appear in Aesop's Fables.
Lady MacBeth in MacBeth mentions The Cat in the Adage.
Si and Am are the two Siamese cats in Disney's Lady and the Tramp.
Raton was in La Fontaine's The Monkey and the Cat.
Jake was the cat in Outer Space.
Catwoman filmed an Egyptian Mau named Midnight.
Monty was the tabby cat in the Stuart Little films.
Sergeant Tibbs was a cat in One Hundred and One Dalmations.
The 1985 film Cat's Eye had a cat hero called General.
Thomasina in The Three Lives of Thomasina.
Escape to Witch Mountain had a black cat called Winky.
Lucifer was Cinderella's stepmother's cat in the film Cinderella.
Antonio Banderas was the voice of Puss in Boots in Shrek 2 and Shrek the Third.
Rufus was the cat in the film The Rescuers.
Midnight in Cat Woman was an Egyptian Mau.
Sassie (a Himalayan) was in Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

My version of Carluccio's Layered Panettone

Over the festive season, I didn't want to make many puddings as my husband is on a fat free diet awaiting the removal of his gallbladder.  So I bought a Christmas pudding which he was able to eat but without custard or cream.

I saw Carluccio making this pudding on television and was very tempted to try it.


Serves 6
  • 1kg ricotta
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 70g candied fruit, finely chopped
  • 40g flaked almonds
  • 50g plain chocolate shavings/chips
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder, plus extra for dusting
  • 600g panettone, cut into
  • 2 round discs and the rest lengthways into slices lengthways 2.5cm thick
  • 175ml Vin Santo


Mix together half of the ricotta with half of the sugar in a medium-sized bowl until creamy. Then fold in half of the candied fruit, half of the almonds and half of the chocolate chips until well combined, and set aside. In another medium-sized bowl, mix the remaining ricotta and sugar with the cocoa powder until creamy. Stir in the remaining candied fruit, flaked almonds and chocolate chips and set aside. Line a 15cm diameter pudding basin or a deep bowl with clingfilm, leaving quite a bit of excess around the edges.
Line with the slices of panettone and, using a pastry brush, brush about three-quarters of the Vin Santo over the cake slices. Fill with the chocolate ricotta mixture, which should fill half the basin. Take one of the round panettone discs, place over the top and press, then drizzle over some of the Vin Santo. Fill with the white ricotta mixture and cover with the other panettone disc, then drizzle with the remaining Vin Santo. Bring up the overhang of clingfilm and place a weight on top (a plate with a bag of sugar on it, for example), and place in the fridge for at least 6 hours.
Remove from the fridge, take off the weight and the clingfilm over the top. Turn upside-down on a plate. Carefully remove the pudding basin and peel off the clingfilm. Dust with sifted cocoa powder and serve.
30/10/11 Desserts, Two Greedy Italians Recipes

I don't like almonds so changed those for chopped hazelnuts.  I think some glace cherries would be a nice addition and maybe some raisins. 

Friday, 24 October 2014

Lamb fillet in a soy sauce and honey glaze

Our whole family love lamb, so I decided to perk it up a little with a rich and sticky sauce.  A change from roasting it or making a curry!

Serves 4 to 6

8 pieces of fillet neck lamb
Bunch of spring onions, washed and finely chopped
Half a cucumber, washed and cut into large chunks
Olive oil
Baby tomatoes
Oregano....1 tablespoon
Kikkoman soy sauce......2 tablespoons  ( )
A splash of  good quality balsamic vinegar
A dessert spoon of  good quality honey
Salt and pepper to taste

To serve:  mashed potato with half of the spring onions, German mustard, cream and butter.......any dark green vegetable such as purple sprouting broccoli, asparagus, green beans.

In a large frying pan, heat some olive oil, just enough to seal the lamb.  Add the lamb and cook for about 2 minutes until the meat is sealed.  Remove with a slotted spoon on to a plate and set aside.  

Put half the spring onions in the oil and cook until translucent.  Add the cucumber, baby tomatoes, oregano, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, honey, salt and pepper to taste.  Continue to cook for about 2 minutes to amalgamate the ingredients.

Transfer the meat to an oven proof dish with lid and pour over the ingredients from the frying pan.  Lay half the green vegetables in the tray.  Cook in an oven preheated to 180C for 20 minutes (rare) or 25 minutes (medium).

Serve with the creamy mashed potatoes and the other half of the green vegetables, gently steamed with a little salt.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Filenes in Boston, Selfridges in London, Keddies in Southend

If I was a television scriptwriter, I would follows in the footsteps of Andrew Wynford Davies involved with the popular "Mr. Selfridge," first televised in 2013.

Department stores have always been popular and often considered "a bit of a treat" for people who lunch or enjoy afternoon tea.

Names to remember in the UK are many.  Most of them started as drapers and expanded.  H. Binns Son and Co. Ltd. was incoporated in 1897 and went on to produce stores in Sunderland, Darlington, West Hartlepool, Middlesborough, Newcastle upon Tyne, South Shields, Grimsby, Carlisle and Hull in England.  In Scotland, stores appeared in Dumfries and Edinburgh.  House of Fraser took over Binns in 1953.

There was Featherstones of Rochester, Keddies in Southend which opened in 1892 and went into liquidation in 1996.  Most large towns had the department centre at the core of its shopping areas.

Do you remember Marshall and Snelgrove?  It is now part of the Debenhams Group.

John Lewis is 150 years old this year.  John Lewis himself a draper, found a job in Oxford Circus with another draper, Peter Robinson.  In 1864 John set up his own shop in Oxford Street selling ribbons and bows.  Around 1905 John purchased Peter Jones in Sloane Square, Chelsea.

Charles Harrod, aged 25, set up his business in Southwark back in 1824.  He too listed the business as a draper and haberdasher.  Customers using the escalator in 1898 at Brompton Road were offered a brandy at the top, to help with their "ordeal."

France boasts Galeries LaFayette and Printemps.
Spain has Corte Ingles

Think of New York and Macy's, Bloomingdale's and Barneys come to mind.