Monday, May 31, 2004

Fine white burgundy on a Friday night...

...mature claret on Saturday night and a fine dessert wine on Sunday. As I have said elsewhere, marrying an oenophile means I never have to drink bad wine. And sometimes much more than that, I get to drink very fine wine. At home over the Bank holiday weekend we have been spending time indoors relaxing. On Friday night we drank a Criots-Batard-Montratchet 1992 from Olivier Leflaive with our starter of fish terrine. On Saturday we drank Chateau Talbot (Saint Julien) 1986 with our T-bone steak. On Sunday it was Chateau Carsin (Cadillac) with our peaches baked in sweet wine (not the Cadillac).

Because we're worth it!

Friday, May 28, 2004

Kir Royale in memory of a dead cat

When the class of flight allows it I will go for a glass of champagne and raise it with a silent toast of "Absent Friends" in memory of Oliver sadly lost to an road traffic accident last year.

I have just returned from two days in Broomfield, Colorado, US and was not looking forward to a 9 hour, overnight flight trying to sleep, even in World Traveller Plus. Fortunately the very nice lady on the ticket desk not only checked me in without me having to queue but also bumped me to business class. Flat bed and a decent nights sleep. Result!!

Just as I was about to raise my glass I heard the man next to me ask for a Kir Royale. Excellent idea I thought and the stewardess obliged with a splash of cassis. So Oliver's memory was toasted with one of my favourite aperitives :-)

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Oh, dear, what can the matter be

Three old ladies locked in the lavatory
They were there from Monday to Saturday
Nobody knew they were there

Having escaped the loft earlier, this piece of childhood doggerel popped into my head. That verse was all I knew. Oh the wonders of the internet and Google. Turns out this is just the chorus and there are three more verses (one per lady). Lyrics for Three Old Ladies. Mind you this hit was buried amongst other pages that I suspect were not suitable for younger viewers.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Get me outta here!

I trapped myself in the loft yesterday. I can't even remember what I went in for. But I do know that I shut the door behind me to keep Oscar out. Cats can hear doors (and tins) opening from an amazing distance especially if it leads to somewhere usually denied them. Unfortunately I must have shut the door a little too vigorously as the security lock swiveled enough to lock me in. In the words of 'ole foul Ron, "Bugrit!"

After 20 minutes fiddling with bent coat hangers and twisted paperclips I gave up when I heard the phone ring and ring and ring. Kicking through a door is not as easy as the balsa wood replicas on the telly make it look. Still the repair will give me a chance to practice my carpentry skills :-(

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Lavender's blue, dilly dilly

It is such a beautiful morning I just had to take a stroll to the bottom of the garden. Accompanied, as always, by a supervisory cat - Cleo trotting a few paces behind keeping a watchful eye on me. And my favourite plant in the whole garden, French Lavender, is in magnificent full bloom. I just love the little petals like rabbits' ears sticking out the top, always makes me smile.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

"May I be excused? My brain is full"

Looking round the roomful of 500+ consultants on Thursday night reminded me of a phenomenon that, for me, kicked in some years ago. I started seeing people who reminded me of other people. The doppelganger count suddenly went into the red zone. It was like I had seen so many faces that I had seen them all and was starting to see repeats. In truth of course they are all unique, it must be the granularity of my perception that is the limiting factor.

Friday, May 21, 2004

New York, New York, all the scandal and the vice, I love it!

Well I'm with Mississippi John Hurt when he sings "New York's a good town, but it's not for mine" - Avalon Blues.

Last night Mary and I were walking in the wild West End. Wandering round Convent Garden to buy her a new outfit for a Hoskyn's 40 year reunion at the Cafe Royale in Regent Street. The streets were thronging with the "quick drink after work" crowd plus all the tourists, eyes full of the bright city lights. Excellent people watching opportunity. I get a real buzz out of being in the big city. NYC is a great city but give me London, I love it :-)

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

How much for breakfast!?

The Basel Hilton relies on inertia selling to over-charge their customers. The last two mornings I have gone down for breakfast and been presented with a chit to sign for CHF 29.50. Now, I don't know about you, but I think GBP 12.94 (USD 22.76) is a bit steep for a glass of OJ, a cup of coffee and a bowl of muesli. To be fair they immediately reissued one for CHF 18.50 = GBP 8.11 (USD 14.27) but then did the same again this morning. They could at least check with the customer rather than keep trying it on.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Drinking for charity - It's a dirty job but...

Went to the Oddbins wine fair yesterday at the Design Centre in Islington with our friends Bob and Lynn. The GBP 15 entry fee goes to charity as the exhibitors provide the wine and Oddbins the venue. For the first time in ten consecutive years (we think it is ten but the count gets hazy) we went on the Sunday rather than the Saturday. A much more relaxed and uncrowded affair. Did the usual champagne then whites tastings before lunch and a chosen theme after - Mary went for South Africa, I went for dessert wines. The Italian sweetie "Maculan Torcolato" easily the most complex and enjoyable of those on offer.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Jiggered like a muse on life's lawn *

Did you know those little plastic UHT milk portions have a name? According to the box of them I saw at the back of the plane when we last flew to Bari they are called "jiggers". Well you have to call them something, I guess, and to hi-jack the name for a tot of whiskey seems a creative use of words.

* the correct lyric is actually "Jigged like a muse on life's lawn" from "She Was Born to Be My Unicorn" by Marc Bolan off the album "Unicorn"

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Now gimme money (that's what I want)

Swiss ATM's are so literal. You ask for CHF 200 and what does it give you? That's right - one crisp CHF 200 note. Bit of a bummer if your next purchase is a CHF 5.80 tram ticket. In the UK asking for GBP 200 would at least get me ten GBP 20 notes, or may even a couple of tenners thrown in for luck.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

How does your garden grow?

Spent much of the weekend in the garden which was a "Good Thing". Mary planted lots of bedding plants and other growing things to beautify the garden. Including two new, wooden, half-barrel tubs as the old ones had self destructed into excellent staves for the fire. I did things I have been wanting to do for ages like:

  • stake out the Kilmarnock willow that was doing a "Leaning tower of Pisa" act

  • attach a guy rope to one branch of the new plum tree to encourage it to grow in a symmetrical formation

  • install grow-bags and canes for the tomatoes (planting in 2 weeks time)

  • put in bean poles for the the broad beans (three sets of three pyramidal arrangements)

Friday, May 07, 2004

The tree where Marc Bolan died

Now here is a thing. Yesterday was a lovely sunny, brisk spring morning and at 06:55am I was touching the tree where Marc Bolan died (see T.Rex FAQ). Completely unplanned.

Wednesday I visited Mum - out of hospital and hobbling about the house with two walking sticks. Then on to meet with bro and sis in Wandsworth for a meal and debrief on the last 6 weeks.

Mary and I have a small flat round the corner on the Wandsworth one-way system, where I planned to stay the night. Unfortunately when I left Avon Cottage I also left the flat keys so ended up sleeping in Ian's spare bedroom (he lives in Barnes). Then up at 06:15 to get back to SW18 to pick up the car and drive back to A.C.

The 06:47 from Barnes Bridge was cancelled so I decided to walk back to Wandsworth which took me past Barnes station - just 2 minutes walk from the tree. So I *had* to detour and pay my respects. There on the notice board was a laminated note from the Tilldawn and Trex mailing lists.

Funny how the day goes...

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

How do you know they're toadstools?

'Cos there's not mushroom inside! Anyone else remember Lonnie Donegan and "My old man's a dustman"?

Spend a very enjoyable bank holiday weekend in Southwold in Suffolk visiting Peter Jordan and his wife Val. We went for a little foray and found some St George's mushrooms. Supplemented with some sea spinach harvested along the dunes, these went into a tasty flan I baked yesterday.

Monday, May 03, 2004

Freedom road

Mum is out of hospital and back home and very relieved about it she is to. More to report after I visit her on Wednesday.