Saturday, 12 October 2013

cheer up they said, it could always be worse. and sure enough - i cheered up, and it got worse

hello my friends - this evening you find me giddy with tiredness - but stubbornly unwilling to go to bed. I had a move today which required me to open the site at 7am. on saturday. i know. i caught the 528 train (!!!!!!!) and i caught the 5:25 (PM) train from london back to faversham. long day. now it's 10pm, and i have fake energy (hello wine!) and real pain relief (oh my feet - the rest of me can still do these moves - but my feet - good lord - why do some bits just seem to wear out faster than other bits? and me, a sensible shoe girl. but after 6 or so hours on my feet - oh. ow. ow.)

i was moving a team out of a building that borders st pancras church - there's a small park, and many old trees and interesting graves and memorial markers. it's very charming. all the more so, because of the picture i saw in the kitchen, which shows the beatles posing in the same park, with arrows pointing to the place where it was taken. all day, when i walked down that bit, i thought - the beatles walked here. **frisson**

although i bet they weren't worrying about whether the two crews they had on site were going to actually come to blows, or wondering what they were going to do because the tall cabinets the client ordered will most definitely NOT go up the narrow, twisting, victorian staircase. maybe they had bigger things on their mind. or perhaps all of our worries are relative.

when i arrived, it was still dark, and a few hours later, i looked out the window and was amazed to see sunlight- more specifically lighting up just one tree - 

the excalibur of trees.

one of the park wardens once told me that they found a hoard of boadicea's armour in the churchyard - maybe we should be digging under that tree...

ps thanks dad for the title and mom for reminding me. it's made me laugh all week 

Thursday, 12 September 2013

the old days

the old boys and dog were sitting on the bench on the side of the rec ground when we walked humph this afternoon. we see them often - n stops to talk to them sometimes. the one on the left tells us stories of what faversham used to be like when he was a boy. the war was the most exiting thing that ever happened to him, he says, and you can see how that would probably be true for young boy. he tells us how they used to light lanterns and put them out in the marshes at night. faversham was under blackout, and hopefully any german bombers coming back from london with un-dropped bombs would drop them on the marsh and not on the town. when they heard the planes, he and his mates would rush out to watch the dog fights. the war is still very recent history here. he gestures across the rec ground and describes how it was once surrounded by wrought iron railings. he doesn't quite say that it was better in the old days.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

home alone

n has a gig tonight and i am enjoying a delightful glorious evening on my own. almost on my own. ok it's  humph and i - and frankly it would just be weird if he wasn't here. he really is a gem - i had to work this morning (it's never good when you are setting your alarm with the first digit of 4, is it?) and when i got home i was tired and a bit fed up and humph gave me some seriously lovely cuddles and - slightly less welcome - what can only be described as forensic kisses. the world was suddenly a better, if somewhat soggier place.

now humph sleeps and i am luxuriating in space and time and a guilt-free viewing of the great british bake off. i miss being alone - even though i seldom do anything with it but read, or watch bad telly. it was one of my favourite parts about studying (i mean after student bars developing my mind obviously). if all goes well n will be gigging a lot more and i will doubtless begin complaining about all these evenings but i think that will take awhile. until then you will find me happily slurping wine, eating my dinner with my fingers, and reading till way past my bedtime.

ps: i'm so used to having someone here that i just walked into the kitchen and asked, "do you want to eat?"
then i answered yes.
and then realised it was just me....

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

in which one proves one is not a graphic artist

after my pensions/long-term strategy melt-down of last week i have decided to concentrate on other things during these last dog days of summer. as a result i have been much happier. logical i know, but still nice. one thing has been designing flyers for our knitting night. our numbers are dwindling and we want to brainwash more people into the cult of knitting include more local knitters and crafters. here's some of my attempts:

so far popular opinion has gone for the first one, but i'm partial to superman.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013



(gulp gin)

(what - the gin i'm supposed to be saving for the weekend and anyways definitely not drinking on a wednesday which is, any way you slice it, part of monday - wednesday? that gin? yes that gin. and now we can add guilt to the angst pile. yay)

i have a severe case of the angst today. not even hangover related (that's probably for tomorrow - see gin, above). and it's not for a good reason even just a bunch of little crappy things and total paralysing fear over THE FUTURE and far far too many hours on various uk and canadian government websites trying to figure out if i will ever be eligible for a pension from any country ever. answer maybe just enough to buy cat food. for dinner. my dinner.

government websites have some sort of joy-sucking vortex going on, and expat sites are no better. there's no way to really get the information you need and lots of "helpful advice" that scares you so much you wonder how any of us ever anywhere are going to survive past 70. i entered details into one calculator that said i needed to save more than i actually earn to avoid the cat food scenario. it is all quite catastrophically depressing.

and i am skint and fat and feeling quite sorry for myself.

this is all aided and abetted by the fact that work is - how can i put this delicately? and in a way that precludes me ever being sued? "a bit slow". oh god is it slow. glaciers are melting faster than decisions are being made (that's probably no longer a useful metaphor - thanks big oil!). there is a ban on new projects but the main project is stalled and we are left to amuse ourselves until the dam breaks and then i will be so busy i will probably lose my mind that way instead of this way. the future's bright.

but at least i have a job (so far).

and the whole pension thing will change a million times by the time i can ever retire anyways. the smart thing to do is to pay off debts (getting there) then save save save. can't do more than that anyways. (this line of reasoning is about as effective as a plaster on an amputation but hey).

and you know, a nice guy on the train tonight pointed out that my travel card had fallen out of my pocket and i retrieved it and that could have been so so much worse as my travel card is pretty much the most expensive thing i own (and my bank card was tucked up in the case so it would have been a two-fer).

and there is, blessedly, still gin.

tomorrow i think i will look up knitting websites instead. and funny pictures of cats.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

the path to the pub

and a check to see if i can post a picture from my phone...

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Saturday, 17 August 2013

new jumper

i finished it!!! 

my first adult-sized jumper. 

and i only had to knit it three times or so. 

ok not quite that much but there is knitting and there is unknitting and they are sides of the same coin. there are still bits i would do differently next time but frankly it would have had to turn into pure handspun gold for me to rip out the collar and do it for the fourth time. i looked at it and realised that my dedication to perfection is actually fairly flimsy. fair-weather dedication. better-be-right-in-three-tries-or-bugger-it-and-call-it-a-design-feature dedication.

but despite this i am very proud of myself. i mean it fits and everything.

ah the effortless elegance of greyhounds (snigger). 

it's a quiet weekend here at the oast. there's wine to rack and beer to bottle, new knitting to start (!!!! - ok, you don't really think i actually finish things before i start new ones do you?!), and book 4 of game of thrones to devour. there's a chicken to roast and a cozy chat with my mom to look forward to. 

and the simple fact that there was life before i knew i could knit an actual jumper, and life after. mwuahh ha ha ha ha ..... (runs off to plot feverishly)

Sunday, 4 August 2013

just what the dr ordered

we've been back just over three weeks and i think we've only lately more or less adjusted. it was such a pull back this time - whether due to the amount of time in canada or that last week of pure bliss on gabriola island, i'm not sure. I will write abut that beautiful week sometime and the lovely surprises therein - but just now i am somewhat relieved to be feeling content back in my own skin in this land we are currently (and for the foreseeable future) still living in. this is a problem with long term planning isn't it? it's all well and good to say: in ten years (or maybe less if the money gods are benevolent) we want to move back to canada, but you still have to live all those years where you are and the heart cannot be pulled in too many directions without rupture and tears.

but we are not there yet, and where we are today is snug and cozy in our wee garden with an afternoon bbq that we started talking about on tuesday or wednesday, refined by thursday, salivated over friday, were struck by last minute inspiration on saturday, and enacted today. cooking and eating are some of my favourite entertainments. add music and sunshine - a good view and a happy dog - wild sockeye from the (old) new country, and some very nice wine - well.

the menu if you're interested:

n's grilled flatbread with hummus
grilled king prawns marinated in garlic and lemon
grilled scallops marinated in coriander, lime, serrano chilli
grilled cherry tomatoes
grilled courgette marinated in lemon, garlic, parsley; grated parmesan
sockeye salmon steaks (thanks kez!) grilled on a cedar plank
potato salad

wine was a dry italian chardonnay and a sharp peppery french rose (further origins unknown - bottle in recycling bin and yr humble correspondent too lazy to go check)

yesterday was spent on the banks of the swale, watching boats and gulls and swifts and the tide slowly ebbing, drinking pints of goachers shipwrecked ale and eating sandwiches made of n's bread, salami,  canterbury cobbler cheese, with a healthy dose of salt air from the sea.

ah summer. although i know in my heart you are fickle and will leave me in the drifting leaves, today i don't care and i am sure our love will last forever.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

to sleep perchance...

we flew back to london from vancouver yesterday - arriving at 7 am. that left a long day ahead in which to not sleep in (sorry grammarians). we managed this with the help of several friends and our local pub. i did cheat and slept for 20 minutes on the couch and when n woke me up i had no idea what time it was, where i was, or even what country i was in.

it worked though, and when i finally crashed out at 9pm i slept like a log - or a dog - or whatever - the sleep of the damned - the sleep of rocks and mythical babies. i woke up at 8 and made myself get up, although i could not bring myself to get out of bed before the coffee was done - uprightedness and caffeine are bed-fellows today. bed fellows - oh bed - i dream of you - upstairs in all your flat and pillowed beauty. how can we allow ourselves to be separated like this? how can such a luscious thing like sleep ever be a bad idea? jetlag you devil - you can twist even the most divine relationship into shriveled, head-achy poison.

clearly i am no longer making sense, so i will leave with a picture of my holiday wool stash.

ahh the pretties. almost as pretty as a fresh, turned down bed...they make wool duvets, you know - doesn't that sound blissful?

Saturday, 22 June 2013


we've arrived! good flight, if long, and a lovely day yesterday full of activities thought of by n's lovely sister designed to keep us awake. it worked too - we didn't go to bed till 930pm vancouver time (at which point we'd been up for 25 hours).

the sky looks cloudy at the moment but it is supposed to clear up and be a bright beautiful west coast day. it's so lovely to be back!

Thursday, 13 June 2013

and every time it rains it rains pennies from heaven

we're getting ready to go back to canada for a visit - we leave in a week - and i am getting so excited! the last few visits have been all about family, and unfortunately ill health and eventual death, and i think i almost forgot that we could fly out and just have fun with our friends and family. and that is exactly what we are going to do.

i am a whirlwind of preparation and planning - which of course fills me with demonic delight - there is nothing i like better. dog and house sitting is all lined up, extra keys are being cut, summer clothes purchased in the vain hope that maybe in vancuver or at least winnipeg it might not be cold and raining (shakes fist at the damp concrete english summer sky).

even more miraculously, the universe seems to be smiling upon us lately. there has been a lot of fun - a beautiful wedding, some great pub nights, a delightful birthday, and even an unexpected tax refund. even when things have been going wrong, they have righted themselves agreeably. i know it won't last but it is lovely when things actually go right without pulling and prodding, isn't it?

it's all good until i think about leaving humph for three weeks then the guilt overtakes me and i have to think about something else :( 

three glorious weeks of holiday!! and now please excuse me - i need to go buy a sunhat.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

of hats

it snowed today. again. not interesting, sticking-on-the-ground snow, just hovering maliciously in the air snow. ambient temperature is around 2 above celsius, but there's a strong wind straight off the north sea that takes your breath away. trees have budded and stopped dead in their tracks.  daffodils , the ones that have actually bloomed, look like they're seriously reconsidering. and snow in the air. happy april. hey saskatoon - come and get your weather back - he's drunk and ranting about prime ministers cavorting with pandas or something.

so i did the only rational thing and knit a hat. you know, to practice my colour work (ha ha ha).

it's a great pattern - looks all harlequin from the side:

and from the top makes a star:

 and looks so cute from the front ;)

take that, winter. now unhand spring. NOW.

Friday, 29 March 2013

my job for the day is to stay out of the way

it's good friday
(n: what's good about it?
k: they killed jesus
n: oh that's good)

i'm working. correction: i am watching other people work. i am clearing out a building so asbestos testing can start next week. there's a crew of about 20 guys breaking down furniture and ferrying it out to the lorry like large loud ants. i'm tucked up in a corner trying not to get in the way.

and trying to stay awake - i met up with guys from work after i finished the move last night and didn't get in till after midnight. 5 hours of sleep are not enough. i know all you people with kids are now snorting and thinking that i have no idea what tired really is, but you know, it's all relative. just like how at the pub you say - hey - who cares if i'm tired and hungover tomorrow - i don't have to do much (except get out of bed at 630 in the morning and get on a train - GAH) why not - sure i'll have one (two three four) for the road...

it all looks so different in the morning. certainly more bleary at any rate.

today's staying out of the way will be followed by three days of doing bugger-all. unless you count knitting, eating, and drinking wine, and i don't, really.

happy easter

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

19 march plate

it's the consistency that's so impressive, isn't it?!

ok - this whole plating thing is really wearing off now. who's idea was this? i don't know how many more we can be bothered with (i can't even remember what we ate last night let alone think about pictures. oh. n tells me filo pie with spinach and feta. you'll have to use your imagination).

but tonight, i did have another go at making food pretty. see my lime garnish? i looked it up on youtube. it's surprisingly difficult to slice lime that thin. took a whole lime in the attempt. lime carnage. but hey, it's not parsley!
soft corn taco with chicken, rocket, avocado, and jalapeno sauce (and LIME)
one thing i have really noticed is how much what we eat differs from restaurant food.  i always just think about the taste, where i think we hold our own. but you may have noticed a distinct lack of jus or garnish, or anything that would require tweezers in application. 

we're losing momentum. i think the end is near.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

10 -11-12 march plates

how exactly is it thursday already?? 
beef stew with champ (potatoes and green onions) and bread
roast duck, beet, feta and watercress salad
ham hock soup with sourdough bread

stew - plating - ugh
salad - much better. note - no parsley
soup - what, really, can you do? 

this is actually quite hard. i'm not sure i'm learning much beyond how little i can be arsed with this sort of thing.

and are you amazed that i can whinge abut even this? i'm amazed.

Monday, 11 March 2013

10 march plate

roast guinea fowl, potatoes and parsnips 
ok i know this is a little pathetic but bear with us, it's been a hell of a week, and we did have a go. we probably should have plated individually, and it would have been better if we hadn't burned the cabbage, and our reliance on parsley as super-garnish that will mysteriously make everything look fabulous is obviously not really working, but it tasted mighty fine.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

plating fail

last week got a little out of hand. it turns out that having a challenging job where you commute everyday and going out every single night do not mix well once you are over 35.

so thursday we drank too much wine and roasted a duck.
roast duck with roasted potatoes and broccoli
i know. i'm sorry.

friday was not much better - spinach and ricotta ravioli with tomato sauce - which should have been fun to plate properly, but not when you're that knackered.

saturday - pork chops, cabbage and mash potatoes, er - also not plated.

we'll do better. back on the wagon today. not going out much this week.

will try harder...

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

6 march plate

the eagle-eyed among you may notice the distinct lack of 5 march plating photos. we had soft corn flour tacos with leftover cowboy beans, habanero sauce, feta, avocado , coriander and lime. it was lovely. it was also inhaled at a rate of knots mostly over the kitchen counter as the tacos came off the grill. tastes better that way. thought about pictures about 24 hours later. still haven't thought about plating.

we have in no way made up for this failure tonight. n met me up in london and we hit the london drinker beer festival (coincidentally right beside my office - it's fate, surely!). supper was on the train home:

salmon wrap, chorizo chicken club salad, ready salted crisps, sour cream and chive dip,  swiss milk chocolate, claret.
the classiness - it positively oozes.

and from the beer festival - listed brewery first, beer second (combined - not each!)

    • beavertown (!!!) - smog rocket smoked porter (have i mentioned how much i love england? have i?)
    • dark star - hophead (still my favourite)
    • fuzzy duck - ruby duck
    • hackney - golden ale
    • hadrian border - farne island pale ale
    • london fields - hackney hopster
    • moorhouse's - black cat
    • oakham - jester's ferret
    • redemption - hopspur

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

4 march plate

we struggled yesterday. lamb hotpot is just one of those dishes whose beauty is in the aroma and taste, and not necessarily the look I'd still favour a steaming casserole of good stodgy lamb hotpot over fancy food most days though. we did try, but parsley can only do so much.

lesson? maybe some individual oven pie bowls would not go amiss...
lamb hotpot

Monday, 4 March 2013

3 march plate

"cowboy beans" with feta, avacado, corriander and lime
the shocking state of my photography has annoyed n who i think will now be taking the pictures until he gets bored. you will be able to tell...

Sunday, 3 March 2013

2 march plate

we had differing views on this one - and i think in the end neither of us was right.
lessons learned:
1. less is more. we are tending to go on the idea that if garnish is good - a lot of garnish is really good. results do not support this.
2. keep back some of any interesting ingredient - like a slice of those lovely red chilies say.

chicken spinach curry with rice 

chicken spinach curry with rice

Saturday, 2 March 2013

march challenge - plating!

n and i love food - eating food (of course), but also buying food, making food, thinking about food, reading about food, dreaming about food. i have often woken up on a saturday morning, rolled over, kissed n, and asked happily "what should we make for dinner?" (this is probably how relationships actually survive - i'm pretty sure romance is over-rated). one thing we haven't paid enough attention to is how we present food. we are exceedingly admiring of a good looking plate - and always swear that we will try harder next time, but the allure of actually eating takes hold and we skip the presentation completely.

this is all going to change. we've set ourselves a challenge to plate, to the best of our ability, every evening meal we make in the month of march. we came up with this idea over whiskey (obviously) and decided it was a fabulous idea, whereupon i promptly forgot about it entirely. imagine my surprise then yesterday evening when my jacket potatoes came to the table looking like this:
"stuffed" potatoes with cottage cheese, salmon, and green onion
i was delighted. really - much more than a potato with cottage cheese would normally engender.

so people, it is on. i will post the pictures here and you can have a good laugh at how much we have to learn. considering where we are starting from, i have no doubt you will see a dramatic improvement over the course of the month.

feel free to critique and leave tips - we are going to need all the help we can get!

Thursday, 28 February 2013

and february can bite my arse

i think it's safe to say that now - it's only a few hours till march is in and surely revenge takes time?

i saw out february in the best way possible seeing as the sun has not shone on this land for a good fortnight. a friend of mine (a very lovely friend indeed) organised for four of us to have a spa day today - courtesy of her - in celebration of unexpected funds appearing, and the general necessity of this sort of thing at this time of year. in an extremely unfortunate turn of events, one of the snappers belonging to the above came down with scarlet fever - which was a relief because it looked like meningitis and there was a rush to the hospital which gives you a flavour of what last night was like for them. he was to be discharged today, but by then one and possibly two snappers of super lovely friend also caught the victorian malady and it ended up that only two of us enjoyed the much anticipated spa day. it was still a lovely (though guilt-tinged) day and i am now more relaxed than a bag of frogs. on xanax. the frogs, i mean, not me.

so. being this relaxed is crap for pithy updates or observations on life. who cares? gill scott heron is on spotify, and yes, if i was down and out and did not know what to do, i would indeed call on lady jane and john coltrane.

this year has been tougher than expected - the year anniversary of my dad's death has been effecting - in many ways. i didn't really expect that - i thought we were through with most of that. it's good though- it's healthy, and i'm ok and the people i love are ok - and that's a lot - but i'm glad to start to move on now.

"and they'll take your troubles your troubles your troubles your troubles away...."

hello march - we've been expecting you!

i also have this huge unquenchable desire to KNIT ALL THE THINGS!!!!! is it spring fever? at this rate i'm going to have to quit my job for more knitting time...

Thursday, 21 February 2013

preparing for an eventual spring

when we first moved "to the countryside" from london, there was a lot to learn. such as the fact that it is only possible to buy logs in the winter. when one thinks about this, it makes sense: logs = fireplace/woodburner = not necessary in summer. however we use logs outside, in a fire pit, all summer (whenever it stops raining so next to nothing last year). after two summers of disappointment  (once due to ignorance, once to laziness), we now know that if we need logs, get them well before thoughts of late and balmy evenings are taking root.

which explains why we had a delivery of half a truck of logs this morning, on a day so cold the wind literally takes your breath away, to a house with no chimney and therefore no fireplace.

there can be no doubt that we are optimists.

Thursday, 31 January 2013


-da-da- hey hey hey hey
-da-da-hey hey hey hey
don't you - forget about me

simple minds on the radio in the cab of the lorry. the lorry is so big i have to reach above my head to open the door. i'm sitting in the front seat looking out at sheets of rain through a foggy windscreen. london looks different from up here. the lorry belongs to our removal contractor. i have a crew out today picking up desks and cabinets from another site that i will need for the weekend when we're re-designing a floor in our main building. the boys let me ride along because it's quicker, even though we're not really supposed to. the driver is giving a running commentary on how senseless london drivers are. there is an obvious fraternity and courteous respect between the drivers of these huge trucks on narrow roads. there seems to be a code, but if i asked, he'd drive in silence for the rest of the job. two young guys and my foreman are talking shit in the back of the cab. something about football transfers. "it sucks being the only kid not opening presents at christmas" one of them says. they all laugh.

the music is a perfect fit.

laa la-la-la-laa la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la
laa la-la-la-laa la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la

Thursday, 17 January 2013


as witnessed in the post below, the uk really loses its collective head over snowflakes. i've lived here now for 16 1/2 years and this is one thing that i still fundamentally do not understand. it is forecast to snow tomorrow -  in wales, quite a lot of snow (even for canada!), and maybe 5-10 cm for the rest of us. maybe. for faversham, there is an amber cold weather warning, and light snow forecast from friday lunchtime until monday, more or less.

no big deal right? well, ordinarily i'd just be doing my snow dance and keeping all my fingers crossed - i love it when it snows here. but i have an office moved scheduled for saturday, and today i had to weigh up the pros and cons (and likelihood of disruption) and i had to do so by 2pm. here my rational mind and psyche divide.

my rational mind knows perfectly well that 24 hours of snow = major train cancellations, and that southeastern's response to trains being stuck overnight with no power, heating, light, or food has been to issue train conductors with foil blankets and glow sticks . not to mention the chance that my lorries will get all gummed up in the ice/idiot driving that surfaces upon london snowflakes. so i rescheduled the move.

my inner canadian is having a fit.

i tell her - look - you are being rational. this is how it works. you know this. even though every winter on the one day it snows you still trudge to the station and are still surprised (every year) to find no trains running and you come home and feel guilty all day for not trying hard enough - you know this. it will snow and the lorry won't get through and the train will be cancelled and you could be stuck in london or worse (much much worse) on an actual train and you will be forced to go to plan b anyways. so? what's the problem?

but it really really bugs me.

anyways on the upside - SNOW!!!!

commence snow dance in 3 - 2 - 1


ah bbc. it's your subtlety i really love...

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Saturday, 5 January 2013

i'm alive (croak)

this latest distinct lack of posts has been brought to you courtesy of a really crappy and persistent bout of flu. my 11 glorious wine-soaked gluttunous days off transformed into fever sweats and a throat so sore that little tears welled up in my eyes on each swallow. my christmas fairy is obviously a sadistic little bugger.

i'm on the mend now, and on the up-side, i still have leftover christmas wine and champagne. january is looking up.