29 Oct 2012

Hestia's slatternly ways revealed

So, I know that I give Tartarus a hard time for being unromantic, unaffectionate, uncommunicative and all the rest of what I now accept as Being A Scottish Man.

I decided that fair's fair.  Here's what HE'S got to live with.

These are a few pix of the house, prior to tidying up before his arrival last Friday:

This is my side of the bed.  As you can see, you need crampons and a Nepalese guide to find your way through the pile of books, magazines, pads, pencils and pens to locate the actual bed.  This pile of books was in excess of 10 inches tall.  Or, if you work in new money, the height of Kylie Minogue.

This is my dressing table:

You would think, looking at that junk-strewn top that I spend HOURS turning myself into something fit to grace a Hollywood red carpet event.  In actual fact, I spend just enough time on it to turn myself into something fit to grace the outside world without scaring the horses.

This is known as My Office.  As you can see, it is a repository for washing, ironing, miscellaneous painting artefacts and, bafflingly, a small drum kit.

After a few hours work, these places are transformed:

Unfortunately, the hall now looks like this:

Ah well, at least now you have some sympathies for my other half.

But will I ever be able to hold my head up in the Co-op again?

*** just as a postscript - Tartarus was going through the photos on the mac and discovered these.  So he's less pleased with the tidy house than he was when he actually encountered it :-D

26 Oct 2012

Hestia gets smooshy with Nigel

Nigel Slater
I rather like Nigel Slater.  He's sort of the TV cheffy version of Severus Snape: dresses all in black, unruly hair, that haughty and disdainful demeanour.... but deep down, you know he's one of the good guys (what?! What do you mean I've RUINED Harry Potter for you?).

What I like about him is he's quite like me.  Apart from the artisan brown-paper butcher meat and the lemons from his own garden, of course.  And the re-modelled kitchen.  But he COOKS quite like the rest of us: a bit of this, a handful of that.

I watched the latest episode of his show - all about using the stuff that's left over in the fridge to best effect:  Making the Most of It.  He had a couple of punnets of blackberries and a lovely bit of hand-tied pork something or other needing to be eaten.

I too had a bit of pork something or other.  It looked quite similar. I resolved to Do The Recipe.

Blackberries? I wasn't wasting money BUYING blackberries.  No siree.  I was going OUT in my spanky new Barbour jacket (it has no hood, wtf is THAT all about, Mr Barbour?) to pick blackberries.

The weather was kind, but finding ripe and juicy blackberries was a tricky matter.  The fact is, it's been a dreadful summer.  This year's crop have ripened late.  And in such poor weather that there's not a lot of loveliness in them.

The harvest was not without incident - the bloody insects that seem to live in the plants panicked at my picking efforts and wafted themselves into my face and bit me loads of times around the eyes.  Scotland.  It's such a wonderful place for wildlife.

I also managed to get a rip in my new jacket - a small thorn rip in the cuff.  It's less than 2 months old.  Still, at least I didn't fall in any drainage ditches.  This year.  It wasn't a lot, but I managed to get sufficient for our means.

I came home and ordered the slave small boy to get smooshing with his hands, just like Nigel did in the telly programme.  The pork was duly exhumed from the fridge and liberally rubbed with the bloody and battered fruit.  I'm sounding like an episode of CSI.

Actually, it's LOOKING like an episode of CSI.

The casserole dish was popped back in the fridge and marinated for 24 hours.

The following evening I produced the joint with a flourish and Sonshine pronounced it a bit 'rubbish looking'.  But I knew that a slow cook in the oven for a couple of hours was going to turn this into something very special, if a funny colour.

Well, I hoped it would.  I was starting to forget what Nige actually DID with the pork.  I recalled that it was rested while he sliced and diced a red onion for the berry gravy.  So I did the same.  I was sure that there was something else, possibly flour, but I couldn't remember - so I didn't bother.

It looked like this:

I served it with smashed pots (boiled with a couple of garlic cloves and mashed with butter).

And after it was too late to do anything about it, I found this on the intertubes:  how it should be done.  Well, I was nearly right. I forgot the flour and the stock, but hey ho - we ate it and enjoyed it. And lived to tell the tale.

Mind you, I'm not sure that I have saved any money, what with the ripping of the new Barbour though...

Who's your favourite TV chef?

24 Oct 2012

Hestia .....finds an interesting thing

While I was out brambling* (and ripping my jacket), I found this Interesting Thing:

That's a glossy little black berry, about the size of a mint imperial, and its accompanying leaf.

I found a bush that had one solitary berry clinging on.  Where a bush has been stripped bare, that's a sure sign that what ever was there was really worth stripping <- foraging tip.  From someone who forages at the Co-op mainly.

But I didn't know what it was.

I had the slave Sonshine do some googling and it is Blackthorn.  Better known to foragers everywhere as Sloe.

It was growing at the side of a field and there is another tall bush (also devoid of berries!) nearby.  Although they can be planted as good thorny hedging, I think this is more a case of 'planting by bird poop'.

No wonder there were no berries left, there must be some illicit booze-making going on around here *looks round hopefully*  Christmas drinkies are going to be VERY interesting this year.

I've made a note of where the bushes are.

And next year.....I'll be ready.

*more of which on Friday :-)

22 Oct 2012

Where's Hestia?

So this is us, Standing Up To Cancer in the town centre. We each paid at least a pound to take part in the photo. I am in there.  Somewhere.  So, take THAT cancer, we are SO going to whup your ass!

Have you done any fun fund-raising to help a charity? Do tell!

PS - I WAS going to put a big arrow to myself in the photo.  But now I can't find myself either :-)

19 Oct 2012

Hestia's meltdown. Literally.

Yesterday was not one of my best days.

I don't know quite what was wrong with me.  To be honest, it's still lurking around the edges of me today - a bit like when you think you see a ghost and it just turns out to be a bit of stray hair in your peripheral vision.  Well, I've got a bit of a black dog in mine.

It also seems that I've transferred that black dog to the arse of my soup pan:

'Yet, here's a spot' 

I'm sure Lady McBeth had my char-blackened soup pan in mind when she said that.

It was going to be beautiful soup too.  I had a ham hough in it, lentils, leeks, kerrits (you can just see the pathetic remains of the uncharred kerrits*).  I also had a litre and a half of home-made stock in it.  And I let it BOIL DRY.  In fact, I let it boil beyond dry:  I have, single-handedly, caused a rise in global warming.  Just wait, in years to come we'll see in the statistics that a massive spike occurred yesterday afternoon.

I was furious with myself and there was much in the way of unhappy banging about in the kitchen. Some profanity.  Mainly tears.

Later in the day, because I no longer had soup to serve up, I made a curry.  And managed to burn the rice.  Look.

What the HELL is wrong with me.  If this is the menopause coming on, just shoot me now.

Bugs Bunny calls carrots kerrits.  If it's good enough for Bugs.... :-)

16 Oct 2012

Hestia and..... an old friend

Once upon a time, two girls went off to university.  They had a blast.  And dubious taste in clothes as you can see.  Also, the one on the left clearly had no access to hair conditioner.  Or hair straighteners.  Or self respect.

But as time went on, they drifted apart - careers, husbands, new places to live....

And then someone invented Facebook.

And they got back together.  Twenty years later.

This is my oldest friend.  Technically, she's not my oldest.  She's my most long-standing friend.  Oh the stories she could tell you....but she'd better not :-D

She came down to the island to have a sleep-over with Sonshine and I and we just slotted back together as if the intervening 20-odd years had only been a heart-beat.

I compelled her to eat my lasagna and we drank her wine.  I think I got the better end of the deal!

I also wished that she could have stayed longer.

Here's to the next time we get together....and it won't be 20 years.

And here's Hestia's advice to you today - if there's someone that you've been meaning to phone/e-mail or even text, but you think that too much time has elapsed.  Just do it.  DOOOOOOOO IIIIIIT!

13 Oct 2012

Hestia faces the Make Up Mavens

I dream that the lippy makes me look like this.
After our third and FINAL visit to Nando's (in Glasgow this time) we pulled on our  woolly hats, turned up our collars and headed back up a dark and wet Buchanan Street to return to our hotel.

But what's this?

A large and glamorous department store (that I visited in the past with disastrous consequences for my credit card....remember my session with Daniel?!) threw a warm and welcoming light out into the darkness!!!

I have a vague memory of asking Tartarus to bring me home a Chanel lipstick many months ago.  He had been dispatched so many times to the Chanel concession in the airport in the US that the girls who worked there must have thought he had a deep rooted Chanel addiction.  He had refused to go again and suggested that I just buy the lipstick in the UK, for all the difference in price there would be.

'Want to see your mother absolutely TERRIFIED?' I asked Sonshine.

Well, what small boy doesn't?

12 Oct 2012

Hestia's Minibreak - Part 2

So - some photos of the mini break.

This is a cinema, entirely devoid of people other than myself and Sonshine.  I prefer to call it a 'personal screening'.  And no, we STILL didn't sit in the expensive leather seats.

Paranormal:  review - a bit weird.  If you liked Coraline, you'll like this.

10 Oct 2012

Hestia goes on a minibreak

No longer a Nando's virgin
It's the October school hols.  I'd hoped to be in Birmingham to visit m'bro and m'sisinlaw but they can't fit us in. So I took us off on a mini break.  To Stirling.  Yes, that's right.  I took us to the exotic locations of 20 minutes drive from Juno's house.

My List of Mistakes

1  Don't download the instructions on how to get to the hotel from Google.  
Just don't.  Flagging down confused foreign tourists will net you the same result: lost at teatime in an industrial estate, feeling sweary, stressed, sweaty and wanting to punch people.

2  Don't prebook your cinema tickets
Thanks to my unscheduled tour around the Industrial Estate.  Twice - once from the north, once from the south.  We had approximately 20 minutes to find our way to the cinema.  Yes, I had downloaded google's driving instructions for that too, trying to be organised.  We didn't get lost BUT I did get so stressed at trying to find it/get there on time that I did manage to drive into the car park through the exit.  Managed not to hit any coaches that were trying to exit the car park.  Bus driver looked surprised though.

3  Don't order HOT at Nandos
We have never been in Nandos and Sonshine decided that he wanted to eat there both nights of our stay.  They serve chicken.  In various stages of hotness.  This resulted in me not wishing to be too far from a toilet for most of the following day.  Tricky, given that we were spending it in a Safari Park.
Turns out both our bums were fine.  No sharts.  This time.

4  Don't expect a 12 year old co-driver to be much use
He was in charge of the Google driving instructions for getting to Blair Drummond Safari park.  Let me just tell you that there was much effing and blinding as I careened into a Sainsbury's car park.  Through the exit.  I am nothing if not consistent.  We did manage to find our way there.  By luck or angels or something.  Not by Google's directions though.

5  Do not try to conduct illicit affair somewhere off the island - you will be caught
Not that I am in the throes of any such thing, but it's unnerving to be standing at the Hot Snax Bar in a Safari Park only to find the man standing next to you is actually your neighbour from across the road.  Fortunately, HE wasn't  in the throes of an illicit affair either.

This uncanny knack of being somewhere and finding a local within whispering distance also applies to Australia where my Day Carer and her husband stopped off in Perth on their Selma & Louise driving journey across its fiery red wastes to buy sandals in some small shop  Only to find themselves confronted with a couple of near neighbours from back home who had popped in to the same shop to buy jeans.  No-one was involved in any kind of illicit affair.  But you can see how my mind works.

6  Avoid driving into Raploch
Just.  Avoid it.

BUT - all that aside, we had a fantastic time.  The hotel was great.  We WERE next door to a whole gaggle of girls who seemed to knock on each other's bedroom doors at all hours of the night which was a bit unnerving.

Safari Park was great - our visit there shall be in pix on Friday.  I hope they make you smile.  In the meantime, here are some children and date-scoffing ring-tailed lemurs.

Do not be perturbed.  Children are commenting on the fact that they eat dates too.  Not lemurs.  Although in Stirling you can never be sure......

Part Le Deux of the mini break saga happens tomorrow......

5 Oct 2012

Hestia ....attempts another fashion blog

So, I'm sick of looking at myself in jeans, so I thought I'd buy a couple of day dresses.  But since I live in rambling Victorian house with rambling Victorian central heating, they have to be WARM.  They also have to not look like prom dresses.  They should also not make me look like a sack of fighting alsatian puppies.

I found this http://www.feverdesigns.co.uk/ and promptly treated myself to this:

Darcy: in olive
sorry about rubbish picture, but can't get a larger one

And this one

which is called, rather alluringly, Cheetah

They arrived promptly and very well wrapped.  And I can honestly say that I have worn Cheetah INTO THE GROUND since I bought her. She looks fab with a pair of black boots or smart black Mary-Janes.  I don't look like mutton dressed as lamb or mutton dressed as mutton even.

Sonshine and Tartarus decreed that the top one, Darcy, was lovely, but made me look like someone from Wartime Farm.  I don't care, I luff it.  It's to be my Winter Frock.

And, for the first time in 30 years, I had to buy underskirts!  The frocks don't creep up your legs though, but I thought that an underskirt would finish the look off properly.

I also had a look at Mrs Make Do's blog and she pointed me in the direction of VIYELLA of all places.  They have an Ella range, geared for the younger folks, and I was pleasantly surprised to scroll through much of their stuff.  This Downtonesque frock is only £35.00!

This one is only £40, but has limited sizes left.  Very Duchess of Cambridge

So, if, like me, you've never given Viyella second glance because its just NOT you, don't be so hasty!

Now, I must go and lie down with a few Tarot decks and a copy of Mein Kampf to return to my normal dictatorial self......

3 Oct 2012

Hestia...and Jerusalem!

Lordy, I could just go a chunk of this RIGHT NOW
In some other life, I am sitting in a white-washed cafe on a hillside in Lebanon looking out over the scrubby countryside and tucking into a golden swirl of freshly made hummus, the lemon sauce glittering beneath the hot noonday sun....

Quite how I reconcile that imaginary life with the one that I lead here in darkest Scotland is entirely down to Yotam Ottolenghi and his partner in culinary crime, Sami Tamimi.  I've already written about their divine cauliflower fritters here.

Explore the ruined citadel of m'blog: