Strange but true

And now for something completely different. Let’s mix it up a bit on The Waffle. We can’t go getting stuck in a rut. So here are some statements about me that even my close friends may not be aware of.. all are strange but true. The Waffle does not lie.

1 I was once offered a job by someone on a bus. I took the job.

Photo by Oleg Magni on

2 I find making pastry and soufflés quite easy but jam quite difficult.

Photo by Pixabay on

3 I quite enjoy ironing if I have plenty of time, a cup of coffee and the radio.

Photo by Pixabay on

4 I find signs advertising events that have already passed extremely annoying.

Photo by Any Lane on

5 I have a phobia of dogs and driving.

Photo by Dominika Roseclay on

6 When I did my Pitmans typing exam to my horror I typed “Fail” instead of “Gail” at the top of the page. I had to go back and correct it with the old fashioned corrector key.

Photo by Pixabay on

7 I am remarkably good at balancing on one leg. I think it may be because I have quite big feet.

Photo by Cedric Lim Ah Tock on

8 I used to think hats didn’t suit me, now I have several of them and I love their quirkiness.

9 As a young child I used to specialise in putting honey in my hair. I believe I was also quite adept at tipping full bowls of cereal and milk over my head. Such fun!

Photo by Pixabay on

10 I have been described as “quietly assertive”, “quaint”, “pernickety”, “a peculiar creature”, “thorough”, “too nice”, “efficient”, “a nice lady” and (my favourite) “delightful!”.

Well I hope you enjoyed the above. We must all remember to have a little laugh at ourselves every now and again. As I go to heat up an M & S chicken in red wine with rosti potatoes and petits pois, I leave you with the sunny pics from Windsor today. You’ve been delightful! Xx

I love this gate all the more because it doesn’t actually go anywhere… (I guess it used to???). I’ve never tried going through it.. maybe it is a window to another world? (Anyone else watching His Dark Materials?).

A grey weekend in Windsor

There have been no pretty skies or clouds this weekend. I don’t think we have even glimpsed the sun. As David and I sat across the table from each other at lunchtime I remarked that I could hardly see him across the table through the gloomy light. An exaggeration, of course, but the light has been particularly grey and dull.

So photographs for the blog were a little more challenging than usual, but I did my best. Yesterday I went out on my bike into Windsor and took some snaps. I got into taking pictures of signs, as they are quite interesting I think whatever the weather. Here’s a little selection.

One of the best pubs in Windsor, saved from closure and run by the community. The kitchen isn’t finished yet but they plan to open up after lockdown later this week, with a van providing food I believe.

Windsor Racecourse. Usually next race would be in April, but who knows…..?

Lots of dog walkers here.

Second World War aviation history.

Today was back to the trees, and a bit of tree hugging of course. Is there a word for worshipping trees? Arboro-idolisation??? No, that’s not it! That’s a Waffle made up term. The correct term, my friends, is dendrolatry or arborolatry. So that makes me a dendrolatrist I guess. I am in good company as apparently Santa Claus has been depicted throughout history as a tree hugger.

So Santa, these are for you.

Well maybe not this one, these looked like three witches to me…

This one looks more elegant and innocent, they all have their own character.

These are the trees in the distance where we think the red kites live. The kites stayed at home today. I don’t think they like the grey skies either.

I think Santa would like this one.

Amazing. Don’t you think your arm would ache if you held it out so far like this all the time? Trees are phenomenal.

Underneath the weeping willow, like standing in a magical tent. I didn’t see any fairies.

Looking into the eye.

Well I hope you enjoyed the trees. Ocado have just delivered the shopping and I have to put it away. It always amazes me how many bagfuls of food we get through each week. I see the delivery and think “we’ll never eat (and drink) all that, just the two of us”, but we usually do. The bags will contain many ingredients for the meals ahead. One of the highlights of the Waffle kitchen last week was the home made chicken and mushroom pie. So good we both had seconds. I hope your week will be as good as this pie Xxx.

Trees without leaves

Hello. It occurs to me today that, in my humble opinion, trees without leaves are every bit as beautiful as those with autumn colour. What do you think? (And did you spot the bird at the top of this one? Lots of birds sitting in trees today).

These were all taken this afternoon on my solo walk. David can only do very short walks and physio for the foreseeable future. I walked for just over an hour, with photo pauses. To me that is just the right sort of length for a walk.

More birdies, having a chinwag.

I wonder who lives here in the spring?

So beautiful. There were times today when the sky looked like snow.. as here..

Such great shapes these trees, each one unique.

I love this one. The way it drapes down.

The sun joined in the party.

So lovely. Just out and about focusing on the trees.

I am making chicken and mushroom pie tonight. David’s face lit up when he realised I am making the pie rather than M & S having made it. It is a new recipe from a Waitrose recipe card. I was going to buy the shortcrust pastry but Ocado had run out, so I’ll make my own, which will probably be nicer, it just takes a bit longer.

Last night we had salmon kedgeree. This was also a new recipe for me. It was delicious. Really moist and creamy. We both agreed it gets a * in the book. That means it was amazing and we’d really like to have this again. The hard boiled eggs are always really nice in a kedgeree.

The recipe came from this book.

Highclere Castle is in Berkshire near Newbury. It is where Downton Abbey was filmed. You can read more about Highclere Castle and see some stunning photos on their website here. It seems that Lady Carnarvon also has her own blog! I have also *ed in the book the Highclere Chicken Curry, Highclere Lamb Stew, Wyoming Meat Loaf and the Chilli Seafood Pasta. These recipes work. Thank you to The Countess of Carnarvon for compiling and sharing these. Bon appetit folks. Stay safe my friends Xxx.

Self gifting

Hi there. It has been an emotional few days. In less than a week one friend dead from Covid, another friend in hospital with it and yesterday I found out a long-standing colleague also in hospital with it very poorly. Today thankfully there was no more bad news, as last night I was getting a bit overwhelmed with it all. Of course there was the bad news of another 600+ deaths on the news. I now register these as real people with families and friends rather than merely numbers and feel sad for their passing, although as far as I know they are not connected to me personally, but I’m not assuming anything any more.

On a happier note, I have a confession to make. Sometimes I buy myself a little Christmas present in the run up to Christmas. I don’t wrap it up and address it with a little gift tag “To Gail, with love from Gail xxx”, as that would just be weird. This year, after the horrible year we’ve had, I’ve bought my most generous self gift yet and treated myself to this beauty advent calendar from Bare Minerals. I don’t usually have an advent calendar but I always buy David a Lindt one with chocolates in. He mumbles about sharing a few windows with me, but in reality each little chocolate is unwrapped and gobbled up in the blink of an eye first thing in the morning. I am glad he enjoys it so much. I asked him if he would like a posher advent calendar this year too.. they do one for men with exciting tools such as spanners and drill bits in 😂 but he said he’s happy with the usual chocolate one.

So this is my one.. so exciting. I’m trying not to look at the back of it as it lists everything included and I want a nice surprise each day. Obviously the 1-24 windows are not visible yet, they will be underneath the pretty wrapping.

The two bits on the top are two free samples that came with it (you had a choice of these)…I chose a Wishful moisturiser and a facial scrub. Usually these products are way more expensive that I would normally spend on anything beauty related. I have tried the little moisturiser and I quite like it, it has a pleasant lavender smell, which surprises me as I didn’t use to like lavender. It also came with the gorgeous red make up bag as a freebie, I love this! I have loads of make up bags already (and not much make up!) but I do love this jolly red one… and check out the Christmas lining, so cute!

Each window will contain make up or another beauty product. Seeing as I’ve been wearing the same shade of lipstick for about the last 10 years, some foundation but hardly ever any other make up, this will shake things up a bit! The usual retail price for this advent calendar is £89. with products valued at £192. but that’s a little irrelevant as I would never buy this stuff at full price. Being a true bargain hunter I didn’t pay £89. either. I used a promo code for 15% off as a new customer. I also clicked through topcashback which I do whenever I shop online and got another £6.+ off so in total it cost me £69. It was well worth doing the promo code and topcashback to get £20. off. Quite chuffed with that. I’ll keep you posted on my little window treats from 1 December onwards. I’m really looking forward to seeing what’s inside and filling up the cheery red bag, as well as trying out the products and being super beautiful for Christmas 🎄😂 (maybe!).

So, it’s chicken kiev (shop bought) and petits pois tonight… quick supper as I have a Zoom chat with friends. I’ll leave you with the gorgeous sunset in Windsor this evening. And relax 😊Xx

Clewer Park, unidentified lunch and a little Covid update

Hello everyone. I do hope you’re well. Let’s start with the Covid update. The day after I heard that one of my friends had died from Coronavirus, I learned that another friend is currently in hospital on oxygen with it. I have decided that I really hate this virus, this is getting personal now. “**** off Covid 19” has become my new mantra. Let’s all say and think that together, it’s worth a try. While Boris is now saying “back to near normal by Easter” and other such rubbish, I am not making plans to see all my friends and family over the festive period. If you can be asymptomatic with it, which apparently you can, anyone you socialise with you risk potentially killing them. So I will not be doing any of that. I will phone my family and friends, do a Zoom quiz, get Amazon to gift wrap and deliver most of the presents. I may doorstep drop gifts to my parents, for a 5 minute remote chat up to their window. That’s it. Anything else is just not worth the risk.

David is still hobbling around on his knee so can only manage a short walk at the moment. We drove down to Clewer Park this afternoon and did a nice stroll around there. This is located between Windsor racecourse and the town centre, and we hadn’t been there for years.

It was a beautiful afternoon today.

There are some great trees there.

Fabulous bark.

Even more fabulous reflections in the stream. We saw a kingfisher here once. Windsor racecourse is in the background here.

Wow! Amazing nature. I love this shot..the lovely blue sky of planet earth reflected.

A great tree. Stretching up to the heavens.

Leaves looking like they were dipped in paint.

Still a little autumn colour around.

Carpet of leaves.

The magnificent sun. Turner saw the sun as God. (I have been watching some more art walks on TV).

One more of the glorious trees..

So, that’s me de-stressed from all the Covid stuff.

On the food front, I got this out of the freezer for lunch today.. it was not labelled, can you guess what it is?

First I thought it might be left over beef bourguignon, as I could see there were mushrooms and it looked a sort of beef brown colour.. but that didn’t explain the tomatoes.

Well I heated it up, and it turned out to be mushroom stew, slightly spicy, it was really nice. I served it with some M & S rosti potatoes.

I really should label the leftovers when I put them in the freezer 😂 but then again, I quite enjoy the surprise of the pot luck meal.

I wish you all enjoyable surprises and good news for this week. Get well soon to my poorly friend and others suffering right now, and **** Off Covid 19!!

501 deaths from Covid in the UK today

I don’t usually talk about the numbers of deaths from Covid. I see the figures on the news. Like we all do. Hundreds in the UK. Day by day. On Monday I saw the figures.. 213 deaths on Monday. I think I may even have thought, oh that’s not as bad as it could be, 213. You get a bit desensitised after day after day of numbers of deaths.

Unfortunately I found out late this afternoon that one of the 213 deaths reported on Monday was my friend. My friend of over 12 years who I didn’t even know was ill. Apparently she thought she had a cold. She had known asthma but did not even get to the hospital and was found at home. So shocked. So sad. So sad for all the families and friends of these numbers that pass us by in our desensitised state every day. Be very careful everyone. We have consistently underestimated this horrible virus and I will never forgive it for cutting my friend’s life short.

Fish Risotto

Hi Wafflers. How are you? I’m feeling quite tired but happy.

Last night I cooked this fish risotto. It was really delicious. I would happily gobble up another plateful of it right now, but there’s none left. For tonight we are having an M & S ready made lasagne with petits pois, which is just as well, as I can’t be bothered to cook.

The recipe for the fish risotto is from this book.

I’m sure for the low cholesterol version you’re not allowed the oodles of Parmesan cheese sprinkled on the top like we had 😂, but otherwise it seems pretty healthy and is very easy to make.

You start off with the onion and garlic, then the risotto rice..then the white wine..

Then the stock. Adding it gradually. This takes about 20 minutes.

I used a pack of mixed fish called “fish pie mix” from Ocado. Simples! I think we had salmon, smoked haddock and pollock.

The fish goes in for the last 5 minutes. I added lots of black pepper.

Cooked it a bit more.

Sprinkled some chopped parsley and a generous amount of grated Parmesan. Et voilà! I served it in our deep pasta bowls.

Yummy yum yum.

On a totally different subject, it occurs to me that there are a few local photos from the last week I haven’t shown you yet.

Wow! Still lovely roses. Such perfect petals.

Red kite in the sky. Looks tiny up there. Must be so fun soaring over Windsor looking down on us all.

I think this is a young ginkgo tree. I ❤️ ginkgos. I also like the name ginkgo! I hadn’t spotted this one before.

Moody cloud.

Autumnal tree and sky.

Talk about holding yourself back?! What is going on with this tree root? Self hugging? Isn’t nature awesome?

So tonight I’m listening out for our local resident owl again. My sister aka wildlife expert says it is most likely to be a tawny 🦉 owl. I wish I could see it, but it would be hard to find in the dark field behind my house that is privately owned land anyway. Apparently the females go “twit” and the males reply “who?” Sorry, I mean “twoo” but actually it sounds more like “hoo hoo hoo”. I think we’ve got a hoo-er rather than a twit-ter, so it’s probably a male tawny owl, but I’ll be listening closely later on…. makes a change from the noisy chattering crows. What birds can you hear in your part of the world? Anything interesting? I’d love to know. The great international Waffle birdwatch begins… 🦢 🐦 🦅……

Walking in the rain and getting arty farty

Greetings. I hope you’ve all been having a good weekend. Welcome to our Waffle friends in Ireland and Thailand, the two most recent countries to have stumbled across this humble Windsor Waffle. That’s 43 countries in total since I started the blog at the end of February, amazing!

David’s been a bit incapacitated with his poorly knee, so yesterday I went out for a walk on my own. It was actually quite nice as it was raining a little, which meant all the wimps who are scared of a little rain had stayed at home, and I had the place to myself. I even stopped to take some snaps. Nature still looks very beautiful in the rain.

I’m loving the colour of this hedge at the moment.

I think this might be the tree we hugged the other day..

Weeping willow and the green, green grass of England.

This orange tree is glowing like a beacon of flame..

Lovely leaves on the ground EVERYWHERE! I love it!

This made me smile, a little pseudo Banksy artwork I came across on my stroll.. do you like it? I think it’s quite cheeky!

So I’ve also been getting into art this weekend. What a luxury when we could visit all those fine art galleries and museums, before Covid and the lockdown. I’m dreaming of visiting a different London art gallery or museum each month, if we ever get back to “normal” and it feels safe to do so.

In the mean time, I’ve been finding some good arty stuff on the internet and on TV. We’ve watched from time to time “Secrets of the Museum” (BBC2) which goes behind the scenes and into the archives of the V & A Museum in London. That’s very interesting. And then this weekend I found a marvellous programme called “Tate Britain’s Great British Walks” (SKY arts). The presenter takes you on a walk with a celebrity in the location where the artists painted their landscapes.. the first episode is set in St Ives, Cornwall, following in the footsteps of the fisherman painter Alfred Wallis in his home town. Some people (including David) find his paintings of boats in the harbour too simplistic, but I like them. The programme’s about the British landscape, painting and biography. Lots of stories going on. The second one is set in Suffolk, London and Salisbury in the steps of John Constable. I never knew before how much Constable was into clouds and trees, a man after my own heart. He would’ve enjoyed The Waffle!.? He only sold 20 paintings in his lifetime in England and was more popular in France. I found it all fascinating and am looking forward to continuing my home based art education through the rest of our lockdown 2.

I’ll leave you with a picture of my art books from my shelves at home.. I’ll be dipping into these too. They’ve been there for years, but I think I forgot to look at them.

Feeding the soul on art and nature, I haven’t told you about my food today. Don’t panic, the roast chicken is in the oven and the veg is going on now. Bon appetit! Xx

Lamb chops champvallon

I cannot tell you how delicious this smells. It has infused the whole house as it has been cooking in the slow cooker all day. It’s from the DK Slow Cook Book, my favourite slow cooker cookbook. I’ve not made this recipe before, and I haven’t had lamb chops for a very long time. Basically there are layers of potatoes, onions, thyme and garlic with lamb chops in the middle, cooking in vegetable stock. The recipe apparently was originally created by a mistress of Louis XIV to stay in his good books…I don’t know if it worked. I’ll see if it works on David later…

As usual I got all the ingredients out first. There’s nothing worse than starting to cook and realising half way through you don’t have an essential ingredient.

Here are the lamb chops browning in the pan. The lamb is from Gloucestershire, hope it’s nice.

Here are the onions mixed up with the sliced potatoes and thyme.

This is how it looked about 5 hours ago, through the lid of the slow cooker.

And this is now.. (you have to imagine the succulent little lamb chops snuggling in beneath)…

I’m planning on serving this with some green beans or carrots. I’m really looking forward to this dinner.

But first I have to do LBT. Unfortunately I didn’t say BLT as that sounds nice… crispy bacon, fresh iceberg lettuce, juicy sliced tomatoes, a little bit of mayo, the freshest softest bread… yeah, dream on Gail! I have decided to be brave and try my friend’s Zoom LBT = Legs, Bums and Tums class. Wish me luck! I will be deserving of my lamb chop stew.

This lockdown 2 feels different for me than the first. The first for me was about the abundance of nature and growing in the garden, cocktails, extra food treats, affordable decadence, processing the shock of events. This second one seems calmer, easier, with a focus on health and well-being. It’s about nurturing the body with walks, yoga and mindfulness. I’m planning on doing some home spa pampering, looking after my body, whilst also focusing on books and films, cultural food for the mind. I hope it’s the same for you, that it’s a bit easier this time around? We know the drill.

I had a request today for some tree bark on The Waffle, so here goes, beautiful bark of Windsor… this is a magnificent lime tree, we gave it a big hug, very therapeutic.

These are the trunks on our front lawn.. a copper beech, lime and silver birch. This one is almost a heart for you.

This is a little feather, clinging on here…

Try not to get sucked in here….

Go out and hug a tree everyone, the fatter the better! Back Sunday Xx

Greetings from Windsor

What a beautiful sunny day it was in Windsor today. Great sunshine, wonderful clouds. I had a lovely lunchtime stroll up to the castle and back. Here’s what I saw…

Entrance to the Royal Station, Windsor Central Station. We also have Windsor and Eton Riverside station down the hill.

Inside the Royal Station shopping concourse. Only a couple of takeaways were open. There were a few tourists and locals sitting outside on benches. All the benches seem to be full these days, as everyone is outside. No parties of Japanese tourists any more.

Beautiful blue sky framing the Great Western Railway building. I’ve never noticed this GWR logo here before. Sometimes you just have to look up to see the good stuff.

The Christmas decs are up, but not switched on yet. We’ve had these ones for a few years now. I like these big crown ones.

Obviously they look better when they’re actually switched on with lights! But there’s something quite nice and structural about them in the day time nonetheless.

Holy Trinity Church. What a lot of chimneys in front of it!

This is quite new in Windsor. Absolutely nothing to do with me!

So all in all it’s been a good day and productive in the office. I’m having a Zoom chat with some friends tonight so that should be fun. I’ve brushed my hair and for some reason put some perfume on. Probably the same reason I still wear lipstick under my face mask 😷- it’s bonkers but it makes me feel good, and we need all the good vibes we can get at the moment.

Have a lovely evening or day or whatever time you’re up to. Back Thursday for more chit chat. I might even brush my hair and put on my perfume for you! Xx