Thursday’s Waffle

There is fresh air in my garden, for the first time in days. Inside the house is still quite sweaty and muggy. At least work in the office should be a bit more pleasant and productive tomorrow.

I wonder what you’ve all been up to? Having fun I hope. I had fun last night out drinking white wine spritzers with my friends after work, having a quick dinner with David in the garden and then drinking more chilled white wine and soda (oops) outside while watching the bats darting about overhead. I was feeling a little jaded this morning and got up pretty late.

Meanwhile Mr Sunflower goes from strength to strength…

Some of the tomatoes are very yummy..

Although sadly some of the tomatoes opposite these look a bit diseased 🙁.

Today being a slow day at home, it was back to the slow cookbook to make Coq au vin (more wine oh dear!). This is the marinade I made this morning.

The chicken legs got soaked in this for a few hours in the fridge while we did other things including going out for lunch at Ferny Grove Farm. Ferny Grove Farm serves the best sausages in their café and has the best view…

We sat outside eating enormous sausage and fried egg sandwiches 😋, brown bread for me, white for David. Good for soaking up last night’s wine.

When we came home I prepared the rest of the Coq au vin recipe and it’s been on the high setting in the slow cooker for the last 2-3 hours. The mushrooms go in for the last 15 minutes. It smells great.

I don’t think I told you about the Madhur Jaffrey prawn curry I cooked last week. That was really good. David said last night he still keeps thinking about it. This was from one of my newly gifted cookbooks, Madhur Jaffrey’s “Flavours of India”.

The sauce was really thick and textured and contained a lot of puréed red onions. David said it was nothing like any prawn curry we’ve had in any Indian restaurant before. I agree it was different, but good different!

I think I could just gobble up a plateful of this now. I will definitely make this again.

Other news from The Waffle household is we’ve been making progress with the great rat saga..

After visits from the pest control man and then Thames Water we now have proof it is definitely rats that have been coming into our cavity wall (behind the downstairs shower) via the drains at the front of the house. Thames Water put a special camera on a cable down and immediately saw a rat family: two adults and two young ones. There is bait down the drain, stronger than before. And we have now bought a special rat flap door. I suppose it’s a bit like a cat flap! The rats will be able to go one way but not the other, so won’t be able to keep accessing the pipe to our house… or gnaw their way into my stationery cupboard in my downstairs office which they had done before. They had ripped up all my brown paper and envelopes into shreds, for their nest no doubt. I don’t blame them, they’re just being rats and surviving, but they’ve got to go as they are damaging our property… and not paying any rent at all! How cheeky!

We invested in a stainless steel rat door as the cheaper plastic ones apparently they can sometimes gnaw through. Someone is hopefully going to fit this next week. In the mean time we listen out for scratching at night, and I remain wary of the downstairs toilet imagining they may swim up the same at any moment as I understand they are experts at holding their breath and have been known to do so … yikes 😬!

Anyway, after a bit of expense we are making some progress in this matter. Hopefully they will be gone for good. Bye 4 now. Have a lovely weekend everyone xxx

Oops! I forgot to blog

Just got home from the pub. This was the lovely view on my walk home just now. Apologies for my non blog yesterday – I completely forgot! Too much heat, too much fun.

So these are my lovely friends at the pub after work tonight. Cheers everyone! Back tomorrow when I’ve sobered up! X

Say hello to my sunflower!

This is my lovely sunflower I’ve been growing since lockdown. Its head is not that big, but it’s very tall and it looks like there are actually going to be 3 flowers on it.

I’m about 5’6”, so that gives you an idea. And no, I’m not kneeling down in this picture, as cheekily suggested by my sister’s partner. David and I measured it and it is approx 7.5 feet tall from the ground to the top of the head of the flower. I have a few other sunflowers growing in pots but this is the best one and the only one to flower so far.

So how’s your weekend been? It’s been so HOT in the UK. Still is. I am dreading my non A/C office for 8 hours tomorrow. We have a shower at work that no one uses, except me once in very hot weather when no one else was there. I had to improvise and dry myself on a tea towel as that’s all there was! Tomorrow I’m going equipped with a towel for perhaps a cool shower in the middle of the day. This may raise some eyebrows but I don’t really care…

I’ve been meaning to show you my mini art gallery in my home office, so here goes, I hope you enjoy.

This was a housewarming gift from my Israeli friend, Keren.

This silk scarf I had framed was also a gift from Keren. She went travelling to India and Nepal etc and I nearly went with her, but I think I’d just bought my flat so that was my priority at the time. Thanks for the gifts Keren!

This one below was a gift from a lady called Vicky who used to run Archer Farm B &B near Port Isaac in Cornwall where I holidayed with my family every year as a child. She saw some Chinese arty postcards in my room I’d bought at a village fête and said that as I liked delicate artwork I should have this papercut she’d had in a drawer since a trip to Tibet many years ago. I framed this as below. I’ve had this since I was a teenager. Vicky was a kind lady with a big laugh who cooked the most delicious suppers. The only dog I’ve ever enjoyed the company of was her black labrador called Friday. She passed away quite a long time ago now.

This one below is from my first ever holiday with David, to Rhodes.

We have been on A LOT of great holidays over the years. This is a tile I bought in Seville at the Casa de Pilatos. I really liked Seville.

These are some postcards I framed of the amazing artificial trees in Singapore.

This is a picture I bought in St Lucia on one of our Caribbean holidays. I liked the bright colours. It reminds me of several happy holidays in the Caribbean at various different islands.

This one was sort of a gift. Sarah and I stayed at a friend’s B &B in Somerset. We agreed that she would buy me this picture of daffodils and in turn I bought her one of ?tulips by the same artist, Susan Courtney, who used to work at the same place as me.

This is my decopatch “G”, my handiwork.

This was a present from my parents quite recently although I think they’d had it for a while. It is “John Betjeman’s Trebetherick”. It is also my family’s Trebetherick showing places very familiar to us from our family holidays there each year.

Lastly this is my little calendar. My Mum always buys me a calendar like this for Christmas. Oops! Just realised I’m still on July…

Actually, I’m not, I did turn over but I took this photo back in July. Here is August!

Right, now we’re all up to speed that concludes my mini art gallery tour, I hope you liked it. Au revoir! Xx

Day trip to Basildon Park

I was in a bit of a quandary just now, whether to tell you about the pictures in my home office as promised, or whether to tell you about our day trip today to Basildon Park. I’ve decided to go for the latter while it’s fresh in my mind, and you’ll get the pictures another time. I hope that’s OK?

A month has passed since our last day trip out of Windsor when we visited Winkworth Arboretum. Basildon Park is another National Trust place near Reading, about 50 minutes in the car today. Again I had to buy tickets online in advance at £8. each and there was a free car park when we got there. We had been there probably over 10 years ago for a picnic with my parents and my sister and her family.

On arrival we noticed how busy the car park was. It was quite crowded around the entrance with families, but we managed to keep a distance. The first thing we did was to go to the café kiosk to get our lunch (top priority, obviously!). We had a Cornish pasty and a sausage roll to share. David got some salt and vinegar crisps and we had Diet Pepsi each to drink. That all came to approx £13. which wasn’t too bad. I had a couple of penguin biscuits in my bag that we had for pudding. We sat on a nice bench surrounded by roses near the big house for our picnic, as far away from the overexcited little children as possible, as David seems to be allergic to them.

After lunch we set off on a walk across the fields. The scenery was absolutely stunning, a real feeling of space. The walks were colour coded and well signed. We did the longest route which took us just over an hour. We overtook a few people. David walks fast! When we were on the woodland walk we got away from most of the people. The few we did meet were very friendly and everyone said “hello”. I don’t think people were so friendly at Winkworth, but then the weather was not so good that day, so that affects people’s mood. Anyway, I wasn’t really there for the chit chat, but I was in a good mood so I smiled and said “hello” to everyone, whether they liked it or not!

Here are some of the pictures from our walk..the house itself was not open today.

I’ll have to send this picture above to my sister, she really likes teasels. I remember as a child people used to make Mrs Tiggywinkles out of them using the teasel head as a hedgehog face, with a white bonnet around. They looked quite cute!

We had to walk through a couple of fields of cows. I think they were young bulls. Mostly they were not interested in us (phew!). One paid us a bit of attention and I held David’s hand for a few steps. He is used to me doing this. Usually it is for loose dogs. I am pretty scared of loose dogs. My heart starts thumping in my chest and I feel the adrenaline pumping if a dog comes bounding up to me. Well today there was only one well behaved dog on a lead, so that was fine. These cows were safely behind a fence, looking at me…

This was a very strange folly type place below. I think someone lived there. It looks quite cute here but it felt a bit creepy.

We preferred this property in the background with the smart converted barn.

We also thought this house would probably do… provided all the visitors went away!

I liked some of these dead trees, like sculptures..

And lastly, here’s a sideways heart in the sky for you.

Night night my Waffle friends. Back soon xx

Sweet peas etc

Hello everyone. This is my 100th blog post. Happy century to me! I have lots to tell you and show you today, as I only did a short post last time. Also the supper tonight is already prepared so I have a bit more blogging time..yippee! Here’s the pie I prepared yesterday… Nigel Slater’s sausage and potato pie. Well, it’s not Nigel’s any more, it’s mine! And I plan to gobble this all up very soon, hot or cold, it’s usually delicious. I suppose I might share it with David…

Now, back to the sweet peas, which are looking lovely. I think my grandfather would be proud of me, although I could never compete with his wonderful efforts. These are my grandfather’s from the 1960s. The house used to smell of them placed in vases inside, gorgeous!

If you missed the blog post this historic photo is from “A trip down memory lane”. You can check out some more of my grandparents’ garden in West Sussex by clicking on the link here. I would put this post in my top ten favourite posts out of my 100 I’ve shared with you so far.

David tried to tell me the other day that my pink sweet peas would turn purple later and they were all actually the same colour bloom but at different stages. Well, this is not true! I definitely have pink ones and purple ones, pale and dark. Look!

I love them all! ❤️❤️❤️

I also still love my new home office.

I have just completed the final item of the office so the printer is no longer sitting on the floor to the right of the desk. I went decopatch crazy and decopatched the whole printer trolley in blue paper! I’d never decopatched any furniture before.

Before:

After:

This isn’t new, but I have a mini art gallery going on in my office on the wall opposite the desk. I’ll tell you more about my pictures next time.

Today at lunchtime I stopped to admire the church windows again at All Saints’ Church, Frances Road in Windsor.

I’m not a religious person, but I do like historic buildings and church architecture. This church stands at a jaunty angle and has a Thomas Hardy altarpiece inside they uncovered a few years ago. A couple of times recently someone has been playing the organ and this lovely music has been wafting out into the street.

Another one of my favourite post/s was my walk around Windsor in the sunshine, just before lockdown. It was a serene time with not many folks about as I explored and photographed local church architecture. If you missed the posts “Hallelujah” and then “Bad hair day?” which continued on with my church photos along with early lockdown hair worries (!) you can catch up with them here and here. I STILL haven’t had a hair cut.. not since New Year’s Eve!!!!… I’m now used to it longer. No stress just lots of hair slides and bands. I might have it trimmed next week, who knows.. still considering the matter! David meanwhile has had 3 (relatively) successful haircuts at my hands. Who would have thought this is what our lives and hair would have looked like this year, who would have thought….?!

Weekend update

Hi. It’s been a fun weekend and I’ve run out of time for a long blog tonight.

This afternoon we did a family Zoom birthday meet up and quiz for my nephew Arthur’s birthday. Happy Birthday to Arthur. 14 years old tomorrow. It was a good get together with lots of laughs and I came 3rd in the quiz.

Early afternoon David and I were in Crowthorne, visiting my mother in law for tea, with a walk at nearby Buckler’s Forest beforehand. This is an interesting new walk. There were a few too many loose dogs for my liking, but some nice woodland. It’s on the site of the Transport Research Authority and also now a new housing estate just alongside. They test drove the Sinclair C5 (remember that?!) here before its release.

This is the National Transport Research building.

The heathers are looking nice.

I hope you’ve all had a good weekend too. David’s munching on the cold leftover roast Welsh lamb. Back Tuesday my Waffle friends xxx

Welcome to my patio!

Looks good, doesn’t it with our new patio seating? There’s no way the cushions are going to stay this white but it looks so nice for now. This is my little oasis of calm, surrounded by pretty flowers and hanging baskets. So far we have only had tea and cake on the little table but I’m dreaming/planning a round of margaritas or a chilled bottle of white wine for tomorrow night. It’s going to be VERY hot in the UK tomorrow. I have to work in an office with no A/C so not looking forward to that. By I am very much looking forward to home time and relaxing on the patio with drinks and nibbles.

Our house is full of flies at the moment in this hot weather. They are driving us mad buzzing in our ears. As soon as David swats one with the tennis racket executioner, another one appears. They are so annoying! We had this problem when we first moved in many years ago when there were cows in the field behind our house. Poor cows always seem to be plagued by flies. The cows left as did the flies. But now the flies are back worst luck. David is coming to see if he can deal with the culprit/s for me. It’s hard to hear yourself think to blog! BUZZ OFF!!!!!!!!!!

Ah, peace at last.. for a little while at least. Thank you David.

When I’m home for the day, like today, I like to use the slow coooker.. life in the slow lane. This morning I made chocolate mousses in the slow cooker. Unusual. I didn’t even think you had to cook chocolate mousse, but I did. They are currently chilling in the fridge. This is them before cooking. They were covered in foil and sat in hot water in the slow cooker for two and a half hours. Looking forward to trying them later.

After the mousse cooking we went out for lunch at a local garden centre. This was the view..

I joked to David we could have bought a Christmas tree today…. !

£34.99 is a bit steep though. They were tiny. And who knows where we’ll all be at by Christmas. I apologise for using the C word in July. Outrageous behaviour.

After that we did one of our favourite walks in Windsor Great Park. There were hardly any people there today. Where is everybody??? Too hot for them? Gone to Bournemouth beach to cause another incident? On holiday in France like everyone else I know who can’t go to Spain any more? Well it suits me to have The Great Park all to ourselves. We spotted the cows in the distance all in a huddle trying to keep cool under a tree.

You can see why I love it here. Trees. Blue sky. Walking. Breathe and relax!

This is David’s favourite bit, we call it the dingly dell.

Then it was back home for tea and cake on the patio. David had a cupcake from Emma’s pantry via Ocado. I had a shop bought fruit scone with home made rhubarb jam. The jam is very tasty but a little bit too runny to win any competitions. I have not quite mastered jam setting.

Then it was back to the slow cooker to make mushroom stew for supper. It has 3 different types of mushrooms: portobello, white and chestnut. Together with potatoes and tomatoes etc. It looks and smells good! I haven’t made this before. We’ll be eating in the garden again.

I wasn’t sure what to serve with this. I thought maybe some peas, but I don’t want to scare David off with too many vegetables on a plate! So I’ve gone for rice, as there are chilli flakes just added to the stew and it will be a bit like a curry.

In answer to the Very Important Sweet Pea question, the question has been answered.. they are not just purple flowers… here is a pretty deep pink one just appeared.

The next question is whether there will also be any pale pink flowers….? Answers on a postcard please x 😎🌻🌞

Quick chicken pesto pasta

Is it Tuesday today? Confused.com of Windsor. Yesterday (being Monday) I felt it was Tuesday and today (being Tuesday) I felt it was more like Monday. If I go back to the Tuesday feeling tomorrow I know I’m stuck in some kind of weird time warp loop.

Luckily I’ve got an extremely quick and easy dinner to cook tonight, and one which always puts a smile on David’s face. We’re having chicken pesto pasta. Just cook some pasta and while you’re doing that fry up some chopped pieces of chicken. Tip the cooked chicken into the drained cooked pasta, add a jar of pesto, stir well and serve in deep pasta bowls with lots of Parmesan over the top. Takes about 15 minutes tops. Simples!

When I lived on my own I often used to make a veggie version of this. I just added a chopped leek and a chopped courgette to the boiling pasta water and then drained the pasta and veg and stirred through the pesto. I used to have a really pretty, deep bowl with a pink and blue floral (maybe Spanish) pattern on it that I used to serve this in. The bowl was a gift for an extra task at work I’d done that was appreciated by someone who was pretty hard to please so I was so chuffed he gave me this bowl as a thank you. And in my flat I used to eat my veggie pesto pasta from this bowl while sitting on my bean bag on the floor. I’d forgotten all about my bean bag! Oh the good old days… maybe!?

I remember the first meal I ever cooked for David in my flat. It was bangers and mash. My sister had been teasing me for a while that I should get a potato masher, as above. I protested that I liked mashing them with a wooden spoon and didn’t care if they had a few lumps in. I actually really hate posh mashed potato that you get in restaurants that’s like a purée and usually far too salty. The worst I ever experienced was at one of Heston Blumenthal’s establishments “The Hind’s Head” in Bray. It was so liquid you could have poured the mash that was served with a homemade pie. Well, I’m sure Heston would hate my slightly lumpy, not very salty mash! So in preparation for the first meal I ever cooked for my husband-to-be I invested in a potato masher, my sister claiming I was weird not to have one already. As I was cooking I mentioned to David I’d bought the masher especially for the occasion and he said “oh I usually just mash it with a spoon too”. He was so unbothered about whether I used a masher or not, we had a laugh about it and I felt we were on the same page. But I have indeed used the masher ever since and find it useful for mashing other things too, so maybe my sister did have a point.

Back to 2020, last night I was a bit more adventurous on the cooking front and I made another recipe from this Gary Rhodes’ book.

I made “Sautéed chicken livers with garlic mushrooms and spinach” and here it is.

I served this with a few boiled potatoes from the garden, which are going on and on, a big harvest this year. Most of my spinach has sadly died though so I had to buy a bag of spinach. I wouldn’t grow spinach growing up a south facing wall again in pots. It didn’t seem to like it very much. But the lettuces and tomatoes are doing just fine there. Anyway, the Gary Rhodes’ dish was unanimously deemed to be delicious and I would make this again. It gets a ☑️ in the book in pencil if I have made it and then a big asterisk * next to the tick if it was really delicious. This one got a ☑️*.

Do you like my agapanthus? These tall purple flowers. I think they’re amazing. They get better every year. Bye for now. Back Thursday x

Home office revamp and the first sweet pea flower

Before I show you my home office before and after pictures, here is my first sweet pea flower. So exciting! I don’t know if all the flowers will be purple. I think they are mixed colours, but time will tell… The sunflowers have yet to flower, but one looks almost ready to bloom and is towering over my head.

This weekend has been mostly about my home office. I got inspired by another blogger’s home office design that was mainly white with plants. I decided to replace/reinvent all my furniture, apart from the office chair which is as it was.

So, without further ado… this is the before picture:

And this is the after picture:

I’m really pleased with this. I haven’t liked the dark bookshelves for some time and this Billy bookcase from Ikea at £25. is a great shape for the corner, very tidy. The desk is called Malm, also from Ikea and cost £99. It is bigger than my old desk. The overhead cupboard, where I’m keeping my stapler, pen pot, paperclips and other stuff that usually clutters up the desk, is also originally from Ikea but was second hand and FREE from nextdoor.com. It opens up by pulling down towards you, like this.

I’ve even bought myself a new matching waste paper basket from Amazon.

The only thing I haven’t finished yet is the printer trolley table, which I have been upcycling with blue decopatch paper. I’ve just run out of paper and ordered some more, but it’s nearly finished. I’ll show you this when it’s done. The printer is currently making do on top of a couple of big books on the floor. This is how the project started off:

Well, pride comes before a fall and while I’ve been busy showing off my interior design to you, I’ve just realised I completely forgot to put the chicken in the oven to roast. Oops! It takes just under 2 hours to cook and we don’t want to eat that late. I have confessed to David, who took the news quite well considering roast chicken is his favourite dinner. Plan B is now a “Cook” ready meal of Hearty Chicken Casserole and I’m doing roast potatoes to go with it. I’m sure it will still be a delicious dinner. And I’m also still cooking the chicken which I’ve defrosted which we’ll have cold for lunch over the next few days. I’m making margaritas in a minute, which I meant to do last night, but ran out of time as the Malm desk took a lot longer than anticipated for David to put together, with my assistance. Everything’s gone a bit haywire it seems, but I have got a nice office at home, not that I work from home any more.. I can just dream about this nice calm space while I’m sitting in my real office at work..

Margaritas calling..I hope you’ve all had a great weekend, haven’t got any holidays booked to Spain in the near future and enjoyed seeing my new home office space. Cheers! X

Furniture delivery and out to lunch

Hi. How are you all? Ok?

I’m a bit sleepy tonight having succumbed to a little nap this afternoon. I had the day off today but had to be awake early ready for my IKEA furniture delivery from 7.00 am. I now have a new bookshelf and a desk for my home office, both in white.

Today we have unpacked the bookcase and David has built this, while I’ve been sorting out my books and filing cabinet from the office. I chose this Billy bookcase as I like the shape of it and I wanted something white instead of the black shelves I’ve had for years. Apparently a Billy bookcase is estimated to be purchased EVERY FIVE SECONDS somewhere in the world. That’s quite mind blowing. It was a bargain, in my opinion, at £25. and seems relatively good quality. It is going to replace these old shelves below..

David has also been busy filling all the holes in the wall and amazingly he thinks he’s found some of the matching paint from over 10 years ago to touch up the walls where he’s filled. I am lucky that he enjoys DIY, is good at it and gets on with it in an instant, no nagging required! He has had strict instructions however not to go carrying around heavy bookcases or boxes on his own while I’m at work tomorrow as I do not want to return home to him crippled with his back (again). He will have to wait for me, but patience is not his strong suit! Tomorrow he will be waiting in for our new garden sofa. It is black rattan with cream cushions. Actually it is in 3 pieces: 2 chairs and a table that push together. I am imagining a round of margaritas on the little table, or a chilled glass of wine. I hope it is as nice as in the pictures online, sometimes it’s hard to see what you’re actually buying.

It is so liberating to be out and about a bit more again, albeit with some precautions. Today we cycled down to Gogos at Windsor Racecourse Marina for lunch outside. The setting there is stunning. This is our boat at the front (ONLY JOKING!!!).

The lunch was good, although the service was a bit slow. I went for the full cooked breakfast which was pretty big and very tasty. David had a beef burger with blue cheese sauce and chips. He raved about the blue cheese sauce. We had some Asahi lager, which always reminds me of my year living in Tokyo. We used to have a dispensing machine of Asahi cans outside my work. Tokyo was crazy busy but so much fun for a young adult. I have very good memories of my year teaching English there.

Well we’ve just polished off the pork goulash from the slow cooker and potatoes from The Waffle plot, even though I was still a bit full from lunch. It’s sofa and TV time now. We are currently watching “The Americans” and quite enjoying that. It’s about some Russian spies posing as a “normal” American family and hiding in plain sight. They have hundreds of different wigs and glasses for their disguises.. some are quite ridiculous especially the enormous purple tinted glasses Elizabeth wears sometimes… !