Monday, February 25

Four Legs Good, Two Legs Bad.

After the shock of the weekend's sudden weight gain I decided I had better get back to doing some exercising. Bernard the visiting cat was in this morning, and joined me upstairs where I was doing my calisthenics.

I was doing some bicep curls when he arrived. He hopped up onto the press bench I have set up and sat there, just watching.

By the time I moved on to press-ups, he was lying on his back, wriggling on the bench. I swear he was laughing at me.

I had my revenge when he wriggled so much he fell off the bench.

He was not going to be outsmarted though.

I proceeded to do some sit-ups. I struggled, I must admit.

Bernard sat up, leant forward effortlessly, and started to lick his bottom.


Weighty Matters

I have just discovered how to gain 10 pounds in weight in less than 24 hours.

Anyone who has met me knows that I am not exactly in need of help in the weight-gaining department.

So why is it, when you buy a new set of bathroom scales, you discover your old set were underweighing?

I would go off to Boot's and check on the scales there. But I don't think the Angel, Islington, is the best place to make a stand on naturism, and I don't know my weight with my clothes on.

Besides, the spare tyre I have gained in the last few months tells me the scales might just be right!

Friday, February 22

The Bear Facts

As correctly guessed by Amalee, this lorry from London Zoo was at Kew to collect fresh Bamboo to feed the Giant Pandas!

Thursday, February 21

Kew and A

Shadowy People: The Phantom and his Lady, plus crocuses. Kew Gardens. Monday.

Feeling Griddy: Low spring sunshine turns a bench into an op-art abstract.

Irridescence: Who needs a partridge up a tree, when you can have a Peacock.

Why Were They Here? Answer tomorrow...

Edible Proof

Up early this morning. It's half-term this week. My good lady had her birthday on Monday, and most of this week has been very laid back and indulgent. Late nights, waking up late, leisurely steaming bowls of porridge for breakfast.

But this morning I was up early. The cats were let in, their ears freezing, pads icy as they each stood up and rubbed a goodmorning scenting cheek up to my outstretched hands.

I read some blogs, then took up a morning cuppa to the birthday girl. I needed to feel that I was going to do something constructive with the day. That something was baking bread.

By Midday the loaves were cooling, and Bernard had warmed up next to the oven. The mists were clearing, and I had edible proof of my morning's work.

Sunday, February 10

Kitchen Tip

As you may have guessed, the kitchen is rather central to the Phantom's existence. Thanks to my Mum's generosity a few years back I am the proud owner of a steel and brass Lacanche cooker, the Cluny

(No relation to George, but just as good looking).

However, the stainless steel extractor hood does tend to get grubby looking very quickly. We have searched the stores over quite a few years now, trying out different stainless steel cleaners and polishers on the market. None ever worked really well and they all tend to be expensive.

A few months back we were giving the ceiling a scrub (Yup!) when we dripped some of the Sugar Soap solution onto the hood. Hey presto, the grease and grime just lifted off. It left Cillitt Bang behind in the starting blocks!

We still had the problem of keeping the hood polished and clean looking. Then I was given a tip by one of our college cleaners. Spray WD40 onto a cloth and just wipe down the steel with that. It works a treat, removes finger marks and leaves everything lustrous.

It doesn't take long to do, both items can be bought in any hardware shop, and they leave enough money in your pocket for a bottle of something afterwards.


Friday, February 8

Flipping Amazing

Like every year, Pancake Day fell on a Tuesday this year. That probably accounts for why I so rarely make pancakes on the traditional day.

Working and pancakes just don't mix. When you get home from work you want to eat dinner, plain and simple. Eat. Dinner.

In Phantom Towers, most of the time I cook, and if I've just got through the door, cooking the main course is just about my limit. Most years, therefore, my good lady misses out. This year she had a plan....

Our good friend Battey Moo has had a rough time of late, so my wife invited her round for a meal, on Tuesday. Cunning. I suspect she felt the social pressure of having another mouth to feed would ensure she got an evening of batter delights, lifted with the scent of citrus, and frosted with caster sugar like snow on a winter's morn.

I really didn't know what I was going to cook until I got to Mr Waite and Mr Rose's grocers. Knowing that Battey is allergic to nuts ruled out the pasta options on an evening when I felt like pesto. I had a look in the fish section and spotted some lovely looking cod, sustainably caught and the best thing to come out of Iceland since Benni, Bjorn, Agnetha, and ...... Um, ABBA.

Armed with my cod, I made haste to the Seven Sisters Road and bought a bunch each of basil, mint, dill and flat leaf parsley. Whizzed in the food processor with fresh but tiring bread and a sploosh of olive oil I soon had a herb crust to top the cod with. (I started this off in a frying pan, finishing it off in the oven and then flashing it under the grill to brown the crust. It's always worth having a metal-handled frying pan, both for this and Tarte Tatin.)

The cod was accompanied by boiled potatoes, fennel, braised and browned, and steamed sugar snap peas with garlic and oyster sauce. The meal was delicious, and afterwards I stretched out on the sofa next door to regather my strength for making the pancakes to come.

I stretched out, and Tigger hopped up next to me. We both stretched out.

You can guess what happened next....

Me Too!

They woke me up just as our Battey Moo was leaving.

Maybe pancakes for Sunday lunch instead?


(You may find this difficult to believe but Tigger climbed up on my lap whilst I was writing the post above, then he stood with one paw on the keyboard and wrote his name? I know the letters are next to each other on the keyboard, but WEIRD. I think he wants his own blog....)