Saturday, 27 October 2007

plant of the week

Here's this week's plant from Ikea, now sitting on the table in our entrance area. We also bought baskets for bathroom storage which hang on little hooks, and this let me clean up everything in the bathroom so there are no boxes on the floor any more.

Our kitchen lighting dramatically improved after we bought new light bulbs--150 watt halogen bulbs for the spots and a huge white paper shade for the light above the table. A new dish rack means I can stack up even more washing up. We bought a box of picture hooks, which is a huge bonus. Having all our pictures up makes things feel a lot more like home. We bought a small canvas photo of a purple flower for our bedroom. Two new pillows for the living room make our sofa bed a bit more comfortable.

Finally, we also bought a new duvet cover. Quite a lot of the money we saved by not going away this week we spent at Ikea. Our house feels like a real home now.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

many errands done this week

I am happy to report that one of the most functional outcomes of this week is that we have got loads of little things done. We took our bikes for a service (my chain needed a link taken out, Ant needed new brake discs). Yesterday I got my flu vaccination--a huge bonus since I seem to be taken ill much too frequently. I've been to the dentist twice this week, once for a check-up and once for a cleaning. (It's been more than two years since I've been to the dentist. (!) Considering that, I'm chuffed that I had no filings and no gum problems either.) My teeth feel lovely and clean. Today we are off to Ikea to get some mirror findings and a towel rack and, of course, to pick up the plant of the week. It's great to get things done, as well as spending lots of good time together and relaxing.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

the Horniman museum day out

Ant and I ventured out to south east London to the Horniman Museum today. It was perhaps a mistake to go there this week--it was overrun with primary aged children and mothers pushing buggies. On the up side there were quite a few interesting displays with animals and a great set of aquariums. We saw crabs, sea anemones, and this case of jellyfish.

They also had tanks from different climates, including this case of tropical fish.

Try to spot the two tree frogs in this case.

We eventually left without seeing all the exhibits because we had both reached our limit of excitable, loud children. This evening we went out for dinner at Le Gothique, a restaurant we have heard about a few times that is near us. The food was good, our server was polite and attentive, although a little scatterbrained. It is truly autumn now and I shivered on the way there and home via the bus, wearing my scarf and a hat.

Monday, 22 October 2007

city walk #18: Hampstead

Ant and I headed into North of the river today to walk on Hampstead Heath. It's a huge open space, mostly left naturally. We rambled around and up Parliament Hill to see a great view of the city. Surprisingly, although London is full of people and buildings, it's also quite green as well.

At the north end of the heath is this large building, Kenwood House, with massive grounds and ponds surrounding it.

We had worked up quite an appetite by then (due in part to a few wrong turnings in the wilds of the park), so we exited at the north gate and headed to a pub recommended by the city walks card, The Spaniard's Inn. There in the dark, atmospheric dining area, Ant and I had a truly delicious meal. He had wild boar sausages with creamy mash and gravy. I had a sweet potato and goat's cheese lasagne. Afterwards I worked up the courage to ask about the chef's recipe; I will try it out on our next unsuspecting dinner guests.

We wandered up and down Hampstead High Street, in and out of little shops. We finished off our little trip in Louis, a Hungarian confectionery and tea shop. We managed to squeeze in and were amazed at how many others were evidently enjoying their Monday afternoon cuppa. There were some exceedingly posh accents heard near us. One came from an elderly man who exclaimed how apt Ant's t-shirt was: "Make tea not war".

It started to rain as we left the tea shop, so we headed back underground and home to our sauna-like flat. (The plumbers came round this morning to put some chemicals in the radiators to clean out the system and, as a result, the heating has to be on all week.) We are now tired, happy and full, roasting in the lounge.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

a week off

It's the beginning of that wonderful British invention, the half term holiday. Ant is also taking a week off and we are really looking forward to some time together. We thought about going away, but started adding up the costs and saw that is could be quite pricey. So instead we decided to take the money we could spend on going away and use some of it to do some things in London that we normally wouldn't do.

Also on the agenda is having our radiator system de-scaled, a week-long process that our landlords have arranged to happen on the week that we're off so we can let the plumbers in.

I am going to the dentist on Monday. It will be my first visit since I moved to the UK, shockingly. Ant also had a dentist's appointment recently. We have vowed to go to the dentist regularly from now on.

The book club meets on Wednesday evening. We are reading The View from Castle Rock by Alice Munro.

Ideas for this week, still only possibilities:
--go to a show (a musical or a play)
--have tea at the Ritz
--a river cruise
--visit Sir John Soane's museum
--do some wine tasting at Vinopolis

Saturday, 20 October 2007

sporting weekend

Today we are watching:
--the Brazilian Grand Prix qualifying
--the rugby World Cup final (England vs. South Africa)
Tomorrow we are watching:
--the Brazilian Grand Prix (the last race of the season, destined to be a nail-biter)

Thursday, 18 October 2007

a post for Paul

Paul is my favourite portrait photographer. At Christmas he took a full set of portraits of our extended family on Dad's side.

This photo series of people and their breakfasts reminds me of Paul's work.

I am eagerly awaiting Paul's photo series of people and their shoes, which I think I recall discussing with him. Other ideas from anyone else?

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

daily poetry

All praise to Thee, my God, this night,
For all the blessings of the light!
Keep me, O keep me, King of kings,
Beneath Thine own almighty wings.

Forgive me, Lord, for Thy dear Son,
The ill that I this day have done,
That with the world, myself, and Thee,
I, ere I sleep, at peace may be.

Teach me to live, that I may dread
The grave as little as my bed.
Teach me to die, that so I may
Rise glorious at the judgment day.

O may my soul on Thee repose,
And with sweet sleep mine eyelids close,
Sleep that may me more vigorous make
To serve my God when I awake.

When in the night I sleepless lie,
My soul with heavenly thoughts supply;
Let no ill dreams disturb my rest,
No powers of darkness me molest.

O when shall I, in endless day,
For ever chase dark sleep away,
And hymns divine with angels sing,
All praise to thee, eternal King?

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

--Thomas Ken (1637-1711)

This poem is taken from my One Year Book of Poetry. The ideas about sleep and death may be a topic for the study I'll be leading in a few weeks when the young people meet at our house. "Hardly anyone is afraid to go to sleep at night because there is nothing to fear," the commentators say. And that is a view that Christians can have about death, since there is hope beyond death and nothing to fear.

Monday, 15 October 2007


I. Am. Sick. Again. Blech.

Maybe I will get a flu jab. It would be worth the money. I am fed up of being ill.

Sunday, 14 October 2007

a new meat!

Well, almost new. Ant's Nan sent him a box full of beef for his birthday this summer. (Beef! I ask you.) It was delivered by courier straight from the Scottish highlands. It's from the same beef farm that provides beef to the Queen's household. Tonight we ate our first two steaks--one sirloin steak and one fillet steak. I am not a big beef fan and I have been scared about cooking it since it arrived. But Ant says the reason I always make nasty beef is because I do not start with a good enough cut of meat. Well, these are the best pieces of beef I have ever laid eyes on.

We cooked baby potatoes and roasted parsnips, carrots, onions, and squash to go with the steaks. We deglazed the pan with some mushrooms and let the beef rest before plating up.

It was delicious. Even I, who don't really like beef, must admit that is was amazing.

But I also must add that the roasted vegetables were the best part of the meal.

a new vegetable!

My dad grows vegetables in the back garden. He used to grow zucchini and always moaned about how prolific they were and what to do with them. He searched one year and found a chocolate cake recipe that used grated zucchini--what a way to use up a vegetable.

Since moving to the UK I have discovered the zucchini's more popular brother, the courgette. :) The courgette seems to me to be a much more versatile vegetable. Last week I ordered a bag of ten small ones with my shopping and here are some of the things I did with them.

--Pasta bake with a vegetable sauce (one can of tomatoes, two grated courgettes, two grated carrots, a small can of sweetcorn, one can of chickpeas)
--Fish fingers with a green vegetable medley (one finely chopped courgette, half a leek, cut into rings, and two handfuls of peas (from the freezer))
--Chicken stir-fry with carrots, mushrooms, courgette slices, finely chopped onion

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Canadian authors

My book club is run by Network Canada and for the last two months we have made an effort to chose Canadian books. I am still reading September's book, Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures by Vincent Lam. My dad got me this Giller Prize winner for Christmas and I put off reading it until now because of the book club. We had to acquire all our copies from Canada because it wasn't on sale here. That proved to be a bit difficult and so our choice this month is also on sale in the UK: Alice Munro's View from Castle Rock. I got it from the library today.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

internet: yay!

Our internet is back today--two weeks ahead of schedule! Woohoo! I am going to spend most of my online time tonight (which is short since it's almost bedtime) posting some pictures of our new flat.

Our bedroom has the largest wardrobe space I have ever seen in a British bedroom.

With the bookshelves in the lounge, we can now use our bedroom shelving unit for storage. The silver storage boxes will stay and we are still going to unpack the other boxes.

The study is still unpacked and chocker with our desks, filing cabinet, and boxes.

Here you can see the view looking to the stairs at the front of the flat and the bike rack. Up the two stairs, our bedroom door and the lounge door are on the left. The study door is straight ahead. I am standing next to the bathroom door and the door to Matt's bedroom. Behind me is the kitchen.

The bathroom will be getting a new shower curtain and toilet seat this weekend. I really like the mauve-ish grey colour on the walls.

The kitchen is the most organised of all the rooms so far. I took this picture while standing on one of our dining chairs.

Well, that's all folks. I am overtired from a school event last night. I think I may be coming down with something as well. I must get into bed before I become ill. But I will certainly be online again soon. Let's hear it for a fast hook-up of broadband!