Saturday, September 27, 2008

Herbal Cures

I got this book about twenty years ago when I lived in London and did an evening class in Parliament Hill Fields on herbalism. It was an amazing class and we learned a lot through observation. Each week our teacher would make us a cup of herbal tea and we had to say what properties the herb had, and once you tune into that it was surprising how accurate we were.
The book has beautiful photographs of all the herbs, as well as information on parts used, properties, and medicinal uses. I have another, more dense, herbal book, but this is my favourite.
It even has a section on dyeing wool with herbs!
I've had the book out in the living room for the last few weeks, just browsing and remembering and relearning. Today I decided to make a list of herbs that are good for eczema. During the changing of the seasons I get eczema on the palms of my hands. It clears up once the weather settles again, but the last week it's been fairly bad, though I've been using aqueous cream. Above is a photo of me trying to make a list of herbs to investigate. Always, always, always she has to be in on the action, my little shadow.
I had a really nice day today. Drove to John Lewis, looked at the lovely Christmas chocolate display, looked at the wool and material section, then I went to my friend's house for lunch, which was really nice, and we had a good chat over a very delicious and healthy sandwich. Before I went to Bev's for lunch I was sitting in my car waiting for Teddy Thompson to come on to the Jonathan Ross show. Hagos is on tour with TT at the moment and I was very excited to hear what he sounded like. Only for Jonathan Ross to announce at 12.30pm that Teddy couldn't make it due to fog! I love Jonathan Ross's show on a Saturday (not so keen on his TV show) so I was disappointed Teddy didn't turn up. I thought it was a great shame for him too as it would have been amazing exposure and boosted his career.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Elephants for Jo

In honour of my colleague Jo, who was obsessed by the Go Elephant exhibition in Norwich recently, I made 'Jo Elephants' tonight. I don't often make biscuits, and I think I erred on the side of caution too much by leaving them in the oven just a couple of minutes too long. Anyway, when they were finished I had two to try and they taste really nice. I'm sure my colleagues will appreciate them tomorrow.
I wasn't expecting the icing sugar to be so tricky though, which is why it looks like a two year old has decorated them! Maybe it should have been runnier? It kind of detracts from the elephant shape having a big white splodge!
My energy has been very strange today. I took Hagos to the train station for the 8.30am train for him to go on tour. We went to bed about midnight last night, and I didn't get off to sleep for a couple of hours. I have some fresh espresso coffee I add to my cup of decaf coffee in the morning, and it's so strong it's still in my system 12 hours later. And I only use about a quarter espresso to three quarters decaf! It gives it a lovely kick, but, hm, looks like I'll have to give it up. But when I got home from town today I meant to go to the gym and do a whole load of stuff but very quickly I realised I would really wipe myself out for the week if I did. So, I read, slept, and baked biscuits, and by 5 o'clock my energy had balanced out again. I felt extremely tired but also a strong urge to DO something energetic.

I think I'll have an early night.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Vicarious Treats

Yesterday was the most manic day at work. Even with one of my colleagues helping me I didn't get everything done that I wanted to. Then a friend turned up to collect me to take me to Wagamamas for dinner and I kept her waiting outside for 15-20 minutes as I frantically tried to finish up.

Wagamamas was really lovely, and when I got home I felt that euphoric end-of-the-week feeling. After all the busy-ness of the day I could let it all go and RELAX! And I had an urge to make toffee apples. Initially I looked in Mrs Beeton's cookbook but there was no toffee apple recipe there; instead I found it in How To Be A Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson. I think I'll make it for my work colleagues. Like meringues dipped in chocolate, I figure toffee apples must be light on calories, which is important when we're all on diets.
Looking for a toffee apple recipe led me to look through the rest of the book. Above is a treat I'd really like to make.
But I also really fancy this dense chocolate loaf. I figure I'm doing so well with my gym routine I can afford to indulge once a month.
Today has been a very lovely slow day. Meg joined me in bed early this morning. We eventually got up about half ten, then I had a leisurely walk to the shop to get milk and had porridge and banana for breakfast. Since then I've mostly been reading.

Hagos has been in Spain for the past couple of days with Tunng. I'm collecting him from the station at 6.30pm, then it'll be home for the first installment of Strictly Come Dancing. He's off again in two days' time with Teddy Thompson and James Blunt.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Spinning Plates

Sometimes I feel I have to keep an eye on so many things that it's like those entertainers I used to see on TV when I was a kid: they'd have long, thin, flexible, vertcal poles, and on top of the poles they'd spin as many plates as they could, and whenever a spinning plate slowed down they would return to it and give it a little spin, to keep it going, and that's what juggling life feels like sometimes.
Not that I'm complaining. Sometimes it all works well and I feel a sense of achievement and momentum, and sometimes some of the plates are very wobbly and near to falling off because I've neglected them too long. Anyway, one plate that is back on the pole is my visits to the gym. I had been doing very well, but then my old gym membership ran out, and I wanted to change gyms and there was a little interim period when I didn't go to the gym at all, only a couple of weeks but it makes a difference. So I'm back to my local gym, which feels really good. It means I can walk there instead of driving for half an hour there and back, and I'm hoping once my membership kicks in properly at the beginning of October that I'll be able to go five times a week until I'm down to my goal weight.
The swimming pool is absolutely divine. I love seeing an empty pool when I sign in at reception. It's the most calming, relaxing place to be in there by myself. The sauna is poolside too. And the gym above may not be as big and totally hi-tech as my previous gym but I already like it better.Another of my spinning plates is trying to be prepared for Christmas. I won't get into my thoughts on that too much, but above is a possible present for someone, if it works out well. I'm knitting it very occasionally, because there's no rush. I'm close to getting my plate-spinning priorities right, just a bit more tweaking and I should be back on track.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

iPod Pouch

I meant to sew this together using my sewing machine, but when I sat down to watch the preview to Strictly Come Dancing tonight I thought it wouldn't take me long to sew it by hand, so that's what I did, hence the wobbly stitches. The material is Amy Butler, my favourite.
It has padding between the outer and lining as I don't want my iPod getting knocked! My iPod loves it.

Last night Hagos logged me into the iTunes store and I bought and downloaded the Abba Gold album. The iTunes store is very similar to Amazon: it has lots of great things to buy and the site designers have made it very easy to press the 'buy' button (it already has your card details). I even dreamt about the iTunes store last night.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Haggarty Saturday

Today has been a perfect Saturday. Hagos and I went into town to Ha Ha's, which has been refurbished, for lunch. We usually share a vegetarian breakfast but today we also had eggy bread with maple syrup, absolutely delicious. My mocha, on the right, was also extremely good, chocolatey and strong.

Then we came home and Hagos slept on the living room couch and I cut out material to make a pouch for my iPod, then Meg and I slept on the studio couch, for about an hour and a half.

Later our friend Vicky came over and we had pizza and salad from M&S (low exertion!) and watched Batman Begins.

It's such a luxury to have Hagos home for the weekend. Saturday is my favourite day.


A little package was waiting for me when I got home on Thursday night from work and inside was the new iPod! It's totally amazing and has video too. It's a present from Hagos and I didn't even know he'd bought it for me until it arrived. I've never had an iPod before so I was very excited. Hagos set up iTunes on my old laptop and then it was really easy just copying the CDs I wanted onto it. When I got the bus to work on Friday morning I switched it on and while I'd been asleep Hagos has gone to the iTunes site and had downloaded the Amy Winehouse album, which I've wanted for ages.
I've wanted an iPod for years but always had more pressing things to spend the money on so it was a really, really lovely surprise.
This last photo shows my favourite band and album of all time. Lodestar. It's my husband's band but that's not the reason I like Lodestar. The music is dynamic, intelligent and dirty. Have a listen yourself.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


This is one of my piles of books I'm currently reading/about to read. I'm reading Catch-22 and Five Run Away Together concurrently, depending on my mood. Both are very good. I recently read this on the BBC's website: In response to allegations of sexism and racism, Chorion began heavily editing Blyton's works in the 1990s, removing phrases and words that could be deemed offensive.

I absolutely don't agree with this. No writer's work should be changed to suit the current politically correct climate. NOT that I approved of the sexism and xenophobia, but a writer's work has to be read in the context of the time it was written. I had noticed that the Famous Five books I get out of the library have fewer obvious prejudices than the copies of Famous Five books I have from my childhood, and now I know why.
I saw Joseph Heller at a book event at the University of East Anglia a few years ago. Actually, it was about two weeks before he died, and poor soul, he didn't look or sound very well. If I ever get a book signed by the author I ask them to write something at the end of the book. I first did this with Kazuo Ishiguro (one of my all-time favourite writers) and he wrote, "This is the end of this book. Stop now", and then signed his name, which made me laugh. Joseph Heller simply signed his name.
Meg has stopped bullying me now that Hagos has come home again. I picked him up from the train station at half one this morning. He'd been to Denmark, Latvia and London. He has this weekend off so I'm really looking forward to seeing him. Meg always changes her behaviour when he's at home. She knows she's been usurped as Top Cat. This was her relaxing yesterday afternoon. Sometimes when I'm working in my shed I hear a 'padump' of her landing on the roof, then a miaow at the door as she wants to come in. Then it's a race to lock the door and sit back in my chair because she rather likes my swivel chair herself, even though I've made the comfy chair even comfier by putting a blanket on it for her!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Baby Toad!

Isn't he sweet? And doesn't my front door look terrible? He was only about an inch in length and I spotted him late at night on my way out to my shed. I hope I didn't scare him with the flash.

Saturday, September 06, 2008


I wanted to spend today at home and when I got up it felt like such an autumnal day I put on my woolly tights and boots and a warm jumper and walked to Reepham Station. When I set off I realised it wasn't quite as cool as I'd thought, however, once at the station there were a couple of rain showers and that cooled the air considerably.

Today I gave myself £5 pocket money (I like my own pocket money scheme) and I had Earl Grey tea and a sausage roll at the station while I wrote a letter to my friend. Then I spent the rest on the items above. I love those Halloween sweets. I got the keyring with my initial to match Meg in colour, and the raspberry jam as a little sweet treat.

Meg was quite vile to me last night. She wants a treat to eat herself every day and when I don't produce either chicken or tuna she attacks me. First of all she sits staring at me pointedly, then she turns in the direction of the kitchen. When that doesn't work she jumps all over me, bumping her head into me, and again looking at me knowingly, and then if I still don't respond to that she races round the house at top speed, sending things flying, before running up to me and biting me! Last night I'd just stood up to deal with her and she stood on her back legs, grabbed me with her front paws and bit me on my thigh. She has really sharp little teeth. So today, on the way home from the station, I bought her a big tin of tuna, and I plan to go shopping later to Sainsburys, and now she's settled down happily on the couch. She's a little gorgeous bully.