Monday, July 07, 2014

Back in the Saddle - almost...

Is it really a week since my last blog?  Have been so busy, by the end of it felt quite exhausted, but had a really lovely time.

The early part of the week was preparing for Gill's visit, hair appointment on Wednesday,  my hair being just the right length.  Am sure ladies know what I mean, when hair is worn fairly short, after having it trimmed/cut it is too short, then a few weeks later, for just a couple of weeks it is just perfect, then it grows too long.  This week was timed just right.  They said I looked like the Queen (hair that is).

The telegram from Her Majesty also arrived on the Wednesday (day before the actual date as requested by our daughter as she thought we might be out when it arrived recorded delivery - but it was pushed through the letter box without the postman asking for our signature).  Such a beautiful card with a lovely photo of the Queen on the front, lovely words inside, and what looked like a 'real' signature, not a printed one (although it probably was).  We took it to the restaurant where it stood on the mantelpiece surrounded by many bunches of flowers, from each of our children, and everyone who saw it was so impressed.

The meal was at the Barbar Elephant restaurant in Lancaster (nearer Morecambe than Lancaster), and we all sat at a very long table, me and B in the centre of one side.  The food was wonderful, with extra 'chef's compliments' some with the starters, and one special platter just for B and myself, also with the 'chef's compliments, and brought to us by the chef himself, this being a whole small chicken, plus three hardboiled eggs, some rice and lots of other garnish.  This served with the main course: three different curries, pilau rice, naan bread, and lots of it.  We couldn't manage to eat all the chicken of course, even rice and naan was left, so they put in all in doggy bags for us to bring home. 
I froze what I could, cooking the chicken later to make stock (and plenty of meat to use tomorrow when I'll be using it with some rice in Coronation Chicken).

The service was excellent, and as the manager was attending a parent's evening at his daughter's school, we were looked after by a young assistant manager who really was good (as were the other waiters).  He said it was such an honour to have us there (it was the first diamond wedding that the restaurant had provided for).
When we were about to leave, the asst/ manager gave me a huge flower arrangement (foliage with three sunflowers, and a lovely card.  B also give a bottle of champagne!!).
Although B and I were going to foot the bill, our children had paid for it, and it was no dearer than the price previously arranged, despite the 'chef's extra's and the flower, champers, card...
Have to say the Barbar Elephant really is one of the best eating houses we have been too, the food more than excellent, and not expensive.   Despite there being Wimbledon and football on TV that night, the restaurant was full, and Thursday is not normally a busy night in restaurants.

Fell into bed tired out (after playing Rummicubs and Cribbage with Gill), then the following day (Friday), we went to our daughter's in Lancaster for lunch, where we met up with our children (and partners) again, plus friends of our daughters.   Had more presents:(books, camera, anniversary hearts that were made for us, lovely framed photo taken the previous night that our son-in-law had done for us that morning, and two lovely patio roses (now planted). 
Then home for a couple or so hours before most of us met up again at B's social club, where our daughter brought the left-overs from the lunch (she had made a huge and wonderful buffet), plus the remains of the two-tier wedding cake (bottom fruit, top lemon drizzle) that we had cut and begun to eat at the restaurant. 

The weather was beautiful on The Day, but pelted down with rain most of Friday, Saturday was fine as was Sunday, so much of the time left Gill and I spent in the garden potting up the roses, and also several geranium plants she had brought for me.
Indoors she has been teaching me to crochet, so hope I can remember how to do it. I will persevere.

We played games until late each evening, and Saturday was the only day I actually cooked and wish I hadn't as having decided to make lasagne, changed my mind to spag bol, but had only one serving of this in the freezer and no minced beef, so decided to whizz up some cooked stewing beef to add to the already made meat sauce, and that was a great mistake as the meat ended up sort of in short strands.  No problem with the meat itself, left alone it was incredibly tender (being slow cooked), but stewing meat is best not blitzed in the food processor once cooked.   I was so annoyed with myself, but was so tired I couldn't be bothered to make anything else.   It took me all my time to eat my small portion, I did not dare ask B what he thought (he was eating it in the other room watching a footie match I think), Gill said it 'was edible'!

On Sunday our daughter came round, she and Gill had lunch in the garden (B out sailing), and Gill didn't leave for home until late afternoon.  Once she had gone I sat in my chair and fell instantly asleep for three good hours.  I felt so, so, tired.  But in a good way.
One good thing, the instant my head hit the pillow each night I fell asleep, and slept solidly, often not waking until about 9.00am each morning.  Gill was awake at around 7.00 each morning so I feel a bit guilty that I hadn't been able to spend as much time with her (girls together sort of thing) as I would normally have done on her visit, but this was a special occasion and I think (hope) she enjoyed herself.

So many congratulatory comments from you all, I felt overwhelmed.  What a lovely bunch you are, and because of so many, a blanket 'thank you' to all, with just a couple of so I wish to reply to.

Firstly a welcome to Vern who 'knew' me in the past as a media cook, and now caught up with me again via this blog.  Hope you enjoy the other two books Vern, esp. '...Goode Year' (my favourite).

Really pleased to hear about your 'not-quite-new' cooker buttercup.   Must be the bargain of the year. Also the second-hand curtains. 

Readers may remember that early this year (or was it late last year) I did a 'soup kitchen' for one of B's sailing mates who is a builder, and working across the road from us. Outside work on a roof etc, in very cold weather, he was glad of a hot meal (soup etc) midday.
Same builder has been refitting the club-house between fitting kitchens in other houses where they just threw out their 'old' (not!) fittings, so he gained a free extractor cover to place over the new cooker in the clubhouse, plus a 'free' dishwasher, and expecting to gain a fridge (or freezer) as well.
Seems there is so much thrown out these days that is still in working order.  Usually destined for the tip.  What a waste.  But if in the right place at the right time.....!

Since I last wrote have been watching little TV, but did see a good film called 'Rabbit-proof Fence', about how the half-caste Aboriginal girls used to be taken from their mothers and kept in institutions until they grew old enough to be placed in 'white' homes.  The idea (I understood from the film) was that after three generations of being married (or whatever) to white men, the Aborigine gene would disappear.  Three young girls escaped from the institution and walked several hundred miles back over scrub and desert until they reached their original home, and managed to hide from those who were constantly seeking them.

This evening, there was another programme from Australia, this about John Bishop (a comedian) was once cycled from Sydney to Cairns some 20 or so years ago, and had returned to do the same, but also discover other parts of Australia.  Some wonderful shots of the Blue Mountains,  almost like a mini Grand Canyon (US), in parts, and lots of verdant growth.   Am looking forward to seeing the rest of the series.  Australia is a place I would loved to have visited.  Sadly too old to do so now.

Mary (Perth, Australia) mentions cottage garden flowers.  Cornflowers I loved, also anemones, and my mother particularly liked the blue scabious, so my dad grew those for her.
In reply to Mary's query, Gill did not do any cooking, her idea of a visit is that she is on holiday, and suppose she feels that cooking is my domain anyway, although she always used to do the washing up (don't think she did this time - but there wasn't much anyway).

Now that I have a new (and quite elaborate) camera - gift from my grandson, bless him - I'm hoping soon to be taking foodie photos and then able to put them in/on this blog.  Still have to read the instructions.  It also takes videos, so who knows, you may be seeing my hands busily rolling pastry or beating something. 

It's going to take me a few days to get myself back down from cloud nine, so hope you will forgive my not giving recipes today.   It's nearly mid-night, so need to catch up on my sleep.  All being well will be blogging again tomorrow - my intention is to go to the spiritualist meeting in the afternoon, so may have (or may not) have something interesting to say about that.

Many thanks again, and hope you all had a pleasant week and not missed this blog too much (but missed it enough to keep wanting to stay.  TTFN.