I’ve updated my wishlist for Christmas, feel free to buy something not on the list though! The wishlist is here
There are quite a few possible cycle routes to work, none of which are ideal for various reasons, so I intend to keep a log of the routes and times taken until I find the best one. I’m using Google maps to mark up the various routes and in the comments recording the times taken and any other pertinent notes.
It is quite likely that I’ll have different routes for getting to and coming from work, and as the seasons change move from some off road routes to more road based ones and back again.
Factors to weigh up:
- Total distance / Time taken
- Amount of Traffic
- Awkward or Dangerous junctions & other hazards
- Quality of surfaces Tarmac, gravel, dirt, mud, pot holes, water logging
- Legality of route, footpaths, farmers fields vs bridleways, cyclepaths, tracks and roads.
- Obstacles including fords, footbridges, stiles, gates, undergrowth.
Pollo alla Cacciatora (Hunter’s Chicken Stew) (Serves 4)
A great traditional recipe, from Jamie's Italy, published in the Guardian, which is where I first found the recipe.
1 Chicken, jointed,
8 bay leaves, 2 sprigs rosemary,
3 cloves of garlic – 1 crushed, 2 sliced,
1/2 a bottle of Chianti,
6 Anchovy fillets
Handful of stoned green and black olives
2 x 400g tin of plum tomatoes.
Season chicken with salt & black pepper.
Add bay leaves, rosemary, crushed garlic & the wine.
Leave overnight to marinate.
Remove chicken, pat dry, dust with flour, then in oven proof dish brown the chicken all over and put aside.
Fry garlic till golden brown, add anchovies, olives & tomatoes (broken up), chicken & marinade. Bring to boil, cover and put in oven for 1 1/2 hours.
Skim off oil, stir, season, remove bay and rosemary, serve with salad or cannellini beans.
The Picasa Map is a really good way to show photos of a local area or holiday, done some of the ones we’ve taken around Christchurch. Turning on the Satellite view makes it easier to pick out features from the photos.
I suspect we won’t get to go to the cinema very often now that we have Henry. So I thought I’d better take a note of all the films that I like the look of, when the trailers come out. That way when they come out on DVD, or on Film4 or are shown at Christmas 5 years hence I may finally get to watch them… Created a new category Watch List to complement my Wish List.
The plan for Henry’s savings is to have three accounts, a Child Trust Fund, some tax free cash savings, and some tax free shares.
Liv is going to look after the tax free cash savings, and has set up a HSBC Cash ISA, of which £40 is allocated to Henry, with the intention of putting £10 a month in after April.
I’m going to look after the tax free share account, by allocating a portion of my share ISA to Henry, currently I’ve put in £62.39 which is from my Google Affiliates earnings, plus December’s £10. This has earned Henry a 0.6% share which currently consists of:
- 2 Cattles shares
- 6 Galliford Try shares
- 9 Highway Insurance shares
- 2 S & U shares
- 3 VP Group shares
- £13 cash
This does mean I’ll have to do a regular monthly valuation, to keep track of how Henry’s investments are doing.
Not decided on which CTF provider to use, or whether to go for Stakeholder or Cash versions.
Trying to settle Henry this evening was like trying to solve the Trapped marble puzzle, you know there’s a solution to get the burp or fart out but just can’t quiet find it. It’s very gratifying when he eventually gets release and falls asleep peacefully. Unfortunately I have a feeling that unlike the marble puzzle the solution is never going to be the same twice.
From 12 weeks, through 24 weeks & 30 weeks to 39 weeks… Like some timelapse nature program with David Bellamy narrating.
Browsing Roger’s many cookbooks came across this recipe to try with the stuff from our veg. box. It’s from Sophie Grigson's "Eat Your Greens" p. 82.
- 10oz sliced parsnips
- 10oz cauliflower florets
- 12oz sliced carrots
- 1 sliced medium onion
- Finely chopped ginger root, 2 cloves of garlic & green chilli
- 1 1/2oz ground almonds
- 1 tbsp cumin, 2 tsp coriander, 1 tsp cinnamon & 1 tsp turmeric
- 300ml greek yogurt
- Coriander/Parsley to garnish
Fry onion until golden brown, stir in spices, then add garlic, ginger & chilli. Stir for 1 minute. Slowly stir in yoghurt, then almonds, cook for 2 minutes.
Stir in 300ml water & some salt, add vegetables, cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes, until veg almost done. Uncover and simmer for another 5 minutes, season and add coriander to serve.
The baby’s not due, but the carpet fitters are! We have spent the last few days madly trying to get everything complete before the carpet fitters arrive to carpet the whole of the upstairs.
Liv has repainted the spare room, with B&Q’s down to earth “Pale Yellow”, just what we wanted all along, I finished off by putting all the electric sockets back in, changing the window casement fittings and replaced the pesky ceiling rose.
Then it was just a case of taking _everything_ that was upstairs and finding a home for it downstairs, Liv did all the small stuff, I moved all the bigger items and ripped out all the old carpet and underlay. Also nearly forgot to wire in the extra light circuit for the kitchen downstairs, just wonder how long we will have those bare wires hanging out of the ceiling…
Apart from the usual voles, mice and shrews that George usually brings in (plus a fuck off big rat this morning), he has also taken an interest in more ‘aquatic’ animals. No fish yet, I think he’s building up to that. He’s brought in two frogs so far this year – which he never kills, we always find them in the corner of the kitchen not usually looking too worse for wear.
This is also the first year the garden has been full of Dragon flys and Damsel flys, not quiet sure where they are coming from as the nearest stream has been dry through this drought of a summer. Obviously George had to take an interest as well in his own inimitable way, by catching and eating them. Managed to get a few pictures of this one before he had devoured it (Common Hawker I think).
Our first colour “Gentle Yellow”, comes out looking very peachy, not exactly what we were after, back to B&Q to get another handful of random sample pots… Top tip, rather than spending 4 hours carefully cutting in your chosen colour, just roller it onto one wall to double check its right first!
Liv has been powering ahead getting the painting finished, so far she’s mis-coated the walls and ceiling, done the first coat of gloss on the architrave, skirting, and coving. As well as cut in the emulsion on the ceiling. Just got to decide on a colour for the walls…
I have been fitting the skirting boards during the evenings over the last week, and put the last few pieces in place on Sunday, so it is all now screwed in. Liv has been wood filling and caulking the various joins, caused by a combination of curvy walls, warped wood and cheap mitre saw (nothing to do with my excellent workmanship).
Just need to do a last scan of the walls and woodwork, for any more cracks that need filling, then after a quick sand we are finally onto the painting.
Last weekend dominated by plastering, sanding the walls and base coat followed by top coat of plaster. Fortunately not too much to do, some where the architrave and skirting was removed, a big hole where the old radiator used to be and also the channels I cut for the new electric sockets.
Liv did more wood work sanding and knotting and priming of the architrave, and mis-coated the ceiling with PVA/emulsion mix. Sunday was on hold as the plaster was far from dry.
This weekend spent a good hour sweeping the chimney, really back breaking work, and then sanding the walls down and using fine surface filler to fill as many cracks and dinks as we could find.
Bought the extra skirting board we needed from Jewsons (not quiet the same pattern as the existing stuff unfortunately), and fitted the two hardest pieces behind the radiator.
Spent another weekend doing the groundwork for the decorating, Liv sanded down the woodwork for the window, and the coving, as well as knotting and undercoating some of the wood for the skirting and architrave. We attached the architrave around the loft hatch, filled and caulked all the gaps ready for painting.
Sunk and fixed the socket backs for all the electrics, fixed the conduit and routed the cables, left one socket usable and the other two blanked off. Cut and fixed all the battons ready to mount the skirting board to, also calculated that we need to get another lengths of skirting to finish the job (we had two more but they were so warped as to be unusable). Soaked all the exposed plaster with PVA to help to stabilise it as much as possible before I start patching up the various holes.
Spent a really tiring weekend stripping back the spare room ready for re-decorating. We pulled off all the knackered woodwork; the skirting and the architrave around the door, stripped all the wallpaper off, removed the old plug sockets and rewired the ringmain. Also knocked and prepped a new hole for another socket by the door, which needed to be reinforced due to the poor state of the lathe and plaster wall. Liv also sanded down most of the woodwork for the window and the architrave to go around the loft hatch, ready for painting.
Managed to break the head off the wallpaper stripper that Dave from work kindly leant me, so spent a good couple of hours trying to glue it together again, eventually improvised a replacement out of an old red tool tray.
Last bit of DIY before the baby is born is to turn the spare room into a nursery, although the nursery bit will mainly consist of furniture, some posters and a whole load of mobiles & baby stuff (we’re not painting it pink… We’ve already got one pink room).
Spent a couple of hours, dismantling the bed & chest of drawers and relocating all the bits into the conservatory, and the wardrobe moved to outside the bathroom. Now only have the chest of drawers carcass and tools left in the room.
First purchase is for a brass victorian casement stay from Screwfix, already have all the plug sockets and light switch bits, plus the casement stay.
In an attempt to eat a more balanced and healthy diet we have started getting an Organic Veg box from Owl’s Barn Organics delivered to our door every fortnight. For £7 we got:
- a selection of potatoes,
- tomatoes, a cucumber and a pepper,
- green beans,
- a leak and
- half a butternut squash
I’ve used up everything except the leak, the Butternut Squash and the beans (which I don’t like so will probably go spare). So a quick surf on the internet for recipes (Nigel Slater let me down) revealed Jo Pratt’s ‘Roasted butternut squash and sage risotto with pinenuts’. An pretty good match as I’ve been meaning to use some Sage from the herb garden for a while now, and I had half a pack of streaky bacon to use up as well. Unfortunately no Risotto rice or Pine Nuts, so compromised with brown basmati rice instead.
Overall not bad, very filling, and difficult to pick out the sage (probably too much parmesan), but the roast squash smelt great, so may use that in another recipe in the future.
In case the BBC lift the recipe, repeated here in brief:
Slice the Squash and smear with a paste of garlic, lots of sage, salt, pepper and olive oil, roast for a good 40 minutes in the oven. Mash when done.
Fry onion in butter and olive oil, add rice, stir in a couple of glasses of wine, then some stock and more chopped sage. Cook the rice till done, adding more stock as required.
Once the rice is done, stir in the squash and parmesan, leave to soften for a couple of minutes, then serve topped with crispy, fried smoked streaky bacon.
We had a power cut all morning on Sunday, so took the opportunity to start off my latest batch of beer, bought from the brew shop in Salisbury (On Fisherton Street). Its a kit called “London’s Proudest”, consisting of:
- 2 Tins of Scotmalt
- 1Kg Bag of Burton Bridge Beer Enhancer (Malt & Dextrose)
- Satchet of Hop Extract
- Satchet of Brewers yeast
- Satchet of Finings
- Satchet of ‘Creamy Top’
Most of these are from Ritchie Products.