Tag Archives: chocolate

Reading, Quizzes and Chocolate

Julia went to the chip shop to get tea. I made dessert. It was fruit and nut chocolate served with a cup of tea. In other words, cooking was minimalist tonight.

watched Tenable tonight. It’s back on at a better time and as I slept through Pointless I needed some quiz input. I was awful on Wham! songs and European football. Pop music and sport aren’t my best subjects. Fortunately I redeemed myself on Dogs. I was pretty good on Kings of England (I still thing the question setters were wrong to exclude Edgar the Aetheling, as he was elected, even if he wasn’t crowned. However, on a quiz where a contestant can only name two of the first ten Kings after 1066, this is probably a step too far). My work on US states is paying off and I was able to name the ten that begin with T or N. I can do the English ones that begin with N. but completely forgot Tyne and Wear. Probably because I don’t see it a s a proper county.

Don’t ask me about Scottish, Welsh and Irish counties – I am even worse on them.

After that I sat at the computer with the intention of writing classic literature. I ended up reading blogs, playing games and thinking deep thoughts.

All this took so long that I am only just finishing the blog post for the day. I did think about ending with a joke about procrastination, but that will have to wait.

A Simple Day for a Simple Man

I’ve just spent a happy morning in front of the fire chatting, eating chocolate and watching compilations of Christmas songs on TV. I am a simple man and this is all I need. This expanded to a happy afternoon doing the same.

I just spent five minutes trying to delete a surplus full stop from that sentence. One of my resolutions for next year is to keep my computer screen cleaner, as it turned out to be a small mark on the screen that lined up perfectly. This isn’t the first time it’s happened, but it always fools me.

As I said, I am a simple man.

I have my wife by my side, my firstborn nearby and the spare child checked in by some mysterious process which allowed his face to appear on a computer screen and tell me I was looking older. He is looking uglier and tubbier than last time I saw him. It is good to have all this modern technology to hurl abuse at family members who are thousands of miles away, though I’m not sure that when I first came across a “video phone” in a science fiction story that I would ever use one for this purpose.

After that I rang my sister using 19th century technology and delayed her until she had to go, because her oven was emitting smoke. Her cooker has either elected a new pope or burned her Christmas dinner. I fear it is the latter.

I’m now going to stalk a few of my regular blogging companions and see how their day is going. After that it is turkey and more TV. I also intend drinking some of the tea I have been sent as presents and rounding the day off with biscuits.

1995 Robin stamp


Burnt Aubergine Vegetarian Chilli

We had Burnt Aubergine Chilli tonight. It’s not the first time that the word “burnt” has entered the conversation about my cookery, along with its synonyms – charred, scorched, over-cooked, cremated, incinerated and inedible. It is, however, the first time I’ve it’s been a deliberate choice.

The recipe is ‘low fat and four of your five a day,’ according to the website.

I didn’t quite follow the recipe – life is too short to cut carrots into tiny cubes, but I did use tinned tomatoes, red kidney beans, green lentils, onions and aubergine. As I recall, you can only count the beans and lentils as one portion, and it’s possible we have to discount the onions as not being a full portion. Call it 3½ portions, even without the carrots.

It wasn’t great, but to be fair to the recipe, I used it as a guide rather than a recipe.

I missed out the carrots because I’m lazy and some of the soy sauce because I’m an idiot (I forgot that a tablespoon is the really big one, not a dessert spoon – I’m always doing that). To be honest, I’m not sure that missing out a few mls of soy sauce was the main problem.

I also missed out the red lentils (replaced with extra green ones), the coriander and the cinnamon because I didn’t have any. (It turns out we did actually have cinnamon but ‘men can never see anything even when it’s straight in front of them’). Again, I’m not sure that missing out a few sprinkles of spice was a major problem.

The major problem may well have been that I was hungry, so I omitted the 800 ml of stock and most of the cooking time. I was using tinned lentils so it wasn’t as if they needed a lot of cooking. This may have deprived us of a great deal of flavour and texture. Or it may just have meant we ate sooner.

It was, as I say, not great. The spicing was quite hot, though acceptable by our modest standards, and the flavour was not as good as I would have liked. On the other hand, it wasn’t bad either. In truth, I’ve never really rated vegetarian chilli so I wasn’t particularly disappointed by the result. I will try it again and see how it goes.

Burnt Aubergine Chilli with brown rice

Burnt Aubergine Chilli with brown rice

The scorching of the aubergine skin, done using the garden flamethrower, did not produce the smoky flavour I was hoping for, though the discarded skin smelt reasonably smoky as it went into the compost. I was hoping for something spectacular for the photographs, but the camera seemed to filter the flame out.

Another problem is the chocolate. I used some of Julia’s hoard of 80% dark chocolate, thinking that if something is doing it is worth doing properly. It didn’t add anything to the taste, but when I mentioned it, it did add something to the conversation. I won’t go over the entire discussion, but Julia isn’t happy about the idea of me throwing her decent chocolate into a chilli. From the note of indignation in her voice you’d have thought I’d been using puppies, not chocolate.




Doctors, Death and Diaries

I had my phone call from the doctor today and I will be picking up my replacement prescription tomorrow. We had a wide-ranging discussion, with him insisting that I’d had the prescription and me insisting that I hadn’t, and that his own receptionists had sworn blind to Julia it wasn’t on their system and we had never handed it in. After asking me if it was possible that I’d had the prescription and forgotten it (I said no) he conceded it was possible it had been mislaid around the practice.

He then laid into me for not following up on a year-old blood test which shows me have worryingly high levels of something I didn’t quite catch.

“When I rang for those results,” I said, “I was told it was all good and didn’t need any action.”

“Ah, we seem to have coded it wrong.” he said.

I’m definitely going to start keeping a diary of my dealings with the NHS from now on. It’s quite possible that at this rate I’ll end up with a letter telling me I only have 12 months to live, and a second one apologising for the 13 month delay in sending the other letter.

I’ve still not had satisfactory answers to the questions I asked about my two cancelled operations in 2017. I gave up on one of them and the other one promised to get back to me. I’m sure that having taken 30 months to compose her answer, she will have a really good answer when it arrives.

That, I think, will do for the day. Nothing much happened and my brain is slowing down. I probably need chocolate, but that, according to the doctor, would be the same as ingesting poison.

There are some days when, to be honest, a glass of hemlock seems very attractive.

The pictures are from a set of silver Britannia coins we have in stock – they were specially made in 2006 by the Royal Mint and have had an additional coating of matt-finish silver and highlighting in gold. They are handsome coins.

A Day of Minor Annoyances

I turned over for a few more minutes in the warm this morning and my second alarm didn’t go off, so a “few” minutes ended up as nine minutes.

I couldn’t find the cover for my windscreen last night as we cleared the car out a few weeks ago. I can’t believe I was stupid enough to lose it as winter approached. It took several minutes to scrape the screen and my fingers froze as I cursed the cold and my stupidity.

I arrived at Phlebotomy at 7.30, when I’d been aiming for 7.10ish. I was ticket number 20 and they were only on number 8 when all the staff seemed to disappear. They do that sometimes.

Three staff members, fortunately not phlebotomists, argued in a corner about lost keys.

I forgot my book but it didn’t matter as I also forgot my glasses.

When ticket 17 went in for testing (eventually) the man with ticket number 18 stood up and started to twitch like a longdog with a rabbit in view. He was very thin. I could probably have put my hands around his thighs, assuming we were formally introduced at some stage, and had bags with him so he was either in for an overnight stay or he was homeless.

Number 18 seemed to take a long time. Number 19 went in. Number 18 came out. I thought I was going to be punctured soon, but he kept the phlebotomist engaged in giving him directions to his next stop. Then in asking her to repeat the directions. And a third time just for luck.

Moments later she was trying to find him because he had left his coat behind.

My blood test went well. Too well, because it took a lot of pressure to stop the bleeding. I’m hoping that is a good sign.

Then number 18 came back to ask about his coat and blocked the doorway as I was trying to get out.

Bear in mind I am trying to get out before 8.00 to get Julia to work.  And to avoid car parking charges by being less than 300 minutes.

I may have sounded a bit irritable. He said: “I’m sorry, I’ve been getting in everybody’s way this morning.”

I thought of his words as I walked to the car, and I decided that I should be a nicer person.

Even as I paid £2 into the car park machine I held that thought.

On the way home I flashed a car to let it move out into traffic. It didn’t move. So I flashed my lights again. It didn’t move. I was holding people up. So I started to move forward. Then they moved and nearly took the front off my car.

Some people don’t deserve niceness.

So I reverted to my normal self.

I could probably do four more pages of this, but you deserve a rest. However, I have to say that it was a very irritating day.

I bought Julia some chocolate yesterday. It might be a good time to go and remind her that sharing is a good thing to do. I’ll make a cup of tea and look wistful in a way that implies chocolate might be the answer. She doesn’t like white chocolate so I should be able to pry that from her vice-like grip.

The gull picture is from earlier in the year – the day I broke my windscreen.It is, however,


Cold grey heron on a cold grey day


A Packed Monday

This morning I dragged myself from bed reluctantly and groaned as I felt the arthritis in my finger. I had, just days before, been wondering if I’d get to spring without more trouble. It seems not. I went down for my blood test. For the second time in three visits I had a learner. She was heavy-handed but accurate and relatively painless.

Because I was late Julia took the bus to work and left me to fill in an hour before going to work. A full breakfast at Sainsbury’s filled the gap.

I then started on parcels. There were fifteen, several of which we had packed on Saturday afternoon and two of which were for collection. Then we had two people in to sell things and things to put on the eBay shop. We also had a lost parcel to deal with. It had been posted by ordinary post and had disappeared. The way eBay works means we have to send the money back and pay 80 pence to PayPal. In the old days we’d have shown the reciept from the post office to prove we’d posted it and told the customer he should have paid the extra for insurance. Experience suggests we’ve been had over, but who can tell?

Finally the lady who wanted two coin sets came in. She was buying them for presents as they represent birth dates. Seeing that we had more, she bought three others and left the shop after we planted the idea of coin collecting in her head.

It was then time for sandwiches, packed by Number Two Son the night before, and a trip to Newark. I caught up with an old friend, which is always good, and treated myself to a Fry’s Peppermint Cream. It’s a long-established chocolate bar – I remember my great-grandmother eating Fry’s.

On the way back I saw a few good sunset pictures, but couldn’t find anywhere safe to park and photograph, so I’ve used adawn shot from last week for this post.

The rooks seem to be gathering at their nest sites, I’ve seen two largish gatherings this week. Looks like spring is coming, though all the weather reports are forecasting cold weather and snow this week.

We had stew for tea. I’d made it last night using up a lot of slightly wrinkled vegetables so we reheated it, Julia made dumplings and I managed to eat my five a day out of the same bowl.

Then Julia produced a bar of Thornton’s dark chocolate with chilli. She didn’t know I’d already had chocolate and I seem to have forgotten to tell her.

That’s about it. On balance it was a good day.



29th Wedding Anniversary

We’ve just celebrated our 29th Wedding Anniversary. The traditional gift is, it seems, furniture, which I take as a sign that the romance may have faded.

I broke with this tradition and gave Julia a silver brooch and chocolates. Actually it wasn’t much of a break with our tradition as I normally give her a jewellery and chocolates. She likes jewellery and chocolates, and it saves me having to do much thinking. I made sure she had plenty of chocolate so she could share it round.

The longevity of our marriage owes little, as regular readers may guess, to my qualities as a husband. It does, however, vindicate my policy of waiting for the right woman, even if she did make me wait nine years. By “right” woman, I mean, of course, one with low standards in men.

The traditional gift for 30 years is pearls. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I know that the value of a virtuous woman is a price above rubies, but have you seen the cost of pearls?


Ups and downs

Sorry, I just seemed to hit one of those patches when I just couldn’t get the blog done. A busy day followed by preparing for a school visit meant we were home for 9.30, heated up the vegetable curry I prepared on Sunday, watched Upstart Crow and went to bed. (Don’t worry, I’m not moving into the modern world and developing a conscience about killing animals, merely saving money.)

I was a bit disappointed in Upstart Crow. Though I may be wasting my life slumped in front of a TV, there are more interesting things to watch and I’m currently undecided whether I’ll watch it again.



The chocolate picture shows the picture of the chocolate I bought Julia at the weekend, working on the basis that chocolate is a well known universal medicine. I don’t really like dark chocolate but I took hit for my beloved. The Orange and Geranium was quite pleasant, with a taste like rosewater Turkish Delight. The one with Dragon Ginger was less successful. I was expecting something a bit on the fiery side, which I think is fair when you consider the image of the dragon. Don’t be fooled, it’s mild. Very mild. In fact you notice the texture rather than the flavour.

I was also disappointed on Tuesday morning when the teacher who visited on Saturday emailed Julia to say that they were going to cancel their booking. It seems that the school has decided it will be too dangerous for one of the kids in the class, who has a number of medical problems.

It’s a tricky ethical question, should a whole class miss out because one child has a problem? I wouldn’t like him to feel left out, but I also feel bad about the rest of the class missing a fun day out.

One thing I’m less equivocal about is the loss of a day’s wages.

However, we were visited by a group of teenagers with special needs later on Tuesday, and they were one of the best groups we’ve ever had, with great manners and good discipline. They threw themselves into all the activities (though the rain did stop a few plans) and after being disappointed by Ben Elton and the thought of lost money I found myself quite upbeat after a day with these kids.

(In fairness I also have to point out that the teachers were excellent too and if I had a Hall of Fame I’d put them in it).

The coloured tiles are salt dough. Apart from the picture of Julia’s demo area (it’s not the result of an explosion in a classroom in case you were concerned) it’s one of the few I got today – they were so keen to eat the pizza that it was all gone before I had a chance to take a picture.

Ah, salt dough!

That’s another story…

I managed to spend Tuesday night without adding the photos to the blog, so it’s now Wednesday morning. I’ve altered the post to reflect this and hope it still makes sense.