Dinner for a grownup puttana

It is very hot at the moment. Amigo II and I splash around in his paddling pool, in between eating lots of ice lollies and finding shady places to walk. He thinks I am three and invites me to pretend to be a dinosaur in the park – which I, of course, agree to. Haha. If you see a demented woman running around the park, thats me being a triceratops. Then, I had a lovely working lunch with Rockits Rosina – what a marvellous job she has done getting local businesses on board for the Grease screenings this Saturday. AAAHHHHH!!!! Yes! It’s THIS Saturday! We have around 40 local shops, pubs and services being advertised during the day – how wonderfully supportive and it TRULY makes it a community event. We are ticking all the final boxes on our TO DO list now – banner goes up tonight and then, we should be more or less complete. Phew! The Town Council have been incredibly supportive (thank you Claire and Phil), as have Ashford Borough Council.

Topsy Turvy Amigo III. xxx

I am definitely having Victor(ia) Meldrew spells now I am getting older. FB is the place that seems to niggle me the most, so I have cut back my social media visits to an absolute minimum. First type of annoying post is by people talking about how down they are, or how down they were and how fine they now are, because they are wonderfully strong characters. What is the point in that? Are they trying to sell something – themselves maybe? Second on the list and even worse, are the, “share this post if you care about (blah blah blah).” Sharing a post on FB is how I show I care about something? And thirdly, my current peeve, is people complaining about the hot weather. Yes, it is very hot and sticky, but also bloody lovely! How on earth does it stop people going about their day to day activities? Sure, I can understand how it may affect the elderly or the very young, but us grown ups should manage a few days of it being a bit hotter than usual? Isn’t this why we go on holiday every year?

Swirls of golden brown hair – like a delicious, golden walnut whip xxxx

I am not, of course, suggesting I am a puttana…I am though, a ‘one-pot wonder’ kind of cook. I feel quite heroic when I ladle huge amounts out of my cauldron. Yesterday though, I made Puttanesca for three, which I remembered the MFI making. The most important thing about cooking well, is to allow things time to cook properly. Puttanesca takes 1.5 hours if cooked nicely, or half an hour if you’re starving! Get, a couple of anchovies (get a little jar in olive oil), large onion, 2 cloves garlic, tin of nice quality chopped toms, a little jar of capers, handful of parsley, spaghetti. So simple to make! Finely chop onion and garlic and gently fry in olive oil for about 20 mins. Add two anchovies and break them up. Add toms and then gently cook it for a further hour. Don’t add salt… the anchovies have enough salt in them. You can add a few chopped capers if you want. Cook your spaghetti as usual, but remember NOT to throw away all the spaghetti water. Chop the parsley. When you’re ready, mix everything together and add a good splash of the spaghetti water to keep it nice and moist. Mmmmnnn. Warning – Bit salty for kids. Oh yes, puttana – that means, whore, haha. I think Puttanesca was supposed to have been invented way back, by Italian ladies of the night, who used to make it after a long, late shift at work (!!), with the few bits and bobs they had left in their fridges. xxxx

A week of thoughts…

Phew, it’s Friday and what a busy week! Amigo II has been a little bundle of mischievous joy to babysit from Mon-Wed. We kept super busy and went on trips to garden centres, charity shops (for diggers and dinosaurs) and to the Rare Breeds Centre in Woodchurch. It’s bloody sweltering too… Friday market this morning with Butsy. The fruit ‘n veg market has been great during lockdown.

Rare Breeds with Amigo II. Lots of wasps chasing our lollies.

Grease 2020, the Mini Movie is nearly complete! Without the enormous help of John and Caroline this would not have been possible. I have been struggling a little with sudden ups and downs and I get odd days where I don’t even have the inclination to answer the phone. I’m not a wussy person, I’m not an attention seeker and I like to think I’m strong and capable. However, I’ve had some seriously odd spells in my life and I’m used to pulling myself out of holes and I will do so again. So, I make my days busy, or else some days I’d never leave my bedroom. I guess some things just take a toll – I know the last four months that have been inflicted upon us, certainly have, but I am also unable to lie back (for long) and allow shit to happen. Mum has taken this spell very hard, so we took a little trip out to T Wells yesterday and ended up in The Ivy for lunch – it was very lovely! Flowers in the pea soup and the best tasting salmon I ever had…

Ladies that lunch in The Ivy. Thanks enormously to J and K xxxxx

If you ever meet a person that makes you feel alive, never let them go, wether they are a partner or friend. If they make you feel a better, more special person in any way, that’s invaluable, so treat it as such. Relationships of all kinds, will come and go – some will leave peacefully and some will struggle to part…but after time, plenty of time, the hurt goes, the anger fades and you can then see how you truly felt about that person. If you’re lucky, one or two may remain with you, (even if uninvited), inside your heart, or wherever it is they live inside of us. I am still learning, but I’ve discovered several things. 1. There is only one kind of currency in a truly good relationship, be it friend, family or partner. That currency is trust. Lose that and things will never be the same. 2. It’s truly awful when you lose something you believed in and cherished, before it was finished or tested and all you can then do, is wonder what would have been. 3. Every road you choose to travel down, will lead you to exactly where you are standing now. 4. Willow trees bend, people shouldn’t. Be yourself always, as being anything else is unsustainable and soul destroying. LIVE – LAUGH – LOVE.

And then, just look at their little smiling faces and all is well in the world. xxxx

And one final thought. I heard today, that 5% of individuals, use up 90% of government resources. I know some of those individuals. They never work, they use the police, Social Services and legal system to their advantage and for free too. It’s called, ‘working the system.’ That’s what all of us decent, working folk pay for and I am very glad to say, something my family have absolutely no experience of. I may not know how to work the system, and I wouldn’t want to act like a pathetic victim in order to do it, BUT, I do know how to be heard…

Come What May, its Okra!

Nanny Daycare is back in operation today, as Butsy returned to work. Amigo II did miss her on one or two occasions today, as he has been with her 24/7 for the last four months or so. We investigated dinosaurs in the shops, bought him an ice cream with blue sprinkles on, watched tractors on TV, dug things in the garden, rolled around inside a rug, ate lots of Wotsits, picked tomatoes from the garden (even the ones that weren’t ready), played with dino-trains and ran 128,000 steps.

Amigo III at the beach and on the IoW ferry.

I very much love Okra and am happy to find it in our market here in Tenterden. I wonder though if they make wallpaper paste out of the very odd, gluey, slimy water that’s left when you cook it. Okra, chickpeas and tomatoes, with a hint of spice, is one of my favourite Indian dishes. On the whole, I don’t like the food served in Indian restaurants – only the homemade variety. In my ongoing attempt to eat better (had a blip while away), I am making fridge clear-out soup (minestrone) and fish cakes with fish that I put in the freezer in the actual Ice Age. Several odd things happened today, which I think may be bad omens. 1. I went out wearing the same Sketchers in different colours. 2. Peppa killed a robin. 3. I burnt two new saucepans. 4. We accidentally smashed Amigo II’s new dino light.

Amigo II truly believed he was a dinosaur when he put this hat on…

The intro to our mini movie, Grease 2020, is so funny. SURELY once people have seen it, they will realise they aren’t about to watch the REAL Grease? There’s the MGM, 20th Century Fox and Star Wars intros – singing chipmunks and hand jiving. Great! Our Video squad (me, Caroline and John) have worked, worked AND worked. I am the entire music side and luckily, I don’t put the video’s together – I just dream up a load of complex ideas for them, haha. It would be easier to do a 10,000 piece jigsaw puzzle of a plate of baked beans, than to put all the dozens and dozens of clips together. Our team have also done BRILLIANTLY with getting sponsorship from the local shops in Tenterden. Well done Rosina and Caroline. BUY LOCAL! Onwards and upwards for the choral group with todays song, Come What May. It sounds fully jumbly, as it’s quite intricate and will give our singers insomnia and possibly a nervous breakdown. It’s going to be an exercise in volume control, with the main lines switching between groups; this is usually sung with soloists too. Not any more! I’ve kept a couple of bits that I had in the old version. It’s down below…there is a VERY growly final note for the low group. It’s SO low that I had to search my very, very low places to find it. xxx

D’ya wanna be in my gang? My gang at Blackgang Chine. Brilliant blue sea behind…
‘Come What May’ is in progress. © Arr. Max Wilson.

Din Dins Mediterranean din dins.

“A mouse lived in a CAT boot in a Hymer in Rye, a boot with a mouse in and he wasn’t grousing. He sang every morning, ate pasta all day and nibbled on plastic and then passed away.” Yes really – just one little mouse had been living in the motorhome and it appears he popped his clogs when he attempted to eat through a plastic tube full of suncream. An easy mistake to make… Godshill was our final stop in the IoW before coming home. There is a miniature village there and in the miniature village, there is a miniature village and in that miniature village, there is a miniature village and in that…I wasted far too much time trying to see how far I could actually imagine this. Now back in Tenterden, holiday washing drying on the line, back to recording songs for the Rockits to learn. Did a little work late last night when I got home, as I had lots of ideas in my head…then went to bed and watched Little Voice. I always sleep on the left and on the right, a bowl of cherries, backscratcher, ventolin, TV controls, and several pairs of reading glasses.

One nicely nibbled CAT boot filled with CP’s shredded sleeping bag! Oops.

Mammas Mediterranean Chicken. Serves 6. 
Ingredients :  Fridge: 8-10 skinless, boneless chicken thighs. 50g smoked bacon lardons and/or 50g diced Chorizo (optional). 2 large red onions, diced. 2 courgettes, sliced. 2 sticks celery, diced. Large red pepper, sliced. Handful round green beans, sliced. Punnet chestnut mushrooms, diced. Optional:*A handful of Waitrose frozen Mediterranean mixed veg is great added to the base of this.**A little squirt of ketchup adds sweetness if you fancy! Great also in Bolognese. Cupboard: 4 x cloves garlic. 2 x tins chopped tomatoes. 1 x tin whole plum tomatoes, roughly chopped. 1 x tin lentils, drained and rinsed. Kalo organic chicken stock cube x 2. Kalo/Marigold Veggie stock – 2 x tablespoons. Olive oil – tablespoon.  Seasoning. 
Preheat oven to 160•

  1. In a casserole pan, fry your onions, celery and red pepper gently in the oil. *Add if you have it.
  2. Add courgettes and beans, half a mug of water and the veggie stock. Throw the garlic cloves in whole. Cover and leave to simmer gently on a low heat for about 30 mins.
  3. Next, gently brown the chicken thighs in a frying pan, lightly wiped with olive oil, for about five minutes, turning as needed. Then put them aside…
  4. Fry the lardons/chorizo in your frying pan, then add the mushrooms and cook it gently together so the mushrooms absorb the bacons flavour. 10 mins. 
  5. Go back to your veggies in the casserole. Take out the garlic cloves – they will be soft inside. With a knife, push the garlic out of its skin. Mash it and then return it to the veggie mix. Pour in all the tinned ingredients, plus two tins of water. Add the stock cubes. Give it a good mix. 
  6. Add the chicken, mushrooms and bacons. Mix thoroughly. Add some seasoning. 
  7. Put in the oven for about an hour OR cook gently on the hob. 
  8. Keep an eye on it. Near the end of cooking, taste and add more seasoning if required. Use the veggie stock rather than adding more salt. Add ** if you want.  Serve with: For family – wholegrain rice & peas. Broccoli. For diet – masses of broccoli.
Isle of Wight – peace, calm and absolutely no rammed beaches

My biggest one has just had a lovely promotion at work. He is a department head (of English) at the very big comprehensive school he teaches at, Carshalton Boys, but is now also Associate Assistant Head Teacher (AAHT), which is a very important job in it’s own right. He has done so very well and is a wonderful role model for ‘his boys’ at this school. I would say that some of the boys come from unfortunate backgrounds and really need strong guidance and help and I know Ollie values his role in their lives very much. PROUD. For my life, things needs to keep changing. It’s no good rerunning days if they’re not ones you particularly liked in the first place. Generally, I am leaned on too much and I allow it to happen…maybe encourage it. I am a pleaser by nature and that’s a stupid thing to be, because it ends up wearing you down. xxxx

There are no ugly ducklings here. Carshalton Boys School.
Sandra Dee – this goes right at the end of the movie, when our yearbook is shown. xxx

Almighty Blighty.

Oh England, my Lionheart… the Isle of Wight is so pretty. We are staying in Shanklin; first time in the IoW for most of us. I am amazed the Hymer didn’t sink the ferry as we packed it to the rafters with SO much stuff – I think I have also got far too much food and will have to start force-feeding everyone. Motorhomes are a great way to socially isolate, while getting a change of scenery. CP and I walked down to the picturesque, old town in Shanklin, hardly anyone around, then wandered down the Chine (mini waterfall etc) and down to the seafront esplanade and saw all the kids in the distance, building sandcastles on the sandy beach. What a lovely memory – first we saw Ol and his lot, walked a bit further and then saw Butsy and hers. So sweet. Butsy, bless her, is really struggling with sickness, as she did with Amigo II for well over six months, but she’s soldiering on. It feels very safe to be out and about in Shanklin, even though we’re still in the Covid crisis; the perfect beaches are not in the least crowded. Far less people wandering around this beautiful seaside resort than we have at home!

Shanklin Old Town – chocolate box cute.

As holiday destinations go, this is BRILLIANT if you have little ones, OR if you’re ancient and want a peaceful break. Forget it if you’re in your 20s and wanting to party. It’s relaxed and officially the warmest place in Britain. There is LOADS to do; zoos, parks, a crazy amount of crazy golf and all manner of stuff, all packed on this tiny island. You can’t go a mile without finding something else of interest. It feels like you’re properly abroad on holiday, yet only takes a few hours to reach, nothing is expensive to buy, lovely affordable accommodation and for those less well off, loads of campsites (tents aren’t my thing though!).

Ol’s clan having a paddle xxx

The U.K. have done incredibly well with research into Covid cures and treatments. It seems the best in the world. First, a life-saving medicine, a basic steroid, found to reduce deaths in the vulnerable by a third, was discovered here. The best candidate vaccine is also from the U.K. and likely to be ready by late autumn. Wop bam BOOM!!! Too much Grease stuff in my head… Anyway, it’s been a rocky ride through Covid, with lots knocking the government; was lockdown too late? Are we out too soon? Then there’s the whole mask debate. Generally, lots of our population failed and I think the government have kept us afloat through uncertain seas. Too many selfish people around, ignoring the guidelines too – much better attention to distancing here in the IoW.

Shanklin Beach.

Woody Allen films all have such tempting titles…and I want to REALLY like them, but I rarely do. I know it’s cool to be a Woody fan and I have enjoyed bits and bobs, but really, all the neurotic characters, often based on himself, are a bit too much for me. Maybe I should try harder though – maybe I am missing the point.

Anyone for a swim? xxx