Sunday, 31 March 2013


A rather unconventional arrangement of marzipan balls on this year's Simnel Cake.  And the reason for this?  Well I took my eye off the marzipan as it browned under the grill.  It was easy enough to scrape the offending burnt bit off but it left an unattractive rough surface.  So I rearranged 'the apostles' in the the centre.  I think it makes them look more friendly!

Friday, 29 March 2013


One a Penny, Two a Penny, Hot Cross Buns!
Baking hot cross buns on Good Friday has become somewhat of a ritual, although they're never ready for breakfast.

This year The Great British Bake Off Easter special inspired me to swap Delia's recipe for Paul Hollywood's.  The dough was very sticky and I feared for them, but they turned out just fine - well risen with a distinct cross and a soft texture.  But I felt they needed more fruit and spice.

Anyway on reviewing the programme I discovered that some of the quantities on the BBC food website differed considerably from those given on the programme.  The measurements for the sultanas, mixed peel, lemon zest and cinnamon were halved!  No wonder they disappointed on the taste front.

So I emailed the BBC and await their response.  Maybe they'll send Paul Hollywood round to rustle up a replacement batch in my kitchen!  In which case I'd better get a move on with those dirty dishes!

Thursday, 28 March 2013


The Tiffin has Landed!

Living Below the Line

From 29 April, for 5 days, I'm going to be spending no more than £1 per day on food and drink. I will be Living Below the Line to highlight the plight of the 1.4 million people living in extreme poverty, and by appealing for sponsorship, I hope to be able to make a real change for at least a few of them. So please give generously here. Thank you.

PS I've chosen Oxfam as the charity through which all donations will be channelled.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013


Takeaway - Mumbai Style
This evening The Thali Cafe opened the doors of its latest restaurant, in the Tobacco Factory on North Street.  Which means that, not only will I be able to treat myself to one of their delicious thalis (Indian meal served on the plate from which it gets its name) without the prospect of a long walk home afterwards, but I shall also at long last be able to join their award winning Tiffin club.  Hooray!

The tiffin is a Mumbai lunchbox, lovingly prepared by a dutiful wife, packed in a multi-tiered stainless steel container, and transported across the city, via a network of bicycles and suburban trains, to arrive on her husband's desk at 12:45 sharp.  The system is so efficient that for every 6 million tiffins dispatched only one fails to arrive.  Beats a soggy ham sarnie or a greasy pastie any day.

The Thali Cafe tiffin is much less complicated but equally attractive.  £24.95 buys the container, filled with your choice of thali.  When you've eaten, instead of being left with a stack of containers for the black box, you have a receptacle ready for your next visit.  Bingo!

If it wasn't for the fact that today's a Fast Day I'd have been queuing outside the front door at 6pm.  But it won't be long before I'm trying out the new kid on the block,(especially as my husband brought home a voucher for a free thali)!

PS  For more on the tiffin carriers of Mumbai see this Guardian article

Tuesday, 26 March 2013


For days when you doubt it

Monday, 25 March 2013


Sound advice


WARNING: Controversial post!

Our newly elected mayor, George Ferguson, has announced the introduction of Residents' Parking Schemes in 7 new areas across the city (including mine).

His decision has sparked a flurry of protests in the press and across the social media sites.

I've taken some time to read the details and, when consulted, will have no hesitation in voting for the proposal.

Our nation has become over dependent on the motor car.  I'm not denying the benefits it brings in terms of personal freedom and independence, nor the lifeline it offers the disabled, the elderly and those who live in remote locations.  However there is a price to pay and we are all (motorists and non motorists alike) paying it.  Our motorways and city centres are rapidly becoming gridlocked, air pollution has reached unacceptable levels, parents do not consider it safe enough to allow their children to play out in the streets, high streets are being deserted in favour of out of town shopping centres, the population is increasingly obese, the temperature of the earth's atmosphere continues to rise and we risk sparking catastrophic changes to the planet's climate systems.

So it seems to me, that a scheme whose aim is to reduce the number of cars on our city's streets, is well worth careful consideration.

As I understand it, it works like this.  Residents pay £30 a year for the right to park their car in their RPS area between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday.  No permit is required by residents to park in the evenings or at weekends.  £30 a year works out at 58 pence per week or 8p per day.  Hardly a king's ransom.  Second cars are charged the slightly higher tariff of £80 a year (£1.54/week, 22p/day).  Third cars are considerably more expensive at £200 a year, but then again, I can't imagine there are many city streets that could accommodate 3-car households.

Each household can apply for 100 visitors' permits a year (the first 50 free of charge and the remainder at £1 per permit).  Given that visitors do not need a permit to park in the evenings or at the weekends, when I assume most visiting takes place, this allowance would enable you to have an average of 2 daytime visitors per week.

All other motorists will be restricted to pay and display bays, where they can park for up to 15 minutes free of charge and £1 per hour thereafter, to the maximum of 3 hours.

There are concessions for businesses, landlords, contractors, blue card holders and people with long term care needs.

The bottom line is that our present system is unsustainable and something has got to be done before  it is too late.  Sacrifices may need to be made but, rather than focus on the negatives I urge the people of Bristol to embrace the positives:

Reverse car dependency
Emptier streets
Shorter journey times
Cleaner air
Safer environment for pedestrians and children
People friendly city centres
Revival of local high streets
Encouragement to walk and cycle
Incentive to public transport providers to increase their routes and lower their fares
Reduction in carbon dioxide emissions

So go for it George.  This is exactly the sort of policy I hoped you would implement when I voted for you.

I would, however, make two suggestions.

I believe that these charges only apply to residents who do not have a driveway.  If the aim of the scheme is to reduce the number of vehicles on the roads then it shouldn't matter where your car is parked.  It's still a car.

Secondly, I'd like to see at least some of the revenue raised used towards providing a more efficient, less expensive public transport system as a credible alternative to the car.

So, if you live in Bristol what do you think of the scheme?  If you live elsewhere, do you have a similar scheme?  How effective has it been in creating a better environment?

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Wednesday, 20 March 2013


Never again!

Glasgow Transport

Back in February I spent a long weekend with my elder daughter who is studying at Glasgow University.  During the day, while she pored over her books in the library I continued to explore this fascinating city.

I was particularly anxious to visit the new Riverside Museum. The award winning building designed by Zaha Hadid needs to be seen from above to appreciate its form, but even from the ground it offers some striking angles.

The building houses Glasgow's transport museum.  Now I have to confess that I'm not wildly enthusiastic about vintage vehicles, so I headed instead for the reconstruction of a typical turn of the century (1895-1930) Glasgow street, complete with saddler, photographer, pawn broker, cafe and pub.  It was imaginatively presented with plenty of interactive displays and gave me a real feel for what urban life would have been like at that time.

However I didn't completely ignore the vehicles and spent some time examining a fairground showman's family caravan.  The other exhibit that caught my eye was this brightly painted van, designed by Glasgow art students and inspired by the artwork found on Pakistani lorries.

My daughter's local underground station (Hillhead) has had a makeover, including this delightful Alasdair Gray mural depicting the local area and its residents.

I'm afraid my mobile camera photos don't do it justice ...

... and I could do with taking this piece of advice!

Tuesday, 19 March 2013


Who will buy?

52 Weeks of Happy (3/52)

Mother's Day Breakfast

 Medicine Creek playing a local school's PTA event

A Bedminster Bug
(more of these to follow)

The Compound Word Project

If you like words and images,
and relish a challenge,
you might like to head over to The Compound Word Project 
and pit your wits against your fellow bloggers.

Monday, 18 March 2013


North Street Green
You may have noticed that I have failed to post a photo a day in 2013.
Hey ho!
But I am resolved to have another go.
So here's today's offering.
I have also posted a few retrospectively here and here and here and here and here and here and here!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

This Too Shall Pass

I've been away, but I'm back

The last few weeks have been plagued with self doubt.  Prompted by age, work, the prospect of an empty next,  money etc I struggled to see the very many positives in my life.  I felt I had nothing to say and other people's blogs, instead of providing much needed inspiration, only made me feel even more inadequate.

However there is light at the end of the tunnel and I'm moving slowly and steadily towards it.

Daffodils help!

Friday, 1 March 2013