Monday, 28 April 2008

Sidney the Slow Worm

This is Sydney the Slow Worm. Last week he appeared from a hole in the stone wall underneath my back door, got caught in the wrought iron door mat and before my eyes shed his tail enabling him to escape and wriggle back into the hole in the stone, leaving his tail behind him. I was beside myself with fear. I knew he wouldn't hurt me but they do slither, wriggle and do look like snakes. I know they are lizards with ears and eyelids but they are big and I don't want one as a lodger. I know they are a protected species.

My carpenter arrived on Saturday to hang a new back door. I warned him about the Slow Worm and as he took the old frame out the Slow Worm leapt out of the hole so the carpenter threw it over a huge hedge into the next door field.

This morning as I went to open my front door there was Sydney the Slow Worm inside the porch. I heroically lifted him out with a stick and threw him onto the front path. It is the same Slow Worm because half of him is in my back garden and this one has the blunt end where his tail used to be. He found his way home across a field, over gardens and pathways and predators.

I'm proud of his determination. I am talking to him and offering him a hole in my stone wall on a permanent basis on the condition that he doesn't come indoors.

Imagine him twice that length?
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Tuesday, 22 April 2008

The Smell Of Money

My Dad was a Fishmonger and this is him on the right posing in front of his wet fish shop in a South London market street in the 1970s. This was before plastic bags and after fishmongers could no longer wrap the fresh fish in newspaper as it was a health hazard. Customers would bring their old newspapers into the shop in bundles and one of my Saturday jobs as a schoolgirl in the 60s was to tear the old newspaper sheets in half and pile them up for wrapping the fish sold from the slab.

My hands would be black from the print-ink and when I got on the bus to go home after work I whiffed of fish, my hands were black but I had a ten bob note in my pocket and I'd earned it. I didn't mind what I smelt like or what I looked like.

Once Dad had to pay for clean white paper to wrap the fish in he started to charge for carrier bags. On the original photo the sign hanging between the heads of the the two young blokes says Carrier Bags 3p Each. The other market traders in the street pulled his leg and called him Mean but over thirty years later he wasn't far wrong was he?

I love this photo because Dad's white overall is smeared with fish guts and blood but he would drive home, after his long day beginning in Billingsgate Fish Market at dawn and ending when he put the shutters down at six in the evening, in his ancient Rolls Bentley still wearing this overall and his Fishy Rubber Boots. He often got stopped by the police on his way to Billingsgate at four in the morning as he looked like a very suspicious character dressed like that but he enjoyed telling everyone that he'd paid less for this aged motor than he would have for a brand new Ford.

Sometimes he'd let my brother and I count the day's takings on the kitchen table. Or at least put the notes and cash into appropriate heaps because it was a screwed up mess in a heavy cotton money bag. The money was covered in fish scales and smelt of fish. One evening I flounced telling him I didn't want to touch it as it smelled nasty.

He said,

"You should ever have this much money and complain about how it smells!"

Thanks Dad. For teaching me the work ethic.
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Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Fischer's Baslow Hall

Morty surprised me for my birthday and booked us into Baslow Hall in Derbshire for one night and dinner in Fischer's, their Michelin Restaurant. It was indeed a surprise because the Chef was one of the competing chefs in The Great British Menu 2008 and I'd seen him cook on the television.

Above are the hot and cold canapes served before dinner. I have eaten Foam now. All modern chefs Do Foam now. The tastes are extremely intense, yet light and delicious.

Above are our deserts, a selection from the dinner menu. Ice creams, souffle, fruit and thin biscuits and chocolate.

Above are the petit fours and lollipops served with divine coffee. A totally wonderful eating experience and my first ever meal sampling Great British Cooking. It was a privilidge. Our room with a canopied bed was utter luxury. Baslow Hall is set in gracious, landscaped gardens and we were made to feel very welcome.

We shall return.
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Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Great British Menu

Hot and cold Canapes

Lyme Bay Crab and Coconut

Pork. Cheek. Loin. Fillet.

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