Jan 25th

blog, what is a blog?

By vivien p
a web log. hence blog. i try every day to cope with these outlandish things that keep forcing their way into my life, and swallow them as much as i can, but i have eternal technological indigestion. chewing on, i make the best of things and even sometimes they may come as a silver lining into my life, like this here laptop, but it took me several years of virtual rennies before my cerebral oesophagus could handle it.

but what a word, blog. i try very hard to put some meaning into it and make it sound attractive, but i fail miserably every time. what pookah invented these appalling appellations.

see, booting up, logging on, downloading, i feel im playing the part of a tree feller rather than an innocent citizen going about my daily pleasure of a retired person in pursuit of verbal gratification in the form of writing.

i feel that i should be wearing protective clothing and large lumber jack boots.

no woman worth her salt, would have invented words like these. in these days of equality couldn't we have a less aggressive form of introduction and application? a unisex speak.
Jan 20th

food, glorious food.

By vivien p
theres nothing quite like it.  and lets face it, we would be nothing without it,
quite literally!

over the years ive eaten many different kinds of food, and sampled the manna from many delightful and not so wonderful plates of something to fill my tummy.

many years ago i wandered over the brink from being carnivore to vegetarian and then finally pushed the boat out into veganism.

being a complete abstainer was wonderful, i felt terrific and piles of boundless energy.  only trouble was, every time i moved my bones cracked.

i could hear them all the time, it became quite amusing.  but it cant have been good for my health, so i moved back into the calmer waters of vegetarianism.

i then had a terrible time in my life where i was rather potless and ate anything just to stave off the dreadful hunger pangs.

so, back to the drawing board for a number of years.

in these latter years, i was smitten by conscience yet again and started closing in again on removing meat from my diet.

it is quite painless and easy as these days they have some  very attractive and edible morsels on the market.

and when the occasion arises i buy.  sometimes to try a new product, sometimes to take advantage of  an offer, but more than often now, to go back to my way of life thats more acceptable to me.

my friend is carnivore, so i make a few meals for him that are tasty but now and again, we dine together on the same menu, mozzarella burgers or some such.  he likes it and so i feel a sense of happiness that at least one meal hasnt harmed a hair on any animals head.

i must admit when the funds are very low we both eat something that moved, but that cant be helped.

but i have spent a long time engineering my move towards and back to more humane eating.  and my freezer has now got quite a few packets of things of the ready made variety to try.

i went into a large tesco yesterday and lo and behold, not only had they a buggy to trundle with, but i was able to buy several things i needed too.

i have been struggling to find black cherries in syrup.   yesterday i found them, im not entirely sure they are black, it is a misleading can.  the writing states black but the picture says red.  hmm... well see.

and i got some lychees.  i quite like them occasionally.  with the struggle of carrying shopping i have to wait these days until my friend has time to come with me and carry them at the end, so i take opportunities madly these days and get things when i am presented with friend to go with me.

so, i sailed home yesterday, not with purchases held on high, but safely stashed away in the back of the car.

i also try and buy in quantity if i think im never going to be that way again.
thinking and planning ahead can be a good thing, and thinking on ones feet an advantage.

so, i now have safely tucked away, about a years supply of cherries.  and also of lychees.  i dont eat them often but now and again, theres nowt quite like a little lychee or two to finish my meal.

so, let me see, whats my next campaign.  ive bought childrens birthday presents and one adults, to the end of april.  they are going off this week, and
then to stock the caravan for the big trip darn sarf.

this consists of those little packets of ready cooked rice and a few small tins of
meat, say chicken in white sauce or....you know the sort of thing.

when on board my 'van i dont take much, sometimes we go out to eat, sometimes a takeaway sometimes with friends, but it is handy to have these modern advantages tucked away in the cupboard, not under the sink only, but the cooker.

if we are stuck, theres always something edible.  i just casually whip up something wonderful by adding mushrooms and tomatoes and whatever i have thats tasty.  its a small cupboard, but i have made many meals on my two burner gas ring in the past. as i hope to in the future.

so, today im being taken out again, now let me see, she says rubbing her little hands together, what can i get today of a bargain basement nature, that will last me all year. 

and tasty, dont forget tasty.

Jan 19th

steak and kidney pie

By vivien p
a few days ago I made a steak and kidney pie for my friend. I made the shortcrust using a beaten egg for the moisture with a little milk in it. I also added half a big teaspoon of mustard into the pastry. having cooked the meat with onions, mushrooms, tomatoes and chocolate and seasonings, I added a small bottle of wine, and left it to simmer on Stanley for hours. it cooled and then I put the mix into a blue and white enamel dish and rolled the pastry over it. I made slits in the top and decorated with a few leaves. sploshing the top with milk, I parked it in a gas regulo oven 6 till it browned. I scooped the rest of the gravy from the cooking pot to which id added some garden peas and cooked, and ladled over the top of it all. my friend went in to raptures over it. good thing I had some left for next day. I did have the gravy but whilst he had remainder of pie I had tescos mozzarella burgers with gravy. oh yummmeeee..... I absolutely love those. and linda mc cartneys Italian veggie sausages. they are really tasty. its very satisfying to cook at home. I have many things in my freezer that I have cooked and maybe made for the freezer or had some from a dish left over. it gives one a very good feeling. to know that im not eating e numbers and mono sodium glutamate and added sugars and salts. today im out for a picnic so I will have just a light tea tonight, and whilst small, still delicious, egg on toast. and to follow, why ice cream in a cornet of course, what else?!!! now what shall I cook up for tomorrow? chips and......
Jan 8th

lemon chicken

By vivien p
as anyone knows I have always used up odds and ends in my kitchen and so, the other day I did it again. and if I say so myself, it turned out quite alright.

I just didn't know what to make for tea, and had a little look in the fridge and the cupboard. I had a pack id bought of chicken knocked down, and in the fruit bowl some lemons left over and looking a little jaded.

I grated a tiny amount from the weather beaten skins of two lemons and squeezed them.
next I made a béchamel sauce, fancy name for a white sauce.
I applied a teaspoon of mustard into the mix, next the grated lemon and then the juice a little at a time, stirring madly.
I added a small quantity of dried sage, salt and pepper and cooked it through.
I placed the sliced chicken in and left it to cook a little longer.
I served it up with a jacket potato and peas.

I tell you that was nice. yum yum in my tum!
Jan 5th

days gone by.......

By vivien p
im sitting here by one light in my living room, and under my reading lamp, remembering the old days. now, im old and feel every bit of my years but I cannot quell the inner glow of youth and the silly things I did.

unable to sleep, I rose, made myself a large mug of tea and two small hot water bottles, and im swathed round by a blanket to keep out the draughts. cosy you might say. but I remember running through the streets of Glasgow, drunk as a lord, singing very out loud, Bernardette, in a thin dress and strappy high heeled shoes. my then husband and myself had got ready quickly, had a quick cuppa and hightailed it for Glasgow and a good weekend, on the Friday night after work. a bit of a busmans holiday for him as he was a truck driver, but good times beckoned and off we went.

we stayed the weekend at a friend of his, and Friday and Saturday night went carousing round the real ale pubs. we ate out and had a wonderful time. occasionally a friend would come from Edinburgh and join us. the flat where we stayed had what Glaswegians call a bed kitchen. a little recess where a bed was placed in the kitchen, and this had a curtain as well. this was the dogs bed during the week, where the canine companion of his flat mate slept. he went off at weekends, leaving a spare place to sleep. which we did. when you get that tired and a little legless, you can sleep on a tintack.

I got to know Glasgow quite well, and when we stayed in Edinburgh with that particular friend, the pubs and eateries there too. the places to eat were phenomenal. I well remember going to a place called frixos, I have no idea whether it is still there, but the food was outstanding and so different. some of my food I cook up today comes from the areas in my past that I normally cover with a blanket so as not to remind myself that the very staid face I see in the mirror, was once a young and vibrant being.

I have quaffed and dined in some wonderful places in my lifetime, and that bursting on the Scottish scene was an eye opener. I well remember hendersons in Edinburgh when it opened. a vegetarian emporium it is true, but absolutely vibrant with its newness and selection of foods. the gravediggers, the pubs in Leith, the.... I could go on, but why. the past has gone, but has left me with some wonderful memories. like the howgate just outside Edinburgh, I had a sample of food there straight from the gods. when I look back I sigh at how fast and slim I was. the clothes and shoes I wore, but most of all the food I sampled in cafes and restaurants all over Scotland. those were the days.

oh well, im cosy and have my hot water bottles and my golden memories. they serve to keep me emotionally warm, and I still make some of the recipes I got from that era.
so, all in all, some nice things to think about when I cant sleep.
Jan 4th

by the by

By vivien p
just out of interest i located the GMC, or general medical council, on the internet yesterday, because of the trouble i had with one of the doctors in my practice before christmas, and had a look at what they can and cannot, will and will not do.

i was not surprised to find they are pretty toothless or maybe wish to be so.

like the police they should have an outside unprejudiced committee that makes decisions on behalf of the public where they have a justifiable complaint, instead of relying on the internal politics and safeguarding of their own,
in applying to the gmc.

as they say, who shall guard the guardians themselves.  how can the gmc be unbiased with regard to their own.
Jan 4th

far and wide

By vivien p
yesterday it was my ex husbands birthday, he was 71, so i rang him  to wish a happy birthday. 

he had just unwrapped the gifts i had given him and was very pleased with them.

whilst i was on the phone i enquired after his girl friend who had a son  in medical trouble.

last november when i went visiting there, she was telling me about her son who had terrible crohns disease badly.

he was suddenly taken for the worst just before christmas and ended up having emergency surgery in a hospital of their choice in harrow.

i might add they live in herefordshire.  so it was a long and i may say worrying trip for her.  he had the operation and came round and only spent a few days there before the hospital cleared the wards and sent the patients home.

for me, i would be flabbergasted.  owing to the lack of nurses to see to the wards they turfed out the patient.

but this young man sported a 'bag' and was clearly not ready to come home.

i wonder by my troth what is happening here.

however, i hope and pray he is ok.  he has his mother there 24 hours a day, but is it enough.

i wonder if we will ever get back to or forward to good medical help.
Jan 3rd

all done and dusted, what next?

By vivien p
my view is that the daylight is lengthening, albeit infinitisimally, and there is lots to do now the big event is out of the way.

time for getting into those corners of my life and house and straightening everything up and decluttering.

mine own has already started.  yesterday having put the decorations away, sorry 12th night, but i have to take my opportunities where i can, help is hard to come by.  my friend was here and will not be for a couple of days as he returns home to see to his own chores.

so, down they came and some further rootling and fettling was required.  christmas presents dawdling in corners in nice little carrier bags, [when did that start happening] were swept up and contents tidied away for the duration.

i was considering when carrier bags came into being for transporting and transforming gifts into an elevated thing by its presence round the present.

they do like nice it is true, and when giving to others, i save them for those other occasions, but i do find although they look nice, what a waste of paper and trees!  i wonder who started that little money spinner.

so, back to those plans of early spring cleaning.  i prepare the way for a big overhaul by clearing up and removing.

take whatever gifts you dont like, or wont find useful for yourself or anyone else, [perhaps for a gift in the future] and go resolutely to the charity shop where they will benefit someone, either directly or indirectly.

there. doesnt that feel better.  of course it does.

do what a northern friend of mine used to call 'bottoming' to clean.  this means
really get under and round everything, being completely ruthless shifting furniture and sweeping all before you to deposit outside in the dustbin.

it makes one feel so much better to know that ones 'nest' is really spotless and tidy.

i have plans for after that of course.  i have my thank you letters to write,  on my old typewriter of course, my handwriting went down the swanee many moons ago, and start getting down to the things i have been putting off till the spring, in my case, i want to get my sewing machine out and make a patchwork quilt.

then theres the cupboards in the front room.  i really want to see the tribe of pygmies that have been sheltering in there for about ten years.

and then i want to get down and get rid of old paperwork that has been gathering for just as long and clear my shelves of bills i received a decade ago.

i am a terrible hoarder of this said paperwork.  i keep thinking with anxiety, should i, shouldnt i get rid of it?  well this year, I AM.

does that sound positive.  its meant to be.

but, just at the moment, after all that thinking, i might just have, just one more cup of tea!

Jan 2nd

a wonderful present

By vivien p
a few days ago i was invited to lunch along with my friend to his sisters place. we arrived and took up our usual places and i carefully arranged cushions at my back for a long sit. we went to table for a lovely salmon and vegetable lunch and various puddings, one of which i partook because i have a tooth for cheesecake. after a lovely leisurely chat, with the eldest at the table being 93 and discussing his wartime activities, which was very interesting, we repaired back to the comfortable chairs and chatted with a cup of tea. who should turn up but the son of the house bearing infant. his first born son. he put him on the floor to crawl, first removing his outdoor clothes. after doing the usual things babies do on their job description, and being headed off for the umpteenth time from the tv wires and other naughties, he spied two newcomers. he headed for my feet and as i am always sandalled, took hold of my toe and pulled. i laughed and he hung on until he was distracted from this task by his grandmother. then, my little new years present was placed in my lap. a little life dressed in dungarees. he was a charming little chap and kept me entertained for ages by his glee and gurgles and the fact he cottoned on to the fact i have a nose. up came his little fist fingers outstretched. he gripped my nose and held on to it. i didn't mind i just laughed. oh, how wonderful it is to have a little boy, 10 months old sitting on ones knee. i so much cuddled him, and he loved it. i held him for some time, such a precious little gift to his family. we sat and looked at one another for half an hour, talking and laughing and playing. i look at my empty arms now and feel sad for the loss, but happy because they had been filled with his little form. a very unforgettable precious little gift. just for me to hold for a while. god bless him.
Jan 1st

public speaking

By vivien p
im not the best body in the whole wide world to go public speaking, [despite the clamour of the little person inside who likes a stage]. im reticent normally to speak out loud to more than the requisite number of folk for a conversation, but on a few occasions in my life this is what ive had to do. if you cant avoid doing something, give it your best go, and with grace.

leaving aside the earlier occasions, I am talking about one event; I was called on to talk at Worcester county hall to an audience. I received a letter asking me to go and go I did. I set about trying to find methods to deal with the public. getting armed beforehand is always good. so, on the morning in question, a fine Saturday I set off from my home. id also received a call from my sister that morning from my sister to say her mother in law had died so intended to visit her to commiserate on the way.

it was a good drive and no obstructions, I got there in good time. I stepped out of the car and walked in to my sisters house and hugged my sister and brother in law. we fell to talking and I sat with a cup in my hand for some minutes. my brother in law had stepped out the front for some reason and came back in with a worried look on his face. viv, I think you should come and look, you've got a puncture. oh, dear. he didn't know how to change a wheel, so it was lucky I was an old hand. he stood looking embarrassed as I manhandled the offending wheel from the vehicle, after jacking the car up. I selected the wheel nuts crouching there, trying not to ruin my outfit, and applied the torque to each nut. I kicked the hub cap back on, and et voila, job done, but black hands. after cleaning up, I had no more time to stay, so hotfooted it to Worcester.

I found a parking place and went in. the auditorium had filled up and there were about 140 people sitting waiting for my words. the reason for my talk?

I had recently taken on some children for my local council for fostering. it is a very stiff procedure and an agonising wait for me. they keep you going for months whilst they check you out and come and talk to you, and examine your home for suitability. eventually, my husband and I passed muster and took possession of two lovely children. it makes me weep even now when I think how my heart swelled each time I looked at them.

so, I found myself on stage giving a lecture, that sounds too grand, just a talk
really, on my experiences of the whole bangshoot from beginning to end, or rather that day, up to date. now, what I haven't said was that my husband and I were supposed to go and give half an hour each. he was called in to work, so I went on my own.

when I arrived, I sat looking at the multitudes and marvelled at myself sitting there waiting to get up. the other couple arrived and the lady cried off, she suffered stage fright. so, after ten minutes of the gentleman on the floor, I had to occupy the rest of the time for joe public sitting waiting expectantly. he sat and I rose . I was so congratulating myself on having prepared myself for public speaking as I couldnt have done it otherwise. I stood and looked round the whole audience and smiled. I received a lovely warm welcome with smiles everywhere.

I began to speak and continued, then continued some more. I began to enjoy myself and soon the audience was relaxing and I began my usual habit of finding the fun in everything, I cant help myself, and the audience began rolling in the aisles. occasionally I forgot what I was going to say and a few folk shouted out at me what my topic at that moment had been so I need not had feared anything that day. there wasn't a dry eye in the house when id finished, and I sat down to a resounding ovation about two hours later.

I know I was supposed to be serious, but I did have a lot of fun and there were a lot of appeals to foster from that meeting, so I suppose I must have done a bit of good.

my hints and tips for public speaking? when you enter where you are about to speak, look closely at your audience and examine them. find something about the folk you look at for amusement, remember this is only to remove stage fright not to be personal to them, and laugh at something they have or are doing. it works, im here to tell you it works. and im glad of it. but, nevertheless, a week after the talk I had a letter from the council with some money to say they had so enjoyed my talk would I accept this little gift. I was very flattered! it wasn't much, but that wasn't the point. It was just nice doing something good that people enjoyed.

it has stayed in my memory for various reasons. all you need is a loving heart and a sense of humour, and where the social services are concerned a hide as thick as a rhinos. sorry, but that is my view after years of contact with them. it is an interesting, backbreaking and sometimes heart breaking job and I wouldn't advise everyone to do it, sometimes one can come a cropper, but in the end, the results. what more can you ask for. i also did eight years childminding but that is a whole other story in itself. but, I treasure my memories, and especially I hope that some folk went through the process from that day as this country was and is, short of good folk to foster. it is a very worthwhile thing to do. you have to be determined and stick with it, and some of these children are hopeless cases. when I say hopeless, I mean of course they have lost hope.
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