Saturday, July 26

Body Cakes

Yesterday I made  Body Cakes (Kroppkakor) with a Swedish musician called Linnea Olsen.

here is the recipe

cook and mash floury potatoes then grate in an almost  equal weight raw potatoes of a firmer character, add eggs and season then leave to sit while you sauté minced shallots in butter.  Add chanterelles to the soft but not coloured shallots in the pan then a glass of white wine, when the wet has simmered away add salt, pepper, finely chopped parsley and ground allspice.

get flour on your hands and make a tennis ball out of the potato dough, poke a hole in the middle and put in a spoonful of the chanterelle mixture, pinch the potato back over it.

Have a pot of simmering water handy and lower the body cakes into the water when they bounce to the surface they are cooked.

Serve the cake on a lake of thin cream with a 'click' of butter on top and a spoonful of sugared raw lingonberries

I sell myself short

by saying that my garden yields nothing edible, generally speaking a single plant from each plantstuff that I planted survived - in a shrivelled, disease-ridden form but I have harvested a bean and five pods of peas, a few handfuls of herbs and until yesterday I could have told you that I still had a turnip - also known as a TURNP.

The turnps are no more the last one was eaten in last nights slug storm. I have come to think of my crop markers as tombstones.

Friday, July 25

Recipes have fllooded in

for my annual WOMAD event where musicians come and cook for an audience. They tell me what they want to make and I shop for it. Today I am filling my car with meat, this is one of the recipes for today with notes from the band:

Lecsó for 25 persons

12 slices of Hungarian lard
6kg Hungarian yellow paprika
12 Hungarian strong paprika
8-10 Onion
10 garlic
30-40 pieces of tomato
1kg Hungarian sausage

For the vegetarian part we just take out the lard and sausage and need sunflower oil. We will bring the cauldron and the bread too, as we won’t have time to cook any! Are we allowed to bring also Hungarian plum brandy! It’s not really the same without it, it’s really part of the tradition!

Thursday, July 24

The weather is hot and steamy

and we've been outside as much as possible. The Man and I recently renegotiated our spheres of dominance in the garden - his bees (forty different species and counting) have colonised the end part so that area is now officially his and I am not allowed to poke around down there.

This means that I've had to move my outside cooking fire into the middle garden area and the last several nights have been full of grilled corn and peppers and grilled everything else. Tonight I grilled a long spiral of Italian fennel sausage and more peppers and naan bread. Then he felt sleepy and went to lie on the sofa in the dark kitchen which has french doors that open onto the garden, I went upstairs to compute.

A bit later I could hear noises which I followed downstairs to find a strange man in the dark kitchen with a box and gadgets which he is pointing around and asking where our gas meter is. the Man was there standing up in his underpants trying to remember where we keep our gas meter.

Alerted to a gas leak they have traced the source to the cat flap next door but they need to know how far the gas has escaped.

Monday, July 21

Today at the Brain Surgery

a patient who had the same name as a hair accessory stood in front of me with a diary open while she looked for a date that she'd like to come for another visit. The front was embossed in gold '1997' I said nothing but she guessed what I was thinking

I have piles of diaries at home I just pick one with January first on the same day as January first this year

I guess you have to watch out for  Leap Years

Yes and Easter's a bit problematic

Image: Mark Twain's Naming Journal

Sunday, July 20

Went to a picnic party

and took a loaf of bread and a different sort of cheese to the maggoty one we opened last week, also still in it's wrapper, but this one was in a wooden box.

Guess what?

yup - maggots

Houdini flies?

I'm guessing that Drunk Trike ran away - that man is still searching for a replacement, I've seen him trying out all kinds of motorised four-wheelers on Drug-dealer Hill.

Thursday, July 17

Today has been heavy and hot

Last weekend, in honour of my sister's visit, I bought the best cheese in the world and put it on a shelf to get perfect for eating the next day and then I forgot about it until this evening when we had made a fire in the garden and suddenly the moment was perfect for cheese.
too late ... all inside the wrapper was alive with maggots


... on the green hilly piece where the scoundrels do drug deals I saw the man who uses Drunk Trike being given driving lessons on a shiny red motorised four-wheeler

Wednesday, July 16

Take me to the Bridge

The Brain Surgery has been painted  a cerebral sort of grey. This morning I glid behind the 'console', sat on the black vinyl spaceship-driver's seat and thought that what I needed were more Star Trek outfits.

Then a patient arrived wearing Coco Chanel-esque white palazzo pants and a Margaret Howell matelot jersey

Monday, July 14

My memory obliterates

all my previous gardening failures. Each year that I decide to grow vegetables I do it with the eternal sunshine of a spotless mind.

It's only when I am inspecting the fly-ravaged beans and worm-eaten peas, when the Man comes and stands beside me and says

I see that we've got lots of no-beans again this year

and I say

there are no-peas too

that's when I remember

Sunday, July 13

This morning

hedghogs and lollipops by Ella

My niece ate 4 donut peaches, a bowl each of strawberries and black-and-red-currants with yoghurt and an avocado, performed modern dance while executing a painting about hedgehogs and lollipops then went to film bees in the brambles wearing a long purple gown with wings and matching tiara


some scoundrels appear to have set up a drug racket across from my house, they are straight out of central casting, I'm keeping an eye on them

Thursday, July 10

I've just got a bike

so I cycled across the city, over the river to meet Ro at a restaurant near her house - she'd booked the last available table - 6.30 - this place is that popular.

Being warm and sunny we sat outside then we got chilly and went inside, trying out several tables before settling on the nicest one - we had the place to ourselves until 9pm - all the other people who wanted to be where we were, were in their cars, blocked by a lorry full of candles on fire in the middle of the big car road that crosses the river.

Boy am I smug

FYI : the candles were american and on their way to italy -  rome probably

Wednesday, July 9


turquoise is loneliness - wendy walgate

The days have been doubled up busy - painting and clearing out the Brain Surgery, tidying the community garden and making-lists for the annual cooking-with-music event.

Nooks and hidey-holes in the Brain Surgery are stuffed with accumulations. I sort and make collections of things that go together and make homes for them. The sorting and collecting and homing has infected me.

I dreamt about a vast bed in a dark wooden room, a high four-poster stacked with many layers of mattresses and pillows, filed in between them are dozens of sleeping labrador puppies, black ones and yellow ones. I patrol the bed pulling out a floppy hibernating puppy here and there, checking it's breathing before slipping it back in place and continuing my rounds. Also, in the interstices of the bed frame are tiny wooden tubes, each containing a bee which needed regular, gentle watering.

Then Lennie Kravitz came into the room - I didn't want him to know about the puppies

Saturday, July 5

Spring Cleaning has crept into my heart

It felt so good to wash the kitchen floor that I took a set of muslin curtains down and put them in the washing machine with some other things.

I turned on the machine and  forgot about it. 

When I opened the washer the next day my knickers and t-shirts were bound round with shreds of semi-digested rags - it took a full ten minutes to remember about the curtains.

Friday, July 4

The Brain Doctor is away next week

he suggested that, in lieu of having aimless conversations with his patients maybe I could freshen up the waiting room.

I'm rubbish at cleaning so I plan to paint over the dirt.

I  mixed up two nice colours, painted them  onto a piece of cardboard and went down to the paintshop and asked if they would match them into a quantity of paint. The guy in the shop said.

It's always best to buy sample pots first then you can see if you like them

I like these colours - a big tin of each please

Ok and then if you don't like it you only have to wait a couple of years - get your money's worth out if it - and then you can paint it over


Monday, June 30

Rose and Apple

'A few drops of rosewater give apple juice an exotic edge. Add two fingers of vanilla vodka to make what shall henceforth be known as a Scheherazade.'

today's treat from The Flavour Thesaurus

Sunday, June 29

I just bought this book

the flavour thesaurus by niki segnit

It was supposed to be a gift but I have already read it too much, I will need to keep this one and buy another.

It will be indispensable on those days when think that I've not got the makings of a meal in the house and then I spot the watermelon and, at the back of a drawer, a bar of chocolate - check the thesaurus under 'watermelon':

the sicilian dish gelo di melone is a watermelon soup thickened with cornflour, sweetened with sugar, spiced with cinnamon and flavoured with either crushed pistachio, grated chocolate or candied peel, or a combination of all three.

who knew?

Saturday, June 28

When another bottle of milk went missing

My mother redoubled her efforts.

across the road from their house there is a boundary hedge with a drainage ditch in front of it. The ditch is full of thistles and nettles and long grass and an ideal place to stage a stake out.  Embedding a camping chair in the ditch and dressing warmly, my mother set the alarm again, waited for the milk to be delivered and then went over the road and settled herself into the ditch at about 3am.

Nothing happened

Until 5am when the paper boy came along to deliver the newspapers.

Mum was concerned that when he passed where she was hidden, the boy might see her and be startled, so when he drew near she called out to reassure him

Hello... Hello there ... It's only me!

The boy looked around to see where the voice was coming from - but she was hidden from view and too deep in the ditch and too cold to get up and reveal herself

Dad called her in for breakfast at 6.30 and no more milk went missing and she thought about the milk thief less and less until the postman came by recently and said

Look at this!

on his phone was a video he'd made earlier showing a large retriever jogging up the road, carrying a square plastic milk bottle in his mouth.

(continued from previous post)

Thursday, June 26

I've been visiting my parents

and discovered that a great mystery has been solved

My parents live in a quiet farmy village surrounded by other quiet farmy villages. My mother circulates the village on a daily basis armed with a rubber glove and a plastic carrier bag in which she collects any litter she finds; two full bags of discarded wrappers and drinks cans in a single day and once when she pulled something unspeakable out of a tree, these things used to mark the peak of local criminal activity.

until the milk started going missing ....

The village dairy farmer delivers his bottled milk door to door in the early hours of the morning before going home to get the cows hooked up for the next milking.

When milk bottles started disappearing from people's front doorsteps suspicion was cast wide but mainly settled on road labourers and travellers working in the area.

After listening to the gossip, and having lost a few bottles herself, my mother decided to get to the bottom of the thing,  she went to bed early in the evening, set an alarm for 3am (milk delivery time)  at which time she went and stood sentinel by the bedroom window where she had a view of the front doorstep but dad said that her standing like a statue in the dark room was a bit weird and he couldn't sleep - so when nothing had happened by 4 she went back to bed.

... to be continued

Got a letter from the FBI today

NW WASHINGTON, DC 20535, 0001.


This is to acknowledge the receipt of an email from the Federal Ministry of finance Nigeria ... to notify you that I  and Mrs. Pamela Helen Brooks (The financial expert working with the World Bank) have perfected every arrangement for your approved fund valued 10.5 million usd. to be transferred into your nominated bank account without any further delay.

Gonna head into town and buy me some new celebration underpants

I also get letters from sexy girls who want to marry me - do you think it's because of all this money I have?

Tuesday, June 24

Giraffe Man visited the Brain Dctor yesterday

he came into the waiting room very slowly because his square-haired wife clutched him tightly and walked with great care - her dark glasses were very dark and I thought she must have gone blind but once she had sat down she took them off.

I asked her if she was enjoying our new hot summery weather

the hot weather makes it more difficult to walk because the straps keep slipping off my sandals

I could see that her feet were not-quite-strapped onto a pair of shiny-looking leather soles.

I said that I'd spotted some rather good woven loafers in Debenhams but she looked sad and said that there were no shoe shops where she lived.

In the afternoon my favourite client visited, dressed in Parisien Chic, she is very deaf and has Alzheimers. She tells me that she is about to move house, she knew she had to do it but she had got the date wrong and thought it was next month but in fact it's this month and now she must get rid of so many things

I had to give away my fairground horse

Friday, June 20

More words

from the Futility Closet today

my favourite is

n. a coward

A gaggle of black girls

in black and white school uniforms were at the end of the road when I set out for the Brain Doctor's.

Half of them broke off - racing to a lamp post and back. By the time I reached them they were back together, the sprinters breathless and laughing, a lot of chat with heavy swearing.

The tallest one was talking over everyone, über-swearily while bouncing on the spot, about a soon-to-happen race.

Her friend who hadn't been running interrupted her


you are so fucking ...

 (long pause trying to place the right word)



the hedge was wild and woolly

the baby birds are fledged

I clipped away at the vegetation to remake my invisible nudie spot at the back of the garden, uncovering this nest

designer's notes: sheep fleece woven among twigs accessorised with blue plastic string. Under layer made from the ginger fur that remains after a tomcat fight

It smells animal-ish

Wednesday, June 18

Best thing

currently in the Jamaica Street Artists studio is Rose Vickers' quilt made of old rulers

Tuesday, June 17

I got an emergency text

from the lady who can't fold things.

can you help - my mother is coming to stay - can we make the flat look normal

i wasn't sure what that meant

do you want me to make it look nice

no my mother would never believe that

Monday, June 16

A man who looked like a giraffe

turned up at the Brain Doctor's today accompanied by a short lady with square hair.

Giraffe Man had long white legs with markings and white mid-calf socks pulled up tight and tan sandals, he also wore pale beige shorts with the waistband way past his navel area. He moved in that way giraffes move - like a swimming rockinghorse.

He parked Square Hair Lady on the sofa then he swam in to the Brain Doctor's consulting room. She told me all about her knees showing me which one bent and which one didn't

I've had it operated on and it's a disaster but the woman at the clinic said I shouldn't ask to have it done again because I might lose the leg or even die

Saturday, June 14

While I was away ants moved in under my plants

I've engaged in counter-terrorism but I suspect I might not win this one.

I thought my Lady Garden was all about growing things but actually it's nothing to do with gardening. I live at a comedy nexus, a street theatre leyline - the combination of junction, steep hill and lamp post outside my front door makes a natural stopping place - for passersby to collapse breathless or ramp up that argument that's been brewing the last half mile.

If I time my ant-bothering correctly I can watch the schoolchildren washing up and down the hill.

One group of boys comes down later than the others,  I hear them from the top of the hill practising their gangsta speak, one boy voice-raised trying to tell the others important things over their rapping lyrics and beatbox sounds. They come into view practising their moves ... head bobs, shapes with the fingers.

Arriving at my ant-ridden planters, they cluster together and work out the song that's brewing

mm chukka mm chukka mm chukka mm chukka mmmmmm

I'm chillin'    she's willin'    got the feelin'     it's reelin'    hey baby hey baby .... mm chukka mmm

Thursday, June 12

I passed Drunk Trike on my way to the Brain Doctor's

She's looking a bit porky

 I think it's too much junk food

Happy to back with the Brain Doctor.

A very old and tiny patient comes in regularly, today she peeped over the edge of my desk and pushed towards me a card that she had cut down from a card someone had given her.

On the back of it was written the address of someone she thought I might be interested in.

Monday, June 9

The passage to Dubrovnik

began reasonably well, the plane stayed in the air all the way to Split. We deserved to be ripped off by a taxi because there was a neat bus that went all the way to the doorway of the hotel in Split and we were too stupid to notice.

Next day at the bus station we caught a bus to Dubrovnik and discovered just how unhelpful bus-related employees can be. Also I discovered travel sickness for the first time since I was eight years old.

Shared Space Croatian Style

When a motorbike doesn't want to go in the direction of the one way system it gets onto the very narrow pavement behind a female pedestrian and trails her all the way to the junction.
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