The Constant Wife

We saw The Constant Wife last night. I loved the sets and the costumes, almost as much as the performances. I’m very partial to the Gate Theatre and we ate in The Hot Stove. I chose a main course that was very rich and I shouldn’t have had dessert, other than that the meal was delicious. I love live theatre, and an easy to enjoy play like this is always a sure fire good night.

The Constant Wife

Three Weeks Of No Shampoo

I’m not entirely convinced about this no shampoo thing. I’m no closer to full, bouncy hair than I was three weeks ago. My hair is still greasy. My hair still needs creative use of various silk scarves I haven’t used in years or plaits that owe more than a little to various Chalet School illustrations. My hair can’t be worn down because it is not something I want to show off.

I’ve got a terrible stubborn streak so I’m going to stick with it. It also fits nicely into my move towards a zero waste approach. I spent a little time researching some vegetables and fruit with less packaging and I’ve got some apple scrap vinegar fermenting on my kitchen counter. I need to find some other options for various packaging heavy staples.

Three Weeks Of No Shampoo

In Which I Take To My Bed Again

I had an extremely long week in work this week. Not only were the hours many, the work was stressful. I spent very little time at home and it seemed like I’d only just gotten into bed  before I was up again. Last night, I got home late again and watched some of the Brexit coverage. I went to bed very late, having seen the polls that suggested Britain’s Remain campaign had won a tight victory.

This morning I woke at 530 am and saw the news. I literally cannot believe it. I’ve grown up in a country where only because of Europe have women’s conditions improved and where travelling freely between myriad countries renders charming some of the scenes at customs in my Chalet School books.

I was so exhausted I took to my bed a few hours ago. I slept badly and daytime naps don’t tend to agree with me. I don’t know whether the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach is because the world has tilted in an unfamiliar and undesirable direction or whether my utterly exhausting week and the emotion of today’s result is finally catching up with me. Either way, I’m tired, slightly confused and not at all secure in myself right now.

In Which I Take To My Bed Again

Much Ado About Muffins

I moved house with a large jar full of dried fruit that’s been soaked in rum. It was left over from my Christmas baking and as the alcohol preserves and keeps the fruit nice and moist I haven’t been in a rush to use it. I suddenly decided to make muffins this week and came up with a recipe which was inspired by Nigella’s Christmas morning muffins. Side note, I have and adore her Christmas cookbook. I use many of the recipes year-round.

The kitchen smelled deliciously Christmassy when the muffins were baking and considering they were sugar free they turned out very nicely sweet. My current oven sparks zero joy for me. I had planned on getting my kitchen cabinets painted but instead I’m planning on shopping for a new double oven and getting rid of my completely unreliable single-oven-with-a-gross-integrated-microwave-we-never-use combo.

Here’s my not at all accurate recipe should anyone care to try a little taste of Christmas in June.

200 g plain flour

50 g ground almonds

50 g ground coconut

1 tsp baking powder

0.5 tsp bicarb

1 tsp grated nutmeg

Two mandarin oranges

Approx 180 mls milk

Approx 75 mls oil (I used sunflower)

One egg

Three heaped tbsp dried fruit soaked in alcohol


Set an oven that’s anyway reliable to about 170 C and fill a 12 piece muffin tin with paper cases.

Put all dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Stir to combine.

Grate the oranges over the dry mixture.

Cut oranges and squeeze juice into a measuring jug.

Pour milk until the 200 ml mark is reached, then oil until about 275 mls.

Crack the egg into the milk mixture and beat a little with a fork.

Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients and mix well-I found a fork did the best job.

Stir the fruit through the mixture until everything is combined evenly.

Fill the cases and place tin in oven. Cook for about 15 mins and if your oven is like mine make sure they don’t burn.

Cool and enjoy.

Much Ado About Muffins

This Is What Happens When You Give Up Shampoo (Part II)

It has now been approximately two weeks since I washed my hair. As someone who washed her hair at least every second day if not daily this is a whole new world for me. I’ve done some very half-hearted research and apparently this is called the transition phase. I call it Grease Is The Word. My hair looks and feels as though I’ve dipped it in oil and I’m on a heavy rotation of headscarves and plaits that have caused one work colleague to jokingly ask if I’m supporting Ukraine in the current football tournament. I got Austria in the office pool, so fingers crossed they let in more goals.

I will persist. I’m quite stubborn when I get settled on an idea and I’ve told a few more people what I’m up to. This is mainly due to my national trait of being Unable To Accept A Compliment. Whenever anyone has commented on my new strategy of Hiding As Much Of the Grease As Possible, I can’t say ‘Thanks’ and smile, instead I go into Explanation Mode about giving up shampoo. So now that they know, and I know they know, I have to keep going. Obviously.

This Is What Happens When You Give Up Shampoo (Part II)

Alone Again, Naturally (Or why American Gun Laws Are Something I Cannot Understand)

Over a decade ago, I went to work and play in America for a summer on a J1 visa. Part of the fun was living away from home for the first time and being a lot more independent in thought and action as I lived at home for all my college years. One of the single most shocking things I experienced there was the first time we went to do some shopping in a large supermarket and turned a corner to see guns on open display. Seeing guns on sale in a place where people buy their food and household items was something I couldn’t understand then and frankly, I understand it even less now.

I live in a country which is not perfect and some of our laws make me rage, firstly as a woman and secondly as a citizen, but at least I know the odds of me or anyone I love cowering in a bathroom because someone with a legally held semi-automatic weapon has decided to go on a rampage is pretty damn low. The police here aren’t armed and I hope it stays that way. There is gun crime and some of it is horrific. I’m mindful of the fact that 20 years ago, while my parents had some workmen in tiling their kitchen, one of the men came in to tell us a woman had been shot. Veronica Guerin was a journalist who had exposed a lot of organised crime and paid a very heavy price for this. I admire her more the older I get.

Hearing about another mass shooting in the United States merely means that things play out in the usual way. There’s the shakey camera phone footage, the candles and the flowers outside the scene of the latest tragedy and there’s the inevitable bizarre claims that adding more guns into what had to have been a very volatile situation would have improved matters. How does this happen, over and over again? There are a lot of things I loved about America when I first went there many years ago. We love it so much we spent our honeymoon there and it is somewhere to which we will return. But it stands alone in how it deals with the sale and supply of weapons that kill to its citizens. And while the awful Orlando shootings now stand alone as the single greatest mass shooting for now, there is an awful part of me that wonders when, where and how the next one will stand alone as an even greater tragedy.

Alone Again, Naturally (Or why American Gun Laws Are Something I Cannot Understand)

A Weekend During Which I Took To My Bed

I was poorly this past weekend. Nothing I can put my finger on but by Saturday afternoon my eyes were so tired I had to take out my contact lenses and Sunday consisted of lying prostrate on my incredibly comfortable bed, reading my ever expanding collection of Chalet School books and periodically enjoying tea and toast.

Marjorie is quite clear on what a lady should do when feeling unwell and illustrates same in her Cases. Lucky for me, I don’t live alone while trying to like it and my husband was a superb nurse. I’ve rallied since but my exercise regime has gone by the wayside for a few days now and getting to and from work is as energetic as I got today.

Thankfully, on arriving in work my spirits were lifted by a padded envelope on my desk, wherein was a copy of yet another Chalet School book I’d preordered from Girls Gone By. I must stop myself ordering any more until I’ve read my (slightly odd in terms of their ordering compared to the series numbers) latest pile. I will give a shout out to Encore Books though. Impressive service, right down to a refund on a delivery charge and a nice little message with the order docket. Will use again.

A Weekend During Which I Took To My Bed

Hanging Around

Having moved house some time ago now, we decided this weekend it was past time to get some of the small and not very time consuming stuff done. Like hanging up pictures, which had been sitting on the floor of the attic room for week. We’ve accumulated a nice collection and I’ve learned that paying for custom framing often works out cheaper in the end, as the Ikea frames I’m sometimes tempted by either end up being unsuitable or fall to pieces within a relatively short space of time.

I get all our framing done by the The Frame Factory and I can recommend them for all jobs big and small. They’ve recommended different approaches to framing for different pictures and made some amazing frames for my sentimental items that required frames that you cannot buy off the shelf. Our amazing wedding photographer’s pictures look even more amazing with the custom frames-and the suggestion of a slightly different mont for the black and white photos made an unbelieving difference.

I’m all about supporting small local businesses that provide a quality service, and today we realised one much loved picture was in a hideous pine frame. The frame will go to the charity shop (one person’s trash, etc.) and I’ll make a trip to The Frame Factory for something much more suited to the print. Getting these small jobs done sparks a lot of joy when you can see the fruits of your labour on the wall.

Hanging Around

This Is What Happens When You Give Up Shampoo

I made a decision to stop using shampoo about a week ago. I’m somewhat of a bandwagon jumper when it comes to green trends and cutting back on waste, so I did very little research and only took success stories into account. Paris To Go has been my main read for this experiment and I’ve decided not to go down the road of using baking soda and apple cider vinegar combinations for the moment.

I gave up deodorant some time ago and I’ve managed fine. I won’t lie, I do smell a bit after a run or a particularly sweaty day in the office, but nothing that I think is offensive enough to warrant going back to spraying my underarms with chemicals.

The shampoo detox is another matter. My hair is greasy and feels terrible. I’ve even resorted to digging out some headscarves that have been tucked away for a couple of years to cover up the mess that is my head. The plus side is that I’m getting more creative with how to deal with hair that must be tucked up and away as much as possible and I confided in a friend what I was up to so she didn’t assume I’d gone a little batty.

We’ll see. I invested in a brush with bamboo pins to try to even out the grease a little. It hasn’t made any difference noticeable enough for me to eagerly and enthusiastically encourage everyone else to try this. One week into this, I could go either way on shampoo.

This Is What Happens When You Give Up Shampoo