Monday, 30 November 2015


My younger son spent the weekend reading us all ‘would you rather’ questions off some website he has found. It is very American, e.g..

Meet Chuck Norris or the Old Spice guy?

Work at the FBI or the CIA?

Red Lobster biscuits or Olive Garden bread sticks?

Erase Canada off the map or erase New Jersey off the map?

Be president but be impeached after 3 weeks or have complete power over the world but then get killed after 3 weeks?

Most of them however are about burping or farting at inopportune moments or whether it is better to have too many testicles or one huge one, which is what happens when 12 year olds get access to the Internet, I suppose. We are in broad agreement about most of the dilemmas (uncontrollable ear hair easier to hide than uncontrollable nose hair, for example), which is reassuring.

Sample conversation this weekend:

E: Please will you get dressed

F: Would you rather snort one crushed up Altoid Mint or take a shot of Tabasco?

E: I’d rather you got dressed.

F: First edition foil holographic Charizard or twenty…


(faint sound drifts down from upstairs) F: Eat your own hand or a loved one’s eyeball?

(own hand obviously, eyeballs are disgusting and not even very nourishing and imagine the atmosphere if you ate someone's eyeball, awkward)

I tried to do some domestic things this weekend, an activity doomed to failure which always ends up with tantrums (me), mess (house) and tooth grinding (also me). First, we melted down some … stuff to refill a coconut for the garden that the giant hooligan crows have emptied in 2 days flat. God only knows at was in it, possibly rendered whale blubber or some kind of boiled down bones, human flesh even, it filled the kitchen with the horrifying stench of death then hardened to spooky, glistening perfection. Not a single bird has gone anywhere near it since we hung it out. Also, the garden looks like the Somme-slash-blasted heath, this is not related to anything except the destructive force of chickens + Belgian weather, but it is quite depressing:

Kirstie Allsopp rating: 0/5

Later we marinaded piri piri chicken from Diana Henry’s wonderful A Bird in the Hand cookbook. I got this book recently after wild rave reviews from all the good cooks I know and this was the first thing I made and now the children are refusing to let me try anything else because they are children, which is annoying. Anyway, I spilled piri piri marinade all over my slipper and it has a huge greasy stain on it, which is proving impossible to remove and now I hate everything.
Kirstie Allsopp rating 2/5

Made chocolate muffins. I can’t be doing with homemade muffins, they always turn out bland and boring and get stale after approx 4 minutes, but F was keen for some reason. They look ok (recipe from that Hummingbird Bakery book that was notorious for having inaccurate recipes in it, so every time I use it I expect disaster) but took ages and don’t taste of much and I got resentful about having to make dinner afterwards, why can’t we all just eat the boring muffins, hmmm.
Kirstie Allsopp rating: 1.75

Erm. I thought there were more things, but these are in fact all I can remember, my Friday attempt at a sloe gin cocktail must be consigned to the mists of history without a rating due to Awfulness. Today I will drag the matchbox advent calendar out of the dead wasp filled cupboard and fill it with tiny match sized blandishments, so that will up my KA score to at least 2.5, I hope.

20% Dutch test revision
20% Behind on everything end of year related
20% Punishment soup
20% Feeble body brushing like that will make a difference
20% Delighted and horrified at the return of the Egg Master.

You? Eyeball or hand? Chuck Norris or Old Spice Guy?

Friday, 27 November 2015

Slightly doomed

I have escaped from the dentist! My whole face smells of rubber and has been lightly exfoliated with some kind of blackcurrant scented toothscrub and I'm not allowed to eat or drink anything for hours. Everything tastes of blood and part-metabolised terror and I feel SO ALIVE and am planning a celebratory crumpet (Ultimate Crumpet, indeed), when I am no longer nil by mouth.

Dental selfie
If the following makes no sense, it's probably all the adrenalin ebbing out of me, I so hate the dentist. Well, I actually love Jeremy my dentist, who is calm and quiet and delicate, but I hate the whole dental scenario (like any sentient human). Today, whilst I was wearing the "trays" full of fluoride, a gross experience where I am always certain I am seconds away from drowning in my own drool, and whilst Jeremy was quietly pottering in the next room, I distracted myself from hyperventilating by taking a 'selfie' (ugh, dowager's shudder) be-trayed and drool spattered, then I became so hysterical at the hideousness of the picture I had taken I got really bad giggles and nearly ended up in serious fluoride trouble. No, I'm not showing you, you can see right up my nose, no one needs that and someone on Twitter said I should have put a NSFW warning on that neck picture, though some wrong part of me really wants to put it on Instagram tagged #thisiswhat41lookslike or similar.

Wine language
I started putting foreign language wine reviews into Google Translate earlier today (I was trying to say something about some wine for a review and I know literally nothing whatsoever about wine and would rather have a cheap nasty pub G&T than even the nicest wine, which of course I would be incapable of identifying in the first place) and when the first one (from Spanish, given how much I spent on Spanish classes in my twenties, I should really be able to understand this) came out, it started: "Slightly doomed". Slightly doomed! We've all drunk that wine, haven't we. Most times I open a bottle of wine come with a bouquet of slightly doomed.

I did another one, still for actual work purposes, from Dutch this time (what, shut up, we haven't got that far in Dutch class, I can only ask you if you've ever bought anything from the small ads and tell you what you're not allowed to do at work "je mag geen foto's van naakte vrouwen aan de muur hangen", you must not place photos of naked women on the walls). That one came out:

"Open odor profile that some air may use. Discrete keys peach. Folds open in its taste after what skies"

I also liked

"Black in colour, having an oily consistency. The bouquet molds itself open and is a school of odors in itself".

Are they sure this is wine?

White thé hell
In other news, I don't know what happened at L's school today, but he has just come home and told me he needs me to buy him crispy seaweed and omega 3s and that a barbecued meat brochette is as bad as 800 cigarettes (hmm). Has catholic school been taken over by orthorexics? Hippies? #eatclean bloggers? We didn't move to Belgium for this kind of nonsense. Thankfully, he then ate a doughnut, somewhat restoring the equilibrium of the universe.

Sloe Sloe Quick Quick Sloe
In the hope of restoring the birthday penumbra spirit after today's dental downer, I am currently trying to work out what kind of cocktail I could make myself with sloe gin and well, almost nothing else, ideally without going to the supermarket, since I've been once today and it left me murderous. Anyone?  The internet seems to suggest that lemon juice and sugar syrup might make it palatable...


50% Fluoride, surely
50% Firm plans for gin in a boiling hot bath (yes, my Friday night fun sounds like a 19th century attempt to induce miscarriage)


Thursday, 26 November 2015

Hiep hiep houra

It is mijn verjaardag!

Look at my stash of delights:

Observe the tiny golden croissant (which I did admittedly ask for complete with hyperlink)! I am planning to wear him for my book launch if there is such a thing and if Mr Putin hasn't killed us all by April. But also cashmere bedsocks and a fox pencil case and tiny AA bath oils and cheap chocolate and snowflakes hand hewn by a Viking in Orkney.

And my main and greatest delight:

Le Corbeau et le renard, scourge of so many years of my children's education, rendered in decorative delightfulness. The cheese dangles free and alluring on a thread.

My sister also got me tickets to go and see Vic and Bob, if Bob's heart has recovered by February. She is a most excellent sister even if she does spread her stuff over every inch of floorspace and use 27 mugs in the space of two hours and treads mud around the house with her giant boots (ha, like no one else in this house does those things).

The fun is now nearly over, since we are doing L's stupid geography revision which has caused me to shout once already, there has been a maths based meltdown (not my fault) and tomorrow there is the dentist (AGAIN), but there is still time and space for a moderate amount of booze and some cake so that is what I am going to do. And we're down to #niveau3 security alert! P.A.R.T.Y.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Libérée, Délivrée

Somehow we survived the fourth and (please Nathan) final day of #BrusselsLockdown. Quite honestly, yesterday was not the kind of day when anyone much wants to leave the house anyway - cold, windy, with occasional flurries of sleet, chickens huddled by back door pleading to come in. The children did no work (of course) and wore no clothes. My sister, never one to pay much attention to advice of any sort, came to visit and I found myself texting her before she arrived "we will definitely be around, the boys have not got dressed for three days" as a sort of vague, lazy bit of hyperbole then realising it was the LITERAL TRUTH. Imagine. Filth. I wore clothes and became unreasonably angry at nothing.

I actually braved the mean streets of Brussels on Monday night to review a restaurant and everything seemed much as ever, ie. it was impossible to park and everyone was driving like crackhead weasels. We nearly actually died of shock in the restaurant at the realisation that mains were priced at €40 FORTY OF YOUR EARTH EUROS but after it was too late and we had decided to share three small starters the waitress laconically told us they were like, sort of, to share? Sigh. This afternoon we ventured out again, as F was doing his self-imposed helicopter self-parenting (Chinese + violin). I wandered around the very empty shops, mainly populated by cheerful heavily armed policemen taking advantage of the circumstances to do their Christmas shopping. Marks and Spencer was deserted and giving out small cups of hot chocolate and cookies, just making me love them all the more (I bought mince pies even though it is November and thus verboten). The metro was its usual jolly self, a mixture of urine and waffle, everyone grumpy and standing in front of the sodding carriage doors as if they have never taken public transport in their lives.

This is fascinating isn't it, my hot "take" on Brussels under siege. The power of thought has been sapped from me by unlimited consumption of Le Soir's liveblog (sample comment "I refuse to take my children to school and I dare the education minister to make me!")  and all I am really capable of is catching up on Catastrophe and First Dates in glowering silence. Unfortunately I cannot do this, since I must first catch up with all the work I have ignored due to terrorism.

It is my birthday tomorrow. I have had a small birthday epiphany, which is that to avoid seething resentment and childish disappointment, my normal birthday state, I need to buy myself a nice, wholly indulgent present and am now weighing up what it should be - Aromatherapy Associates Deep Relax bath oil, this box of salty, bread-y chocolate, or Charlotte Tilbury Wonderglow? (all three) (no, I can't) (hmm)


20% So damn cold
20% So behind on my advent calendar ordering shizz
20% So spinach/parmesan bechamel
20% "Il fait des brocantes" boggling (French only this, I can't find an English version, but basically the guy who drove Salah Abdeslam back to Belgium apparently has a car full of weapons "because he goes to a lot of car boot sales").
20% Almost 41 and still immensely stupid


Monday, 23 November 2015

Huis clos

#BrusselsLockdown, day 3. Banish all despondency and pessimism, this is a time for family togetherness and creativity, sharing our hopes and fears, uniting in laughter over a board game or a jigsaw, cooking nourishing meals and really taking the time to talk to one another.

Is it fuck.

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

Exhibits C and D

Main observation: it is really dark in our house, except up in my attic lair where no bastard may venture unless they are (i) me (ii) a very silent whippet or (iii) bearing tea and biscuits.

Supplementary observation: I could probably be finding something witty and intelligent to say about this whole situation if it was not so damn LOUD here.  If L doesn't stop honking at his mates like an enraged goose I will not be responsible for my actions.

Further observation: Is there a danger that the feckless, playstation obsessed school children of Brussels will see this whole lockdown scenario as a good thing (yes there is)?

Yet further observation: the nonsensical comments on Le Soir's live blog are squeezing my head like a vice, yet they appear in the main liveblog so I cannot avoid them and this is a terrible, terrible thing.

Other observation: This really has to stop soon or my liver will give out. We tried to make martinis on Saturday and ended up drinking pints of gin, then we perfected our technique on Sunday and there is plenty of gin left and oh god, my head.

Linked observation: My sensitivity to noise/internet stupidity may be in some way related to this, I leave you to draw your own conclusions.

Wholly unrelated observation: HOLY SHIT LOOK AT THIS. Do you like the cover? I do.


95% Lockdown
5% Nurofen


Friday, 20 November 2015


I have now been forty for almost a full year (it's my birthday next week, groom the pygmy goats, pile the choux high) and I think I have only learnt three things, all negatives:

1. If you value your sanity, don't write a memoir.

2. If you disregard the first piece of valuable advice, don't use any song lyrics in your memoir.

2. Don't take a picture of your own neck. WHOA. I only learnt this one yesterday. I had trapped my neck in the zip of my coat for the second time in a week and wanted to commemorate this high water mark of idiocy, but then I saw this picture and now I know that death is imminent, so I don't need to worry about working out how not to trap my neck in zips.

What the fuck? Whose neck is that? The crêpey, creepy texture! The age spots! Who the hell knew? I could quite happily have gone on not knowing, thanks.

Other news:

I have filled the garden with fat balls and nuts and now I can't go anywhere or do anything because I have to stare at tits like a pensioner during all the hours of daylight. WITH BINOCULARS. Mostly the tits sit on the wall and watch as a persistent crow tries to untie the half coconut and carry it away, but I enjoy that too. Ooh! The jay is back! Now it has gone again. Etc. until it is time for the children to come home from school and F says "what have you done today?" and I have to make up something about, um, law?

I am wearing red lipstick today in a fit of .. something. I never ever ever wear red lipstick and have twice caught sight of my reflection and not recognised myself. Thankfully the massive spot on my nose tipped me off.

If I hold a tissue against it, you cannot see the giant nose buboe, impeccable logic there.

I'm experimenting with lipstick because to my sadness, I simply cannot wear eyeliner any more, it brings me out in hideous itchy spots along my inner lids that make me want to put my head through a shredder. My thinking is that I could essay a "strong lip" and style it out as a positive decision rather than having fool eyes, but lipstick is much higher maintenance than a quick swoosh of gel liner so I may just resign myself to looking like a potato.

Now I have to go out and buy tiramisu because last weekend a whole family sized one accidentally fell into my mouth and I have been deeply and lengthily shamed for this by my family, who are insisting I buy new one for each of them. My only real regret about this is telling them about the existence of the tiramisu in the first place instead of sneaking off to bed to eat it in glowering, blissful silence.


50% Not at all sorry about the tiramisu
50% Spiritually a sea toad

You? What have you learnt in the past year? And do you have any red lipstick recommendations for a woman with awfully British teeth?

Wednesday, 18 November 2015


I feel like the only thing I can do when something terrible happens is shut the fuck up, so I did.

On my radar this week:


This chocolate:

I had a very disappointing trip yesterday to the newly opened health food/organic shop up the road. This has been touted as some kind of Whole Foods-esque paradise, and I went in hope of freshly mutilated kale, green juice, chia pudding and whatever else the fuck the ill-fed children of hipster health foods are eating these days, but er, nope, it looks like Alligator Whole Food Co-Op in York circa 1982, complete with staff who might indeed have worked in Alligator in 1982. I walked round twice in growing disappointment then bought this and I must say, it is very tasty and really salty, in a good way. I thought it might turn me into one of those "one square of top quality dark chocolate" women, has it fuck, I have a square of this THEN one of my dwindling reserve of mocha KitKats.

Advent Calendars

I had a highly regrettable wander through the Amazon advent calendar section yesterday (even though OH HAI DID I NOT TELL YOU we are actually going to Thailand on the 18th December for 2 weeks, my delayed 40th birthday present, holy shit, terror and delight in equal measure, more about this doubtless anon.).

I love advent so much. Despite having not a religious bone in my body, advent hymns (Lo He Comes With Clouds Descending, Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel, On Jordan's Banks The Baptist's Cry) do something astonishing to me and the whole spirit of advent - the real spirit, awe, anticipation, wonder - fills me with shivering delight and painful nostalgia, bringing back the ghosts of advents past: choir practices, hymns with Mr Hastie, end of term excitement, the freezing Wadham chapel, mist and frost and mystery. Sadly, advent 2015 style is a whole unseemly international buffet of wrongness and these advent calendars typify that. O tempora, o mores.

 I am pretty sure we have already been over my extremely presbyterian taste in Advent Calendars several times, I mean, I bore on about it enough. Basically, apart from our home crafted matchbox calendar of incompetence, usually stuffed by the boys with plastic spiders and Nurofen, only paper is acceptable,  ideally paper featuring small, boring devotional scenes or a robin at a pinch. Do not tempt me with your £200 beauty calendars, gin calendars, Chupa Chups calendars etc etc etc, not today, Satan (I swither between Ian Paisley and Bianca del Rio from S6 of RuPaul's Drag Race when I say this).

Chief offenders:

1. Dog advent calendars

Your dog is not awaiting the birth of our Saviour in awe and wonder and devotion. Your dog could not care less. He is waiting to lick his balls, oh hang on, he isn't even waiting for that.

2. Erotic advent calendars

"24 tasty bums, boobs and willies!"

OUR LORD DID NOT GIVE  HIS ONLY SON SO THAT YOU COULD PLUCK A PENIS SHAPED CHOCOLATE OUT OF THAT MAN'S ARMPIT. OR OUT OF HIS CROTCH FOR THAT MATTER. This is definitely a sign of the imminent apocalypse. Dr Paisley would have had something to say about this.

3. Personalised Gail from Corrie advent calendar

"Do you know someone who would really love to date Helen Worth?"
A: No, or if I do, they are keeping it quiet.

I don't feel personally affronted by this, just deeply puzzled. Who is this for? Who? "THE STEPS TO A GLITTERING COUNTDOWN TO CHRISTMAS NEVER BEEN MORE SIMPLE..." reads the text beneath this, in overwrought and grammatically puzzling capital letters.

A surprising number of the remaining offerings featured German football teams, several different ones, who knew that German football advent chocolate was a thing, eh.

As for me, I am hesitating between Altarpieces:

(This would really get the kids' hearts racing in the morning. "Look! A detail from the Wilton Diptych, mummy!") 

This one screams P.A.R.T.Y

I considered and rejected this pleasant RSPB one, because chocolate, but perhaps some of you godless sybarites might like it:

It hasn't been the same since the SPCK bookshop stopped doing the ones that only had bible verses in. 


I am reading Julian Barnes' book of art essays, Keeping An Eye Open and oh my god, they are so wonderful. The first one on Géricault's Raft of the Medusa had me actually breathless, it is SO GOOD. *pretentious interlude ends*

I am going to stop here because I have nothing else to say, which seems like a good enough reason.


65% faintly martyred by Wednesday
20% cracked lips
15% concerned that wine 3 days in a row is a bad precedent, but disinclined to do anything about it.


Friday, 13 November 2015

Belgium Toosoo

Yesterday in Dutch class we all had to sing our national anthems. Not in Dutch, maybe the teacher was just sick of the sound of us massacring her language. My ranking:

1. Somalia "Soomaaliyeey Toosoo" (Somalia Wake Up) - super catchy. Apparently it's not the national anthem any more, which is a big mistake.
2. Venezeula "Gloria Al Bravo Pueblo" - pretty good, would be excellent for marching.
3. UK - at least easy to sing and succinct if frankly dull.
4. Belgium "La Brabançonne"- even the PM can't remember it, it's hardly a reference, also easily confused with Here Comes the Chief, I mean Hail to the Chief or whatever it's called. This version sounds like it comes from a Christmas album by some second rate tenors.
- Morocco (refused to sing)
- Rwanda (didn't know, hummed the Star Spangled Banner instead)

We were studying things that you can (kunnen) do (eg. sing your national anthem), things that you are allowed to do (mogen, we couldn't think of many of these in Belgium though I think we came up with "in the police station you may consult a lawyer") and things that you must (moeten) or must not (niet mogen) do (eg. "in the town hall you must not ask questions during the lunch break", well obviously).

On my radar:

La Force des Choses
I am reading the third volume of Simone de Beauvoir's autobiography. The first two volumes are among my very favourite non-fic books ever - the second especially, which covers the war, is gripping - but I am finding this arid. There is a lot of JPS falling out with various Communist groupuscules and everyone keeps launching competing "revues". I did enjoy a brief cameo by the crustaceans who chased JPS through volume two after a mescal experiment misfire, and am hoping they will return.

New Lives in the Wild UK - Channel 5 
I have been looking forward to this glimpse into my future - crazed Britons living off grid in cobbled together shacks antagonising their neighbours and speaking mainly to goats - and it did not disappoint, although the crazies were not that crazy in this episode. I say that, but the four of them were living in a converted horse box and they had some of the worst hair in Britain. Next week's episode is definitely Future Me - wild haired (ok, not this), toothless Oxford graduate crone lives in mud hut in Wales.

Those pork buns Nigella made on telly last week
They looked so easy! I love pork buns! Did not involve many weird ingredients! Likelihood of this going horribly wrong: approx 98%. I am so happy N is back on the television, I could watch her endlessly, even though her hand gestures are weirdly over-emphatic.

Trish Deseine on The Food Programme
So enjoyed listening to this.

Our Mutual Friend
I am listening to this as I trudge the grey streets with the ouipette, using my under-used Audible subscription (any tips?) and very enjoyable it is too. Silas Wegg has just gone to see Mr Venus, Preserver of Animals and Birds, Articulator of Human Bones, to find out whether his amputated leg has been sold (it hasn't, though it might turn out valuable as a Monstrosity).

Jesus, they are everywhere at the moment, there are hundreds in the park. I'm not complaining, I love crows and will happily submit to our crow overlords.

Scented Origami horses
I did a small job relating to these recently (€62 for 4) and now I am fascinated by the idea. How long, realistically, does a paper horse hold scent? Wouldn't it be like one of those little paper tester thingies, ie. barely a week in your pocket? Still, compared to the "scented pebble" (€200 for a single pebble), I suppose they are a steal.

Lunch is on my radar. Time to hack my way through some more of the chard forest, chiz.


Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Eleven Eleven

Armistice Day is a public holiday in Belgium. My family have honoured the war dead by playing Call of Duty: Black Ops for a large number of hours. I have honoured the war dead by making and then scanning a number of manuscript mark-ups intended to stop people suing me and by walking the dog at length, holding up Chinese flashcards and drinking a not very nice cappuccino (why will I never learn, they are all not very nice in Belgium). Later, there will be fish and chips, not to honour the war dead, but because it is Wednesday and we always have fish and chips on Wednesday.

Random shit: 

Installation trousers

This morning I was idly browsing black trousers (what, shut up, this is a valid public holiday activity) when I came across this marvellous piece of copy "The Devoe Pants offer a relaxed fit inspired by handmade ceramics and abstract art objects." Um, how, exactly? Because they do not look to me, the casual trouser observer, to be greatly inspired by abstract art objects. I mean, sure, some of the crazy three-armed Rei Kawakubo garments they sell in the Mad Japanese corner of Liberty looks like they are, but these trousers just look like.. trousers.

Lucky Men 

I walked past this earlier:

In fairness, there was a stack of bottles of Evian in one corner. The lucky men are occasionally allowed something other than beer. Men reading: what else would you like them to provide in this shop for you to feel really really lucky? Perhaps a Lazy Man Mug? The Lucky Emma shop would sell: super-cheap cashmere, even cheaper British industrial confectionery, pygmy goats and live owls. Admittedly, I can see some logistical difficulties with getting these stock lines to co-exist peacefully.

Buffet of wrongdoing

Conversation earlier with M:

E: (redacted) sit on a throne of lies

M: Yes. Lies woven together like coconut fronds.

E: A beach hut of lies. A lounger of lies.

M: A rum arrangé of deceit. An international buffet of wrongdoing.

(infantile virtual laughter)


20% Courbatures (I love that word)

20% Really really need a new moisturiser, have been using nothing at all for months now, it's not really working out for me

20% Puzzled by tone of contemporary discourse in many spheres

20% Sugar after asking my son to "surprise me" with a drink, which he duly did

10% Nederlands huiswerk, both mine and F's, which are of similar degrees of difficulty

10% Pavlovian Wednesday wine anticipation, mmmmm fritkot wine.

You? What would be in a shop called Lucky (Your name)?

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Magnesium matters


I cut my fingerclaws too short and then had to fight with the blocked washing machine filter and now every one of my fingertips is red and painful and my knees are soggy with blocked washing machine water, also STOP LEAVING WRAPPERS IN YOUR POCKETS INGRATE CHILDREN.

Current work options: doing impossible and thus frustrating legal research, attempting to resolve intractable Belgian administrative tangle I have already made two very creditable yet failed stabs at resolving, working out who is most likely to sue me re. book. Wow, this last one is fun and not at all likely to lead to 4am dark night of the soul moments, nope. I am taking a lot of magnesium, since francophones believe it to be a kind of natural Xanax, I have gleaned this from my many years of pharmacy window observation. No discernable impact yet but I am keeping the magnesium faith.

My long, long fringe is getting in my eyes and giving me an itchy forehead and I have lost the "product" the hairdresser gave me to help with this.

Glimmers of hope:

I secretly like unblocking the washing machine filter because it makes me feel powerful and competent.

L has his phone back after 3 weeks somewhere in the sous-directeur's bureau (for about 12 hours until I confiscate it, probably, but it's something).

Very satisfactory, if weird, lunch. All freelancer's lunches are weird, I think, or at least I hope. Leftovers, things that need using up, occasional off-piste packets of biscuits, cobbled together deadline-desperation snacks. Sometimes I take pictures of the worst offenders, such as this, recently:

WTF Lunch

(that artichoke had been in the fridge for literally a month before we were guilted into cooking it and I can tell you that it was a very long way past its best)

Or this:

Yes, 90% of that meal was M&M cookies and the fish fillet was tepid

Or this:

I hope you admire my commitment to a token vegetable, even in culinary extremis

Today's: spinach and courgette soup, leftover peas and rice in mustard cream sauce, a head of chicory (Belgian national obligation at least 3 x weekly) half a Picard frozen bagel (= bagel only in name) and half an avocado. This will be a high point in the week since I have about 5 kilos of chard from my father to get through, also all the world's apples (containing most of the world's earwigs).  

It is my birthday this month and I have been compiling a fantasy birthday list for my own amusement, mainly composed of Macon et Lesquoy brooches, Elemis bath-crack and cashmere "leisure wear". The anticipation is by far the best bit about my birthday at this advanced stage of decrepitude, that and I have inveigled my father into agreeing to take me for a gigantic boozy meal at Rules, if I can sneak out of Belgium. 

I know this is all thunderingly mundane, but I have decided that rather than just writing about books or stopping altogether, I can get away with being un-fascinating if I post frequently. It's quality or quantity, people. Or I can probably manage 'neither'. Neither is well within my reach. 


20% Facial blemish
20% Head itch (10% scalp, 10% face)
20% Mad desire for a Bogato Mont Blanc, the one that is shaped like a ball of wool with a cassis centre (this is highly specific, yes, but no, I am not pregnant)
20% Obliged to fall back on pâté instead, since Bogato is in Paris and no fecker in Uccle can make a Mont Blanc that looks like a ball of wool
20% Non-specific irritation 

You? What grisly lunches do you indulge in when home alone? 

Monday, 9 November 2015

Some photos of birds, basically

Jesus, I have so much to do. I'm not doing it though, I'm mainly saying that to myself anxiously and repeatedly and doing bugger all, because that's really practical and efficient and likely to result in shit getting done. Fuckwit. I did get to hold a Harris Hawk yesterday though.

I wish I were a tenth as majestic as this creature.

I don't think Harris Hawks are any better at multitasking than I am. Their thing is more flying short distances from tree to tree looking for food, apparently. I could probably do that (without the flying), actually it is one of my favourite ways to spend a day if for "food" we substitute "cake". We also held an African Wood Owl called Georgie, waited as a female Bateleur Eagle called Guy did nothing whatsoever and watched as a turkey vulture (whose name I have forgotten) flew away in the direction of Moreton-in-Marsh, presumably to terrify coach parties and possibly steal scones. Good rural fun.

The only other weekend revelation was the existence of the Giant Crumpet. Did you know about this? Why was I not informed?

(Ten cent coin for scale)

I approve of it.

I will return when I am not being a dick about my work. I need this guy to sit on my desk and wither me into submission with his stare.


30% Unsatisfactory lunch gloom
20% Wrongly tempted by Jaeger emailed special offers for silk shirts when I have plenty of silk shirts and not plenty of money
20% Ongoing book dread
10% Fiddling while Rome burns
10% Channelling Thumper:

10% Probably more like trouserless guy than Thumper.