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I don't really have time for complicated endeavours but I've tried my hand pickles and chutney this year.

There's a blog I particularly like called The Cottage Smallholder. The woman behind the blog is trying to be as self-sufficient as possible. That's never going to be possible for me but she does have some cracking recipes on there. The picked cucumbers in particular are wonderful - Mr Halva keeps telling me not to give any more away.

I also made green tomato chutney, which was gorgeous. It's got chilli and lemon in it and tastes sort of like some of the pickles you get in Indian restaurants with the poppadums.

Last week my mum and I made marmalade. It was fun, if a bit time consuming. It came out a bit overdone but I like old-fashioned dark, concentrated marmalade so I'm happy with it.

We have a whole load of plums in the freezer. There's a plum tree locally that always groans with fruit and no one picks it. I cannot believe that the owners of the house let them go to waste every year. So, last year we went and asked them if we could pick some (I have no shame!). Now I have them, I have no clue what to do with all these plums. I am thinking plum brandy and maybe some jam. I suppose they would go well with apples in crumbles, although I need not to be making too many of those if I'm going to shed that extra stone.

I like playing at making stuff. I wish I had more time to do so though.
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...winter themed alcoholic beverages! At this time of year Lidl usually start stocking Glühwein. It's cheap, in a festive bottle. I still cannot grasp exactly how such a cheap, simple pleasure succeeds in lifting my mood. No matter what kind of day I've had, if I can stagger in through the front door and shove a glug of Glühwein into my Manchester German Market mug and stick it in the microwave, then fewer people will end up bearing the brunt of my bad temper.

But there's no need to stop there. Why not try some mulled, spiced cider with a shot of apple brandy if you're feeling adventurous?

The Whisky Mac is also a personal favourite. Put some whisky in a glass. Add a glug of Crabbie's Green Ginger wine. Job done. You can heat it but it's just as good cold.

Sloe gin. Oh, how I love thee. This September there were sloes in abundance growing in the local nature reserve. We got a bit carried away and picked around 3kg. Luckily I managed to pick up a few demijohns on Freegle, so we've got around 6 litres of gin sitting on the fruit. It's a beautiful sight. Ideally we need to leave at least 6 months but I think we'll have a sneaky taste around Christmas.

Little pleasures keep winter bearable. It's a good job I'm so easily pleased.
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Don't have an awful lot to say at the moment.

Life is reasonable. My job is at least worthwhile, if not completely fulfilling. Our landlord is prepared to let us stay for another year. I'm fairly well, although this winter did sort of knock the stuffing out of me.

I can't seem to get particularly motivated about anything though. I have a suspicion that I may be suffering from mild depression. Not really sure. It's quite hard to identify for a number of reasons. Firstly, I can never really remember what exactly being clinically depressed actually feels like, which is highly ironic given that I spent the majority of my 20s in this state. Secondly, the type of symptoms I get these days now I am no longer quite so messed up are so mixed up with general fatigue that it's difficult to figure out what's what.

I suppose this is a note to self post. It could well be that I'm demotivated because like I'm still not in the right job, don't really have any outside interests at the moment and what's left of the CFS always kicks my arse over the winter.

Then again, not having any interest in even online stuff, is a big tick for there being something not quite right.

Bah. If I'm not any better in a month it may well be time to look at going to the docs. I'm not that keen to go back on medication since I've been med-free for a couple of years. Then again it would be silly to ignore that possible solution.
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I have totally ripped off [livejournal.com profile] beckyc's post here because she phrased it better than I'm capable of rewriting it.

"For those of you who haven't seen it yet, there is a petition to the government here affirming that "We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to recognise specifically that chronic pain and chronic fatigue cause incapacity for work.".

Which, ya know, I'd have thought was self-evident, but apparently isn't."

Although I am so much better than 7 or 8 years ago when my CFS was at its worst, I still occasionally hit bottom and it reminds me to be extremely thankful that I am able to work.

Robin Hobb

Jun. 20th, 2009 09:12 pm
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Have been having a pretty rubbish day. It's all stress-induced so I'm not worrying too much. The stress will go away to a certain extent after next Wednesday when the gargantuan work event (tm) I'm part-organising is over. But, but, I have just seen that Robin Hobb will be doing a talk and signing in Waterstones, Deansgate in Manchester on 9th July and I'm now ridiculously excited about it.

If anyone would like to come with, let me know.
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I feel my flist has commented far more eloquently than I can on the election of two BNP MEPs. I'm really unimpressed that one of their seats is for the North West.

I had the enviable experience of reading a large section of the Independent on the train to London today, which had a fair bit of information on the lovely Nick Griffin and Andrew Bron. In all honesty, I can't decide who is scarier. It's depressing.
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You know what's good about moving after only a short while after moving in? You get to find that bag of potatoes (tm). The ones you put in the back of the cupboard so they wouldn't sprout so quickly and have sat there for 6 months. After this period of time, they only resemble little aliens and have not deteriorated to nameless sludge. This can only be a good thing.

We've spent the day packing but we did get the keys to our new place. We went around and it was reassuringly chaotic, not all that clean and the landlord and his family were still moving their stuff out. There were marks on the paintwork, chips on the gloss and oh thank Glod I am so glad that we do not have to worry about causing a few more. We decided to give the landlord some space so we've not moved anything in yet, though the Bongo is filled and ready to go. We've learned our lesson about moving into houses that have been done up to look cosmetically brilliant but are complete rubbish underneath.

We will not have a phone line until 1st June due to complications so I'll have to remember to keep the mobile charged. Feel free to lambast me when I forget. You know I will.

Tomorrow is mad clearing and cleaning day. I don't wanna.


May. 12th, 2009 12:48 am
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Forgot to mention that I now have a Dreamwidth account. Predictably, username is exactly the same as this one. Feel free to friend me over there. I will probably be using it to crosspost here so there will be no change to those people sticking with Livejournal.
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Suddenly there's excitement about Dreamwidth. I, of course, am probably weeks behind everyone else. If large portions of the flist seem to be heading in that direction, then I imagine I will move over. I don't have lots and lots to say but I still enjoy writing posts as and when. So, if anyone's got an invite code, I would appreciate one. I'll stress that I'm not desperate for one so happy for people's codes to go to those that really want one. I have no idea how numerous these things are.

What are people's thoughts on Dreamwidth? Are you going and leaving LJ, staying and crossposting, or sior is it just too early to tell?
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I meant to mention in the last entry that we are refusing to let our lives be messed up by this situation so people are very welcome to come over and visit. We had a very good evening on Sunday with [livejournal.com profile] da_pol, [livejournal.com profile] supermouse, [livejournal.com profile] penwing and [livejournal.com profile] wendym last weekend, with roast pork and trimmings and icecream, various alcohol types and good conversation. We love entertaining so please do message if you'd like to come over. And SFL can go twist in the wind... :-)
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Currently having fun reading http://www.passiveaggressivenotes.com. Hilarious! My favourite is the note written in ketchup and mustard.

Gosh it's been a very busy few weeks. Two weekends ago I took Friday off, picked friend A up from the station and got on the road to Exeter to go to IVFDF. I'd advertised the journey on the IVFDF liftshare page so we picked up two students in Keele; Ian (Welsh and very gregarious) and Barbara (German and very quiet). They turned out to be good company as we ate up the miles in [livejournal.com profile] scarfell's old Nissan. [livejournal.com profile] scarfell stayed at home, due to having no annual leave left, a dodgy knee and I think perhaps a smidgen of dancing-fear. After a little detour around Birmingham, taken because I missed the turning off on to the M5 (how?!) we got back on track with enough time to make it to the first event of the weekend.

Dancing and Music, Chair Surfing and White Russians )

Last weekend was the St Andrews Highland Ball, which I've not been to in a very long time and dredged up a lot of old memories, some really good, others not so. Also, all of this sudden activity and exercise has made my body go WTF?! Still I don't hurt quite as much as I expected. I don't think I have to go anywhere for a couple of weeks, which is fabulous. I was a little too insular last year due to wedding prep and general apathy but it will be good to stay still for a little while.
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The Independent got it wrong. It's not the platform but the drop-off point.

Warrington Bank Quay station erects 'no kissing' signs.

Thanks to the new timetable I got to London and back today in under 2 hours each way. Sitting facing the wrong way on the pendolino made me feel decidedly green around the gills on the way back, however. I've never had that reaction before. I blame fatigue and my meeting buffet from Pret a Manger. Mmm bacon, egg, salad and cress sandwiches...

Home again, home again, and cooking some abstemious lentil soup to make up for said Pret indulgence!
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Today [livejournal.com profile] scarfell and I decided to take an afternoon walk in the grounds of Dunham Massey. I was already in the area, having met my grandparents for lunch and we really felt that despite the greyness we ought to shift our lazy, slothlike backsides and do some token exercise.

It was actually a good walk once we got away from the 10,000 children on scooters, bikes etc. We saw some deer very close to and a lot of very old trees, some of which are now looking as if they are coming to the end of their lives. The majority of the beeches at Dunham are all a few hundred years old and it shows - big scars where branches have torn off and lots of fallen trees. All of the fallen trees have been left to rot down naturally and it looks quite eerie. Like tree skeletons. I wish I'd taken the camera.

Seeing the trees triggered a memory of a book I picked up second hand when I was around 10 or 11. All I remembered about it was that it followed the life of an oak tree from Norman times until the Second World War. It was one of those memories that persisted so I Googled "Lord of the Forest" when I got in, found a copy on Abebooks and ordered it. Just like that. I shouldn't be surprised that you can go from thought to purchase in a matter of a few minutes - but I am! I hope it lives up to memory.


Jan. 21st, 2009 07:26 pm
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[livejournal.com profile] saintmaryuk's recent post made me remember my very dormant Twitter account. I did let it lapse but have decided to try and breathe life into it. I'm starting to feel a lot less down with the youngsters these days and that's made me want to persevere.

Of course there's no point using something just because it's there and to stave off a sense of being slightly out of touch - so I may end up letting it lapse again if I don't find useful or engaging.

Username's Goldhalva if anyone's remotely interested!

In other news, I'm back on a healthy eating kick because, well, just because. Partly it's because I got so horribly run down before Christmas and I feel I need building up also because for some reason my body seems to be craving really fresh stuff. I can't ever remembering looking at curly kale before and actually fantasising about what it would taste like steamed (this is from the cabbage hater) so I suspect I'm missing some sort of essential nutrients at the moment. Either that or I'm finally becoming a grownup. So it's baked mackerel with a red Thai rub for dinner. And roast veg. If only our stupid little oven would hurry up and cook it!
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It's too bloody dark, damp and cold to go out so my evenings of late have mostly been spent with some quality TV. I like to watch boxsets rather than TV to avoid adverts and waiting a whole week for another episode.

Here are my current watches. Cut for ramblings that are not particularly clever or insightful! )


Jan. 18th, 2009 11:08 am
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Went out into Manchester for the first time in a while last night. [livejournal.com profile] scarfell and I do have a tendency to vegetate if we don't force ourselves out and one of my new year's resolutions is to see more people.

We went to Temple, a sort of studenty venue with a great selection of world beers. I had an Anchor beer from San Francisco, a Liefmann's Kriek (cherry) and then a Chimay, which is another Belgian brew over the course of around 4 hours. Shortly after the Chimay I became so drunk that I felt ill and everything was spinning around me. Looks like my alcohol tolerance is even more shot to hell than I though. I just seem to tolerate it less and less these days.

Today I feel like a badger crawled into my mouth and died while I was asleep. So unfair. Three beers?!

Even so, it was a good evening until I started feeling poorly. I think next time I will volunteer to be the driver.
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I have an immense head cold. When everyone was dropping like flies before Christmas, I becan to feel quite smug as the weeks went by and I was one of the only robustly healthy people left in my organisation.

Joke's on me now. I cant be at any less than a 90 degree sitting position or my sinuses actually burn and my head feels like it's going to explode. I can't lie down. Standing up is best for being able to breathe but that gets old very quickly, particularly when you're feeling rough! Decongestants unfortunately make my heart race like I'm on speed so I am having to tough this out the hard way. Good job I am not remotely whiny or annoying.

My mother the angel came by late afternoon and brought ultrabalm tissues for my poor cracked nose, some Lockets, a smoothie and some Co-op Fairtrade dark chocolate. The Lockets actually help although there are some warnings on the packet about what too much menthol does to your digestive system so I'm taking it easy!

So much for my killer immune system and for claptrapping on to my colleagues about vitamin C, zinc and Echinacea making me invincible!
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Drinking a white russian, sitting at the computer listening to Oysterband on my sound system that I've only just moved over from my parents' house, waiting for my beef in Oyster sauce (Oyster, get it?) and steamed scallops in black bean sauce to arrive.

It doesn't get much better than this, folks.


Dec. 22nd, 2008 09:32 pm
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I have discovered Royal Mail's online postage payment service. It rocks. It means that when I ran out of stamps today and the post office was shut I was able to do it all online so everything is ready for me to bung in the post box tomorrow morning.

Of course, the fact that tomorrow is 23rd December does render this herculean effort a little pointless but, still, A+ for effort I say!
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I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I don't like the trend that started last year and shows no sign of abating this year. When the style police decided that multi-coloured lights were no longer de rigeur for years all we saw were twinkly little oh-so-minimalist and tasteful white lights. Now it's blue and for some reason I really don't like all-blue lights on trees or houses. I wouldn't mind so much if they were nice pale soothing light blue but it's all electric police-siren blue and it jars my eyes.

Christmas lights shouldn't be tasteful or fashionable. They should be defiantly multi-coloured!

You can take the girl out of the 80s...
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