Monday, November 20, 2006

DON'T COME TOO CLOSE, I'm absolutely streaming with cold and I wouldn't want you to get it. Honest to goodness, if they can put a man on the moon and invent the iPod shuffle you'd think some bright spark would have got the common cold under control by now.


How to waste an hour and a half looking something up.

Like many other people I love almanacs, encyclopaedias and other reference books of that ilk. Yesterday I came across a classical reference in a novel I’m reading. Now I did do Latin until I was about 12, and have read (many moons ago) the Greek myths, but this was not a name that was familiar to me – Pylades – do you know who he/she is? Anyway, when I was having a mug of coffee at my desk, I thought I’d just look him/her up in my copy of Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. Big mistake, nearly two hours later I was still browsing through Brewer’s. First I found Pylades, turns out he was bosom friend of Orestes, so they hung out together like David and Jonathan; while I was at it, I thought I’d look up Eagle stones, which lead me to Aetites and then on the next page I spotted St Agatha –the patron saint of volcanoes, and who is depicted in paintings holding a platter with her severed breasts on it. This reminded me of a little Italian village we once visited, called St Agata Due Golfi which is just south of Vesuvius. My DH and I once had a fabulous dinner there at a restaurant called Don Alfonso 1890, which has 3 Michelin stars, and the bill nearly broke the bank.

Then I thought I would quickly look to see what Brewer said about Dick Whittington, because on Highgate Hill (which is nearby), he and his cat heard Bow Bells tell him to turn again – but there was nothing I didn’t already know. Then I started opening the book randomly, and discovered all sorts of fascinating titbits – the name of the Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo (Joseph Hobson Jagger); the smallest pig in a litter of piglets will reputedly follow its owner anywhere, and is known as a Tantony Pig, and a Wapentake is a subdivision of a county similar to the Hundreds or Ridings. Anyway, when the phone rang I suddenly realised how much time had passed and how totally absorbed I had become, what was I thinking of…and on a Monday morning too.

Every home should have a copy of Brewer’s Dictionary; it is an essential household requirement for settling arguments, solving crossword clues and general time wasting.


Time for another rant at the ludicrous use of Health & Safety legislation in this country.

Those of you who have or have had children may know of a famous fictional character called Postman Pat. A cheery chappie, he delivers the mail by driving his little red post van around country lanes, accompanied by his black and white cat Jess. There was a TV series, books, tapes and other toys based on Postman Pat, he is loved by thousands of British children.

For the last six years, a mechanised, coin-operated Postman Pat Post van ride has stood in a shopping precinct in Market Harborough. You know the kind of thing. Your 3 year old sits in the little rocket, car, train or whatever, you pop some coins in the slot, and the machine rocks gently back and forth. It is a welcome distraction when shopping with a young child.

Now the owners of St Mary’s Place Shopping Precinct have said it must go. A spokesman for St Mary's Place said it was targeting "material outside shop boundaries with health and safety implications." Not because the ride itself is considered dangerous – rides already have to comply with stringent H&S guidelines regarding manufacture and maintenance. No, they think it might be a H&S risk for pedestrians. The fact that this particular ride has stood in the same position outside a particular shop for the past six years without one single person walking into it or tripping over it, (in fact there has never been any man, woman or child involved in any sort of incident with the ride) would seem to contradict their views.

So why this sudden anxiety? Well, one of two reasons I suspect. Either the local council’s Health & Safety gaulieters have decided to justify their jobs by scratching around for something to have a go at, and have been all over the owners of St Mary’s Place like a rash OR the owners of St Mary’s Place want some more money from the shop owner who owns the ride, and this is part of a softening up process to get it. Or maybe it’s a bit of both. Whichever it is, Health & Safety is again being cited as the reason. Soon we’ll be fined if we don’t tie our shoelaces to their satisfaction.

Welcome to the house of fun.


How to satisfy a craving for something sweet to eat when there isn't a biscuit in the house, you havn't been to the shops yet and the fruit bowl only contains two rather elderly cooking apples...throw together this little number, it takes no time at all, and hey presto, sweet craving satisfied.


170g self-raising flour
1 large egg

1 teaspoon baking powder
85g caster sugar
6 tablespoons milk

28g melted butter (do this in the microwave)

For the topping

28g melted butter
85g caster sugar
1 level teaspoon cinnamon
500g cooking apples

Pre-heat oven to 200°C

Line rectangular baking tin (28 cms x 18cms) with baking paper.
Sift flour, baking powder together into a bowl, add the sugar and stir in.
In a jug mix the egg, milk and melted butter together.
Mix the sugar and cinnamon for the topping together in a small bowl.
Peel and core and quarter the apples, and cut into slices.
Pour the egg mixture into the flour and using a wooden spoon mix well to form a stiff batter.
Spoon the batter into the prepared tin and spread it evenly – it will seem a very thin layer.
Brush the batter with the melted butter for the topping and then arrange the apple slices neatly over the surface in overlapping rows.
Finally, sprinkle the mixed sugar and cinnamon evenly all over the apple slices.

Bake for approximately 30mins until risen and golden.

Cool, and then cut into squares.


Bela said...

First, I hope you feel better soon. Of all the minor ailments one can be suffering from, the common cold must be the one that makes a body most miserable.

Reference books are wonderful and terrible at the same time. The Internet is too. Thanks for passing on what you learned the other day.

Re. H&S regulations: they're devised by morons.

Btw, love your clock but it gave me a shock just now. Thought I'd lost an hour... doing what? LOL!

realdoc said...

Great post hersch
cold: rest, lemsip and hot whiskey

reference books: I love them thanks for the recommendation

health and safety:Gone maaaaaaad

dutch apple cake: yummers

Urban Chick said...

oh my god, that cake looks AMAZING!

i am going to make it RIGHT NOW as, for once, i actually possess all of the ingredients

muchas gracias!

Anonymous said...

pretty cool stuff here thank you!!!!!!!

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