Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Love, love me do ...

What do you think are the main ingredients that go towards making a marriage/partnership last for many years?

Dr Raj Persaud speaking on the Richard & Judy chat show recently
told us that one of the main factors that helped glue relationships
together was agreeableness, and he gave one example of this ... when
a woman asks: “Does my bum look big in this?”, the agreeable bloke
would say: “Yes, you look great in that dress”, even if her bum
looked huge.

(But does agreeableness mean boring, I ask you?).

The two other main factors were passion and intimacy … talking to one
another about your feelings, both good and bad.

If you’ve only got two out of the three main factors, then things
could still work out well for you, but if you’ve only got one of them,
then your relationship probably won’t last long.

I’ve mentioned the following in a previous blog – that I asked my dad
what he thought was the secret for a long lasting relationship (his
marriage had been rocky at times), and he said just one word …

Mrs C and I were chatting about all this over tonight’s evening
meal (she’s a relationship counsellor, by the way), and she
remarked that a lot of young people she’d talked to in recent
years felt that having several long term relationships in a
lifetime would be the norm for them … so younger peoples’
expectations appear to be somewhat different from us older folk
… not just different but perhaps more realistic?

Perhaps the marriage vows should be changed / reworded to something
like this ….

“... to have and to hold, from this day forth,

... until we get sick of the sight of each other …”

… and at the same time, we should do away with all the wedding
paraphernalia, and just have a great party instead.

Mrs C and I didn’t do anything special on Valentine’s Day this year
… we didn’t exchange any cards or pressies, or do anything special
in the evening. "Shame on you!", I hear you saying.

I did offer to get some perfume for her (to be pre-chosen by her,
as she’s very particular about what scents she’ll wear), but she
said she’d like some perfume later in the year. So instead,
we’ve decided to have a romantic meal out, one evening very soon.

And thinking about shared treats, we’re going on holiday to
Tenerife at the end of this week, so this may be my last blog
until we get back at the end of Feb.. The weather forecast is
looking very good … some lovely warm sunshine due this coming week
.. and no doubt a romantic evening meal or two.

Talk to you soon.

Monday, February 18, 2008

fab music and film

Mrs C and I have been to some fab entertainment in the past
Last Tuesday, we went to see a fantastic string quartet ..the
Carducci String Quartet, who played Haydn's "Frog" quartet
(Op. 50 no.6), Janacek's 1st quartet (the "Kreutzer"), and
Beethoven's C minor quartet in C minor (Op 18 No 4). The playing
was out of this world ... they are a very lively and young group
of musicians, who have won some prestigious awards. I know the
Janecek piece very well (as my dad used to play the LP a lot
when I was a teenager), but I didn't know that the composer
wrote it when he was 69, and that the music was based on a
tempestuous relationship between a man and his wife, whom he
knifes to death towards the end of the piece. (Perhaps it
reflects the love-hate feelings a lot of couples have?) :)

The second fab event was going to see the Leicester Symphony
Orchestra play last Saturday night, with Rainer Hersch conducting
his 1977 New Year's Day concert ... a brilliant comedy show, which
was mainly based on the Vienna NYD's concerts, with lots of extra
fun thrown in, including the first performance of Rainer's Windows
(XP) Sounds & Waltz ... yes, the Windows XP music, plus the
orchestral members doing some great moves (while playing).

Those of you who are oldies like me are likely to recall Victor
Borge, who was brilliant at remixing the piano classics with
modern tunes, with lots of witty remarks. Well if you combine
Victor Borge with Jim Carrey, you've got Rainer Hersch ... the
guy's a comic genius.

Our third event was going to see the new film "Before The Devil
Knows You're Dead" ... you may have seen the trailers ... if you
haven't, it's all about two brothers who plan a diamond robbery
which goes horribly wrong, and then things just go from bad to worse.
It's a modern-day Greek tragedy. Although it's not a lorra laughs,
I think it's a must-see film ... great acting and a great

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Nerds United

I've found an interesting quiz on the internet the other day.
Just have a look at this...

I am nerdier than 57% of all people. Are you a nerd? Click here to find out!

My initial score of nerdiness was slightly above average at 57%.
I went back onto the site to try and improve my score, and
achieved the much higher rating you see above ... not a true
reflection of my real personality, I hasten to add... but I
had a lot of fun performing the test.

So, how nerdy are you?

(post edited on 19/2/08)

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Lovely potato recipes

Fancy cooking something special for St Valentine's Day?
Do you like food? ... I reckon most of us do (except for
those of us with anorexia nervosa).

Well I've just found a lovely foodie site ... Martin Dwyer's.
Click on "recipes" at the top of the Welcome page, and you'll
be transported to an Aladdin's cave full of magical recipes.
I found Martin's site by a link to it on his daughter's site..

What caught my eye when I was on his site a couple of days ago,
was a recipe for Pommes Anna (click HERE for the recipe plus the
mouthwatering photo). It's zero calorie by the way (as if).

Mrs C and I just love eating potatoes ... we go for organic ones
from Abel & Cole, which taste as if they're straight out of the
garden. Often we steam them just below our veg, so they're also
flavoured with a little bit of the veg water ... dee-licious.

We also love eating new potatoes, eg Jersey Royals, and the
traditional baked potatoes. Another dish we like is Julienne
potatoes ... very finely chipped potatoes -- patted dry & then
piled up in a frying pan with a small amount of hot sunflower/
olive oil at the bottom...plus 2-3 cloves of finely sliced garlic
spinkled on the top, seasoned with a little salt and freshly
ground black pepper ... and then the whole compressed down with
a plate and a number of heavy weights on top ... cooked on a low
heat for 30-40 mins. The result is a crispy potato base with a
soft & beautifully flavoured layer of potato on top.... mmmmmmm.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I just love drinking tea

Woke up this morning ... rather early for me at 5.45am, so here
I am a short while later, sitting in front of my computer screen,
with a gigantic mug of hot tea alongside. I had laid in bed for
a while, after going for a pee, to see if I could get back off
to sleep, but I felt too awake & decided to get up. (Probably
caffeine-fuelled insomnia, as I had had some tea rather late in
the afternoon yesterday).

One of my political heros is Tony Benn, a former left-wing Labour MP,
and pacifist, who is well known for drinking large mugs of tea. I
think he'd approve of the size of mug I'm using.

So what brands of tea do you like, and are you a milk-first person?
How do you make the perfect cuppa?

Over the years, we've tried many brands of tea, and have usually
gone for ones that make stronger, more flavoursome teas. In the
early years of our marriage, Mrs C and I used to drink a blend made
by the Co-op, Indian Prince, which was the preferred brand of her
mum and dad... very strong stuff. Later on, when we were living
with another family for 15 years (sharing a large house and 6 girls
between us), we all drank Yorkshire Tea made by Taylors of Harrogate.
They certainly grow some good tea in Yorkshire.

And now I go for more flavoursome stuff ... Twinings English Breakfast
Tea, which I definitely recommend if you haven't tried it) and if
if you can get hold of it. I blend the loose-leaf tea with one
quarter to one third Darjeeling tea, for even more flavour ... and
I like it strong too. About one and a half heaped teaspoons of loose
-leaf tea into a pre-warmed china pot, to make my large mugful... and
left to infuse about 3-4 minutes before pouring.

Mrs C and I are milk-first people and we drink tea without any sugar.

I don't like tea with sugar. I remember once visiting a Turkish family,
when I was a GP. The father was a postgraduate student, who gave me a
very hot cup of weak tea, boiled up with condensed milk ... it took me
about 5 minutes to drink it (as it was too hot initially), and I didn't
like it at all as it was horribly sweet ... but I couldn't refuse to
drink it as I felt I would have been impolite. I declined hot drinks
from patients after that.

One reason why I dislike holidaying abroad is the absence of a reasonable
brand of tea to drink ... we just get tasteless brands of tea, and so
either take our own tea-bags with us, or drink more coffee. And as for
the horrible tap-water you get in places like Gran Canaria -- you have
to buy bottled water to get a reasonable hot drink. The tap water tastes
as if it's a by-product of the petro-chemical industry.

We have relatives here and in New Zealand who like very weak tea ...
perhaps you're the same .. quick dip in and out with the tea bag, one
tea bag to about 10 mugs of tea. Well, that not my cup of tea, but if
tea rationing were introduced, I suppose I'd get used to it.

And what about decaffeinated tea ... any favourites there? Our choice
is for PG Tips tea bags ... but it never tastes like to real stuff to me.
Some years ago, I tried doing without caffeine for 6 months or so ... I got
terrible withdrawal headaches to start with, but then managed without
caffeine OK. However, when I went back onto drinking caffeine one day, I
noticed an amazing difference in energy ...as if someone had fitted me
with a high performance car engine ... wow, what a difference!
Yes, I just love the stuff.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Computer stuff and televising

I've spent most of this week sitting at this laptop, doing
various things .. polishing up a Powerpoint presentation on
how to use a flash drive and a multiple card reader ...I gave
my talk yesterday to about 20 people in an over 50s Computer
Group, which went very well ... and then spending some time
answering a few queries later via the internet.

I've been having some problems getting a different anti-virus
system on board my new laptop ... in fact I spent a good part
of today trying to delete Norton off the laptop (the trial
period is up, and I don't wish to be locked into paying £60
a year for it) ... and putting on some paid AVG software ..
I bought an installation disc from my local computer shop,
but I had problems registering with AVG (sorted by a phone
call to AVG.

I tried several times to remove various bits of the Norton
from the computer, but it appears to have been welded into
the system. To cut a long story short, I'm taking the laptop
round to a computer expert next Tuesday to sort it all out.
He told me he's got a special bit of software to eradicate
all traces of Norton. So a bit of extra expense, but some
savings in the longer term.

In the past few weeks I've tried installing the free versions
of AVG and Avast, and a trial version of Kapersky too ... all
to no avail.

Anyway, I don't wish to bore you with any more detail about
this ... I just hope it's all sorted out next week, so I'll be
able to give you some good news.

We've been watching quite a lot of TV this week... to give you
a quick run-down of our favourites ...
Monday: The Palace & Damages
Tuesday: Mistresses
Wednesday: Grand Designs, Relocation Relocation, & bits of the
England v Switzerland match ... good goals but not
scintillating football otherwise.
Thursday: Jamie Oliver, Ashes to Ashes (& videoed Trial & Retribution
to see at the weekend)
Today: My Family, A Place in the Sun, The Choir, & videoed Moving
Wallpaper, Echo Beach & Al Murray's Happy Hour. We'll watch
Jonathan Ross' show when it's repeated or by "Catch-up on Demand".

We've also been watching Vicar of Dibley (repeats), Lark Rise to
Candleford, Timewatch (last one was about Brits emigrating to
Australia & how they fared), The Culture Show, & Mony Don's Around
the World in 80 Gardens ... the gardens in Australia & N. Zealand
were stunning.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Pasta salad

I’ve just put together a simple pasta salad for our tea, with
the ingredients you can see in the photo… about 150g of dried
pasta between the two of us.

To this mix, I’ve added a tin of tuna, some cooked Bird’s Eye
peas, a little ground black pepper and a little balsamic vinegar

Recently I’ve read about a way of cooking pasta using less fuel
… using the usual amounts of water when cooking pasta, but
boiling the water for less time … I’ve been experimenting with
the timing … a 5 minute moderate boil, then putting the lid on
the pan, turning the gas off, and then leaving it for another
10 minutes … for fusilli pasta. Similarly when cooking peas
from frozen, why not just bring it to the boil, switch off the
heat, put a lid on the pan, and leave it for 5 minutes or so?

I reckon we going to have to get used to using less fossil fuel
as time goes by … and using less gas & electricity will help
us keep the bills down. Our fuel prices across the UK have just
shot up 15%, much to everyone’s dismay.

You’ll see our two favourite kitchen knives that we’re using at
the moment … the “Kitchen Devil” and the “Victorinox”, named
the “bastard” knives by one of our girl’s partners after he
cut himself on one. Why only a week ago, I cut quite deeply
into my left thumb, which I’d mistaken for a piece of carrot.
“OMG!” said I, when I saw bright red blood pouring out the end
of my thumb … luckily Mrs C was on hand to rush and get some
bandage to re-attach a large flap of skin back onto my thumb.
Doesn’t it feel strange cutting into your own skin … our skin
has the same texture/resilience as when cutting into a dead
chicken, don’t you think? ... which is hardly surprising.

I don’t know why a lot of men say they can’t (or don’t wish) to
cook, when it’s so easy to put a meal like this on the table.
I’d rather do this, than go out for a regular take-away. I don’t
know why some blokes prefer to sit on their arses and let their
women-folk do all the cooking … sheer laziness, I think.

When I was a GP (a family doctor), I remember looking after one
couple in their late 80s. The man was a grossly overweight slob,
who rarely got out of his comfy chair, while his wife slaved
for him … did all the cooking, washing, cleaning and subsequently
all the shopping, as he went rapidly downhill with heart failure.

His contribution to the housework was to lift up his feet, while
his wife vacuumed the carpet underneath. He was a tight-fisted
bastard too, and when he died, his 90 year old wife began to
have some fun spending their money … going on trips abroad with
her daughter, and buying clothing and treats for herself.

I was watching an American film recently (the name of which I’ve
forgotten unfortunately), and was impressed by what one of the
main characters said (he was a spendthrift and was dissolute):
“Do you want to die a rich stiff, or do you want to die broke,
but to have had a great life?”

Well, I want both … I want to die fairly well off, but to have
enjoyed my life as much as possible.

PS ... the wine in the photo is Mrs C's current favourite red ...
a lovely Shiraz from the Bleasdale Winery in S. Australia.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

The roof that blew away

Scary Duck's latest tale of woe reminds me of a funny true
story ... when the roof of our chicken shed blew off in high
winds ... this was some years ago.

We were living the Good Life with another family, all of us living
in a large 7 bedroomed house on a three acre estate. We had some
free-range hens, duck and geese (just to name some of the livestock
we looked after at the time), which spent their nights inside a couple
of large wooden sheds on the adjacent paddock.

One of our neighbours, a retired bloke who loved looking at all the
animals (farm animals and wild ones) on the paddock, phoned us one
afternoon... "Sorry to tell you this, (Mrs C), but I've just seen the
roof of one of your sheds flying off in an westerly direction!". We all
ran out of the house to see the damage ... and it was true, the roof
was lying 40-50 yards away from the shed. Fortunately the roof was
fairly intact, and we were able to get it quickly repaired ... and
there were no casualties.