Trendy In My Overalls






The more astute among you have probably realised that this is not me!

I am a country maid, born on a farm deep in the heart of the country in the county of Devon in the UK. Look it up, 'tis a beautiful place.

People from other areas in the UK, tend to think we Devonians crunch carrots and walk about all day with a straw in our mouths saying "oo-arr" a lot - but I'll have you mockers know we country mice are now at the cutting edge of fashion. About time too.

I read an article this morning that anybody who is anybody is now wearing overalls (coveralls, dungarees) - and not just for feeding the cows and mucking out the horses. At last! 

As you can see these new-fangled overalls are tremendously stylish... especially when teamed with a pair of welly boots and some kind of graffiti-ridden old truck only fit for the knacker's yard.




So, here is the aspiration:





Unfortunately,  here is the reality!







So, ladies, if your husband is thinking of throwing away his old paint or dung-spattered overalls, hoick them out of the bin and take them for yourselves. 

Finally, here is the "wouldn't wear if I was freezing cold while walking naked in a snow storm" option.





There you have it: fashion advice from Around My Kitchen Table. You're welcome.




Facebook Photos




The camera and I are not friends. Stand me in front of a lens and I turn into a gurning gargoyle.

I’m the one at weddings trying to hide at the back of the family group. It doesn’t help that I’m short so photographers try to push me to the front where I think I’m smiling confidently but end up looking like a zombie extra in Night Of The Living Dead.

Even so, I was surprised to read that you can lose friends on Facebook by posting too many selfies. I found this hard to believe. It might be the quickest way for me personally to become Norma No Mates, but not my family and friends.

I genuinely like to see their pictures and sometimes save ones of young relatives. Admittedly, I’m saving some for when they get older and I can use them for the maximum embarrassment factor... but that’s another story. 



Looking through later is just like looking through a family album – and in this digital age, physical photograph albums are becoming increasingly rare.

I like to see what friends who have moved abroad are up to – how their children are growing up and pictures of their new surroundings.

Anyhow, this article said people don’t relate to friends who constantly share photos and it may even damage relationships. 

None of this sounds very likely to me but then the vast majority of my Facebook “friends” I know personally. Some people have, literally, thousands of “friends” and can’t possibly know them all. I can see that if someone with whom you are barely on nodding acquaintance starts to post hundreds of pictures of the family cat, you could get a bit fed up. 

Not me, of course, the pictures of my cat are scintillatingly interesting. She even has own Facebook account www.facebook.com/toffeekeenorleach, website at www.notsosweettoffee.com and Instagram account  www.instagram.com/notsosweettoffee. Obsessed? Me?

The report went on to say: “It is worth remembering the information we post to our “friends” on Facebook, actually gets viewed by lots of different categories of people, partners, friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances and each group seems to take a different view of the information shared.”

Which I think is a convoluted way of saying that if you put up a spoof photograph Boris Johnson riding backwards on a rhino, then your Keir Starmer supporters could take offence. (Swap Trump for Johnson and Biden for Starmer, and my friends from abroad will see what I'm talking about).

The report warns: “Be cautious when sharing and think how it will be perceived by all the others who may see it. Although sharing is a great way to better relationships it can also damage them.”

To which I would say, if you can’t be yourself with your Facebook friends, what’s the point of being on it?



You can follow me on: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. As you can see, I have far too much to say for myself.

World Egg Day


Here's an anniversary that may have passed you by. October 12 is World Egg Day. So many people keep a few chickens in their gardens these days that you can hardly go 100 yards without falling over a Buff Orpington - not literally, hopefully.


I grew up on a farm in the UK in the 50s and 60s and in those days there were hens running around the farmyard all day and shut in at night away from the foxes. Most laid their eggs in the boxes provided or made their own nests out of the straw in the chicken coop but occasionally one went “rogue” and decided to lay her eggs in some random corner of the farm.


So occasionally you'd come across a nest in a hedge containing a clutch of eggs. If we kids found one, I don't think we could have been more excited if we'd found a chest of gold.


Then Mum would dump them all in water - if they sank to the bottom, they were fresh enough to use, if they floated to the top they were probably stale. These were cracked one by one into a dish and subjected to the sniff test. If they smelt OK they were used in cakes, if they made you step back in horror they were thrown out.



We very much let nature take its course, allowing hens to stay broody and hatch out chicks. At one time we had a hen called Harriet who for some reason never laid an egg of her own even though she made plenty of nests. If she found an egg in another hen's nest in the chicken house she'd push it with her beak into her own des res. We always left her to it and when she'd gathered about half a dozen eggs she'd go broody and sit on them until they hatched.


But most of the eggs produced by our hens were eaten. What's not to like about an egg? It's the perfect food item, versatile, easy to cook and packed full of goodness. As with most foods, a health scare pops up occasionally. There was the "don't eat more than three eggs a week or you'll die of a heart attack" scare, with claims they contained too much artery-clogging cholesterol. As is the way with most dire health warnings, this was recently proven to be a load of rubbish. In fact the opposite is true.


It seems the type of cholesterol that clogs your arteries isn't present in eggs and eggs are, in fact, low in saturated fat. And they are high in protein, vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids. One warning from the British Heart Foundation was to pay attention to how you serve your eggs. Obviously poached eggs on wholemeal bread is going to be healthier than fried egg, bacon and sausage (damn!).


Notice how I have spared you all the eggcellent egg puns that abound. That was eggstraordinarily kind of me. But you'll have to eggcuse me if before I make my eggsit, I leave you with this joke:


Where can you go to learn more about eggs?

The hen-cyclopedia.


(Sorry, not sorry!)



You can follow me on: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. As you can see, I have far too much to say for myself.

Childhood Pastimes






This is one of my favourite childhood pictures; my schoolmates and I ready to galumph our way through various maypole dances. I am the one kneeling, front far right. It may be in black and white but I vividly remember my dress and matching bow were in yellow nylon and my mother had permed my hair especially for the occasion. Delightful.

It is thought the first maypole dance originated as part of Germanic pagan fertility rituals so getting a load of young girls to dance around a phallic symbol seems rather creepy in the cold light of day. But we - nor our parents - knew anything about these connotations - it was nothing more than an opportunity to show off our nifty footwork while winding coloured ribbons around a pole.

I lived on a farm in the middle of nowhere as a child and went to the village school where our pleasures were simple - putting teachers in wicker men and burning them alive, running around forests with stags' antlers o n our head and sacrificing the runt of the class to the goddess of the moon. The usual innocent pagan rituals. I jest, of course. If we'd tried anything like that, our parents would have hoicked us out of the woods before you could say Satan three times.

We played games like tag, hopscotch and marbles. At birthday parties there was musical chairs, pass the parcel and pin the tail on the donkey.

It was all a far cry of what goes on in today's playgrounds where - if you believe internet news - they play games like Spot the Drug Dealer (he's the 12-year-old with the sunglasses and bulging pockets), Mug The Old Lady, Catwalk Queen (you're not allowed to play unless you're a Size Zero-Zero) and Reality TV Star (you're not allowed to play unless you have an air of desperation and an IQ below 80).

I think I prefer pin the tail on the donkey.




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Procrastination



Procrastination is a bad title for a posting if you want to attract a lot of visitors to your website.

To get your site high up on the Google rankings, you have to employ Search Engine Optimisation. There are many things that can push your website up the rankings, including using "key words" on your site i.e. words people will use in the search feature.

So one blogger tried an experiment by using words like "pussies" and "tits" in her post and title and had had many more visitors than usual. She did, to be fair, include a picture of her cat and two beautiful blue tits, which I'm sure was a powerful comfort to watery-eyed men using Google Search to try to find a pneumatic lass with whom to share their oh so lonely nights.

But I'm going to leave "procrastination" as my title because, well, wittering on about blue tits stops me from having to write about what I really intended to write about which was…. what was it? ….. procrastination.



I am an arch procrastinator. Faced with a kitchen which will require an industrial-strength vacuum and a couple gallons of bleach to clear up the detritus of last night's supper, I turn on my computer and start looking surfing the net (do people still use that phrase?).

However, if I think it's about time I tried to dredge up another oh-so-witty posting (no comments required, dear readers) from the liquefied gloop that passes for my brain these days, I start wiping down worktops and decluttering dark corners of my house, of which there are many (dark corners, that is, not houses. I'm not the Sultan of Brunei). 

Anyhoo, it's time I turned my hand to the housework but I've just spotted an article entitled How To Stop Procrastinating In Eight Easy Steps. If I find anything useful I'll let you know.

Before you leave:

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The Secret of Happiness




You may not have noticed but at the top of this website is my motto: The secret of happiness: be nice and have a laugh.

I am a firm believer in that. Really. It is the reason why the other half and I have never come to blows. Not that either of us is violent or prone to socking it to 'em but, like all couples, we have our moments... when he does something that annoys me. Obviously, I never do anything that annoys HIM!

That we have lived in harmony for more years than either of us care to mention is not only because we are both, on the whole, pretty laid back but also because he uses humour to defuse any confrontation. I start off being livid with him and we have a "frank discussion" about why I am right and he is wrong (!) but I nearly always end up laughing my socks off.

Not everyone has the same attitude. The vitriol that passes for reasoned argument these days is frightening. Some of the trolls on social media are vicious, cruel and often, it seems, mentally certifiable. 



I live with a man who has strong views on just about everything, from climate change and censorship; from the price of eggs to how to plane a plank of wood correctly. But he likes to be challenged, to hear the other point of view, to have a reasoned discussion - apart from the planing thing; he's a cabinetmaker and is beyond expert in planing wood, so don't try to tell him he's doing it wrong!

I have worked with people from all walks of life and many of them are my Facebook friends. They have differing views on politics and global issues. Unfortunately, a few of them will not tolerate a difference of opinion. Occasionally they "unfriend" people who disagree with them. I've got to a stage where I refuse to engage. I won't comment on political posts or world issues. Maybe it's cowardice on my part but it makes for a much more peaceful life.

So what made me write this post? I happened across the following Mark Twain excerpt from his Letters from the Earth: Uncensored Writings. It really struck a chord with me.

“Man is the Reasoning Animal. Such is the claim. I think it is open to dispute. Indeed, my experiments have proven to me that he is the Unreasoning Animal... In truth, man is incurably foolish. Simple things which other animals easily learn, he is incapable of learning. Among my experiments was this. In an hour I taught a cat and a dog to be friends. I put them in a cage. In another hour I taught them to be friends with a rabbit. In the course of two days I was able to add a fox, a goose, a squirrel and some doves. Finally a monkey. They lived together in peace; even affectionately.

Next, in another cage I confined an Irish Catholic from Tipperary, and as soon as he seemed tame I added a Scotch Presbyterian from Aberdeen. Next a Turk from Constantinople; a Greek Christian from Crete; an Armenian; a Methodist from the wilds of Arkansas; a Buddhist from China; a Brahman from Benares. Finally, a Salvation Army Colonel from Wapping. Then I stayed away for two whole days. When I came back to note results, the cage of Higher Animals was all right, but in the other there was but a chaos of gory odds and ends of turbans and fezzes and plaids and bones and flesh - not a specimen left alive. These Reasoning Animals had disagreed on a theological detail and carried the matter to a Higher Court.” 

Before you leave: Here's a book that will, hopefully, make you laugh! Not So Sweet Toffee

You can follow me on: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. As you can see, I have far too much to say for myself.

Before you leave:
You can follow me on: FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Pinterest. As you can see, I have far too much to say for myself.


Watching Masterchef


Proof that I can at least cook a good roast dinner - 
a certificate made for me by my niece!


It's ironic that someone like me whose culinary skills begin and end with a traditional roast dinner on a Sunday is addicted to cookery programmes on TV. Masterchef in all its incarnations is my favourite.

Masterchef: The Professionals is always mind-blowing - what those chefs can do with a dollop of a pickled turnip, a smear of passionfruit jus and a splash of shaving foam (my mistake, "citrus foam")  is nobody's business. 

Masterchef for the hoi polloi is slightly different because those contestants are trying so hard to impress. Often too hard. You are briefly cheered when one of them says they are making fish and chips. Then your heart sinks when you realise the fish is flash-seared red-lipped batfish in tempura and there are three (THREE! Not enough to keep a flea alive) chips of sweet potato flavoured with umibudo seaweed and a sprinkling of guava dust.  There's not a mushy pea in sight, but colour is provided by pearls of pureed yam.



There's the ubiquitous carpaccio of thin slices of raw meat or fish. RAW. Do they not worry about worms? Here's your carpaccio of llama liver doing the breaststroke in a coulis of ugli fruit.

Desserts come deconstructed, the ruination of an apple pie, with triangles of wafer thin pastry propped up over a strangled melange of Granny Smiths cooked in a perfumed bath, sprinkled with edible micro flowers and looking like a dystopian version of The Shard, the whole lot swimming in a sea of vanilla custard - or crème anglaise as we must now call it. Hey, don't drag we poor English people into your culinary madness.


A deconstructed apple pie...


Even so, good or bad, I'm always amazed at the level of expertise and imagination exhibited by these amateur chefs. I'm off now to watch last night's programme on catch-up, a dinner of cottage pie and carrots on my lap.

Before you leave:
You can follow me on: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. As you can see, I have far too much to say for myself.


Squirrel Armageddon




I love animals, of course. Who, apart from the odd psychopath, doesn't? 

I love my cat Toffee (who, incidentally, has written a book), I let dogs sniff my hand and then pet them  - if they don't look as if they're about to bite it off. I share Facebook videos of hippopotami and humpback whales doing what hippopotami and humpback whales do in the wild. My heart swells when a hedgehog deigns to cross my garden.

See? I love animals.

However... one word. Squirrels.

Yes, they're floofy and furry with big fluffy tails.  But...



Don't let the little bastards sucker you in. They swoop, like ninjas in the night, and nibble on things they have no business nibbling on. Like electric cables, causing a power cut so you can't shower in the morning or make the cup of coffee that's the only thing standing between you and temporary narcolepsy.



I have a theory that squirrels are really the spawn of the devil. My proof? THEY DIDN'T GET ELECTROCUTED. I rest my case. They sat in the trees with a squirrelly glint in their eyes, mocking my bleary-eyed attempts to rouse a man with a van from the electricity company, only getting off their fluffy butts to pinch bird seed from the bird table - yes, taking food from the mouths of God's innocent little creatures.

What's next? Armageddon? I pray they never join forces with those other spawns of the devil, the seagulls who pinch your chips while you're sitting on the seafront at Torquay. If they do, the end of the world is nigh.

Before you leave:

You can follow me on: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. As you can see, I have far too much to say for myself.


Losing Weight...Or Not





 
I've been trying to lose weight and have turned to the internet for help. The main suggestion seems to be 'shut your huge gob and get up off your fat ass'. I paraphrase.

Several people, though, said that writing down everything you eat helps you understand your eating habits and patterns.  Okey doke. Sounds logical. So I've made a start:


7am
I fill the old man's lunchbox and eat  several chunks of ham while making his ham and tomato sandwiches. Cut him a slice of cake…and cut myself a small sliver to make sure it's not gone stale. It hasn't. Put in a packet of potato chips which reminds me there is half a packet of Cheesy Wotsits in the cupboard. Check they haven't gone stale too. They haven't. 

Breakfast: I skip breakfast as I'm not hungry. Decide stomach must be shrinking. 

11am I'm STARVING. Can't decide whether to have a very late breakfast or a very early lunch. Decide to call it brunch and eat two slices of buttered toast and peanut butter. While getting the bread out of the cupboard I spot half a packet of biscuits. They can count as "pudding". Do people have pudding at breakfast? They do now.

11.45am While working at my desk I spot half a packet of peanuts on my desk and decide I need the protein as "brain food". 

Lunch I'm not hungry. Stomach must be REALLY  shrinking, although sadly not noticeably so.

2pm I'm STARVING. Raid the fridge and find the rest of the ham, a hard boiled egg, more salad and some dried up cheese. Microwave a jacket potato. It's all a bit dry so I  put  butter on the potato and melt the cheese to go on top.

Dinner Chops, gravy, vegetables and mashed potato for the man. I have one small chop trimmed of all fat, vegetables and SALAD. Impress myself with my willpower.

9pm I'm STARVING. Eat a packet of cheese and onion chips and half a packet of chocolate digestive biscuits.

Next morning: Step on scales, haven't lost an ounce. Give up writing everything down.




Before you leave:

You can follow me on: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. As you can see, I have far too much to say for myself.




The Ballad of Barry and Freda





Victoria Wood



I have been reading a biography of Victoria Wood who died much too early at the age of 62 in 2016. I'm not sure if she was at all well known outside of Britain but here she was a national treasure. 

For those of you unfamiliar with her, she was a comedian - but so much more than that. She was a brilliant comic writer, a composer, pianist and author. Just to give you a flavour of her genius, here's one of her songs, The Ballad of Barry and Freda. I include the lyrics below, just in case you want to sing along!


 

The Ballad of Barry and Freda (Let's Do It)

Freda and Barry sat one night
The sky was clear. The stars were bright
The wind was soft. The moon was up
Freda drained her cocoa cup

She licked her lips. She felt sublime
She switched off Gardeners' Question Time
Barry cringed in fear and dread
As Freda grabbed his tie, and said:

Let's do it!
Let's do it
Do it while the mood is right!
I'm feeling
Appealing
I've really got an appetite

I'm on fire
With desire
I could handle half the tenors in a male voice choir
Let's do it!
Let's do it tonight!

But he said:

I can't do it
I can't do it
I don't believe in too much sex
This fashion
For passion
Turns us into nervous wrecks

No derision!
My decision
I'd rather watch The Spinners on the television
I can't do it
I can't do it tonight

So she said:

Let's do it!
Let's do it
Do it till our hearts go boom!
Go native
Creative
Living in the living room

This folly
Is jolly
Bend me over backwards on me Hostess trolley
Let's do it!
Let's do it tonight!

But he said:

I can't do it
I can't do it
Me 'eavy breathing days have gone
I'm older
Feel colder
It's other things that turn me on


I'm imploring:
I'm boring
Let me read this catalogue on vinyl flooring
I can't do it
I can't do it tonight

So she said:

Let's do it!
Let's do it
Have a crazy night of love!
I'll strip bare
I'll just wear
Stilettos and an oven glove

Don't starve a
Girl of a palaver
Dangle from the wardrobe in your Balaclava
Let's do it!
Let's do it tonight!

I can't do it
I can't do it
I know I'd only get it wrong


Don't angle
For me to dangle
Me arms 'ave never been that strong

Stop pouting
Stop shouting
You know I pulled a muscle when I did that grouting
I can't do it
I can't do it tonight

Let's do it!
Let's do it
Share a night of wild romance
Frenetic
Poetic!
This could be your last big chance

To quote Milton
To eat Stilton
To roll in gay abandon on the tufted Wilton
Let's do it!
Let's do it tonight!

I can't do it
I can't do it
I've got other little jobs on hand
Don't grouse
Around the house
I've got a busy evening planned

Stop nagging
I'm flagging
You know as well as I do that the pipes need lagging
I can't do it
I can't do it tonight

Let's do it!
Let's do it
While I'm really in the mood!
Three cheers!
It's years
Since I caught you even semi-nude

Get drastic
Gymnastic
Wear your baggy Y-fronts with the loose elastic
Let's do it!
Let's do it tonight!

I can't do it
I can't do it
I must refuse to get undressed
I feel silly
It's too chilly
To go without me thermal vest

Don't choose me
Don't use me
Me mother sent a note to say you must excuse me
I can't do it
I can't do it tonight

Let's do it!
Let's do it!
I feel I absolutely must
I won't exempt you
Want to tempt you
Want to drive you mad with lust

No cautions
Just contortions!
Smear an avocado on me lower portions
Let's do it!
Let's do it tonight!

I can't do it
I can't do it
It's really not my cup of tea
I'm harassed
Embarrassed
I wish you hadn't picked on me

No barter
Non starter
Feel about as sensuous
As Jimmy Carter
I can't do it
I can't do it tonight!

Let's do it!
Let's do it!
I really want to run amok
Let's wiggle
Let's jiggle
Let's really make the rafters rock

Be mighty
Be flighty
Come and melt the buttons on me flameproof nightie
Let's do it!
Let's do it tonight!

Let's do it!
Let's do it!
I really want to rant and rave
Let's go
Cause I know
Just how I want you to behave:

Not bleakly
Not meekly
Beat me on the bottom with a Woman's Weekly
Let's do it!
Let's do it tonight!






Before you leave:
You can follow me on: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. As you can see, I have far too much to say for myself.