112. Much Ado About Nothing

‘If I start now, I can have my Christmas lights untangled by Valentine’s Day’ from the daily Scuttlebutt email that I receive, many a true word!

I mislead us all about the blue moon in Post 108 when I said it was the last for 19 years. I think that is for a Halloween blue moon, not any old blue moon.

We had a takeaway from a new Chinese place just after Lockdown (Act 2). It is not a new Chinese restaurant but under new ownership, we enjoyed going there when run by the previous owners so thought we’d give it a try. JD went off to collect it but was most upset that he couldn’t call into a pub on his way. Remember post 98 on 8th July where he did that as soon as it was allowed? Roll on December 2nd (or maybe 3rd). As soon as the Tiers were announced, his first (only) question was, can I go to the pub? I might have omitted to tell him he has to have a substantial meal at the same time.

Chinese New Year event

In my genius poem of Post 110 I said no piano. Well, I’ve been having lessons over Zoom during Lockdown and they are a great way to keep going. I still leave a lot to desire in my technique: I can play the right notes some of the time, but you need to forget about being able to recognise what I am playing as my timing is non-existent. I just tell JD it’s an obscure Czech tune and he’s impressed!

We found out the other night that the TV soundbar does not work with Zoom. According to my laptop, it was relaying the meeting through the TV, but this was not apparent to our ears. I did try to persuade our (rather old) smart TV to connect to the internet, but I think I’ll have to wait until there’s a smart person in the house to do it for me. Everything seemed to go swimmingly until the end when it told me there was a problem without actually telling me what the problem was. (Update. A Smart Person came to our house and had exactly the same issue I had). New TV calling?

A new champagne top!

I’ll give you another Grand Marnier cocktail this week as the last one didn’t really feature. Grand Marnier is a triple sec (orange liqueur from bitter oranges) with added Cognac (brandy from, wait for it, the Cognac region of France) in a distinctive shaped bottle. It has been made in Cognac since 1880. It’s darker than Cointreau due to the brandy but just as delicious.

I could make a Curielle, which is champagne with some Grand Marnier. Boring. A Surf City Lifesaver? Gin, Grand Marnier, OUZO and ICE CREAM (flavour unspecified). YUK. Devil’s Delight? Brandy, Curacao, Grand Marnier, Vodka, Sour mix (lemon or lime juice shaken vigorously with syrup and ice) and lime. The recipe says to shake all ingredients together but I’m guessing you juice the lime first. Anyway, too strong for now.

Aha, the perfect one for these troubled times: Gloom Chaser. 20 ml Curacao, 20 ml Grand Marnier, 20 ml Grenadine and 20 ml lemon juice. Half of it has no alcohol so it can’t be all bad. I have no Curacao though. I know that because I’ve not told you about it and I’m past the letter C in the bar. Maybe I’ll be given a bottle for Christmas and I can tell you all about it some other time. It’s basically another orange liqueur so I can double the Grand Marnier. If I have enough, or else Cointreau. I am determined to empty the bar before this Blog finishes. If only I didn’t keep buying more. The good news is we only have seven gins (but I’ve seen two other interesting ones, and as I said, it’s all market research…). Ah, I’ve just remembered that JD does not like finishing things off (see Post 100 dated 24th July regarding the Cynar). My master plan may be foiled.

My gloom being chased!

I’m becoming concerned that you might (or I might) become bored with all these cocktails long before I’ve finished the bottles, so today we have two ingredients! As well as the Grand Marnier I used grenadine. I have used it numerous times but not yet told you about it. Possibly because it’s non-alcoholic, but it does have a place in the bar and in cocktails. It is the sweetest stuff you can imagine and bright red due to being made from pomegranates. I didn’t think about it but you can make your own if you have some pomegranate juice in the house: https://www.thespruceeats.com/how-to-make-your-own-grenadine-760291

Talking of cocktails, I saw the most upsetting thing in the paper at the weekend:


Where’s the fun? The inventiveness? Needless to say, it is not on my Christmas list.

For those of you with long memories, wondering what has happened to the tiny lavender plants George and I potted up in the spring (blog post 93 dated 25th May), wonder no more. They now form a grand entrance to JD’s big greenhouse. Once again, we have Adie photobombing. The pre-planting is in today’s header.

Just keeping an eye on things!

In the garden generally, other things have been happening as well. Due to certain people now being home and having time on their hands, a total redesign has occurred. Not all our work, we’d be still sorting it out for the next five years. All we need to do now is keep the weeds down.

I have been planting tulip bulbs in my pots (seen in various past blog posts in various stages of growth). Looking at the picture, I could do with another pot, there’s a too-large gap for my liking. I potted up the bulbs in our own home grown compost. Well, JD calls it compost. As it has stones and bit of broken china and roots and twigs and old bulbs, who knows what will grow? Tune in next spring.

Both dogs this time

Every year I change my colour scheme and choose a few varieties to plant out. This year, one of the varieties is called Cummins, well how could I ignore it? As long as it comes up (if it doesn’t, I’ll blame my eyesight). Although now he’s gone maybe they’ll sulk and not show. The other of note is Ballerina, but should that now be renamed cyber?


When (if) they flower in the spring I’ll let you see the results. Talking of which, how did my tomatoes do? Brilliantly if you like pea-sized tomatoes. Many of them found their way into last week’s curry. Not as obviously successful as my beetroot some years ago, as I found this jar lurking in the store the other day. Very tasty, kept well!

No best before date!

As I’m into quotations today, here’s one on Martinis: Noel Coward said ‘A perfect martini should be made by filling a glass with gin then waving it in the general direction of Italy’. Even stronger than the quote I gave you in Post 109 where you had the vermouth in the same room!

I realise that the phrase ‘I’ll tell you all about some other time’, which I use a lot of the time, comes from the Flanders and Swann gnu song. I do mention them a lot, don’t I? Part of my formative years, as well as of the next generation, who had to sit in the back of the car and listen to tapes when we went on holidays. The phrase ‘Are we nearly there yet?’ was heard very often! For those of us of a certain age, an evocative one of their songs is The Slow Train, reading out many of the stations closed by the ‘Beeching Axe’ in the 1960s. https://www.networkrail.co.uk/who-we-are/our-history/making-the-connection/dr-beechings-axe/ Just the names are lovely to listen to and roll around your tongue: ‘Miller’s Dale, Tideswell, Kirby Muxloe, Mow Cop, Scholar Green, Blandford Forum, Mortehoe’ and so on.

When I mentioned my research into killer cocktails last time, I didn’t realise what I’d started. (I only found two, blue murder and Caribbean murder, neither of which I have the complete ingredients for). It was a JOKE! Anyway, someone is now trying to kill me off with food. Last night we had leeks and potatoes cooked with butter, cream and cheese. Heart attack country or what? In defence, JD referred to my recent bone scan, which said my diet was inadequate in terms of calcium, hence my bones being not as robust as they could be. Ah well, I’ll leave you with a hint of what’s coming in my next blog post. I’m off to sort out my lights!

Covent Garden in freer times