Monday, 15 December 2008

Mealy Mouthed

I'd love to be a restaurant critic - it would really suit me...

...firstly because I really adore eating wonderful food, but also because I do like to shout from the rooftops when I find somewhere which pleases my might please somebody else too!

Eating in fantastic restaurants, often, and being paid for it...that would be my idea of heaven!

I would find it difficult to write nasty reviews...I rarely complain in a restaurant, unless something is utterly inedible...after all, we all can imagine what the kitchen could do to your next course - should they wish to!

We have a phrase in this house, started by BF... "It's not my favourite" - that ought to cover any unpleasant culinary experiences, without sounding like an jaded critic with a bloated sense of his own importance!

So imagine how I felt when I read the latest 'Food' magazine, they included reviews about two restaurants I have little prospect of actually eating in - Gordon Ramsey's new establishment in Royal Hospital Road, and 'Murano', the new venue for Gordon's protegee - Angela Hartnett.

And were the revues glowing, well, no! Did the pundits have anything specific to complain about vis the food...well, no!  Frankly all they complained about was the decor or the stature of the sommelier....

Talk about ungrateful! Oh, goodness, what kind of curmudgeonly old grump are you, when fed Michelin starred vittles, you whine like...well, like the Grinch.

It's not even as if these jokers actually pay the bill - they are employed for this precise purpose!
Perhaps they need to be sent somewhere to use as a 'real life' comparison...a night out at a dodgy fast food joint or a motorway service station ought to make them significantly more appreciative!

Move over Whining Winnies...this bird wants a shot at being a foodie critic...and she and her stomach would be so much more grateful!

And as for where I like to eat...should you ever be in the vicinity, I'd suggest a visit to -

The Old Bell, Malmesbury. Tom Rains cooks up real delights, Severiano, the Maitre D' charms you, and you can retire to bed afterwards!


The Royal Crescent, Bath. Perfect cocktails, fabulous food, chic surroundings and attentive staff...and no, they're not too tall!

...and when Michael Caines starts at The Priory in February, I will eat and be happy, regardless of how 'corporate' the dining room looks!

Sunday, 14 December 2008

E for effort.

At the risk of sounding like a total fossil, I'm wondering if I'm one of a dying breed of people who like to thank people properly.

My BF and my lovely friend P. always send a handwritten note after a supper at our house, or after being given a prezzie...and I always do the same.

Sometimes I fail to meet proper etiquette rules and don't manage to send my 'thank you' within the correct form of three days, but I do always send one. 

I don't often manage to write something erudite, but hopefully my thank you notes always sound sincere, because they are. 
Let's face it most of us do actually appreciate somebody going to the trouble of cooking supper for us, or choosing a thoughtful gift....and sending a thank you is a good way of saying - wow, that was absolutely lovely / delicious / fun...I really appreciated your effort / thoughtfulness / creativity.

Recently, after a supper party (which was big on effort due to the dietry needs of one guest) only one of the four couples wrote to say 'thank you'....and that was by TEXT!

I apologise if this sounds ungrateful, but for goodness sake, how little effort is involved in actually sending a text message?
Answer: very little indeed!

Is there a widespread problem of paper and pen allergies?

Worse still, this evening we received a 'Christmas card' from one of the husband's oldest friends...this 'card' was by email...and this is what it was -

"Seasons Greetings
In line with many of our friends this year we are trying to trim our ever growing list of Christmas Cards Recipiants, so for all those that we are in email contact with, we are using this medium to send this years Seasons Greetings!!!
We hope that you have a Happy Christmas and a Great New Year whatever you are doing.
With Much Love

no amusing pictures sent with it, no photo of them...nothing....whatsoever...or in their case "whatever"!

Here is our reply -

"What, no card with an ickle robin perching on a frosty branch?

What, no hyperlink to a website containing your family as animated dancing elves?

What, no three page newsletter?

You little rebels!"

...Do you think that they will politely get the message? 
When they receive my carefully chosen card, with it's handwritten message, do you think they might have a pang of guilt about their missing manners...for they jolly well weren't brought up that way!

I relayed this abomination of manners to my Mother in Law, who writes a personal message in each of her Christmas cards - she thought it acceptable to send 'e cards' only as long as they were like one she recieved last year which was an animated snowman, who moved his snow-manly 'dangly bits' to shoot down snowballs...the mind boggles, but at least it was very amusing!

...and there we are, back to the crux of this's all about effort, and if you're not prepared to put in a little effort...perhaps it's better not to bother at all, rather than offend old friends by covertly saying you really can't be bothered to put pen to paper?

I write this after writing 80 cards for friends and family and another 90 for the husbands company Christmas cards...and look my fingers are still fully functioning, if a little stiff...and I've written 'Christmas' so many times it's beginning to look weirdly abstract.
But it's done for another year....and that only leaves me with a new quandry...what do I do for those lovely bloggers who I think are witty and the real world I would send them a Christmas card...but what does one do when you only have an email address...answers on a postcard please!

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Fir Fettish!

"My name's Hen and I am a Obsessive Compulsive Christmas Tree Decorator...."

(supportive clapping from other members of the OCCTD group)

....huge sigh of relief from Hen, who has been feeling really, seriously, guilty (for years) that she is unable to let her family join in the fun of decorating the family Christmas Trees!

Why should it be so very difficult you may ask?

Mmmm, well that would probably have something to do with the fact that Hen's first job (while at Art school) involved decorating hundreds of beautiful Christmas trees for a smart London store...each one had to pass the discerning eye of the Design director, each tree had to be decorated in exactly the same way, and that meant each baubel being placed in the same position on every tree!!! 
When you do this a few years on the trot, it should send you screaming, never wanting to see another baubel or tree again....ever!

But Hen was a child brought up in house where the commandant in charge strongly disapproved of Christmas Trees, well actually just Christmas in general.

So is Hen's obsession with Fir some deep seated rebellion?

No, she just loves the smell, and since she is a complete an utter magpie, the sparkly baubels just add to the attraction!

Now, most people get huge pleasure watching their beloved offspring make decorations, and cover their tree in tinsel....OMG....can you see the Hen's involuntary twitch? 
Random positioning???
Out of the question!

These poor tortured firs get the OCCTD treatment, they HAVE to look perfect, and that means the positioning of the different colours and shapes, and sizes is all important!

....Oh, colour, don't get her on to that....because her trees can't be pretty harlequin,no,no....her trees must be colour within a inch of their life!

And would the Hen like to lose this affliction....yes, she would, but you see, even if she did manage a multi coloured tree....there would be the issue of size, shape......

mmmmm, this is going to need A LOT of therapy to sort this one out....

....interesting case though!

Oh, Hen's just asked me to point out that I absolutely, definitely forgot to mention tree lights...which apparently is also a terribly important issue...white, white, white light is the right light....she says!

Hen would like readers to know that she has managed to drop her associated affliction of asking other members of her family to wrap presents in matching paper and ribbon...seeing mis-matching prezzies under her tree has no affect on her whatsoever...


no, really it's fine (cue hysterical laughter from her padded cell!).

There's a hole in my ear...

We've all been suffering with really vile cold / flu germs....guess what? 

The only person in the family who was graced with antibiotics was the Husband...because obviously HIS germs were far more severe, being of the 'MAN FLU' variety.

So now he feels really pretty perky....
....No 1 and I are still feeling rotten, and have nasty ear us girlies, the Dr begrudgingly gave us some ear drops - they were fantastic....
....fantastic if what you want to achieve is a perforated ear drum...
...I'm trying very hard to be stoic about it, but it hurts....ALOT.

So tomorrow I'm calling him back....and I'm going to tell him we've jolly well got 'MAN FLU' too!

The question is, will a male doctor believe that it's possible for us to have that?

And more to the point, was 'MAN FLU' dreamt up by male doctors who realise that men just have a rubbish pain threshold?

Because, let's face it - if men had to give birth, us humans would have died out a long time ago!!!

My normal upbeat take on life will be resumed shortly!!