Saturday, 29 January 2022

Saturday 29th January - This and that...

 Yesterday, a woodpecker came to the bird feeder. My, what a handsome bird! So slim and upright, such bright colours, so easy to spot!

I'm a novice at this birdwatching game. At the beginning of the month I bought some entry-level binoculars from the RSPB, and also a birdfeeder to replace and old one that had broken, and a 'selection pack' of bird food. Suet and meals worms - yum - at least, yum if you are a starling or a woodpecker.

This is the weekend of the RSPB 'Big Bird Watch' or something. I though I might join in - but we don't get many birds (next-door's-cat, maybe?) and I'm not that quick with the binoculars to get them lined up with where the bird is before it is gone. So perhaps I'll leave it until next year. We get sparrows, and starlings, sometimes robins and blackbirds, and, for a couple of days, a thrush was working across the grass. Oh, yes, and magpies. And squirrels (I know they aren't birds, but they still use the bird feeder.) 

I think I shall send off for more suet balls, or logs, or sticks, or whatever. Shopping for bird food is as complex as choosing which tomatoes, brand of cheese, kind of yogurt. Or cat food.

Our cats are really showing their age. I have to cut clumps of fur off McCavity, the fluffy cat, because she is too stiff to reach everywhere. Leo has shorter fur, which ought to be easier to deal with, but she has a fine undercoat which quickly matts up into a felted layer that has to be teased apart, as much as you can at a sitting until she gives a warning meow and swipes at you. They move creakily about the house, favouring an arthritic hip or shoulder.

I was beginning to creak a bit too, so I have started a 'ten day basics' online ballet course. It costs £15 for unlimited access to a set of ten videos. I first came across this delightful website back in 2019. 

It is run by a mother-and-daughter team. The daughter, Susan, started teaching her mother, Elizabeth, ballet because Elizabeth needed to do something to strengthen her ankles and improve her balance, and things grew from there. 

When we were on our unforgettable one week river cruise along the Seine back in 2019 

Happy memories... I kept my first ever illustrated travel journal...

I used to do one of the free online exercise classes they offer every morning on the tiny balcony outside our cabin, propping my phone up carefully so that it wouldn't fall in. I've done the free classes off and on ever since, more 'off' than 'on' but having the basics explained is very helpful. I'm taking about two or three days to complete each level, but that's fine. I've also discovered I can convert time spent doing ballet into miles (or fractions of miles!) to add to my current 'Conqueror' challenge. Unfortunately ballet adds very little to my step count as pointing a toe (tendue) and returning to first position doesn't count as a step, even though it feels like exercise!

It solves the problem of really not wanting to go out for a walk when the weather is so cold, but feeling that 'one ought to do something rather than sitting about all day.

I've made almond macaroons this week. I could show you a picture, but I've just finished the last one. Not macarons - just reading the recipe was exhausting. I realise now why I disliked them so much when I was little - I have a feeling they were usually made with desiccated coconut, or, if made with ground almonds, almond essence was added. I didn't have any ground almonds, so put a packet of flaked almonds into the word food processor. This meant that they were more coarsely ground, and I think that is an improvement. Now, about those left over yolks and half an egg white... two yolks went into the scrambled eggs last night, and I shall make scones this afternoon with what's left.

My brother said he used to use cornflour when he made them (he used to make macaroons? well I never did!) so next time I will use this recipe and make them much smaller. I used a glace cherry to decorate - I'm sure that's how I remember them. They peeled off the baking paper fairly easily, but I think I might get some rice paper just to recreate my memories.    

The baking was to provide a gluten-free accompaniment for when family came to visit on about the only sunny afternoon last week. My brother and sister-in-law came up, collecting my uncle and father enroute and went for a meal locally. Just as they finished the meal - (they asked for affrogatos for dessert, not on the menu, but the waitress, who was Italian, produced them with great pleasure) - the rain stopped and we were able to meet in the garden and enjoy tea/coffee, and tome together. It was blooming cold sitting out in the garden in the pale afternoon sunshine, but we wore coats and hats and had blankets. Just a simply lovely and rare hour with family.   


Put a scoop of good vanilla ice cream into a suitable glass or bowl for each person.

Pour over a shot of hot espresso coffee.

Serve at once.


  1. The biscuits sound good. I think I'd prefer them without dessicated coconut too! The ballet sounds a great idea! I used to do ballet (and was terrible) but it was good for my muscles! I think all my aches and pains started after I stopped the ballet as a teenager!