Category Archives: London

BREAKOUT AFTER LOCKDOWN

Lovely to see a full supermarket and more being unpacked.
Just before lockdown, the fruit and veg racks were virtually empty!!

Yes, we were fortunate in that, being aged and vulnerable, after a couple of weeks we were able to get supermarkets slots. It was all very well, but inevitably, although they appeared on their websites, some items would be unavailable on the day. Flour, yeast and baking powder were particularly hard to come by. I was able to buy 10kg of bread flour in 2.5kg packets from eBay at a moderate price but was reduced to paying £7.99 for a £1.50 bag of self raising flour. There were plenty of profiteers out there.

The bliss of being allowed out to shop in person!! We went to a large Tesco’s very early on the first Monday vulnerable people were allowed out. There were hardly any other shoppers and the store was immaculate. Couldn’t believe my eyes when I approached the Baking aisle. Such a variety of different flours! And being able to choose just the size and kind of fruit and vegetables we like.

OK – I’ve been to the Uffizi, glided down the waterways in Venice, seen a giant hippo on the lawn in Malawi, but that Tesco store was right up there with them!! Absence definitely makes the heart grow fonder.

Read more of Abby’s previous posts in her book Abby’s Tales of then and Now is£2.99 for the Kindle version and £12.99 for the 7” x 9” paperback. Both are illustrated in colour. You can Look Inside on the Amazon site to get a taster for free.

https://amzn.to/3hX6z2D

A SEQUEL TO THE MEMOIR OF AN EAST END GIRL

 

After I published my memoir Woman in a White Coat, I started on a sequel to be called 25 Houses, dredging up those memories I had left out. But after writing some 28k words, I lost interest. I then tried my hand at sci-fi – parallel universe stuff – and joined a writing class at our local library for a couple of terms to develop it, but soon I ran out of steam.

Our writers’ circle has been meeting every fortnight for 10 years now. At first, we met over coffee and homemade muffins in my flat and then, since lockdown, on Zoom.

Our agreement is that we have to bring some writing, large or small, to each meeting and I hadn’t written anything for the following Tuesday. I’d started posting regularly again on my blog and on social media, so I brought those pieces to our circle, by now some 72 illustrated blogs and posts.

Our children had seen and commented on some of them, but some they had missed. I decided to publish them on Amazon as an eBook on Kindle and as a paperback, with the title Abby’s Tales of Then and Now. You can Look Inside on the Amazon site to get a free taster.

At age 88, it was time to think about leaving something behind

The price is determined by Kindle Direct Publishing and is £2.99 for the Kindle version and £12.99 for the 7” x 9” paperback. Both are illustrated in colour. You can Look Inside on the Amazon site to get a taster for free.

https://amzn.to/3hX6z2D

 

DOWN IN THE DUMP IN WANDSWORTH

Looking like Masked Bandits as we dump our Waste and Recycling.

Who would have thought our treat of the week would be a trip to the Smugglers Way Household Waste and Recycling Centre in Wandsworth? We still haven’t ventured into any shops or Art Galleries and this week we gave Tate Britain a miss. We went to Smugglers Way to dump our broken paper shredder, batteries and electrical bits and pieces instead.

We did, however, take our car to be serviced on Thursday. The garage always gives it a good clean so it’s looking pristine – until some flying vandal decides to use it as a toilet!!

We both miss shopping. Of course, it’s great being able to get groceries delivered, but we like choosing. The fruit is often not what we would have liked – too large or too small – and only now are our deliveries starting to arrive with everything on the list.

Our favourite shops for wandering around are John Lewis and Ikea with Flying Tiger on my list though not on Josh’s. Even if nothing takes our fancy it’s good to see something different and we always end up with tea and scones in John Lewis or start with a cooked breakfast in Ikea.

Happy days!! Well – maybe soon.

Lots more stories like this in my memoir ‘Woman in White Coat’. Buy it on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99

http://bit.ly/Woman_in_a_White_Coat

Woman in a White Coat paperback

 

TATE BRITAIN WILL OPEN ON JULY 27th

Tate Britain on Millbank, London

‘THANK YOU KEYWORKERS’ and ‘SEE YOU ALL SOON’ banners have been put up, with the small white ‘TATE BRITAIN IS CLOSED’ board by the front door ready to be removed. The black and white banner advertising the Beardsley exhibition is on the right.

It’s great that London art galleries are starting to open, though I’m not sure we’ll be brave enough to visit them and risk there being large crowds, even if the galleries themselves are set up to regard social distancing.

As well as Steve McQueen Year 3, described as one of the most ambitious portraits of children ever undertaken in the UK, Tate Britain will continue to show the Aubrey Beardsley exhibition which opened on March 4th. Then lockdown was imposed and the gallery closed on March 17th. However, on March 30th BBC4 showed an excellent program by Mark Gatiss about Beardsley, still available on iPlayer.

I knew Aubrey Beardsley’s work from his illustrations of Andrew Lang’s Fairy Books. I can visualise the tall bookcases in the children’s section of Whitechapel Library where his books lived. I was always small for my age and had to get a librarian to hand me one down. I assume the publisher didn’t use any of his more risqué drawings, but while they were a bit frightening, I loved them.

Since Tate Britain closed, we have been going there for our Sunday walks. It is always very peaceful – the occasional jogger, a few couples with a baby in a pushchair and a little Chinese grandfather we meet every week. He leads his toddler grandson up the stairs, round the side and down again; gives us a quick smile and walks on.

Our younger son has cycled over to meet us on a couple of Sundays. When I was taking a series of Art History classes in galleries, I bought a folding stool which was much lighter than those provided by the galleries. We took it with us so we could sit on the bench at the side of the stairs and Bernard could sit on the stool the required 2m away.

After July 27th we’ll have to change where we take our weekly exercise. Hopefully, the gallery will be very busy and it might be difficult for us to keep our distance outside.

Lots more stories like this in my memoir ‘Woman in White Coat’. Buy it on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99

http://bit.ly/Woman_in_a_White_Coat

Woman in a White Coat

 

NEW PANASONIC BREADMAKER – YES! BECAUSE I’M WORTH IT

Anadama bread

 

 

 

 

 

The centre groove is where the machine paddle rests

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No, I didn’t really need a new breadmaker. There was nothing wrong with my old one, but I fancied a newer model. Because of the coronavirus buying frenzy, and so many of us deciding to bake our own bread, Panasonic breadmakers vanished from Amazon and Panasonic UK, only for a few to appear on eBay at profiteering prices.

Our daughter Louise, who lives in the Basque Country, found one on Panasonic (Spain). She’d had her old one for at least 15 years and it had begun to leak around the spindle. She tried putting in a washer but it didn’t help. As in the UK, the local electrical stores and Amazon es were empty of Panasonic breadmakers. However, before any re-appeared in the UK at list price, she found one on Spanish Panasonic.

Of course, I had to have the same model but none was available except at a silly price. Finally, my search for a breadmaker resulted in a pop-up note from Amazon offering one at a sensible price from Belgium. I ordered one at once, but when I looked at the site again, to check that my order had gone through, they were once again unavailable. Luckily, my motto is carpe diem and I had seized the moment!!

But it was some sort of con!! After 2 weeks, I contacted the seller who said it had been despatched and then that he had asked UPS to send me a tracking number. I heard nothing more and contacted him again only to be told it hadn’t been sent and did I want a refund!! Fortunately, I had ordered via Amazon who are excellent about refunds and I have already had the money refunded.

I put the code for the breadmaker into Google and was delighted to find that John Lewis had online stock. It arrived today. It bakes beautifully and has the advantage of a window that lets you see at what stage your bread is.

Anadama bread is a traditional New England bread whose yellow colour comes from the addition of molasses and cornmeal. I used polenta, which is a cornmeal made from otto file corn.

It is said to have got its name from a hungry fisherman saying ‘Anna, damn her’ after being served by his wife nothing but cornmeal and molasses for supper, day in day out. In desperation, he (or maybe she) threw in some flour and yeast and so made Anadama bread.

Lots more stories like this in my memoir ‘Woman in White Coat’. Buy it on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99

http://bit.ly/Woman_in_a_White_Coat

Woman in a White Coat

Recipe for Anadama Machine Made Loaf

Basic bread program

360gm white bread flour                                                                    

75gm wholemeal bread flour

65 gm polenta

Continue reading NEW PANASONIC BREADMAKER – YES! BECAUSE I’M WORTH IT

RACKETEERING AND BAKING POWDER

As soon as it became clear that the coronavirus pandemic was here to stay, staple items vanished from supermarket shelves. Wherever you went, there were long shelves empty of toilet paper and sanitisers and bacterial hand-washes. The two back-to-back produce stands in the local Tesco were empty except for one watermelon. I bought in in desperation, but it lasted forever. I don’t think I ever want to eat watermelon again.

On eBay, someone was selling a £10 pack of 24 rolls of toilet paper for £49.99 + postage and you could buy a £3 sanitiser for £30.

When the vulnerable were finally allowed to meet one other person outside, we met with our elder son in our courtyard. He had asked for my recipe for Rock Cakes previously but had unfortunately used bicarbonate of soda instead of baking powder. They tasted so awful he had to put them on the compost heap.

I thought I would make him some Fruit Scones using the same recipe I’d been using for years. It calls for soaking the raisins in orange juice for at least 30 minutes beforehand and I used some juice from some rather sour oranges delivered by the supermarket a few days before. I left one of the scones out for my husband Josh to have with his coffee and caught him spitting it out.

‘It’s vile,’ he said. ‘Tastes of bicarbonate of soda.’

I tasted one. He was right. It was awful but I thought it was the sour orange juice the raisins had been soaked in. I binned the scones and made another batch. They were just as bad. Then I realised that when I reprinted the recipe, I doubled the amount of baking powder to be added to the self-raising flour.

I wasn’t going to risk another batch, so I made some Rock Cakes instead. Josh likes them because they don’t contain sugar, just have a little demerara sugar sprinkled on top.

By now, of course, I had run out of self-raising flour and neither of the supermarkets we can get slots for had any. I looked on eBay. A 1kg bag of self-raising flour costing £1.50 in supermarkets was listed at £11.99 + postage!! Finally, Tesco listed it but every time I put in on my order, when our grocery arrived it was UNAVAILABLE.

I still have some baking powder left but I thought it possible it had ‘gone off’ and put it on my order. Needless to say,  when our order was delivered it was UNAVAILABLE.

I so wish we weren’t elderly and vulnerable, and could go shopping for ourselves. I know we should be grateful we can get supermarket delivery slots but like everyone else, I wish it was all over!!

Roll on the Covid-19 vaccine!!

At least this batch of Rock Cakes worked

Lots more stories like this in my memoir ‘Woman in White Coat’. Buy it on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99

http://bit.ly/Woman_in_a_White_Coat

Woman in a White Coat

Recipe for Rock Cakes

Makes 24

Bake at 200°C 15-20 mins Continue reading RACKETEERING AND BAKING POWDER

VERA LYNN PROMISED THAT WE’D MEET AGAIN -– AND WE DID

March 17th 2020 was the last time we were out and about and the last person we saw up close was an AA mechanic. We had gone to the local Waitrose and, when we came back to our car, it wouldn’t start. We called the AA and the mechanic told us that, after several good years, the battery had given up and we needed a new one. Fortunately, he carried a replacement in his vehicle.

Since then, the only other people Josh and I have seen in person are the concierges of our flats and the supermarket delivery people– one very jolly woman driver and the rest rather dour men.

Now that there has been some relaxation of lockdown, the Sunday before last we met with our younger son, Bernie, outside Tate Britain and last Thursday we met with our older son, Simon, in the courtyard of our flats – both at the required 2 metres.

We’re not a great family for kissing and cuddling but I really missed not being able to give them a hug and getting a hug back.

Louise, who lives in the Basque Country is hoping to come to the UK in the summer, even if she has to stay in a YMCA hostel and meet us in our courtyard, and we hope that Jane, who lives in Switzerland, will be able to pop over too.

Happy Days!!

The boys had a lot more hair then!! Simon is now almost 60 and Bernard is getting on for 58. Neither of them became an architect or a builder.

Lots more stories like this in my memoir ‘‘Woman in White Coat’. Buy it on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99

http://bit.ly/Woman_in_a_White_Coat

Woman in a White Coat

OLD DOGS AND NEW TRICKS

CityLit’s new entrance

Yes, we can learn new tricks!! I didn’t think that at age 88 Social Media were my thing but I’ve written nearly 70 posts on Facebook since last August and I regularly Zoom with the children and my Writing Circle.

Last week I started an online course at CityLit – ‘Extended History of Modern Art in 50 Works’ with an excellent young women tutor, Sarah Jaffray. There are 14 of us in the class – 10 women and 4 men. This is an unusual mix. Most Further Education classes I’ve been to have had 2 or 3 men to 25 or even 30 women. I think women generally are more likely to want to take up something new when we retire and we’re not too worried about showing our ignorance of a new subject or ‘losing face.’ Maybe that’s why we’re supposed to live longer than men after retirement.

I wonder when I will go through CityLit’s doors again. As an elderly, vulnerable, person I’ve been self-isolated for 10 weeks. Who know how many more?

Lots more stories like this in my memoir ‘‘Woman in White Coat’. Buy it on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99 http://bit.ly/Woman_in_a_White_Coat

Woman in a White Coat

BIG PACKS AT THE SUPERMARKETS

Yes, we are fortunate – being elderly and vulnerable we can get slots at supermarkets but we do miss being able to choose our own fruit and vegetables. The two of us can cope with a 2.5 kg bag of potatoes if we keep the potatoes cool and in the dark but 1 kg of carrots is just too much.

OK – so I’ve made carrot and orange soup, had sliced carrots as a vegetable and spiralized some with the remains of a courgette to make a pretty combination of carrot and courgette spaghetti as a vegetable but there was still 1/3 of a bag left. You can order some single fruits and veggies but you can’t choose the size. I ordered a leek and the one I was sent was a foot long and nearly 1½” in diameter. Almost half was composed of dark green earthy tough leaves. I would never have chosen it, had I been able to go to the supermarket in person.

My English granddaughter is a great Vegan cook and sends me images of her very professional looking bread. Not to be outclassed, I got down my Bread book by Christine Ingram and Jennie Shapter to look for something new. To my delight I found their Carrot and Fennel Seed bread. Absolutely delicious. I reduced the amount of seeds to 1 teaspoon but I think when I make it again I’ll omit the seeds.

My Carrot Bread will now join my Beetroot Bread and Square Challah fun loaves.

 

Love the orange carrot flecks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lots more stories like this in my memoir ‘‘Woman in White Coat’. Buy it on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99 http://bit.ly/Woman_in_a_White_Coat

Woman in a White Coat

 

CARROT AND FENNEL SEED BREAD   

Made in breadmaker on Basic Program

500 gm strong white flour                                                                                    Continue reading BIG PACKS AT THE SUPERMARKETS

THE IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM – A.K.A BEDLAM

In normal times the two huge 15 inch naval guns in front of the portico would have been swarming with children.

This week we changed our walk from the Victoria Embankment to the grounds around the Imperial War Museum in Lambeth Road. It was a lovely spring day, the roses, edging the lawn outside, in full bloom.

The actual building was constructed as the Bethlem Royal Hospital for the Insane in St George’s Fields, moving there from Bridewell and then Moorfields in 1828. Probably from as early as 1598, visitors were allowed to come and laugh and poke at the poor inmates. Known as ‘Bedlam’, it was a popular stop on the London tourist trail and a source of income for the hospital and staff. When the asylum moved to Beckenham in 1936, the Imperial War Museum transferred to Lambeth from the Imperial Institute in South Kensington..

I first saw the Imperial War Museum from my room in the clinic opposite, on a snowy evening in February 1990. Though still attached to various tubes after surgery for breast cancer, I was able to walk around and look out of the window. The snow was no longer falling, but it lay thick on the windowsill, glistening under the starlit sky. The elegant snow-covered Imperial War Museum across the road, with its tall cupola looked like a fairy castle in the moonlight.

I needed cheering up. As a consultant pathologist, who had worked in a cancer hospital for 4 years, I had carried out numerous autopsies on women with breast cancer. Virtually all the women I encountered with breast cancer had died of the disease. When I lectured on the subject, I pointed out how good the prognosis for breast cancer was, but I still thought it would prove fatal for me. It didn’t – and that was 30 years ago. Now the outlook for patients with breast cancer is better than ever.

I can’t decide whether it is better or worse to be in the ‘trade’ if you are a doctor and have a life-threatening disease. Of course, the surgeon, the anaesthetist and the radiotherapist were all friends as well as colleagues. I could stop the breast surgeon in the corridor and ask for a quick word about the hard lump I found while having a shower. But it also meant that I was well aware of the worst possible outcomes and because I was a doctor I felt I had to be extra brave, not make a fuss or ‘come it’.

Although I had long since retired, when I was admitted with a near-fatal heart attack in 2016, I was treated more like a colleague than a non-medical patient, who might not understand the medical terms and find being in a hospital frightening. For me, a hospital is almost home from home and the antiseptic smell is reassuring rather than threatening.

Lots more stories like this in my memoir ‘‘Woman in White Coat’. Buy it on Kindle at £2.99 or as a paperback on Amazon at £9.99 http://bit.ly/Woman_in_a_White_Coat

Woman in a White Coat