Sunday, 14 December 2014


I went to Mrs Im's over the weekend for a Christmas before Christmas, which mostly involved eating curry, drinking tea and lounging about as we do anyway, only with Christmas music on and Christmas lights up. There were definitely some mixed feelings about the music, but we managed to get through the evening.

We made lemon noodles and lentil and butternut squash dhal, and as is customary the lads made a beef chilli that was hotter than the surface of the sun. I'm vegetarian so I didn't get burned that much - the dhal was spicy enough and mighty tasty enough for me. We made mulled wine after and sat on the sofa talking until about 11. 30pm.

Then we bundled up in all the warm things that we had and headed out to Lavistock in the car. Mrrs. Im lent me two jumpers, a snood and some gloves - it was -4 C by the time we got out of the car. We parked up near a lane with fields either side, found a spot to put chairs out and sat and looked at meteors. It was the peak of the Geminids last night, they are pretty frequent (at about one every couple of minutes) and most of them were pretty big, including a couple of fireballs. We were out there for about an hour before we all had cricks in our necks and our toes were starting to go numb and we decided to go home and have hot chocolate. The night was very cold and clear, you could see the milky way! The moon came up about midnight onwards it got brighter, which had Mr. Im chuntering and turning his chair away, he looked like he was sulking. We spontaneously 'oooh'ed and 'ahhh'ed when we saw one, they were so beautiful, shooting stars all over the place. We heard owls a couple of times, and even a duck. It was a perfect night to be stargazing.

In other news, Mrs. Im has got a really amazing grant to be a resident artist in a Brain Tumour Lab. She'll be trying to help communications between the scientists in the lab, the patients diagnosed that come to visit and the general public by creating art and recording the patients stories. It is very, very exciting, and I'm very proud of her! She starts that in January.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Let's Get Physical

I can't believe it's already December! The last few weeks have been pretty busy at work and I've been pretty chilly and lethargic. A certain gentleman was telling me about his gym routine last week and I got inspired. I couldn't cope with the idea of taking my clothes off and getting into water, so I decided to do a work out at home and I found some of the videos I used to do are now on youtube. Hooray! Only I'm not 19 anymore and my body isn't as fit as I'd like, while the ladies in these videos haven't aged a day! I've done four workouts so far and my muscles have no idea what's happened to them! Here's hoping I stick with it and it gets easier. In the meantime I'll be in a hot shower trying to convince my thighs that's it's all going to be alright.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Jive Night: Pulsators

Friday night was the first jive night I've been to for a while. Miss T and I started the evening by going to a 30th Birthday bash and eating far too much chilli and rice, and then we all rolled ourselves up to the gig in time to hear the band start.

Pulsators are a local quartet headed up by the lovely Serena Sykes on vocals and then a guitarist, a drummer and a chap on a very handsome double bass. They were a little bit rough and ready but they were a lot of fun. Serena has a beautiful voice and at one point they spontaneously decided to do a song that they hadn't played live - or really rehearsed - before. They did a fair number of jivers which meant that most of us were on the floor for most songs, though they had a few fast ones and a couple of strollers too.

I had a wee chat with Serena while the band were packing up and she's lovely. She's from Huddersfield though she's been down south for about seven years. She started singing when she was 14. The band haven't been together long so they are not as polished as some of the other bands I've seen but they are really shaping up.

I got a couple of cheeky dances in with the legendary Phil before he got too drunk (he gave me an aniseed ball as well - I haven't had one for years!) and managed to stay on the dance floor nearly all night, and mostly with the lads rather than just Miss T.

Yesterday afternoon, my other dance teacher Andrew hosted an event to raise money and tins for the foodbank - it was £1 and four items entry fee. There weren't as many people there as a usual Tuesday night but it was a really nice atmosphere. Andrew and Kate taught us a couple of moves at the beginning for about an hour and then we got to just dance. There were a few people there I hadn't seen in a while and I got to meet a few new people who don't make it to the evening classes. All round a very lovely afternoon for a good cause.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Happy Day 100: It's Starting to Look a lot like Christmas

#100HappyDays Day 100: Town was packed today with people starting to shop for Christmas, the market is open, the lights are up. Middle B and I decided to get a bit creative today - we made red onion chutney, raspberry gin and she started sketches for a book she is making for relatives and I started stitching up a Christmas present and rounded the day off watching Strictly. Beautiful!

The gin won't be ready for a while but I don't mind, that means I have something to look forward to. And we still have jars left so maybe I'll make some jam at some point.

Caramelised Red Onion Chutney

8 red onions
1 chilli
2 bay leaves
25 ml olive oil
200g brown sugar
150 ml balsamic vinegar
150 ml red wine vinegar

- Slice onions and chilli finely and put them in a large pan with the bay leaves and oil. Cook over a low heat for about 20 mins to soften the onions.

- Once the onions are darker, add the sugar and vinegars and simmer for about 30 mins - an hour, check that the consistency is gloopy not too runny.

- While that is cooking, rinse out your jars in hot soapy water. Put a saucepan full of water on to boil the lids of the jars. Then put the oven on at 100 C and put the jars on a baking tray, once the oven is up to heat put them in for about 10 minutes to sterilise. Try to time it so that you can put the chutney into the jars as they come straight out of the oven. Use oven gloves and hot plates for this because both the chutney and the jars will be pretty hot.

- Using a jam funnel, spoon the gloopy mixture into the jars and seal them. Make sure that there is a bit of oniony liquid in each jar - when the mixture cools it will set more. Leave it for about a month to get the best flavour.

In time for Christmas! This made me about three small jars (250g) and two larger jam jars (500g). We used a recipe that was featured in the Guardian but was originally in Fraser Doherty's 'The Super Jam Cookbook'.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Happy Day 99: Graduation Day

#100HappyDays Day 99: Lots of dressed up graduates roaming town today and proud families snapping photos. A couple of those graduates were close friends, so I even got some celebrating in with them at the pub in the evening. It's the first time I've been out until 2am for quite some time, but we did go to Munchies and get chips after, just proving that some things in life don't change much - in fact I think I probably did that after my own graduation. I'm so happy for both of them, they worked so hard!