I’m not going to say this again…

Wine should be opened using a corkscrew.

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Opening a bottle of wine using the method below is Bad, and Wrong, and makes poor St Martin cry. And he’s got enough to cry about, what with his feast day being on Armistice Day and thus, somewhat over-shadowed.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngtiUKH_ygc[/youtube]

I was never a Girl Guide, but the Rosamother was. I am, perforce, blaming her entirely for the fact that my handbag contains, at all times, a rosary and a corkscrew in case of emergencies. If one doesn’t work, try the other. Last time my parents and I went out for a meal, the waitress couldn’t find her corkscrew, and the reactions went:

“I’ve got one,” reaching for handbag (me).

“I’ve got one,” reaching for handbag (mum).

“I’ve got one,” reaching in back pocket (dad).

And as for the method below? Just don’t. The opening of Champagne should be accomplished with the minimum of fuss, noise and bother, and no spillage whatsoever. As with so many things in life, it’s all in the wrist.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ye28n_aJspA[/youtube]

A technique that involves broken glass potentially getting into your Champagne should be frowned upon and avoided at all costs.

[before anyone starts – supermarket wine that can be opened using a screw cap is generally not fit to be drunk, and plastic corks taint more wine than decent cork oak ever did.]

I spoke too soon

The plumber did a brilliant job fitting the shower, commissioned it (which is the instructions’ fancy term for “running lots of water through to clear air and debris”), everything working perfectly. Checked it again, water would not get hot. Which makes a change from the shower being so hot it burned my head, but my character does not need building by means of cold showers.

Hmm.

Check instruction manual.

Diagnose that the thermal cut-out has, um, cut out, which is a problem. We phoned Triton, they’re sending an engineer out under the warranty some time next Friday, or possibly earlier, they do get cancellations.

(maybe I should add a blog category called “dramaramas and disasters”?)

There’s only one slight problem – I can’t find the receipt for the shower, and I will need it to make a claim on the warranty, apparently. I’m hoping they’ll accept the line item on my card statement as proof of purchase.

a little too efficient…

I’ve moved hosting companies for rosamundi.org, to a company which was offering more web space and bandwidth for slightly less money – I kept hitting my webspace limit, which meant that when Rosafather sent me bloomin’ enormous family tree diagrams they’d fall off into cyberspace.

As a sign of my new hosting company’s efficiency, the transfer of the domain and everything has gone through already, and here’s me at work with no access to any of my passwords, files for the site or anything. Ooops.

So don’t try and e-mail me on any of the @rosamundi.org e-mail addresses, they’ll bounce. If you know me well enough, you’ll have an alternative method of contact.

First World Problems

I like orchids (I get it from my mother). I bought a Phalaenopsis (moth orchid) “Fancy Fresco” from Kew Gardens last year, along with one for mum. The orchid was bred specially as part of Kew’s 250th anniversary celebrations, and they get a certain proportion of the sale price.

Pretty, isn’t it?

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And the first world problem referenced in the post title? She has so many flowers on her that she’s top-heavy, and topples over under her own weight unless she’s propped against the bathroom wall as well as staked, so I can’t photograph her properly. Woe is me.

Behold a casualty of her most recent suicidal dive to the bathroom floor:

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(You can also behold the slightly mucky state of my bathroom windowsill, if you like, but we won’t talk about that. *whistles*)

An odd day today, really

Today would have been my grandparents’ 65th wedding anniversary. Today is the day that grandma’s ashes are being interred, next to granddad’s, in the pretty little churchyard, in the village by the sea, a short walk from her front door.

St Luke’s, Haverigg. If you scroll down to the picture at the bottom, of the row of commonwealth War Graves headstones, the plot is a few rows back, under the tree that you can just see one of the branches of in the top left of the picture.

Yes, my devout Methodist grandparents are interred in a Church of England churchyard, under a marker that reads “they loved each other, they loved this place.”

And I still find myself, six months after grandma died, thinking, off and on, “I must send her a copy of this photo, she’ll love it.”

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord; and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.

[Edited to add: The reason it’s taken so long to arrange the internment is because Beloved Auntie spends a lot of time travelling with work, and it’s been tricky to find a time when she and Rosafather were in the same hemisphere!]

The Yoof of Today…

I had a closer-than-desired encounter with a cyclist yesterday evening which left me sat on my bum in the middle of the road. I was crossing the road with the green man lit, cyclist came the wrong way down a one way street, I went flying. As a result, I am hobbling along, being overtaken by passing tortoises.

Staggering back from the bus stop with a couple of bags of shopping, I walked into the middle of a loud and enthusiastic game of football happening on the estate (a low-rise, part council-owned, part privately-owned estate in east London).

“Meep,” I thought.

“Mind the lady!” one of the lads shouted. “I said ‘mind the lady!'”

The kid with the ball stopped it dead, which was handy because it was on a direct trajectory towards me and being knocked on my bum twice in less than 24 hours would have displeased me greatly.

“You all right, Miss? Carry your shopping for you?”

My shopping was whisked off me and carried up both flights of stairs to my front door, both lads walking at the pace I can manage (which is not very fast at all).

The yoof of today are frankly not as bad as they’re painted.

Innit?

Recipe for pastry things

We serve these (and variations thereon) at the “not the Rosadaddy’s birthday, honest” barbecue in July – recipe from Rosamummy. They’re so easy they’re hardly worth the dignity of the word “recipe” though.

1 sheet ready-rolled puff pastry (you can make your own, but really…)
Tapenade
Goats cheese
cherry tomatoes
olive oil
Black pepper

Preheat oven to 220C (200C for fan ovens).

Put pastry sheet on a baking tray. With a sharp knife, gently mark a line all around the sheet, not cutting all the way through, 1cm from the edge.

Spread the pastry sheet with tapenade, going up to, but not over, the line scored round. Arrange slices of goats cheese over the tapenade, top each slice of goats cheese with half a cherry tomato. Grind over some black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil, bung* in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Leave to cool, then cut into squares. Eat in the sunshine with friends.

Variations – use pesto instead of tapenade, scatter with stoned olives instead of tomatoes. If you use onion marmalade, anchovies, and olives, you have a cheat’s pisalladiere.

*Technical term.

The joys of faceless bureaucracy

For my sins, which are doubtless legion, the electricity at Rosamundi Towers is supplied by EDF.

I had a new electricity meter fitted a while ago (oh, the dizzying excitement that is my life, I can’t begin to tell you)… Anyway, it would appear that Something went Dreadfully Wrong, because I received a letter in yesterday’s post, from EDF.

“URGENT!” the envelope screamed. “This is not a circular; you must not ignore this letter!”

“Meep!” So I ripped it open without even pausing to pour myself a glass of wine.

So (paraphrased slightly), the letter runs:

“Our records show that the night rate of your meter has not advanced for some time. You must call us, immediately if not sooner, on this number (which is only open 9-5, Monday to Friday), so we can send someone round to hit it with a stick.*

“If you do not make this urgent phone call, immediately if not sooner, which you can’t do when you get this letter because the ultra-urgent, you must phone us immediately if not sooner, phone line is only open office hours and you won’t get this letter until after it’s closed for the day, we’ll come round and break into your house in order to hit your meter with a stick. We can, you know, under the Electricity Act 1989 and the Rights of Entry (Gas and Electricity Boards Act 1956).”

And just to add insult to injury, at the bottom in smaller print it said:

“Calls may be monitored and recorded as part of our customer care programme. Calls to ‘0800’ numbers are free from BT landlines. Other network operators may charge for these calls.”

Other network operators’ what, exactly?

And, if we’re being really pedantic, (what, me? The very idea), it’s the Rights of Entry (Gas and Electricity Boards) Act 1956. Not the Rights of Entry (Gas and Electricity Boards Act 1956).

So I hurried my way into work, clutching this missive, and phoned them. There was a lovely chirpy voicemail greeting which said “the office is closed, please call back at 9:00am, or leave your name, phone number and electricity account number and an agent will call you back.” It was 9:30 when I called. I dutifully left my name, number and electricity account number, only to be advised from someone who knows these things that they won’t actually ever call me back, and I need to keep phoning them.

I tried again. “The office is closed, please call back at 9:00am, or leave your name, number and electricity account and an agent will call you back.”

I tried again. “The office is closed, please call back at 9:00am, or leave your name, number and electricity account and an agent will call you back.”

I appreciate that having a dodgy electricity meter is probably not a good thing. I further appreciate that some people, who are naughty, do funny things to their meter in order to avoid paying full price for their electricity, but:

1) This particular fault indicates that I’ve been over-paying, not under paying.

2) Surely your emergency number should be staffed for a bit longer than standard business hours.

3) This letter is dated the 20th. I received it on the 26th. Speed is clearly not of the essence, here.

3)4) If it’s that important, why haven’t I had a call back to make an appointment for the hitting of my meter with a stick? I called you four hours ago. Alternatively, why don’t you have people to actually answer your phones?

4)5) Writing a letter in which the words “urgent,” “important,” “now,” “immediately” and “Magistrates Warrant” are scattered like May blossom after a downpour seems a touch overblown for a first attempt at contact.

5)6) I’m sure that should be “Magistrate’s Warrant,” or possibly “Magistrates’ Warrant,” depending on the number of magistrates required to issue the thing.

I have, finally, got through to speak to someone, who, to be fair, was terribly polite, and explained that there was a problem with my electricity meter (yes, I’d gathered that), and they needed to send an engineer round to fix it (yes, I’d gathered that too), and would I like a morning appointment or an afternoon appointment? I’d actually like an evening appointment, given the choice, but then I’d also like the moon on a stick and a million pounds, but we can’t have everything in this vale of tears, and there we are.

The date of this frightfully urgent appointment, which I must have in order to prevent a man with a sledgehammer coming round and making free with the door of Rosamundi Towers?

Monday 14th June, between the hours of 8am and 1pm.

*Or whatever one does to faulty electricity meters. Perhaps not hit them with sticks. That might be unwise, on reflection.

[mess up the numbering in my list? Who, me?]

it is well with my soul

The easy rhythm of chopping and stirring, the soothing alchemy of cooking. The steam rises, carrying the scent of far-off lands. The rain lashes down outside, but inside, all is warmth and comfort.

There is a good book to hand, and wine within reach. The music plays quietly.

It is well with my soul. I am content.