Thursday 30 December 2021

New Year in Brazil

There are several New Year traditions here in Brazil which most people abide by. They are:

Wear white clothes, head to toe - even my staunchly British father had a white suit and shoes especially for this occasion!

Eat lentils

Eat twelve pomegranate seeds at midnight 

 Let off fireworks

If at all possible go to the beach, where at midnight you will hop over seven waves and throw a white rose into the sea as an offering to Iemanjá. The popular beaches are so crowded it is standing room only!

Iemanjá is an African divinity, introduced to Brazil by the slaves brought over from Africa in colonial times. She is from the Umbanda and Candoblé religions, daughter of Olokun and Queen of the Sea. She is normally pictured in flowing blue robes, rising from the sea, and plays an important part in cultural traditions and beliefs here.

New Year´s day the beach is littered with roses and you have to be careful where you put your feet because of the thorny stems. I have enjoyed most of these traditions over the years. I remember when we used to take an umbrella, or at least a scarf, to the beach to stop our hair catching fire. People used to let off fireworks so close overhead that sparks would fall on our heads. Eventually wisdom prevailed and letting off fireworks on the beach was banned. Instead every year the council would put on a magnificent display from barges moored offshore - much safer.

Happy New Year!

Sunday 26 December 2021

Well, that was very nice!

I had a lovely Christmas Eve with a large family party at my son´s  house. Here the 24th is the important date with a feast, presents and a very late night. I got home at half past two in the morning! It was a bit weird as some of us wore masks most of the time but at least we were all together. I only hope there are no repercussions. 

Christmas Day I spent with my daughter and son in law. We had a nice meal and a quiet relaxing time after our hectic night before. All in all a very enjoyable Christmas with two contrasting celebrations. 

Today I am gently pottering about at home and giving Toby some attention as he´s been unavoidably left on his own a bit these last couple of days. He´s usually fine "home alone" as he normally goes to sleep when I´m out. For Christmas I gave him some squeaky toys he´d inherited from my son´s Labrador who sadly died a few weeks ago. His favourite seems to be the rubber chicken although it is nearly as big as he is as the toys are all naturally for a much larger dog. The squeaks drive Toby frantic and he is playing with them so much he has just conked out from exhaustion!


Friday 24 December 2021

Christmas wishes


                   MERRY CHRISTMAS

Wednesday 22 December 2021


It looks like our traditional large family Christmas is going ahead this year,  with about twenty people. Last year we kept the numbers down and I was one of four with my daughter, son in law and granddaughter. I am somewhat concerned about this year´s gathering.

Although Omicron is currently spreading throughout Europe and the UK, it hasn´t really reached here yet, apart from a few cases. We know it is coming, it feels rather like watching the massive wave of a tsunami approaching, all you can do is take precautions, brace yourself and hope for the best. Oh well!

Monday 20 December 2021


My lunch - chili con carne with a sprinkling of farofa on top.

Farofa is a toasted cassava or corn flour mixture eaten in Brazil. You can buy it readymade or make your own, there are many different recipes. You can season it and add grated carrot, chopped olives, bits of fried bacon, fried mushrooms etc, whatever you fancy. Most families have their own traditional recipe. 

The farofa itself is rather gritty and looks just like sawdust before the other ingredients are added. It is usually eaten as an accompaniment to meat, beans and rice or a traditional bean stew (feijoada). I love it but I remember my father complaining that it was just like eating sawdust!

Friday 17 December 2021

Oh dear!

I´ve just heard that two of my grandsons have tested positive for Covid...they are twelve and seven years old and live in England. Thank goodness they appear to only have it mildly according to their father, although he says he has been really poorly for about ten days, even though he and his partner both tested negative and are fully vaccinated. 

The boys´ mother, with whom they live part time, tested positive yesterday. She unfortunately is unvaccinated, by choice. Their Christmas is going to be complicated this year.

Monday 13 December 2021

The Graduate

My beautiful granddaughter, the lawyer! This photo is from her ball on Friday. She actually graduated a couple of years ago but all ceremonies were postponed because of Covid. She has since passed her Bar exams and is working in a law firm. I´m so pleased for her as studying for a degree here is hard. Students usually have a full-time day job and study at night and it takes years! 

My eldest granddaughter, also a beauty, had a graduation ceremony about a month ago, in England unfortunately so I was unable to go. I´m waiting for photos. She got a First in computer design and animation (I can´t remember the title, it´s too long and complicated)!

Friday 10 December 2021

What lovely nails!


It must be about ten years since I last had a manicure, before I retired and became a slob. Not very practical for a potter, either. The fact is I am going to a formal graduation ball tonight so needs must. It doesn´t start until ten o´clock and goes on until five in the morning...gawd help me! I´ll be going out when I normally go to bed and getting home when I normally wake up, I´m a bit past it for these sort of larks.

Tuesday 7 December 2021

Doing well.

Nodding off on Nana´s lap. What a change from the poor little shrimp who spent the first week of his life in ICU wired up to machines!

Friday 3 December 2021

Time...where does it go?

Time seems to have sped up lately, I thought it was only a couple of days since my last post but I see it has been longer. I´ve a good excuse though as I´ve been very busy. 

About once a year I do a very thorough spring clean. I loath housework and usually get by doing just the minimum but every once in a while I get the urge to do a 'proper' job. The trouble is I get carried away and it takes about two or three days to do each room. I empty all cupboards, drawers etc, wash all the paintwork, sort and organise everything, catch up on all the niggling little jobs and so is pretty hard work...I am 75, after all!

I´m about halfway through, thank goodness, but I wish I weren´t so pernickety, it gets pretty tiring. I also can´t put the rest of my life on hold so I have to keep stopping to do other things. At least this all means I am slowly getting rid of 'stuff', anyway. One of my granddaughters has just moved into her first flat and was delighted to get most of my Christmas decorations!

Saturday 27 November 2021


It is really stuffy in my flat at the moment, with all the windows and door closed. The public areas in the building are being fumigated today for mosquitos and cockroaches. This occurs every few months and we are always warned to avoid these areas for a few hours while it is being done, especially with pets. The pesticide is obviously toxic and white clouds come billowing up past the windows during the process.

I´ve taken the precaution of spraying insecticide round my door to stop any fleeing cockroaches coming in. I haven´t had any here for years thank goodness, as they give me the heebie jeebies. Later on there will be dead ones lying around in the car park and dying ones staggering about on their last legs. Not very pleasant! Toby will not be going out today.

Monday 22 November 2021

Trouble ahead


The reservoirs which supply water to the city of São Paulo are down to about 25% capacity with a forecast for 17% capacity by next April. This is due to a large shortfall in the amount of rain over the last few months, less than half what we usually get. I imagine water rationing will be on the cards.

Basically, water vapour rises from the vast Amazon rain forest to form huge clouds which travel down the continent on an air stream, dispensing rain as they go. This phenomenon is known as the River in the Sky and is an essential part of the ecosystem in South America, especially Brazil. Tampering with any aspect of this cycle, such as deforestation, will have and is having serious consequences.

Presenting misleading figures to downplay the extent of the deforestation at international climate summits (hoping for nice fat grants?) doesn´t really work as the truth will out. How the powers that be can ignore the long-term effects of their policies is difficult to comprehend, one can only hope a change in government will improve matters since the Amazon is being destroyed at a rate never seen before.

Our poor planet.

Saturday 20 November 2021

A Christmas present

I´m thinking about buying myself an early Christmas electric treadmill. They are not cheap but I think it may be a good investment.

I really need to up my daily walking but there is nowhere round here to go apart from busy streets. This is not only boring but risky as well. The chances of being mugged are worrying, but also I tend to trip and fall over from time to time, going down pretty hard although I have luckily never broken anything (yet). Also the new European Covid wave will eventually reach here and we will probably be locked down again.

With a treadmill I´d be safe in my own home, no muggings, no virus and out of the hot sun. Also there are bars to hold on to so less chance of going head over heels...seems like a good solution.

I wonder if I could teach Toby to walk on it? Haha.

Thursday 18 November 2021

Sods Law

Well, there you are, I was feeling all virtuous with my new resolution and the weather has interfered. 

I am hoping to set off on one of my walking adventures within a few months, Covid permitting. My last plans to do the Camino de Santiago fell apart a couple of years ago when the pandemic started. Since then I have been stuck indoors a lot of the time and far too sedentary. Consequentially I am very unfit.

Yesterday at my six monthly check-up the doctor said ok, so I decided to start getting back into shape with an exercise regime. In the square next to my condominium there is a set of exercise equipment, ideal for a daily workout first thing. I was just getting ready when I looked out the window´s raining! We haven´t had any rain for ages, it is most aggravating!

Monday 15 November 2021

Poor little dead duck...

I believe there is a medical term for the condition where someone mishears or misinterprets what they hear, although I can´t remember it. When I was a child I did this often and even now do it occasionally.

My parents used to enjoy listening to The Platters when I was young, on vinyl 78´s, that´s how long ago it was. One day, I must have been about eight at the time, I commented to them that although I liked most of the songs I found one in particular rather sad, I believe it was Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered, but I can´t really recall. When they asked me why I explained that the song was about a poor little dead duck. After much cogitation and actually playing the record so they could hear what I was referring to, it turned out it was the chorus which went...du diddle de du! Needless to say that became a family joke.


Wednesday 10 November 2021

Machu Picchu - part six - finally there


Looking down on Intipata (the place illustrated on my trail permit). How on earth do we get way down there, where´s the path?

Made it somehow! Note my footwear...I did 90% of the trail in sandals. Boots are recommended but I had a foot problem which made closed footwear too painful at the time. I´ve since had operations on both feet and am fine now. There were comments and tut tutting from other walkers on the trail and one member of a German group actually took a photo of my feet in sandals! He thought I hadn´t noticed.


We were getting close now. This final part of the trail had some exceedingly steep steps you had to virtually crawl up. They led to Intipunku - the Doorway of the Sun.

 Once through the 'doorway' you are at a high point overlooking Machu Picchu in the distance.

I couldn´t believe I had made it...I must confess there were tears in my eyes. We still had some walking to do to get there but it was a gentle downhill stroll compared to what had gone before. Partway along you reach the point where the classic photo is always taken.

This is actually a jigsaw I have hanging in pride of place in my study, it is a far better picture than the one I took! When we reached Machu Picchu late afternoon, we went straight down by bus to Aguas Calientes to finally have a very welcome shower, relax, eat and spend the night and meet up with the rest of our group. Next morning we went up the mountain again by bus and had a proper tour with a guide. It was a truly awe-inspiring experience, everything you imagine and then some, and well worth all the blood, sweat and tears to get there!

This, believe it or not, is the road the bus goes up and down! It is about a 30 minute ride. Aguas Calientes, at the base of the mountain, is a village on the Urubamba river where there are hot springs. We had hoped to relax in them but a serious flood the previous day had destroyed the pools as well as some village houses.

When it was time to leave we returned to Cuzco by train, had a final night there, flew to La Paz and then on home. What a trip!  I am so glad I did it and proud that I actually made it. I certainly have some wonderful memories.


Monday 8 November 2021

Machu Picchu - part five- the Inca Trail

My trail permit. The picture is of a site called Intipata, with ruins and terraces for growing food. When we passed through it I felt quite dizzy because it was so steep. The Incas apparently were experts on creating micro-climates.

The first day of the trail was a long slow climb from Llaqtapata up towards a pass. Thankfully we stopped and camped about halfway up. It was really hard work because of the altitude.

Looking back down the trail. Although we didn´t know it, this part was easy compared to what came later. As the trail became steeper it turned into rough rocky steps. These were all uneven heights and it was impossible to establish a rhythm as you went up.

On the second day we reached the pass, the highest point on the trail. It is aptly called Dead Woman´s Pass, or Abra de Warmiwañusca, at about 13,900 ft.

I was so focused on getting to the pass that I hadn´t thought about what happened next, assuming we would camp nearby. Unfortunately I was mistaken and it was a difficult slog down steep steps to our camp over an hour away. My legs were like jelly when I finally arrived.

One of our camps. We each shared a tent with another person. That night the temperature went down to -5C.

Dawn at the same camp and still bitterly cold.

The smelliest toilet on the trail, with no running water I guess it is understandable. Imagine being caught short in the night and having to find your way down to it with a torch.

To be continued (again!), last one though...

Saturday 6 November 2021

Machu Picchu - part four - The Sacred Valley

Near Cuzco is the Sacred Valley where we spent a day, it is full of history and most interesting. Here we actually did some 'real' walking.

Here I am resting after a very hairy ascent...I don´t have a head for heights! The tiny white dots behind me along the road in the valley are houses.

 Some colourful local ladies in Pisaq.

 A typical home in Ollantaytambo.

A look inside. The guinea pigs running about underfoot are food, not pets, rather like free-range chickens I suppose. Although I hadn´t become a vegetarian at that time, this was a step too far for me and I never tried eating one despite their appearing on restaurant menus several times. I must admit I tried llama steak once but even that made me uncomfortable.

Finally the time arrived for us to start the Inca Trail. Not all the group were going, some had decided it would be too strenuous and demanding and were happy to continue sightseeing in the local area, then meeting up in Machu Picchu after four days. We went by coach to the trail-head and met our porters and local guide. Everything is strictly controlled nowadays and you each need a permit and go through check points, the group has to be escorted and the porters' burdens are weighed as they are not allowed to carry more than twenty kilos each. In earlier unregulated times they had been overloaded and overworked. We each had a small day-pack and had been allowed to take two kilos of clothes etc to be carried for us. The rest of our things stayed at the hotel for later transportation. Since you have to camp you need a fair number of porters as they have to carry tents, sleeping bags, our loads, all the food and cooking equipment, a gas cylinder (!), table and chairs etc. For six of us we had about ten, I think. They never stood still long enough to be counted. 

These men worked exceedingly hard. We´d be served breakfast and then set off walking, they´d break camp, overtake us at a jog on the trail,  prepare and serve lunch in a tent, break camp and overtake us again to prepare our camp for the night and feed us. When we staggered in we were always received with a bowl of warm water and a towel to freshen ourselves up! They were amazing.

Part of our intrepid group. I´m in the middle.

To be continued...

Wednesday 3 November 2021


How lovely to hear some good news for once...young Cleo being found alive and well after eighteen days. I can´t begin to imagine how her parents are feeling.

Monday 1 November 2021

Machu Picchu - part three- Cuzco and beyond



Above is a photo of me taken at La Raya Pass, the highest point of our road trip at 14,222 ft. By now thank goodness I had recovered from my altitude symptoms and was feeling fine. The vast altiplano (high plane) we traveled through in Bolivia is an arid and bleak place with only the occasional tiny farm struggling to survive in a brown landscape.We continued heading towards Cuzco for the rest of the first week, visiting many ancient and fascinating places along the way, including the Pukara Temple and the Raqchi Palace ruins.

This church is known as the Sistine Chapel of the Andes. From the outside it doesn´t look very impressive but inside it had the most incredible baroque decor. Unfortunately no photos were allowed inside.

 Eventually we arrived in Cuzco. This sign by the lift amused says 'please do not use the lift during an earthquake'! It was nice to actually be staying in one place for a while and we spent a few  days sightseeing with a local guide, Adriano. He was also a shaman and rightly placed a great deal of importance on performing brief cleansing ceremonies as we visited sites sacred to the Incas. These were chants in Quechua, the Inca language which is still the native language, accompanied by special gestures.

A happy group!

These niches were for mummies. The trapezoid shape protects the structure from earthquake damage. Clever people, the Incas!

One place we visited, Q'enqo, was a centre of religious worship. It was a rough, rocky place and Adriano said to follow him into a narrow rock tunnel. It was low and roughly finished with rocks protruding from above and the sides. I was ahead of the group and I went in, crouched down so I wouldn´t bang my head and feeling my way slowly as it became pitch dark. I couldn´t see anything at all and I couldn´t hear anyone behind me and started to feel lost when I heard  Adriano chanting in the distance so I headed towards the sound. It was the most surreal experience, feeling my way through the dark guided by a voice chanting in the Inca language. I eventually reached Adriano who was waiting in a dim chamber lit from a gap in the rocks above. Here I could stand upright again. As the rest of the group arrived we were told it was a funeral chamber and the slab of rock in front of us was where the bodies were laid. There were grooves chiseled in it for draining away the blood. Rather gruesome and a strange experience altogether.

Friday 29 October 2021

Machu Picchu - part two - on our way


We flew in to La Paz for the start of our journey. La Paz in Bolivia is the highest city in the world at 12,000 ft.The idea was to begin at a high altitude and over seven days travel by coach visiting interesting places as we slowly dropped down towards Cuzco in Peru. This meant we would be more acclimatized to the altitude by the time we started the strenuous part of our trip. Cuzco is still high at 11,000 ft and the highest point on the Inca Trail is about 14,200ft.

When we arrived at our hotel we were immediately offered coca tea and given coca leaves to chew (very bitter!) to help alleviate altitude symptoms, and yes, that is where cocaine comes from! All hotels along our route offered the tea and our local guides always had leaves which they offered to us. In that form it is only a mild stimulant. I don´t think the coca really helped me as the first night I kept waking up short of breath and with a bad headache and I was nauseous for several days but the symptoms slowly wore off over time.

This is our group on the first day, at Tiwanaka, a pre-inca archaeological site. I am third from left at the back. Every day as we headed towards Cuzco we stopped at fascinating places made all the more interesting as we always had a local guide to show us around and talk about the sites. Most of them spoke Portuguese, thank goodness.

 At Tiwanaka.

On Ilha do Sol (Isle of the Sun) on Lake Titicaca, I´m on the left. The island has some pre-Inca ruins and we had a lovely long walk before returning to our boat. These are two of the island´s residents.

There are some other islands on Lake Titicaca at Puno which are truly fascinating. The local inhabitants, the Uros, have created floating islands made out of reeds on which they live in reed houses. It was most disconcerting to step off the boat and feel the 'ground' move beneath your feet, it yielded as you walked. I kept worrying that my feet were going to go through the reeds and I´d end up in the lake. I was also feeling very queasy that day which didn´t help.

A Uros lady selling trinkets to the tourists. They are a very colourful people. I think those were her children. Imagine the risks with toddlers on a floating island! If they were mine I´d probably keep them tethered lol. I presume the Uros main source of income must be fishing. One of the striking things about them was their very rosy cheeks, especially the children, and runny noses. 

To be continued...

Wednesday 27 October 2021

Machu Picchu - part one - the beginning

In 2004 I went on a group adventure to walk the Inca Trail in Peru to Machu Picchu. I have to say that it was an amazing experience and one of the most enjoyable, toughest and memorable trips I have ever been on - apart of course from the Camino de Santiago which is a totally different kettle of fish. Everything was meticulously arranged and planned by an eco-travel agency whose owner came with us as group leader. There were ten of us in the group, only one of whom I knew beforehand apart from the leader. Happily we all ended up getting on very well which I think was very lucky.

We met for the first time at a briefing dinner where things were explained to us in more detail. The whole trip would take fourteen days, four of which would be on the Inca Trail itself. Porters would carry most of our stuff, do the catering and we would be camping along the way. Without electricity or plumbing we were told toilets on the trail were the 'drop' variety and showers  (if there were any) would be cold water from a mountain stream. Some of the group insisted they couldn´t live without showering and washing their hair every day and looked down their noses at me when I said I was going to just use baby wipes for four the end of the trail it turned out nobody had showered haha.

The Inca Trail is hundreds of years old and runs from near Cuzco in Peru to Machu Picchu over high mountains. It was used by running messengers to carry news throughout the Inca empire. Apart from the steep climbs and descents one of the main difficulties is the altitude. Reaching heights of over 14,000 feet the air is thin and altitude sickness a real danger. Strenuous activity when you feel you can´t get enough oxygen is difficult and you have to move slowly. Our local guide carried a small cylinder of oxygen for emergencies and I saw more than one person (not from our party) being taken back down the trail on horseback to lower altitudes. Age and fitness do not seem to make any difference, a young and fit athlete is just as likely to get altitude sickness as an older and less fit person. Just as well as I was nearly sixty then. You can only walk the trail as part of an organised group.

To be continued...

Monday 25 October 2021

Tailbone tale

Many, many moons ago, actually when I was about fifteen I took up horse riding. There was a riding school near where I lived and I used to go there for lessons.

My instructor was a former cavalry officer and his teaching method was somewhat unorthodox, to say the least. Instead of deportment I learned how to somersault off a horse and how to rise to a standing position on the saddle while the horse was walking. I can still remember the movements necessary to rise to your feet on a moving horse while using the metal hoops on a special saddle. Not knowing any better I just followed instructions thinking this was a normal riding lesson. 

I also started to learn show jumping and it was here I came unstuck. One day my horse refused the jump and I went over the bars on my own. I landed on my bottom and this was the beginning of a long saga of pain and the end of my riding.

Sitting down was very uncomfortable and I would get a painful spasm when I stood up again. I ended up having to carry a doughnut-shaped cushion around with me to sit on for months. Eventually the pain lessened but never really went away.My parents ignored the whole episode and I never saw a doctor!

When I left home and went to England to study nursing I eventually saw a doctor about the pain and it turned out I had broken my coccyx (tailbone) and it had twisted round and re-set itself curving out instead of in, which was what was causing the pain. I had to have surgery to have it removed. Amputation of the coccyx was unusual enough that my case was used for teaching purposes and more than once while in hospital I had groups of medical students crowding round my bed and admiring my derrière, not much fun when you are a shy eighteen year old!

Saturday 23 October 2021

All done and dusted...



So, here´s the lad, bathed and trimmed...a bit wispy in parts but I don´t think he looks too took hours but we both survived!

Wednesday 20 October 2021

No jaboticabas!

Well I can´t say I´m surprised. The jaboticaba tree has been stripped bare before the fruit had a chance to ripen properly, even down to the tiny green inedible ones. Human nature, hey... here is what they look like when ready to eat - photos taken at the farmers market

Reminds me of the tale about a pizza party where it looked as if there wouldn´t be enough food to go around so some people helped themselves to three slices in order to guarantee their 'share' while others took just one slice in the hope there would be enough for all.

In other news, I´ve just had my booster vaccine, Pfizer this time, thank goodness. My arm aches a bit but other than that all is well.

I spent most of the day yesterday trying to trim Toby. Since his last session at the groomers when he came home trembling and limping there is no way I´m taking him back there. The clippers are a bit frightening to use but I am slowly getting the hang of it (thank goodness for YouTube!) and I use scissors on the awkward bits. He seems to be taking it fairly well although he doesn´t like his paws being touched. His well being is more important to me than his appearance, which is just as well as a Yorkie trim is quite complicated.

Monday 18 October 2021

What´s it for?

I have been asked more than once what this is for, as if every piece of "pottery" needs to have a function. It is made from porcelain, unglazed and inspired by sea life/fossils/coral. It is about the size of a small plate. It does not have a function, any more than a painting does...although I suppose at a pinch it could be used for straining spaghetti...after all Jack Lemmon used a tennis racquet for the same purpose!

Saturday 16 October 2021

Hair today...gone tomorrow!

Talking about tempus fugit, when I was young my hair was always much admired - it was long, thick and wavy and a deep auburn in colour...sigh...those days are long gone. Now it is gray (which I don´t really mind) short and disappearing at an alarming rate. I´m not particularly vain, don´t bother anymore with make-up now that I´ve retired and stopped disguising grey hair ages ago, but I really, really don´t want to end up with a pink scalp showing through a few wisps.

My dermatologist says my hair loss could be an after effect of Covid or stress from lockdown and self-isolating etc or the stress of having had three operations in the space of less than three years. She initially prescribed a lotion which left my hair feeling stiff and with a yellow tinge but has now changed that to some tablets. Unfortunately I think the hair loss started before the recent concerns and is something I will have to come to terms with. I am not a happy bunny!

Thursday 14 October 2021


 This is my first dog, Snowy. I must have been about twelve when this photo was taken. He was only a mutt but I loved him dearly. Sadly my father decided we had too many dogs (we had three at the time) and suddenly one day without prior warning they had all disappeared. He said he´d given them to a friend of his who had a farm, including my Snowy and I never saw him again or even had a chance to say goodbye. I was absolutely heartbroken, needless to say. 

Tuesday 12 October 2021

Tempus fugit

My youngest son has just celebrated his 46th birthday, next son up was 50 in September, my daughter is 51 and my eldest, sadly no longer with us, would have been 53 now. Between them they have presented me with 10 grandchildren, some of whom are already university graduates...

When did all this happen? Time has been playing games with me as I´m sure I´m not old enough to have adult children let alone middle-aged ones - and the grandchildren, well...

Sunday 10 October 2021

Rainy Sunday

Today is overcast, wet and dreary...what to do? I had planned to go to the market to buy a plant, probably a cyclamen which I love, but I don´t feel like traipsing around in the rain. So I decided to be virtuous and batch cook something for the freezer and what better than a one-pan Mexican quinoa dish. I love Mexican food.

This dish takes far longer to prepare the many ingredients than it does to cook so it kept me busy for a while but it is done now and cooling before I divide it up into portions and freeze it. Smells good!

It is now nearly midday and I am still in my pjs. Oh dear, never mind, one of the joys of living alone is you can occasionally be a slob if you feel like it, but I think I´ll have a shower now followed by a spot of lunch. Then this afternoon, since it is chilly, I believe it will be duvet and Kindle time. I certainly know how to live!

Friday 8 October 2021

Treasured item

I pinched this subject from John at Going Gently. I liked his idea of showing one´s most treasured possession. This is mine.

I know it looks very nondescript but it is actually a Stone Age flint knife, several thousand years old.

I found it years ago when I was on holiday with my husband. We were walking along a hilly path near Robin Hoods Bay in Yorkshire when I saw it lying on the ground in front of me. Intrigued by its shape I picked it up for a better look. I thought it looked rather like a flint knife but I was sure I must be mistaken and that it was wishful thinking on my part. After all, it was just lying there on the surface, on a well-used public footpath. I put it in my pocket and after the holiday showed it to my tutor at Manchester University where I was taking an extra-mural course in archaeology. To my surprise and delight after showing it to a colleague he confirmed that it was indeed a flint knife.

How it came to be on the path was anyone´s guess. Maybe it washed out of a bank or worked itself to surface, or even was dropped by someone who had found it elsewhere. I will never know. As someone who is fascinated with prehistory, it is certainly my one of my most treasured possessions. I try to imagine who made it, the people who used it all that time ago and it leaves me awestruck.

Wednesday 6 October 2021

Jaboticaba (or jabuticaba if you prefer)...

This is a jaboticaba tree. There doesn´t seem to be a translation, but it is sometimes known as the Brazilian grape tree.

The fruit looks just like a grape and is such a deep purple it is almost black. The skin is not edible but the whitish pulp inside is nice and sweet and can be squeezed out into your mouth as you split the skin. Although it is eaten fresh it doesn´t keep or travel well so is also used to make juice, jams and jellies.

What is different and interesting about the jaboticaba is that the fruit grows not in bunches or clusters on branches but individually on the trunk of the tree.

These are still green as they haven´t ripened yet although you can see some beginning to change colour. I´ll try and get another photo when they are ripe as they look even more striking, although it is a question of timing as the residents here strip the tree pretty quickly when the jaboticabas are ready!

Sunday 3 October 2021

Good news? Not really...

I read in the news today that a large number of countries, including Brazil, are being taken off the red list later in October. Quarantine will no longer be required for fully vaccinated people traveling to the UK from these countries. Hooray, lets break out the champagne...I had been hoping to spend this Christmas with one of my sons in England.

There is just one little problem that hasn´t been mentioned. The UK only accepts vaccinations given in the UK, Europe or the USA. I am fully vaccinated and about to have my booster, okay mine is the Coronavac vaccine which is not accepted but my daughter who has had both Pfizer shots here is also classed as unvaccinated. So anyone vaccinated in a former red country traveling to the UK will still have to go into quarantine. There doesn´t appear to be any logic in this new ruling.

Friday 1 October 2021

Plastic water bottles

I try and avoid using plastic whenever possible although nowadays it is not always easy. At least with regard to water bottles I don´t have to worry. My daughter gave me this bottle which I can fill at home and take with me when necessary.


I don´t understand why people feel the need to buy bottled water if they live in a country where the tap water tastes ok and is safe to drink. For example, when I go walking in Spain I never buy water as what comes out of the tap is fine and all towns and villages have public water fountains where you can fill up as you walk through. If the water is not drinkable there is a notice which says so.

Unfortunately here the tap water has an unpleasant mouldy taste and I´d rather not drink it. I buy my water in a 20 litre bottle which is reusable. The chap who delivers it takes the empty one away for re-filling. Our tap water is fine for showers, washing and dishes, etc, and I´ll use it for cooking things which are going to be strained but for tea, soups and stews I´ll use the bottled water because of the taste.

A bottle like this lasts me about ten days and costs around three pounds which I think is good value for money.

Wednesday 29 September 2021

What is it?


This message keeps appearing on my screen when I try and open my hotmail account. It has been happening for several days on my desktop computer which uses Windows 7, and blocks access to the account. I don´t know whether it is a genuine Microsoft message or something nefarious.

Apparently if I click on 'open' I am agreeing to give access to my data by third parties for all sorts of activities. For starters there is no 'open' to click on. There are random letters below the message and in the blue box which change every time I try to open my account. Presumably if I click on the blue box I am giving the required permission. There is nowhere I can click to refuse this or get rid of this message to unblock my account. I will not be held to ransom like this and intend to wait and see if the message eventually goes away by itself. Thankfully I can access my hotmail account on my phone and laptop (which has Windows 10) without any trouble.

Saturday 25 September 2021


We are in the middle of a tropical storm at the moment, the full works with lightning and thunder so loud it is making Toby jump and bark even though he is practically deaf now. Although we need the rain badly for the reservoirs it is sod´s law as I was planning on going out to buy some lights today. 

These are the lights I have throughout the flat except for the kitchen and bathroom. There are eight of them and they are so high up that it is impossible to clean them properly. They are looking very grubby and changing a bulb is a balancing act on top of the ladder - I´m getting past the age for such tricks. They´ve been there for twenty years and I´ve decided it is time to change them all for something more practical. 

I really like my kitchen light which I installed a couple of years ago. It is easy to reach for cleaning and bulb changing. I want to try and get something similar for the rest of the flat, not all the same of course, but hopefully all equally practical. I was looking forward to my outing today until the heavens opened - oh well, maybe tomorrow!