Posted on December 28, 2010 in Food and Drink, Life, the Universe and Everything by Jay22 Comments »


Is it too late to be posting Xmas images? I sincerely hope not, because I have some here which are ideal for ABC Wednesday this week! I loved this display of Xmas cakes in a local baker’s shop.

And a little fancy goods shop in a nearby town had some very cute Father Xmas‘ and Xmas stockings!


It’s amazing how early the shops fill up with the Xmas goodies, isn’t it? And even after Christmas, there’ll be shelves full of reduced wrapping paper, tableware and cards. Well, I’m sorry, but I haven’t been to the shops since the middle of last week so there are no pictures of the sales! However, I do have this –


And I’m sure the displays of cut-price wrapping paper and cards will look eXtraordinarily similar!

In case you’ve had enough of Xmas, let’s see what else I can find. I’m sure everyone on a gluten-free diet will be familiar with this product, spotted in a local supermarket.


Xanthan Gum! It’s a thickening agent, and is also used as a gluten substitute to help stick things together in recipes for bread, pastries etc.

And while we’re on the subject of food …

I spotted this notice when shopping in Bourne, way back in November (month XI using Roman numerals!).


‘Yang Xian‘ … I have no idea what the name of the restaurant means, because I don’t have any knowledge of Chinese at all. Perhaps one of my knowledgeable readers will be able to enlighten me.


It’s a gorgeous building though, isn’t it? And wouldn’t it be nice if a nation’s xenophobia could be forgotten in our relationships with people, just as it is in the world of food?


Merry Christmas to all our readers!

It’s been a funny old year, as I suppose many years tend to be. Pretty good on the whole though.

I’ve been busy learning Italian for one thing, and I’m doing OK according to those who know about these things. But I do tend to be a little bit obsessive single-minded when I’m learning something, and on the whole, I’ve been getting lazier and lazier and more and more apathetic, and everything else has been neglected. I haven’t even made any Johnny Depp cards to send out this year! *Shock* *Horror*!! Perhaps I’ll make New Year cards for my Johnny friends instead…

I’ve managed to do a little bit of volunteering though, and Sid has been visiting a hospital ward for severe mental health issues, and an old folk’s retirement home.  The picture up there is a little card I made to give to the patients and residents of those two places. They do so love Sid and look forward to his visits, although for several of the Alzheimer’s sufferers, his appearance is a new and delightful event each time we go, God bless them.

I have an enormous chunk of boneless turkey breast to roast for the traditional Christmas dinner tomorrow, with all the trimmings, including yorkshire puddings, bacon-wrapped sausages, stuffing balls, veggies, roast spuds, cranberry and red onion relish, .. and a curry.  Hmm.  Yes, one of my sons Does Not Like Turkey so I usually do him something else and this year he requested a curry.  I told him no way, but shh!  I made one anyway.  Tee hee.

So let me send out good wishes to everyone for a wonderful Christmas, and enormous squishy hugs for those who are coping with any kind of trouble, be it health (like a good friend of mine whose lymphoma is now causing problems in her brain) or domestic, (like another good friend whose boiler has given up the ghost and whose sweet man went home yesterday to a flooded and ruined flat), or family (like someone very dear to me whose name I won’t mention).

And may 2011 be a very good year for everyone!

Posted on December 22, 2010 in Life, the Universe and Everything, Oddities by Jay14 Comments »


Well, thank heavens that in this busiest of weeks it’s an easy letter for ABC Wednesday, huh?  Anyway, I bet you know what the ‘W‘ in that picture is, don’t you? Yep, it’s wicker! And what a lot of wicker there was in this shop – waste bins and washing baskets and all kinds of stuff. It could have been called ‘Wicker World‘ but it wasn’t, it was just one of those wonderful shops in Stamford, Lincolnshire, which sell a little of this and a little of that, all fancy stuff for the house.

And talking of things for the house, look at this house wares shop in San Quirico D’Orcia, Italy.


Wicker, wrought iron, what-nots and whatjamacallits, wire sieves and wee chairs – and even a water tap in an obelisk! We don’t get obelisks with taps in them in Stamford!

Now, Italian shopkeepers love wicker. They display all kinds of goods in it. Even on the market stalls.


See that? All draped in white sheeting, full of whimsical stuffed toys, and manned by a man with wild and woolly hair, yet there it is. The wicker basket! I tell you, they simply can’t resist them!

And here – this norcineria in Castiglione del Lago has some incredible edibles all set out on the pavement in wicker baskets, wooden trays, wedged into racks and wobbling atop barrels.


What is a norcineria?  Well, as far as I can make out, it’s a shop that specialises in small delicacies, such as white truffles, spices, wine vinegars, whole vanilla pods, and in particular, pork products, especially wild boar.

I’m not sure we’re allowed to display food in wicker baskets in this country. It probably contravenes all kinds of worthless regulations about shop displays, not to mention health and safety. How we all survived in the old days when people did what they liked in their own shops .. well, you have to wonder!

But there. Back home again, here is more wicker in a junk shop in Oakham, Leiestershire.


Did you know that wicker can get woodworm? Be careful if you buy any in a second-hand shop, and watch for the tell-tale holes and dust. I once bought a bicycle basket made of wicker which promptly went into the bin because – yes, it was wormy!

Ah well.

Posted on December 15, 2010 in Johnny Depp, Life, the Universe and Everything by Jay18 Comments »


I thought we’d start off with a little music today for ABC Wednesday.  Heaven knows I need cheering up – I’ve caught another horrible, vicious, fluey virus.  Bah.  Humbug!  But there. Since we’re up to the letter ‘V‘, it’s kind of appropriate.

Anyhow, this violinist (and his accompanist) were entertaining shoppers a few Christmases ago in our main street.  I can’t remember what he was playing – it might have been Vivaldi – but I do remember they were from some Eastern European country like Latvia.

The only busker I’ve seen this year has been a Scottish piper, and I must say, I prefer the violin, whether it’s Vivaldi or something a little more vogueish.

So, I was looking around for shops beginning with ‘V‘ and of course I found two. First was the Virgin media shop.


… and I couldn’t help wondering if the lady with the phone to her ear was with Virgin or a rival phone company.  And whether she was saying ‘Can you hear me now?’ like Agent Sands in Once Upon a Time in Mexico*.  She kind of looks as if she is, doesn’t she?

The other was Vodafone – one of those pesky rival phone companies – there it is with the sandwich board standing outside like an inverted ‘V‘.


And once again there’s someone walking along outside with a phone clamped to his ear.  I didn’t do it on purpose, you know, I just took the shot and there they were. Says something about our society, doesn’t it? We’re all very vocal, but not neessarily in person.

And then there was this.


The Vineria Santa Marta, in the little Cinque Terre town of Vernazza, Italy.  What a pretty little place!  One could hardly apply ‘pretty’ or ‘little’ to my own little corner of England.  More like ‘vast‘ and ‘ugly’, I venture to say.  And the shop displays are never, ever as appealing as they are in Italy.  The Italians seem to take a lot of pride in their presentation.


I’m pretty sure you’ll find Valpolicella in amongst those bottles, and quite possibly a decent vintage, too.

Hmm. Vodafone, Virgin Media and violinists in England, or vino in Vernazza in the country where Vivaldi was born?  You decide!

I know which I’d prefer right now.

* A Johnny Depp reference, since he played Agent Sands – and most enchantingly, too!