Thursday, February 28, 2019

Expenses

Just after six this morning Ellie realised she had dropped her dummy and decided that her sleep would resume until it was found. The Gorse Fox waddled in to her room and tracked down the missing item and restored it to the distraught toddler. She was alert enough, by now, to stand up and demand to be removed from the cot. The Gorse Fox took her back to our bed where she settled back down quietly and didn't wake until eight... she was, however, as restless as a Mexican jumping bean and certainly put paid to any further rest for the Gorse Fox or the Silver Vixen.

We had Ocado delivering this morning so that kept us at home. That was no problems really as the temperature had dropped overnight, there was a cold breeze, and we saw intermittent showers.

The Gorse Fox has been nursing the dishwasher for the last couple of months. Yesterday it seemed to give up the ghost, finally. 60C wash lasted only 30 minutes and was cold. 70C wash failed half way through - and was cold. Enough was enough. When these problems started a couple of months back, the Gorse Fox did some research and had a fair idea what model would replace it. Today we bundled Ellie into the back of the car and wet along to John Lewis to have a look at similar models and confirm what we wanted. It didn't take too long to get sorted and we left clutching a piece of paper assuring us that we would have a new dishwasher delivered and installed and that the old one would be disposed of. We just have to await the delivery details now. It was, however, and expense we could have done without.

Urban-Cub picked up Ellie late in the afternoon and the Silver Vixen and the Gorse Fox are preparing to go out for the evening with the Sonning Crew. This is, ostensibly, the celebration of the Gorse Fox's birthday, albeit a week late.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Pinball again

The forecast is that today is the last of the unseasonably warm weather. It certainly is quite bizarre that here we are at the end of February and the sky is clear, the sun is shining, and temperatures are up in high teens or low twenties.

The good weather has clearly brought out the 'athletes' as we had a squad of 19 today for football. Our usual numbers are being boosted by the odd family visitor and some of the Worthing players. The latter prefer playing with us because the banter is more fun and the game is much less aggressive. The Gorse Fox had the unenviable task of picking the teams and trying to achieve some balance between them. It was clear that we had a small imbalance as we had to accommodate 10-v-9 and in the first half the Gorse Fox played for the Oranges (10). At half time we went in 3-0 up.

The Gorse Fox swapped sides and played for the Yellows in the second half. They had lost a player and the Gorse Fox was aiming to rebalance the teams anyway. With the sides at 9-v-9 the second half was a lot tighter and the Yellows pulled one goal back without reply. (The Gorse Fox scored that goal). So the match ended up 3-1, but the Gorse Fox would argue that he won both halves.

The Silver Vixen has gone out for lunch with some of her Pilates ladies and will be collecting Ellie on the way home later. The Gorse Fox is struggling with a decision over what to cook for supper as the Silver Vixen won't want anything and the Gorse Fox has the chance to eat something that she would normally avoid. Choice at the moment is between lentil and chickpea curry and a pizza. The curry is likely to win as it's a more healthy choice.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Tablecloths and Spreadsheets

Well the Gorse Fox must say that yesterday evening was an absolute pleasure. He had a trouble-free run up to Victoria on the train and then walked up past Buckingham Palace, through Green Park and along Piccadilly before dropping down to Jermyn Street and The Cavendish. We had a table booked at Petrichor. The Gorse Fox was first to arrive and settled down with a beer to await the others. The Abbot was next to arrive and it was so nice to catch up with all his news. He was truly one of the nice men of Starfleet. The Headmistress and Mother Superior arrived and we settled down for a tasty meal, a bottle of wine, and a couple of hours of chin wagging. Certainly the Gorse Fox looks back on his time with The Department and realises it really was one of the most interesting projects he had worked on, and certainly had some of the nicest people.

We left soon after nine and the Gorse Fox headed for Victoria and grabbed the train home. It wast twenty to midnight before he rolled in to Bognor and hopped in a taxi home. That was a late night for him.

This morning was another wonderful day, weather-wise. The sun shone, the sky was blue and it was really quite warm. Certainly the Gorse Fox questioned his choice of kit for football... and perhaps made the wrong choice.

Football was fun but busy. Two hours - two wins, two draws, two losses, no goals. That about sums it up.

This afternoon the Gorse Fox spent time with his spreadsheets. Urban-Cub had wanted a printout of some of the childcare data and the Gorse Fox decided that a new Query could be run to extract the data and make it suitable for printing. It took a while to get the query to parse correctly, but he got it done and the printouts are ready to take to Urban-Cub tomorrow.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Unseasonal

Another incredible and unseasonal day. There is not a cloud in the sky and the sun is beating down. Temperatures in the Orangery have been in high 20s this afternoon and the Silver Vixen is sitting out in the garden making the most of the weather.

It's been a fairly domestic day - the Silver Vixen has been getting the washing done (and hanging it out). The Gorse Fox has just been doing various bits and pieces on the computer and checking train times for his trip up to London this evening. Once he arrives he will decide whether to walk or take the tube to the restaurant where he is meeting the Abbot, Headmistress, and Mother Superior.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

A Glass

Ellie slept through until seven-thirty then came in to be with us for half an hour before starting to fidget and wanting to get up. This is a very civilised start to a Sunday morning.

Once breakfast and everything was done the Silver Vixen took her up for her wash and the Gorse Fox headed off for football. It was a straightforward 5-v-5 today and was fairly tight until the last 5 minutes or so when the Orange team scored several goals to finish 9-6 winners. The Gorse Fox did get on the score sheet - but unfortunately he was playing for the yellow bibs.

Back home the Silver Vixen and Ellie were making the most of the unseasonal weather and were out in the garden. It really was very comfortable in the sun and Ellie made the most of the swing and the deck to entertain her doll "baby".

After lunch Ellie went down for a good long sleep and was still in the cot when Urban-Cub arrived to collect her. We let her rest until she woke naturally and it gave Urban-Cub a chance to catch 30 minutes kip after her early start this morning.

Urban-Cub and Ellie have gone home now and the house seems astonishingly quiet. The Gorse Fox thinks a glass of wine may be calling (he opened a bottle yesterday - it was his first "drink" since New Years Eve as he starts each year with a "dry" period that concludes on his birthday).

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Out

Well that was a nice day.

Urban-Cub and Ellie came round late in the morning and once everyone was set and ready they presented the Gorse Fox with some birthday presents and cards. He now has a full set of bowls and dishes that he can use with his Instant Pot. He was delighted.

We headed out. The first though had been to walk along the sea front, but after four and a half years we still hadn't been to Hotham Park in Bognor. Well, today was the day. We parked up and got our first bonus. The parking machines were broken so the warden said that parking would be free.

We headed out into the park. It's not huge but it is really quite nice. We wandered round past the boating pond to the cafe where we stopped for a cup of tea and a sandwich.

The cafe was really quite busy and we were queued out of the door, but they were well organised and the queue moved quite quickly. We had managed to find an empty table in the sunshine so staked our claim while waiting for the food to be delivered.

The Gorse Fox finished his coffee and meal first (no surprise there then) so took Ellie for a walk to give Urban-Cub and the Silver Vixen a bit of peace and quiet to finish their meals. Ellie led him round various parts of the park and kept insisting on walking to the top of a rise and then back to the bottom. We must have done this eight or nine times as she ordered "Up!" and once up, "Down!". Oh well, it kept grandad on his toes.

We moved on when the Silver Vixen and Urban-Cub had finished their snacks and strolled through the park. It is easy to see how pretty it must be in the Spring and Summer when the shrubs are in full colour. It was nice enough now in the depths of winter.

We stopped by the ducks but didn't have any food for them so hastily moved on to the children's playground. This, unfortunately, was well in the shade of the trees and, whilst warm in sun, it was a chilly day in the shade. We didn't stay for too long playing on the swings and slide, heading home to warm up in the Orangery while Ellie had a well-earned and well-needed sleep.

Ellie will be staying with us overnight as Urban-Cub is on an early duty at the airport tonight and will collect Ellie on her way home from work tomorrow.

Play Misty again

Well we had a lovely evening yesterday at The Crown Inn at Chiddingfold. It was quite misty when we left home, but not too bad. As we climbed over the Downs, the mist dispersed and we had a clear run.

The Crown was the busiest we have ever seen it, and had to wait a few minutes while they finished preparing the table. We settled don and wen through their menu. Trevor and the Gorse Fox started with a sharing platter then the Gorse Fox had a Sussex Farms rump steak burger, and the Silver Vixen had a chicken escalope. Both were tasty enough, but neither was outstanding. Maybe it's a reflection on how busy they were.

Anyway, we had a lovely chat about all and sundry. If the powers that be were listening the world would soon be put right... but the Gorse Fox suspects they had other things on their mind. Trevor had commented that he was looking to get a new and substantial shed built, but the quote from his builder was not currently acceptable. The Gorse Fox offered to put a design together and price up the materials as a comparison - if required. Indeed, he's be happy to build it as well.

By the time we left the mist had risen across the weald and we actually went through some very thick patches where visibility was down to a few yards. Interestingly it was the first time since we bought the car (in 2014) that the Gorse Fox has had to use the fog lights... and they took a moment or two to track down! Several cars decided to sit on our tail and use the Gorse Fox as a pathfinder but we got home without incident. In fact, in direct opposition to the journey up, the mist had cleared south of the Downs.

A lovely evening.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Celebration day

Well the Gorse Fox seems to have survived another year. He's making the most of this by opening cards and responding to countless online wishes. He's clearly a very lucky chap.

We popped in to Chichester this morning. As discussed yesterday, the Gorse Fox needs some new comfy walking shoes and the Silver Vixen said that she would buy them for his Birthday. We headed for Clarks (despite yesterday's phone calls). Over the year the Gorse Fox has learned that Clarks are consistently the most comfortable shoes for his feet, so he rarely looks anywhere else. He handed the assistant the list of shoes he had created yesterday and she scuttled off to get them. As it happens none of the suited, but another pair he saw in the shop looked ideal and once tried the Gorse Fox decided on them.

We then headed to M&S as he had received some money as a gift. Just as Clarks is his "go to" place for shoes, M&S is is "go to" place for virtually everything else in the menswear category. (Thinking about it, between Clarks, M&S, and Amazon he is just about set for all his shopping needs). Anyway, to cut a short story even shorter, we left clutching a nice crew neck sweater.

We stopped for a lunchtime snack at Crispin's then grabbed the bus home. The Gorse Fox has had a nice chat with Cousteau-Cub this afternoon and she says the temperature in Phi Phi at present is 39C and expected to get hotter in the next 10 days. Sounds lovely!

We're meeting up with Jane and Trevor for dinner tonight, so that should be fun as we always have a good chinwag.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Relaxed day

We had a fairly relaxed day. There was no real hurry to get going and though Ocado turned up a bit earlier than usual, we were ready for them.

The Silver Vixen ordered and received an insert for her sewing cabinet that fills the void around her sewing machine when it is in the operating position. Unfortunately this didn't fit so the supplier said they would recut the insert using our old one as a template. We had to get this all packed up safely and dropped off at a collection point. The Gorse Fox used this as an excuse to have a nice walk and combined this with a stop at Bognor Station to pick up his tickets for next Monday and a further stop at Sainsbury's. All in all it was about 5 miles all the way round, but it was good exercise.

The walk made the Gorse Fox realise that his walking shoes needed replacing. The soles are so thin now that he can feel every crack in the pavement and every bit of grit he steps on. When he got home he spent an hour or two looking at the Clarks Shoes site to find a suitable replacement pair. He narrowed it down to a shortlist of four styles. He phoned the local shop to ask if they had them in stock - no, no, no, and no came the answer. The suggestion was to try Chichester. He phoned. Of the four, only one was in stock in the colour required, two others had different colours available, and the one favoured most wasn't stocked. Well that was a success! We'll probably go into Chichester in the morning and take a look at what they have and at least try the on to see if the style is comfortable.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Pinball

After last night's late night it took a while to get theses and the joints working this morning. It's been another gorgeous sunny day though at the time of writing the sun has dropped behind the neighbouring houses.

The Gorse Fox had football this morning. It was busy. In fact we had 9-vs-8 which made it very crowded on the pitch. The trouble with busy matches likes that is that they have a habit of turning into pinball as the ball bounces around from one person to the next. The game ended up as a 3-1 win for the orange-bibs. Unfortunately, the Gorse Fox was playing for the yellow-bibs. No goals for him today.

Back home, we had a lovely long video call with Cousteau-Cub. She was in Phuket meeting up with a friend and getting some admin sorted prior to her return home in April. IT was lovely to chat with her and see her looking so well.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Ganges

Ellie woke at six so we fetched her and brought her into bed with us. She fidgeted a bit, but remained quiet for an hour before hauling us out of bed and getting us going. Despite being unwell she was her normal chirpy self and seemed to improve throughout the day... though didn't eat a great deal.

The Gorse Fox skipped football as Ellie was with us. After lunch a nice young plumber turned up (as arranged - it wasn't some random event!). We have had trouble with the cistern in the family bathroom. As it refills it doesn't quite know when to stop and just keeps pumping water until it feels like stopping. The plumber took the inspection panel off and removed the various components. They were affected by limescale and once cleaned off they seemed to run properly. It  was very fiddly job - and not one that the Gorse Fox would have been happy attempting. Anyway, 30 minutes later it was done and the Gorse Fox was charged a grand total of £25. Seems like a good deal.

We dropped Ellie back with Urban-Cub and then headed across to Brighton. We had arranged to have dinner with the Silver Vixen's cousins. We arrived a bit later than planned but managed to sit down for a cup of tea and a chat before going back out to the restaurant. We drove across to Hove and parked near the town hall then strolled along to The Ganges Brasserie. Being a Tuesday night it wasn't very busy and we were shown to a nice table and presented with their extensive menu. As Trevor, the the Silver Vixen and Gorse Fox selected our meals, Sue seemed to make the names of dishes that she wanted and swore she had had there before. Despite discussions with the waiter, he had never heard of them and couldn't even guess what they were. She resorted to something that was on the menu.

The Gorse Fox had a lamb biriani which was very good. For him, biriani range from nice up to excellent. This didn't reach an excellent rating, but was certainly a very good one.

After the meal we returned to Sue and Trevor's for a coffee and chat and to catch up on the life in general. It was 10:45 before we left - a late night for us - but traffic and roadworks were kind to us on the way back and we were climbing the stairs to bed by 11:30.

Monday, February 18, 2019

On duty

It was a quiet start to the day - it was a bit grey and dull outside, but mild. It wasn't the sort of day that invited you to come and enjoy it.

The morning was spent on domestic activities and the Gorse Fox was thankful that he invested in the Karcher Hard Floor Cleaner last year. It does make the task of cleaning the floors so much easier and does a really good job. The Silver Vixen pottered around and got various loads of washing on the go, in the dryer, and on the airer.

At lunchtime we got a call from Urban-Cub. As we suspected, Ellie had not been well enough to go to the child minder today - but Pistol Pete was home to take care of her. Tomorrow, however, both Urban-Cub and Pistol Pete are on duty so the obvious thing to do was for Ellie to stay with us overnight and we'll take care of her during the day.

Urban-Cub turned up with Ellie late afternoon. Ellie was clearly under the weather, but somehow managed to keep her sunny disposition - she was just a bit lethargic. We'll take good care of her and ply her with suitable potions and remedies and then drop her back to Urban-Cub tomorrow afternoon.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

6-5 Special

That's a headline for the oldies!

It was a nice start to day with lots of bright sunshine. By mid-afternoon some high cloud had eradicated the blue, but the temperature stayed quite mild.

The Gorse Fox had football this morning. The sides were a 6-vs-5, with the Gorse Fox playing on the yellow team, with the 5 players. This always makes things a bit harder, but also more challenging and fun. We worked hard throughout both halves and ended up winning fairly easily. The Gorse Fox thinks the final score was 9-4, but can't be sure. He did manage to get on the score sheet, and also provided assists for 3 or 4 of the other goals. All round it was a good game.

Back home it's been quite relaxed. The Silver Vixen is doing some sewing in the reorganised sewing room, Urban-Cub has turned up to catch up on work emails (in the peace and quiet), and the Gorse Fox is just bottling about doing this and that.

A chicken has been cooking in the Instant Pot. This was started a lot earlier than necessary because it was quite big and the Gorse Fox wasn't sure it was going to fit. In case it didn't he had to allow time to roast it normally. As it happens, it did fit so it's done. This should provide for tonight's supper and several further meals during the week.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Finishing off

It was a grey and damp day. We had originally planned to be visiting Betty and Barney Rubble today, but we heard during the week that Barney isn't well, so this was cancelled. There was no Plan B - we had a clear day.

After a very lazy breakfast we decided it was time to finish the last of the changes to bedroom 3. The Gorse Fox grabbed his tools and disassembled the cot and moved it into the bedroom 3. Then, once reassembled, the cot was positioned and the Silver Vixen finished moving things to their new home. Room is done and next time Ellie is here she will stay in her new room.

The Gorse Fox ordered a book yesterday... and not from Amazon! The particular recipe book was discounted from £17 to £4.80 at The Works - so he placed the order for a "Click & Collect". Notification overnight confirmed it was ready so the Gorse Fox grabbed the bus into Chichester and strolled along to collect. There is some overlap with an existing recipe book, but some interesting new techniques and recipes.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Day out

It was another glorious day, considering it is mid-February. The sun was streaming down and the skies were crystal clear. We were expecting Trevor at midday - he would be fitting the new blackout blind in the back bedroom. The Silver Vixen had arranged to meet up with Urban-cub and Ellie and go out to a park in Chichester.

Plans started and Urban-cub arrived with Ellie, but pointed out that she wasn't herself this morning. She did, however, perk up once she was in and could chase Nana and Jasper. They got themselves ready and headed off to Chichester.

The Gorse Fox remained behind for Trevor, who turned up just after the girls had left. We stood and chatted over coffee for about an hour before he got started on the job in hand. The Gorse Fox hovered around so that he could lend a hand when necessary - but Trevor is so meticulous that it's best to stay well in the background and avoid distracting him.

It was about this time that the Gorse Fox got a message through from the Silver Vixen. They were on their way to A&E with Ellie who had spiked a temperature and was not looking at all well. Their day out was over and the rest of the afternoon was spent at St Richard's. In the end, it appears that all is well and that she had succumbed to a virus of some kind. All the tests they ran proved negative, and they managed the temperature with paracetamol and ibuprofen. By they time they got back here in the late afternoon, Ellie was still a bit quiet but had obviously perked up.

Enough excitement for the day, Urban-cub and Ellie headed home and the Silver Vixen and the Gorse Fox had quiet evening.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Day out

The weather was lovely. In fact it was the warmest St Valentine's Day for about 20 years. Not a cloud sullied the sky and the winter sun tried its hardest to pretend it was summer. It was too nice to stay in so we made the most of the day and headed for a National Trust property called Hinton Ampner, near Winchester. We had visited this estate before, but that was back in 1994 - and it was worth a return visit.

Unsurprisingly, given the weather, there was quite a throng of visitors but the only time that we really noticed was when we went for lunch.

We started with a stroll around the some of the gardens. These are neat and tidy and dominated by intricately shaped hedges and specimen conifers.

Tucked away to one side is the little Parish Church.  The Gorse Fox noticed that the list of Parish priests started in 1216... now that's continuity.

After a very pleasant spot of lunch we wandered into the main house. At the entrance we were greeted with laminated guides and a set of blue shoe covers. Slipping on the shoe covers we started to work our way through the house. Whilst the basic fabric of the building is very old, there was a devastating fire  and the last owner spent years having it restored and filled with suitable furniture, paintings, and books.

It was an intimate house... not huge and rambling, but a size that you could almost imagine living in yourself. As we wandered on the Gorse Fox had clear memories of our visit from 1994 - though no recollection at all of the upper floor. It turns out that there used to be a tenant, and the upper floors weren't open to the public in the past. That was relief as the Gorse Fox thought that senility was setting in.

Leaving the house we strolled around the south terrace which looked out over the Downs. It really was a wonderful view and beckoned us to walk on along by the ha ha and down the lane, looping back up to the church.

We finished off with a mid afternoon cup of tea and then headed home. Over all, a really nice day out.

Nom Nom

Well the butter chicken that the Gorse Fox prepared was absolutely sensational. Now, that's not to say it couldn't be improved, but it really was very, very good. It was perhaps just a little warm for the Silver Vixen and perhaps had a little more salt than we usually have. Notes have been scribbled in the margins of the recipe and it will be on the menu again soon.

The other success was the rice. For the first time ever, the Gorse Fox was able to cook rice that had a similar texture and the flavour of that which we are served at Indian restaurants. Part of the trick was to add a little ghee to rice while it was being cooked.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Spots before the eyes

It was a nice sunny and warm day. It was a pleasure to go out and play football - even though it was a bit crowded at 8-a-side. The Gorse Fox has said before that with that many it can become a bit like pinball. As it was the teams seemed a bit lopsided to begin with and by half time, the yellows (for whom the Gorse Fox was playing) were 2-0 down.

The Gorse Fox isn't quite certain what we did differently in the second half, but slowly we hauled things back and eventually managed a 4-3 win (with 2 goals from the Gorse Fox). Most satisfactory.

This afternoon the Gorse Fox has been attacking further spots on the carpet. We are delighted with the effectiveness of this machine. Certainly most of the spots treated yesterday have disappeared. He re-treated a couple of spots from yesterday and attacked some stains that he entirely forgot yesterday. These were caused originally by the Gorse Fox knocking over some pot plants that stained the carpet badly. Five mounts treatment this afternoon and the marks have gone - totally!

Quick raid on Sainsbury's this afternoon to pick up a few ingredients for the butter chicken he's planning for tonight's supper.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Out Damned Spot

The Silver Vixen is out for the day at one of her covens. The Gorse Fox had to set up her SatNav before she left, but he's received no phone calls so assume she arrived without incident.

The Gorse Fox had football this morning. Not the best of games, he must admit. Six games played, one game was a draw and he lost all the rest. Even in the second hour, when he usually gets a chance to really stretch his legs, he was unable to get out of 2nd gear. Frustrating, and even more so when he had three perfectly good shots saved by a goalkeeper who was absolutely impenetrable today.

Back home the Gorse Fox has spent the afternoon with our new carpet spot-cleaning machine.

Jasper has left stains on various odd bits of carpet where he has vomited over the years. We always try to get to them as soon as possible and clean things up as best we can, but they alway seem to leave a slight discolouration so we decided to buy a machine that would help.

For the last hour or so the Gorse Fox has been spraying the various spots with the cleaning solution, leaving it to soak in and do its job, and then using the machine to brush and vacuum up the excess fluid. First looks seem positive, but it may need a second application.

We'll have to check when it dries.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Restaurants

It's been a quiet day. Bright, cool, but quiet.

The Gorse Fox contacted the Abbot to see if the proposed dinner with the Headmistress and Mother Superior was still happening. He was delighted to hear hat it is confirmed, but then the other shoe dropped. Could the Gorse Fox find a suitable restaurant? Well, the Gorse Fox doesn't have a huge list of London restaurants filed away in his back pocket. So it was that he spent the whole morning going through TripAdvisor looking for a suitable shortlist in terms of location, quality, and price. This was not an easy task as there are so many from which to select. Eventually we had a list and it's been sent to the Abbot for his final selection. Once that is sorted the Gorse Fox can book his railway tickets and decide if he needs to find a hotel or not.

As the weather was so nice, the Gorse Fox managed to take a walk this afternoon. This is a habit that he has dropped recently, but really should re-establish on the days when he isn't playing football.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Old and New

The day has been very relaxed. The Silver Vixen has been buried in her sewing room and the Gorse Fox has been wandering back and forth between the study and the kitchen.

In the study he has been working on the family tree. He's managed to fill in some gaps, though hasn't pushed the tree back any further.

In the kitchen he has been reading recipes and has now homed in on his own adaptation of several recipes. A leg of pork is loaded into the multi-cooker and is now cooking under pressure. The skin has been removed and will be cooked with the roast potatoes to get some crackling. We'll have to see how it goes. If it's as good as the lamb the other night, it will be very tasty.

Saturday, February 09, 2019

That Worked

Well the Gorse Fox is very pleased that yesterday's experiment worked. He made some lamb steaks in the Instant Pot, deliberately using all of its relevant functions. The result was absolutely delicious, with the lamb falling apart as you cut into it. In practice, he would actually use a separate pan for browning the steaks in future, but it worked perfect well in the Pot.

Along with the lamb steaks he made some Cajun bulgur wheat with chickpeas. Again, this was very much an experiment - but again, and experiment that turned out wonderfully. The Gorse Fox realised that he didn't have any Cajun spice so he looked up a mix on Google and created his own... and must say it was excellent.

Today has been a quiet day indoors. The Silver Vixen has finished off the sewing project that had been occupying her yesterday and the Gorse Fox spent several hours on the computer bringing the photo library up to date with photos from the last couple of months - and all of the Flickr photos.

Just as an aside, today would have been the Gorse Fox's Dad's 93rd birthday, and it turns out to be Birthday of one of his American cousins; clearly a most auspicious day.

Friday, February 08, 2019

Greek style

Well it's a foul day. The wind is blowing a gale and the rain is pounding down. Indoors it's dark enough to have the lights on.

The Silver Vixen is making use of the day to catch up on a sewing project. Meanwhile the Gorse Fox has been reading recipes and trying things out.

The new Instant Pot multi cooker has a feature that allows you to use it for making yoghurt. Now the Gorse Fox loves yoghurt so it seemed entirely sensible to give it a go.

The UHT skimmed milk was warmed slightly and a couple of spoons of an existing Greek yoghurt added (to get the live cultures started). A little skimmed milk powder was added and the pot set to "Yoghurt" for 8 hours.

First thing this morning the Gorse Fox removed the bowl of yoghurt from the cooker and put it in the fridge. It was already looking pretty well set and smelled rich and creamy.

Now several hours later, with the yoghurt well-cooled, the Gorse Fox has set it to drain any additional moisture (the whey) out into a separate bowl. In a few hours he'll bottle it up. (He has tried it already and it tastes marvellous).

Now that he knows the technique works he can make up larger batches. This first attempt was only 1 Litre.

He'll experiment further later. He plans to cook some lamb steaks in gravy with bulgur wheat and chickpea accompaniment. The plan is to cooke it all in the Instant Pot (even though it may actually be more effective to use the hob as well).

Thursday, February 07, 2019

Just Stuff again

Not a huge amount to report. It's been a fairly quiet day - very windy but dry and bright. The temperature in the Orangery was in the mid 20s again and was a very pleasant spot to sit for an hour this afternoon.

The morning was spent on the usual domestic items that arise on Thursday. The Gorse Fox was very impressed that, despite the devastating fire at the Andover warehouse, Ocado still managed to deliver our order, in full, and on time. Once that was all put away, the Gorse Fox finished the week's accounts and popped round to Sainsbury's to pick up a couple of items that we had forgotten to order.

Urban-Cub called and suggested we meet for lunch. As we had nothing specific in plan, it seemed like a good idea. We met up with her and Ellie at The Oystercatcher and had a lovely lunch (made all the tastier by the 25% discount that the Gorse Fox gets through Gourmet Society). The Silver Vixen enjoyed a lovely looking lasagne and the Gorse Fox had a game pie filled with venison and rabbit. It was delicious. Ellie tucked into her "kids meal" and did really well while Urban-Cub enjoyed a steak sandwich.

The afternoon has been spent looking through the recipe books for the Instant Pot multi cooker that the nice man from Amazon delivered this morning. There are certainly some delicious sounding meals featured. The first item that the Gorse Fox is going to try, however, is to make up some Greek-style yoghurt. If that works he may move on to some coconut yoghurt, but one step at a time, eh?

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Mr Bond

Well the Gorse Fox's temporary reminder popped up, quite correctly, at 8 o'clock this morning... and should continue to do that every 6th of every month from now on. The email reminded him to buy some Premium Bonds for Ellie. SO it was that he had to fight his way through the somewhat obtuse NS&I website (and online chat) to find out how to do it. They really don't make it easy! Anyway, he managed to get it done and hopefully will remember the technique next month.

The Silver Vixen headed off to Pilates. It was here last session for a few weeks as the instructor is unavailable for several weeks.

The Gorse Fox headed back to Worthing for football. We had a good turnout with a 6-v-7 match. The Gorse Fox found the game a bit frustrating. We managed to hold the score to 0-0 util half time... though the Gorse Fox had scored a cracking goal just before the whistle blew. The ref, however, decided that he had been running and scratched the goal off. Fellow players had a degree of sympathy but did point out that Linford Christie and Usain Bolt wouldn't have kept up. Then to add insult to injury, the Gorse Fox was penalised in the second half for tackle which the opposition player admitted to the ref was him clattering the Gorse Fox not the other way round. Ref wouldn't change his decision... Gorse Fox asked if it worth him continuing. He did continue and felt a lot better when he scored a late goal.

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Play misty for me

It was a pretty dreek start to the day. A fine muzzle was falling and though it was about 8-9C it felt a lot cooler. The Gorse Fox made sure he had a waterproof top and plenty of layers available when he left for football. The Silver Vixen had decided that with the weather like this, she would use the car rather than the bus for her planned trip into Chichester.

By the time the Gorse Fox had arrived in Worthing the drizzle had stopped and, though still cool, it was at least dry. We had a good turnout and ended up playing 8-a-side. The Gorse Fox finds this a bit crowded, but it wasn't too bad as people were moving into space well. We lost the first two games 1-0 and won the last game 3-0 (with one of the goals from the Gorse Fox).

In the second hour we dropped to 5-a-side. This is always more fun as there is plenty of space to exploit and being the second hour, fitness begins to influence the game. We lost the first game 3-2 and then drew the next two games. Again, the Gorse Fox was able to score one of our goals (so that's 11 for the year so far).

It has been a quiet afternoon with the Gorse Fox spending time looking at various recipes that make use of the multi-cooker. Though there's no need for tonight (we still have plenty of chicken left from Sunday), he is thinking ahead for tomorrow or Thursday.

Monday, February 04, 2019

Result

Well that turned out to be a good day. The weather was wet and miserable, but events worked in our favour. The Silver Vixen was out meeting a friend for coffee and the Gorse Fox stayed behind to greet the Neff engineer. He turned up mid-morning. He was a nice chap and we got talking about football while he worked on the oven door. The Gorse Fox told him that he hadn't been best pleased by the "expired warranty" stance taken by Customer Services. He looked at the part that had failed (in fact broken) and declared that it shouldn't happen and as far and he was concerned, this was a warranty issue. Thirty minutes later it was all finished and fixed and the bill was produced for a total of £0.00. Now that is a result.

After lunch the Gorse Fox pottered about and brought the accounts up to date. This took a little while as it became clear that his aggregator had missed some accounts. Once resolved, he finished it off and closed the spreadsheet. Then he spent some time examine the recipes for the multi-cooker. The ham and the chicken cooked yesterday turned out to be very successful... a 750gm ham in 13 minutes, a 3.75lb chicken took 25 minutes. Both turned out to be full of flavour and delightfully moist. He wa looking for a recipe for some of the chicken leftovers... but in the end, decided on a stir-fry.

Sunday, February 03, 2019

Quiet

We had a fairly leisurely start as Ellie was happy playing in her cot for a while after waking up. Once the morning ablutions were done, breakfast consumed, the latest news of Peppa Pig checked, and various nursery rhymes sung, Urban-Cub and Ellie got their stuff ready to head off home. It's been lovely having them for a few days... by my goodness it's quiet now!

It was bitterly cold again overnight, but again we had a lovely crisp blue sky this morning. The upshot of that is that despite the sub-zero external temperatures, in the Orangery it was in the mid 20s again. We settled down for a quiet hour in the warm sun.

As the Gorse Fox intimated, he now has an Instant Pot multi-cooker. This is just as well given the state of the oven door. This afternoon he has cooked a gammon - which took all of 13 minutes and he's about to cook a 3.7kg chicken. Hopefully this will turn out ok - either that or we may be getting another takeaway like we did last night.

Saturday, February 02, 2019

A bit of a difference

It was chilly again overnight but nothing like the conditions that were seen elsewhere in the country. This morning we woke to bright and sunny weather and crisp blue skies. We had a moderately quiet morning and while Urban-Cub and the Silver Vixen pottered around upstairs, the Gorse Fox unpacked the new multi cooker, got it washed and powered it up to steam it for the first time. It all seems pretty easy, and will come into its own tomorrow as the oven is still broken. The Gorse Fox plans to try and cook a whole chicken in it.

We had a lovely long video call with Cousteau-Cub during the morning. It was good to catch up and get all the latest news of her preparations for April.

Ellie was getting a bit stir-crazy so we decided to make the most of the sunny weather and take a walk along the promenade. We whizzed down to the car park and while the Silver Vixen and Urban-Cub got Ellie ready, the Gorse Fox popped into town to get the new year's parking discs. These will allow up to 2 hours free parking in certain car parks.

The Gorse Fox soon caught up with the others and we headed along the prom.

There were quite a few people out and about and considering the snow that had been around yesterday, it was beautiful today. 

Ellie made the most of her snug little buggy until she got bored. Then we got here well wrapped up and let her run free. She made straight for any puddles and for the accumulations of pebbles on the prom. She seems to have a thing about pebbles and insists on walking on them and stopping to rearrange them now and again.

We carried on along past Butlins and around the corner to the Lobster Pot where we stopped for a drink and light lunch. The place was packed, as usual, but we managed to find a table out of the wind and it was really quite cosy.

After lunch we did an about face and headed back. As we turned the corner the view across the bay towards Littlehampton was so tranquil and inviting that you's almost be tempted to go for a swim. (That would be a mistake!)

Ellie continued to pick up and rearrange the pebbles as we walked back. It was clear, however, that her hands were getting cold and she was wanting to be carried. This was the queue to deposit her back in her nice warm buggy.

By the time we got back to the car she was dozing off. We managed to keep her awake until we got her home then she crashed out in her cot for a couple of hours.

Friday, February 01, 2019

Snow place like home

Well we had quite a bit of snow overnight. Now the Gorse Fox should be clear "quite a bit" is relative to the zero centimetres that we normally get. It does not compare with that seen in Scotland, Chicago, or Minnesota! The Gorse Fox would guess we had about 2-3 cms. We were not expecting rescue helicopters in the circumstances.

Ellie was very excited as she ran from window to window shout "It's snow" but when she got the chance to go out in it later, she was less enthusiastic, even if grandpa did show her how to make snowballs.

While the Silver Vixen and Urban-Cub went out for some shopping the Gorse Fox decided that the order of the day was get the next few items ticked off the holiday list (even though there's several months to go). Balance of fees were paid, VIP meet and greet was organised, and the ground transportation is now the major outstanding exercise but should be sorted in the next day or so.