Two new puppies

Since lockdown started, the girls have not had a haircut. I realise they are not alone in this. One of the things most people seem to be missing is going to the hairdresser. There must be quite a lot of ‘fwights’ out there, locked away, just waiting for the doors to open on their favourite salon.

I was going to text Kate about the possibility of returning to her clippers when I, unexpectedly received one from her first. She reported her desire to start cutting again starting this week. Naturally I jumped at her invitation.

Emma before

She texted me back about coming around today at 6pm. This was a bit odd because it’s usually more like 10am. Still, there’s no way I was going to make the girls suffer another day of heat.

Freya before

You can see by the two photos above just how miserable they were. This is a combination of their hair being too long and, therefore, too hot and also because they love visiting Kate and miss her.

Of course, given they’d not be ready to pick up until around 9pm, I had to prepare something ahead of dinner that we could have with a salad. Mirinda chose a leek and rocquefort tart made with lo-carb pastry.

And that is what I made.

After lunch, I made up a batch of the new miracle lo-carb pastry, lined a dish and stuck it in the fridge. I then cooked the leeks and prepared everything else.

Eventually it was in the oven and rising away. Not long after rising it was on the kitchen counter, cooling. Fortunately Yogi wasn’t around and it remained untouched up until we sat down to dinner at 7pm.

It was lovely on the terrace, eating and listening to the amazing repertoire of a single blackbird that has been singing every night lately. I never realised just how eloquent blackbirds were. This one sits in her favourite tree and just sings and sings and sings. Each time she gets bored with one song she just starts singing another.

Here’s a recording I made from the terrace. It’s faint so turn the volume right up and wear headphones. Ignore the bumps and pops at the end. It’s my big sausage fingers trying to find the stop button.

Just before 9pm, we headed up to Kate’s place and two beautiful velveteen puppies leapt about on the back seat of Max, delirious with pleasure at their new, cool cuts.

Freya after

I’d love to say that they were so delirious that they fell asleep immediately after having dinner but that would be a lie. They had to reacquaint themselves with the garden by rubbing themselves all over it first.

Emma after

Suffice it to say, it was like getting a couple of new puppies. New, happy puppies.

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The universal Andrex scale

I need to make an apology. A while ago I wrote a blog post claiming that a chap who bought 1,000 rolls of toilet paper during the Great Toilet Roll Frenzy of 2020, was going to be stuck with enough toilet paper to last a decade. After a rather (un)scientific experiment, I discovered my estimate was somewhat out. By quite a bit.

At the time I was somewhat curious and decided to find out how many toilet rolls we go through. I collected together the facts then proceeded.

First, the toilet rolls used. We buy the Andrex nine roll packs pictured below. My ‘experiment’ started when I opened a new pack when there were no rolls left in the downstairs toilet.

Secondly, I counted off the days until the nine rolls were completely gone. I did this with the aid of the calendar which hangs in the kitchen.

I do need to add something here. We have two toilets – one upstairs, one downstairs. The downstairs toilet is used more often because…well, because it’s downstairs which is where we usually are. For this reason I decided to test just the downstairs toilet.

This means that there could be a bit of evidence slippage given some toilet rolls will have also been used upstairs. I’ll not deny this has caused me a bit of angst. But, after a few days, I forgot about it. I never harbour angst for very long.

Another fact that needs clarifying is that there are two of us in the house and we’re in Lockdown. This makes a difference to the overall usage when you consider that Mirinda (in the old pre-pandemic days) stayed in London at least three days each week.

Those two things aside, the experiment was a success. And (drum roll) I can announce that we used the whole nine rolls in eighteen days.

My maths is not brilliant but even I can work out that this means that two of us use a roll every two days. Which further goes to prove that, the chap who bought 1,000 rolls will either have enough for 1,000 days if he lives on his own or 500 if he’s one of a couple. (Obviously the figure increasingly reduces depending on the number of bum wipers in the house.)

The thing is, and the whole point is that he doesn’t have enough toilet paper to last ten years. If alone, it’ll last about 2.8 years. If part of a couple he’s looking at around 1.4.

I guess the thing is, I’m not sure why he’d bother trying to sell them back to the supermarket when he’d be rid of them soon enough. Mirinda suggested it might be a storage issue but it seems to me that someone who buys 1,000 rolls of toilet paper must realise they need to be stored somewhere when they buy them.

This led me to wonder how much storage he’d need.

Going back to the Andrex pack of nine (and there’s bigger, smaller, softer, rougher ones to choose from so this is also not very scientific) I measured the above pack. The dimensions are 11cm deep, 31cm high and 31cm wide. Then, for 1,000 rolls, you’d need 111.1 packs but let’s round it up to 112 for ease of calculation.

In order to store 112 packs of nine rolls, you would need a space 1,232cm long and 31cm high. You could reduce the length by making three layers. This changes it to a much more manageable 410cm long by 93cm high.

I would suggest a better storage option would be to go for four layers. That will need a space measuring 308cm x 124cm. For the hard of converting, this is just over 3 metres by 1.24 metres.

The height isn’t a problem but, in terms of floor space, it would fill the length of my office. This could easily be overcome by making a few rows of rolls rather than a single one. Just by making two rows, the length will be reduced by half making it almost square in height and length. The width would be just 22cm.

As I think this demonstrates, 1,000 toilet rolls do not take up a lot of space and, if they did, in your personal circumstances, then you shouldn’t have bought 1,000 rolls in the first place.

In the meanwhilst…

Poppy Watch

We finally have some flowers!

For anyone unaware of previous Poppy Watch reports, these were from seeds planted by Mirinda ages ago. They started to grow in the greenhouse but didn’t look real promising. She then planted them out in the new raised bed and, for ages, they were just green and scrawny.

However, the tenacious little bastards have managed to tuck up their roots and spring forth flowery orange beauty. I knew they could do it.

New Menu Item

This is a new section I’ve decided to add. It relates to new recipes I’ve tried on any particular day. Obviously it’s not going to be regular.

However, this week I’ve tried two new Syrian recipes. Tonight was the second. It was the delicious fish in tahini. I made roast cauliflower with cumin and parsley as a side.

In very high praise, Mirinda said this was good enough to prepare for guests, something she rarely says. It’s definitely going on the standard Chez Gaz menu.

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Madness and the Russian Revolution

Today I decided to try something different for dinner. Having used the Syrian cookbook for the barbecue (not on it) on Saturday, I wanted to attempt one of the main courses. I went for fetteh makdous. Stuffed aubergine for the uninitiated.

While it received great plaudits and has now been included on the Chez Gaz menu, I did make a few mistakes which I shall correct next time I make it. Still, mistakes aside, it was delicious.

Purists beware! I forgot the parsley.

I intend to try a fish dish tomorrow, also from Syria, so I stocked up at Waitrose this morning (being a Monday). This enabled me to get a photo of the queue blocking scaffolding from last week. It is no longer blocking the queue. I reckon it must have caused a bit of annoyance while they were erecting it.

It was a Bank Holiday Monday today so Mirinda didn’t work. I, on the other hand, was busy planting things in the garden and cooking.

Mirinda decided we should try dahlias again. The slugs and snails appear to have moved on to more fruitful gardens. However, it is my contention that once the dahlias start appearing above the ground, they will return. It will be a clarion call, announcing the arrival of an open restaurant following a pandemic lockdown.

I also planted a few primulas, geraniums and a single, lovely little fuchsia.

Mirinda took the girls on her Frensham Country Walk while I shovelled away. By the time she returned we were ready to watch the Royal Ballet production of Anastasia.

I can’t say I was particularly thrilled by it. Dance for the sake of dance never really appeals to me. I can appreciate the skill and beauty but there’s only so much classic ballet I can remain interested in.

The story, on the other hand, was very good. It is about Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia, daughter of the last Russian ruler, Tsar Nicholas II. Well, the first half is. The second half is about the deluded memories of Anna Anderson, an imposter who claimed to be Anastasia, having escaped the execution of the family during the Russian Revolution.

The dancer playing Anastasia/Anna (Natalia Osipova) was amazing. The difference between the bright, happy, overly-privileged Grand Duchess in the first half compared with the crazed mental patient in the second was a tour de force of acting.

Photo from our telly. Anastasia on the right.

I’m always amazed that dancers can also act. This performance was as studied and skilled as the Metamorphosis we saw a few weeks ago. Both leads were very believable.

Of course, being the Royal Ballet, everyone was superb and the production was lavish. The tilted chandeliers, sloping floor and magic gurney were particularly cool. In fact, there were only two things that bored me.

Firstly the constant need to repeat everything. If the sisters danced once with the officers they danced 100 times. If the ball was enacted once, it was worth enacting another couple of times. And what was with the couple (she in tutu) having a little duet dance in the middle of the ball?

Mirinda says this weirdness is a pas de deux and features in most classical ballets. I think it’s an excellent way to hold up the action with a bit of prettiness. While ballet aficionados may coo over it, someone like me just wants the story to keep moving along.

Which brings me to the second thing.

Originally, Kenneth MacMillan created Act III in 1967, as a single act ballet featuring just the mad Anna Anderson. He then added the prequel bits in 1970 for the Royal Ballet. Both parts could easily be performed separately, though connected.

I’d have very much liked to have seen both. On different days.

Photo from the telly. Mad Anna watching home movies.

Still, Mirinda enjoyed it and that, after all is said and down, is all that really matters. And I did get to sit down for two hours with a beer then a gin.

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Cummings and goings

Back before Lockdown became a thing in the UK, an idea was lightly posited by the Conservatives. It was sent out and given an airing but was quickly taken back when the general mood of the country declared it unfit to become a fact. The idea was herd immunity.

Herd immunity is where members of the ‘herd’ live life normally, go about their business and just catch whatever diseases happen to be about. In this way, it is thought, the ‘herd’ becomes immune by building up a natural resistance.

(At this point, can I just mention how stupid it is to use hand sanitiser every ten minutes? Unless you’re in a hospital, surrounded by infectious diseases, of course. As you wipe away the bad stuff on your hands, you are also wiping away the good stuff that is there specifically to fight the bad stuff. There’s no benefit in destroying natural antibodies with unnatural substances, when they are intent on helping us survive.)

The reason I’m talking about herd immunity is because when it was first suggested for the UK most of the idea came from Dominic Cummings, some sort of civil servant who controls our useless Prime Minister.

And, the reason I bring up Dominic Cummings is because today there was a bit of a furore over his actions back in April.

Things were so bad that the Prime Minister actually headed the press conference, something he doesn’t normally do because he’s useless at them.

After announcing possible changes to Lockdown, like the reopening of primary schools from June 1, and the presentation of a number of graphs showing a general downward trend in Covid-19 stats, he took questions from a couple of members of the public and then a few reporters.

The question the reporters wanted answered, as did most people in the UK, was, in a nutshell, why did Dominic Cummings feel it reasonable to drive from London to Durham (over 250 miles) with his symptomatic wife and young child while the rest of the population was being told to stay inside.

According to the Prime Minister, Cummings was acting instinctively, acting in a way that any good parent would in a similar situation. He was worried about his child and drove him to his parents’ place.

Interestingly, Cummings’ wife has a brother and sister in London. I guess they are estranged because it would seem to me they would have been a better option. Or maybe they hate kids. Also, interestingly, the company tasked with creating the Track and Trace app in the UK is based in Durham and run by another relative. Make of that what you will.

Mind you, Boris Johnson has a handful of kids (no-one really knows how many) so I’m surprised he didn’t offer to look after the child for his beloved chief advisor. Some friend.

Anyway, Twitter was, understandably very angry. I’m surprised my phone didn’t melt with the amount of bitter tweets arriving every nanosecond. Many, many people were saying how they’d missed funerals, not seen relatives, generally stayed inside like the government had suggested only to be told by the Prime Minister, that they were actually really bad parents because of it.

There’s also lots of people claiming he broke the law but the Lockdown has never been a ‘law’ per se. It’s government guidance and advice. However, what he did do was followed his own belief and faith in herd immunity.

Yes, Dominic Cummings bravely subjected his young child to a rigorous drive across the country in order to help his immunity. I can only imagine this was to prove his theory.

Maybe, then, we should all follow suit. By allowing it as reasonable behaviour, Boris Johnson has, basically, said we can all do the same thing.

So, the next time a policeman stops you from socialising, or sunbathing, or driving across the country, just say you’re following the Prime Minister’s advice and being a better parent. Just like Dom.

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Making your meat stick

Years ago, Sophie bought me an amazing cookbook. It is by a group of women, all refugees from Syria, and features a collection of everyday recipes which they would prepare at home before the Civil War started. It also contains their personal experiences of the war.

I’ve tried a number of recipes from it and they have all been excellent. The book itself is also beautifully put together and fascinating.

Well, we had planned to have a barbecue this Saturday and I was building my shopping list on Thursday night when I decided to look for an alternative to the chicken kebabs I generally make. I found two recipes in this book.

One of the recipes (minced beef with various herbs and spices) reminded me of a long ago party I attended with James Balian. The party was to welcome a family to Australia. They had recently escaped an evil regime and had arrived with very little of their old life.

For some reason, I wound up in the kitchen with all the women, chattering and preparing. One woman decided I needed teaching how to cook. She put me on the tabbouleh.

This, I think, was a test to see if I could handle cooking at all. I must have passed the test because once I’d finished chopping, she took my hand and introduced me to making shish kebabs with minced meat.

Boy, did I make those woman laugh.

I had no problem with the mixing and squeezing, forcing them into long shapes. In fact I thought I was doing quite well. It was when I tried to stick them onto a skewer that I fell foul. Every time I tried the meat would just fall off. As each one fell off so the women in the kitchen laughed more. It was such a jolly time.

I’d like to say that one of them taught me the secret of how to make them stick but, if one of them did, I have long since forgotten – it was about 40 years ago after all. While the secret has long since left me, today, as I started to prepare a similar meal, the memory of all that laughter returned, clear and bright.

Still, I persevered with the mince and also made a couple with diced lamb and various veg.

And guess what? Yes, when I tried to turn the kebabs over as they lay on the barbecue grill, half of the rolls of meat fell off. It was very, very annoying.

Still, they tasted great and Mirinda was well pleased. In fact, they were further enhanced with a bit of horseradish cream which I had left over from making the prawn cocktail yesterday.

I think Mirinda’s opinion may have been affected by her hours of hard work in the garden today. She was, in her words, starving by the time I dished up dinner. And that was after the new usual Chez Gaz brunch which, this week, featured egg in bacon muffins, sautéed chestnut mushrooms, halloumi with a prawn on top (also leftover from the cocktail) and the usual smashed avocado.

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61 days later

One of the things that Mirinda has missed with not going into work is her occasional indulgence in the M&S prawn cocktail. She sometimes picks one up at Waterloo Station to have on the train coming home. And she raves about them.

Of course, if we believe the ad campaign, anything foodish sold by M&S is going to be pretty special. For this reason I was a bit concerned when Mirinda asked me to replicate the prawn cocktail.

To be honest, I’ve never made a prawn cocktail. I think I just missed the cultural period in Australia when it was a bit classy to serve them at fashionable dinner parties. Actually, I missed the dinner parties completely. I’m not sure that I’ve had a prawn cocktail before.

So yesterday I scoured recipes and, after a bit of combining, mixing and manipulation, I came up with what I figured was a winner. I admit to disregarding the person who suggested it was just salad cream and tomato ketchup.

This morning was shopping day so I bought everything I could ever possibly need in the way of prawn cocktail production and knocked up a couple in wine glasses for a surprise entree tonight.

It doesn’t look much (poor photo I’m afraid), and I had to do without chives (Waitrose didn’t have any) but Mirinda thought it was delicious. In fact she paid me the highest compliment by saying it was better than the M&S prawn cocktail.

Mirinda had also requested a slab of keto fat slice (I call it Keto Bliss Bomb) which features 99% chocolate, coconut, freeze dried berries and nuts. This was not a new request. I’ve made it before and it’s always a success. It always makes for a tasty lo-carb treat.

Fortunately, for Mirinda, I don’t like it much so she gets the lot. She rather enjoys it with a dipping bowl of single cream in place of dessert. I stick with my super creamy yoghurt.

Meanwhile, apart from the ever constant food preparation, I was busy researching dead soldiers. I managed to finish the massive memorial at St Martin’s of Tours church in Epsom and started on the one for the creepy sounding Epsom Brotherhood, which was actually a football team.

Finishing a memorial is always cause for celebration so I went for a post input wander around the garden which is glorious at the moment.

Flowers are blooming everywhere, scents are laying in wait at every turn. It’s a testimony to Mirinda’s skill and vision. As she said at dinner, our cottage garden has taken a while but it now appears to have been a success.

I’m not saying that we would never have managed the last 61 days without the garden but it certainly has helped a lot.

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Gary has the perfect vaccine

It occurred to me this afternoon, as we wandered around the ever-growing fields of wheat and broad beans in Crondall, that my favourite saint (St Sebastien) actually protects his ‘people’ from plague. Okay, his main patronage is for army personnel but he also does a fine line in plague avoidance.

I well remember a rather elaborate St Seb Chapel just outside Liverot, Normandy. It had been built in the Middle Ages when the Black Death was approaching from Paris. The townspeople hurriedly knocked up the chapel and prayed for Sebastien to protect them.

Of course, it didn’t work. The town was wiped out by plague, the buildings gradually rotted away and today, all that remains is the chapel next to a decidedly non-contemporary barn.

Still, I feel St Sebastien is working hard to protect me. This is because I know he knows I don’t believe in any of his nonsense and he’s under orders to convince me.

And thus he looks over me, pinned to the window frame above my laptop. Apt really.

As I said, we headed up to Crondall after Mirinda finished her weekly radio programme. It was rather warm today so the lack of shade certainly tested our resolve. It was the sort of day that the Brits rush to the beach and social distancing rulers are scaled down.

As we wandered around the fields, we saw very few people though we did see an awful lot of border terriers. I think the border terrier might just be the village emblem. Or mascot. Maybe they’re all related. It is, after all, a village where everyone seems to know your name. And the name of your dog.

There was one dog (not a border terrier) who thought she deserved to upset a family picnic. She was very funny, leaping onto the blanket, looking for some yummy scraps. She then headed over to our two to say hello then to two couples, both of whom had border terriers. It was almost as if she’d been in isolation for a fortnight and had finally been allowed out.

The incredibly elaborate, and growing more so daily, shed has almost all its solar panels on the roof. The walls have also started going up which means, as it continues to grow, we’ll only be able to glimpse the inside through the massive great front doorway.

It is an amazing shed. I have no idea what it’s going to be used for. There’s no livestock in Crondall though there’s a lot of farmland. I can only think it’s for some sort of agricultural processing. Inside, there’s also a raised section – a sort of Meccano version of a mezzanine.

As well as the solar panels, there’s also an awfully thick layer of insulation between the roof and the rafters as well as in the walls. This shed is going to be environmentally friendly and a half.

And it’s wonderfully intriguing.

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Handling rejection

The other day I researched, wrote up and submitted a short biographical article to Wikipedia. It was about Dorothy Darnell, the founder of The Jane Austen Society, among other things. My submission was rejected.

That’s all perfectly fine. The reasons were valid and I feel it proves how rigorous the Wikipedia system of review can be.

One major reason for rejection was that she just wasn’t notable enough. That’s a bit sad for poor Dorothy. So, in order to give her at least a small bit of recognition, I’ve included my submission in this post.

For clarity I’ve removed the citations but include a short bibliography at the bottom. And, I have to admit, because I wrote it for Wikipedia, it’s not in my usual chaotic style.

Dorothy Gwynnyd Darnell

Dorothy Gwynnyd Darnell was born in Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland on 21 April 1876. She was the daughter of the Reverend Daniel Charles West Darnell (1841-1903), Vicar of Portsmouth from 1899 until his death from typhoid and pneumonia in 1903 and Elizabeth Darnell (nee Fisher) (1844-1927).

She studied art under Sir William Nicholson and exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts, London in 1904 (Daphne), 1906 (Sweet and Twenty), 1907 (“Much study is a weariness of the flesh“), 1908 (“Oh, mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?” Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs), 1910 (“Poor and content is rich, and rich enough“), 1912 (A maid of Antwerp) and 1914 (Lysbett).

Her career as an artist was from 1904-1922. She lived at 25 Campden House Road, Kensington, London, during this time. She specialised in portrait painting, her most notable being one of English musician, Emily Daymond painted before 1922.

Image from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emily_Daymond

Sometime before 1939, Dorothy Darnell moved to Alton, Hampshire where she lived with her sister, Amy Beatrix Darnell (1873-1970).

Dorothy Darnell was the inspiration behind the creation of the Jane Austen Society which she founded in 1940. The main purpose behind the creation of the society was in order to purchase Chawton Cottage, the house where Jane Austen lived from 1809-1817. Dorothy Darnell served as secretary of the society, a role shared with the novelist Elizabeth Jenkins. Her sister, Amy Beatrix Darnell served as the Treasurer of the society.

Dorothy died at home, at Brook Cottage, Lenten Street, Alton on 12 October 1953.

Dorothy somewhat overshadowed by the Patriachy

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • “1939 England and Wales Register for Dorothy G Darnell”.
  • “History In Portsmouth”. historyinportsmouth.co.uk. Retrieved 18 May 2020.
  • “A History of Lomond Park : 1905 – 2005” (PDF).
  • “The exhibition of the Royal Academy, 1904. The 136th. | Exhibition Catalogues | RA Collection | Royal Academy of Arts”. www.royalacademy.org.uk. Retrieved 18 May 2020.
  • “The exhibition of the Royal Academy, 1906. The 138th. | Exhibition Catalogues | RA Collection | Royal Academy of Arts”. www.royalacademy.org.uk. Retrieved 18 May 2020.
  • “The exhibition of the Royal Academy, 1907. The 139th. | Exhibition Catalogues | RA Collection | Royal Academy of Arts”. www.royalacademy.org.uk. Retrieved 18 May 2020.
  • “The exhibition of the Royal Academy, 1908. The 140th. | Exhibition Catalogues | RA Collection | Royal Academy of Arts”. www.royalacademy.org.uk. Retrieved 18 May 2020.
  • “The exhibition of the Royal Academy, 1910. The 142nd. | Exhibition Catalogues | RA Collection | Royal Academy of Arts”. www.royalacademy.org.uk. Retrieved 18 May 2020.
  • “The exhibition of the Royal Academy, 1912. The 144th. | Exhibition Catalogues | RA Collection | Royal Academy of Arts”. www.royalacademy.org.uk. Retrieved 18 May 2020.
  • “The exhibition of the Royal Academy, 1914. The 146th. | Exhibition Catalogues | RA Collection | Royal Academy of Arts”. www.royalacademy.org.uk. Retrieved 18 May 2020.
  • “Emily Daymond (1866–1949) | Art UK”. artuk.org. Retrieved 18 May 2020.
  • Society, Jane Austen (1967). Collected reports of the Jane Austen Society, 1949-1965. Dawson.
  • “England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995”. www.ancestry.co.uk. Retrieved 18 May 2020.
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Why do Americans call pizza pie?

In some very good news, today, we received the last ‘refund’ of paid out money for our sadly cancelled Dutch trip. It was four e-vouchers for our Eurostar tickets. We now have a year to rebook.

What with the insurance paying for two bookings we couldn’t get a refund on, the whole unholiday cost us about £80. That’s definitely a win for us. And it means, hopefully, we can go to the Netherlands in 2021 and pretend this year just didn’t happen.

Freya was in a position to wish today hadn’t happened.

I find it extraordinary that dogs love puddles, rivers, murky ponds, any kind of water…except when it comes to bath time. Say what you like, but this face is not happy.

She gets very dusty does Freya. And, because she’s supposed to be white, she soon looks a bit ashen. Eventually it all gets a bit too much and a bath is called for. This is most necessary when we see other white dogs who seem to shine in the sun.

Mind you, as much as she hates it, Freya is very well behaved in the sink. She puts up with it. Emma, on the other hand, does everything she can to make it as awkward as possible. I think this shows who has the higher IQ. After all, Freya doesn’t take very long in the sink while Emma can be in there for hours.

It was the same with the poodles. Hating a bath, I mean. I remember Carmen always trying to stick her head over the side of the bath in an attempt to avoid getting her face wet.

Of course, the earlier discomfort was quickly forgotten when we piled into the car to head to Thursley for a delightful and new walk.

Mirinda has just about walked all over Thursley. At least that’s what she thought before today. We discovered a little track that led us up and through a small wood, emerging on a farm track. The shade thrown by the trees was most welcome.

Though the shade wasn’t as refreshing as the pond which was being utilised by family groups, splashing, swimming and generally cooling off in the best way known to man or beast.

Actually, like the kids in the trees on Sunday, it was excellent to see kids swimming in the pond. They call it ‘wild swimming’ here in the UK. Though, if you ask me, it’s not exactly ‘wild’. Unless by ‘wild’ they mean free from any chemicals.

It reminded me of trips down to the Nepean River as a kid. Or the Blue Pool at Glenbrook. There really is nothing quite like swimming in real water.

There’s also not much like walking through real woodland on a hot and sunny day.

In answer to my post title, it dates back to around the early 20th century. Italian immigrants in New York started making their pizzas and the bemused Americans, in an attempt to describe them, said they were like a pie. They were, after all, round and cut into triangles with a crusty base.

In order to Americanise a dish which already had a more than adequate name, they called them tomato pies. (Of course this is before the abomination that is ham and pineapple pizza.) The two names then came together in an odd sort of way in order for Dean Martin to sing “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore!

Which is why the question came to mind. I was humming the song (it was in my head for some reason) and I suddenly wondered. And now I know.

Phew.

(A big thank you to Tom at the Crust Kingdom for the information. Imagine, an entire website devoted to one of the world’s greatest foods. I’m drooling like Homer Simpson.)

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The short lived breathable Borough

It seemed like only yesterday that I walked into Farnham to do my Friday shop. In fact it was a weekend ago. So, first thing this morning, I set off, once again, for my Monday shop. Obviously I’m just getting used to this new routine.

The park was surprisingly empty of dog walkers, joggers and just people walking around. There were a few but nowhere near as many as there has been during Lockdown.

In particular there was a lack of joggers. It was getting like there was a peak hour jam of them just a few weeks ago. Now, it’s a smattering. Like normal.

I can’t say I’m complaining. Dodging non-socially distancing joggers is not a sport I enjoy.

This general lack of people should have been a forewarning of things to come.

Having spent some quids in Waitrose, I had to wander down to Boots and Smiths. Straight away, as I emerged from the Lion and Lamb, I noticed an increase in traffic. An almost constant stream of cars was heading from West Street to the Borough. Some were heading up Castle Street. Some straight on.

Don’t get the wrong idea, it wasn’t continuous. The stream stopped and started. But, there was a lot more than, say, last Monday. This increase was immediately apparent upon entering The Borough.

A lot of people have been suggesting that the world, post-corona, will be better. Less pollution, more care and consideration, a much more pleasant planet for us all. I’ve never ascribed to this nonsense. Today bore that out.

The air in The Borough was back to tasting foul. The once fresh air has been returned to it’s normal foulness. I guess that’ll be the end of any trips to Smiths without an oxygen mask then.

As it was it was a wasted trip because of their new, anti-old people opening hours. They weren’t opening for 20 minutes and I didn’t want to stand around choking. I went home.

And the park was pleasant walking home as well.

Not to mention home, were Gardener Dave, Crazy Andy and Matt were hard at it, making it all look beautiful just like they do every fortnight.

Mind you, Gardener Dave wasn’t that keen on moving the fatsia japonica. It didn’t like it by my office in The Garden of One Thousand Yaps so it’s now been re-homed in the Shady Bed. Poor Dave. It was a shitty job but someone had to do it. And, as I told him, that someone wasn’t going to be me.

I spent a bit of time in my office, researching Dorothy Darnell and creating a Wikipedia page for her. It’s been a while since I made an entry and things have changed a bit. Still, eventually I’d completed the writing and the entry is now in the hands of The Reviewers.

And for anyone who doubts the veracity of Wikipedia content, The Reviewers peer review entries EXACTLY the same as peer reviewed journals.

After I’d submitted my article for review, Mirinda told me about some snooty journal that poo-poos citations to Wikipedia articles. I assume the same journal prefers old content rather than right up to date, current information.

As I have said a gazillion times, information is only as good as the person disseminating it. I always think of Nicktor and his collection of 1910 Encyclopaedia Brittanica which he uses for all his informational needs. Funny boy.

Information, like technology, continues to move forward. New forms of access are not necessarily bad or wrong. They merely need to be judged. The secret is not to take everything at face value. Or, as I like to call it, Facebook Value.

Anyway, that was most of my morning. After lunch, Mirinda pottered around in the garden distributing a new delivery of plants that turned up unexpectedly during our salad. I returned to my office to sort out some articles for Mirinda’s latest writing project.

Late in the afternoon we headed off for Frensham. The day had been quite warm so we figured a wander round the pond would be excellent. It was. And we weren’t the only ones who thought so.

Actually, there were a lot of people at Frensham as well as dogs. All family groups, socially isolated but any moments without any sign of humanity. were rare. Mind you, they were all rather jolly and smiley and happy. And all the dogs were delighted.

Finally, wrapping the day up, we sat on the terrace and had dinner (sea bass) while we listened to my FATN recording from last week. Mirinda thought it was excellent; the best she’s ever heard.

She thought Ann and I work brilliantly together and it sounded more like a radio programme than a Talking Newspaper edition.

I’m going to so miss it when we finally return to the studio.

Just in passing, I’d like to plug a blog I subscribed to the other day. I heard a UK nurse (Hannah) talking about her blog on the World Service on the weekend and I thought I’d check it out. She writes extremely well and for anyone really wanting to know what it’s like on the so-called ‘frontline’, you could do worse than read her entries.

It’s The Corona Lisa.

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