Not old! Not sexy!

Well, I did this today…

That feels better!

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Lunch with Dawn

After the gym and after Skype, I took a very pleasant bus ride across to Haslemere to have lunch with Dawn. It was her turn so we ate at The Mill which is definitely my second favourite pub (at the moment). My favourite, of course, is the Nelson Arms in Farnham.

The day looked a bit gloomy but the rain held off until I was back in the bus on the way home. Mind you, while it looked gloomy it certainly wasn’t particularly cold. I quite like this balmy late Summer though clearly it won’t last. I mean Autumn is only four days away.

Whenever we have lunch, Dawn and I seem to just talk non-stop. Subjects change, speaker changes, the whole shebang. It’s quite unlike anyone else I meet up with. That’s just one of the reasons why I love having Lunch with Dawn. Another is because she reckoned my beard made me look sexy.

Given I’m so shallow, this is quite dangerous. I remember years ago Lisa (a nomad actor) told me I looked sexy in black skinny leg jeans and I wore black skinny leg jeans for years afterwards.

But it wasn’t just about beards. Lunch was also very good. I had the fishcake while Dawn had one of the veggie options which was a sort of vegetable curry and rice. Both meals were lovely. Of course the beer was 6X which is definitely one of the best things about The Mill.

Dawn: This bar is very high!
Gary: It’s to keep the little people away.

Dawn filled me in on all the important things like how Basil is doing (very well considering his age and various medical issues), how much hair is collected in the boy’s shower in their house (vast quantities) and the ridiculous amount of money it costs to see something in the Natural History Museum collection (too much…particularly when it might not be what you want to see).

All in all, it was a lovely hour (or so) before I was back on the bus going home.

Don’t you think I’m sexy?

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Saharan skies

The worst storm to hit the UK in, like, forever! Hurricane Ophelia hit Ireland and caused all sorts of serious damage. There were three fatalities (two from trees falling on cars and the third from someone chainsawing a tree that had fallen) and around 200,000 homes were without electricity.

While Ireland suffered under the onslaught, here in Surrey it was quite windy but the over riding effect was the sky. In London it was bright orange (“It’s because of Donald Trump” quipped a Tweet on my feed) while here it just looked quite surreal.

A few people in the park were hurrying home from their doggie walks in order to beat the rain…which never came. This included a mad old woman who said I looked like both my dogs. She stated that I shared hair colour with Emma and beard colour with Freya. I thought that was bit harsh though her daughter claimed that that explained why she had a black greyhound…because she was a tall, leggy brunette.

This was after lunch. The morning had been spent with Gardener Dave and his young assistant, Sam. They had a couple of big jobs this week.

Along the path Mirinda wants a line of lavender so a bed was required. This was Major Job #1. And it looks fantastic, if somewhat naked. As soon as we get some lavender, it’ll look even better.

Freya Inspection

Major Job #2 was increasing the Former Residence of Xun Ma. The cistus and the Mexican orange blossom bushes have been very successful but were overhanging the bed and encroaching on the grass. For this reason, Mirinda wanted the bed widened a bit. Again, it looks excellent…though empty.

Actually it only looks empty because after they’d gone, I shoved a whole load of daffodil bulbs in there. I also put a lot more in the front garden, in front of the jasmine. There’s going to be a lot of daffs next spring!

The other really important thing I did today was make my Christmas cake. I know it’s a month later than I normally like to do it but given I spent Setpmber in France, I figure it’s allowed. And Delia says that you can get away with six weeks as a minimum so I’ll be fine.

And the reason the sky was so orange? Ophelia brought with her a load of sand from the Sahara.

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Still not a normal Sunday

We’re still hanging out to have an actual complete weekend together. Since returning from Provence, it’s just not happened at all.

This weekend looked like being The One but then a very important meeting popped up first thing on Monday morning so Mirinda decided to go to the flat tonight to avoid any possible problems with the trains. She left at 16:10 while I took the girls to the park for a late wander.

Puppies in the park

Obviously it wasn’t my first view of the park today. First thing I went up to town to buy food for lunch. I’d offered Japanese but Mirinda really fancied roast lamb and so it was. Because she was leaving for town, we decided to have a traditional Sunday lunchtime roast…though without the usual ‘traditional’ unhealthy trappings.

Walking back from the shops

Apart from shopping and cooking, I spent quite a bit of time creating more citation entries for Mirinda while she worked on her DBA. I also deciphered the stuff she needs to do for the university in order to complete her thesis. Talk about involved! There’s a lot of data protection concerns as well as ownership, etc. but we managed to plough through it all and work out what needs to be done.

Mirinda also took me through what I need to get the gardeners to do tomorrow. Because she won’t be here, it’s all in my hands. That’s rather scary. By the end of our instructional, I had a detailed list of 13 things.

Back to today…lunch was delicious and, after another episode of Star Trek Discovery (superb), Mirinda left and I took the girls up to the park.

Autumn evening

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Careful! Children running!

Overheard in Waitrose:

8 YEAR OLD: Mum? Mum? Mum? How will we know where to go? Mum? MUM! MUM! How will we know where to go, mum? How?
MUM: It’s Farnham Park, darling, how hard can it be to find?
8YO: Not the park! I know where the park is, mum! No. How will we know where to run? In the race, mum? How will we know? Mum? Mum? Mum? MUM! MUM! How will we know?
MUM: I don’t know. Probably someone will tell you.

I was going to tell the impatient boy that the Farnham Park cross country race is set out between little plastic flags stuck in the ground but I was called forward to be served. So I didn’t. I know this because it happens every year and the park is dotted with the little plastic flags of red and yellow. Then, at the ‘off’ the park is full of yelling parents and running kids.

The other thing that the cross country race is characterised by is the fact that hordes of families swarm across Castle Street and into the park, heading for the Castle where these sort of things tend to begin. It’s definitely a good day to avoid the park.

After shopping, I skirted the park, avoiding thousands of tiny creatures darting this way and that.

I’ve just realised that while I’ve posted various meals we serve at Chez Gaz, they are generally just dinners. Lunch is also about lo-carb and health. Generally (though not always) it’s salad. That’s not to say boring salad by any means. I try and make them different and varied. For instance, I was quite pleased with today’s which I call my pepper steak and cheese with tomato and basil mayonnaise.

But before lunch we went up to the garden centre to check out the trees. We need to replace the now extinct cherry and want something that has already started growing.

Late in the day, Mirinda took the girls up to Crondall while I stayed home to prepare dinner (pork with fennel) and in order for Emma to have an FSI. Bloody dog. And she had the nerve to get upset with me for giving her a bath!

We eventually settled down to the new Star Trek series, Discovery. It really is very, very good.

Mirinda has now, finally, been published. A few copies of the journal arrived on Friday and here’s the front cover. It’s a jolly good read, full of thrills and spills and comic moments of pure genius…

The sentence preceding the photo may not be completely accurate.

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More about food

Tonight I made roast sea bass and Mediterranean vegetables. It’s an Antony Worrall Thompson recipe that I’ve adapted to be less carby.

It’s another simple recipe which was very good as I’d spent a huge swadge of the day cleaning the flat. That’s not exactly true. It took me longer in travelling than actual cleaning but it’s all part of it.

That’s the thing with having a few extra rooms over 30 miles away. It’s not like you can just climb a set of stairs to get to them.

I have a bit of a system when it comes to cleaning the flat so it doesn’t take longer than it has to and I can leave Canary Wharf before the office workers start to flood the Tube.

The train ride also gave me a chance to catch up with the new series of Narcos which was so exciting this morning that I didn’t really need the bike at the gym to get my heart rate up. (Mirinda claims that doesn’t count as proper cardio.)

I was home by 5:30 and walked into an empty house as Mirinda was walking the girls in the park.

After a short rest I set to with dinner.

Sea bass & Mediterranean veg

It was pronounced delicious.

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I forgot to mention yesterday that Una Stubbs was in the audience. Obviously she knows Martin Freeman from Sherlock and would go and see him.

While that’s nothing special it did cause a Scottish couple from Glasgow to start up a conversation with Mirinda. They’d seen Una and just felt the need to tell someone about it. That someone turned out to be Mirinda.

They were very nice and we chatted during the interval.

By the way, Una is very tiny.

Also yesterday I hit a new, all time low of 78.7kg at Wednesday weigh-in. I was overjoyed at this because I’d hit a bit of a plateau. This happens when you go all lo-carb.

It’s good to know I’m back to losing weight now. I guess that explains why my jeans are too big…again. I also feel really good, mentally as well as physically.

I’d love to tell everyone how good this lifestyle is and how easy but I know people would just make excuses or justify their lifestyle choices. So there’ll be no proselytising from me.

However, just to prove that you can lose weight and still eat brilliant food…here’s our dinner for tonight.

Lamb chops, cauli rice, stir fried veg

All freshly made from natural ingredients. And it only took 20 minutes.

And, before I go, here’s a photo of the puppies on Mirinda’s office chair, fast asleep.


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Love Labour! Lost.

I do like a bit of alliteration. It reminds me of a story that Pete Parsons told me a while ago. When he was in little school, his teacher would call all the boys by just their surnames apart from him. He was called by his whole name. One day he approached the teacher and asked why she called the other boys by their surnames but not him. She explained to him that it was because he was an alliteration. He thanked her and went home.

At home, having thought it over, he asked his mother what illiterate meant. When she asked why he wanted to know he said because his teacher said he was one.

Not that that has anything to do with this post…the alliteration of the title refers to a play we saw tonight at the Noel Coward theatre. The play was called Labour of Love and featured Martin Freeman and Tamsin Greig in the main parts.

The play is new. So new, in fact, that it features the 2017 election results. That is when the play begins in an MP’s office in the beginning of the north (or the end of the south). It then goes backwards showing us what has happened over the last 27 years. It’s a marvellous play; very fresh, very British, very funny.

It effectively uses video to take the audience back while the set is changed. While each scene is in the same place, the change of time is reflected in the furnishings, the technology and the clock. And Freeman’s hair. The hair is amazingly clever.

Freeman and Greig had a great chemistry and worked together beautifully though there was almost a bit of a crack up during one particularly slapstick scene. Not that that mattered. It was extremely funny.

The playwright, James Graham, has written quite a few political works (for stage, TV and film) and he totally knows his subject. He also knows how to make an audience laugh. Out loud. A lot. Even the Americans in the front row thought it was funny and they had no idea who anyone was.

I should also mention the wonderful Rachael Stirling who played Elizabeth, who was very different from her role as the wife in The Detectorists.

All round a superb night out. Of course we started at Salieri’s for dinner before wandering up through Covent Garden, which always makes a night complete.

I should mention that Mirinda almost forgot to come to the theatre. When I texted asking how long she’d be she was on a ferry going back to the flat. She jumped off and managed to catch one back. She’s very forgetful at the moment because of work pressures.

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Big jeans woe

Another morning at the gym; another solid work out.

And I think my jeans are getting too loose…again. That’s really, really annoying. Okay, I can put another hole in the belt but I really dislike wearing loose jeans. Mirinda thinks it might just be my thighs losing a bit of mass over the last month away from the gym. I’m going to cling to that before committing to buying a new pair of smaller jeans.

At home I Skyped with mum during which I fixed up her spam email problem. I’m sure I’ve done this before. (Maybe I should just check every now and then.)

After lunch, I took the girls to the park, noticing the number of brown leaves now starting to litter the grass.

It’s interesting that the same isn’t happening at the house yet. Maybe our trees (and shrubs) are waiting for the REAL autumn start date. Speaking of the garden…I planted even more daffodil bulbs, including some in the front garden. Spring will be very yellow at our place.

Then some very good news regarding the sale of the cottage. Matt, the real estate agent called to say he had two prospective buyers who had viewed and were very interested. This is in spite of the awful tenant telling them how bad everything is and generally trying to scupper the sale.

Anyway, one of the interested parties has been for a second viewing along with a builder to ascertain how much essential work would cost. The other party is planning to do the same this week. Matt is quietly confident that one of them might just make an offer at close to the asking price.

To say I was overjoyed is really understating how happy his phone call made me. While we’re not banking on anything, the truth is, a little bit of weight has been lifted.

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First thing Mirinda and I left the house as far as the park when she turned left to work while I went right to the gym.

I had a good solid work out, feeling pretty good afterwards, then continued on, into town for a Starbucks and shop before heading back home.

At home it was a lot of admin as well as setting up our new printer. The old printer died just before I went away with the Weasels. Because I knew I’d forget it wasn’t working, I left a note on it saying “Fix this before using!” It was very irritating though possibly not as irritating as not being able to fix it. I ordered a new one and it turned up today.

It’s white and very pretty.

It also prints…well, now that I’ve set it up it does. Trust me to get one that needs a lot of fussing and fiddling. Fortunately I quite like that so it’s not exactly wasted time.

The admin was basically paying people and forwarding emails…that sort of thing.

In the afternoon (after taking the girls for a walk, of course) I planted some flox in the Day-z Bed as well as some more daffodils ready for next spring. There must be close to a thousand dotted around now.

While they wait for spring, the park is starting to go all autumn.

A grime old day

Though it’s not at all cold. Well, for me, anyway. It was cold but it’s now slightly warmer.

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