British Eccentrics: A Postscript To Eggs Like Fanny’s

Observatory

Following on from yesterday’s comments, I took another look at Fanny. At the heart of her cookery were Escoffier’s rules, so this morning I followed her technique for plain simple scrambled eggs and suddenly realised the difference, and why she became an influence on chefs. To a postwar rationed bankrupt nation her food was aspirational.

The recipe only works if you defy all the techniques you’ve learned about gentle heat and light cooking. You use an scorching iron skillet, fresh red-yolk farm eggs, smoking butter and oil, no milk, a sharp-edged fork, an enormous amount of vigour and a very vigilant eye. The second the eggs start to coagulate you churn without disturbing the mix (some French chefs mix eggs with the blade of a knife) and turn off the heat. The result is deep orange, lumpy and full of variant colour and texture – so unique-looking that I couldn’t find an online shot remotely like them (I did not have time to stop for a pan-selfie). I once had a dish of parsi eggs on the roof of an old fort in India that had the exact same colour – that’s the only reference I have.

Or you could eat these. This is the Wikipedia photo entry for ‘scrambled eggs’, like someone emptied a packet of crisps into a bowl. Fanny wasn’t pretty but she was no fool.

64 comments on “British Eccentrics: A Postscript To Eggs Like Fanny’s”

  1. Liz Thompson says:

    I think the fact that TV was black and white at the time caused some of the evil effects on home cooking. We had farm eggs, lived opposite the farm concerned, ditto fresh and untreated milk. Locally grown veg too. But alas, veg had to be boiled for at least half an hour, eggs cooked till solid as concrete, milk without a fridge was risky in summer after several hours had gone by….. My mother once reheated a culinary endeavour I brought home from school in the oven with the plastic bag still over it “so that it wouldn’t burn”. Glazed apple dumpling….. We did our best, but at a time when plastic bags were new technology and colour TV an American rumour, life wuz ‘ard.

  2. Peter Tromans says:

    According to Commissaire Maigret, the secret to simple egg dishes, especially omelettes, is intense whipping instead of stirring or gentle whisking. For scrambled eggs, whip the egg with yolk before adding any milk/cream/yoghurt or whatever. For omelettes, separate the white and yolk, whip the white (severely), fold in the yolk (keep whipping), add other ingredients as desired. It works.

  3. SteveB says:

    Reminds me of sunday morning cooking at home in the 60s. My sister and I had to take turns cooking (= frying up) for our parents using exactly a think iron pan like that.
    School lunch on a good day was liver and mash followed by semolina. At least it kept me thin, because I couldn’t bear to eat it most of the time.

  4. Mike says:

    I remember seeing the Craddocks on telly when I was just a lad.
    She struck me as barking mad even at my tender age, and I could never understand why Johhny never gave her a slap she was so rude to him.

  5. Helen Martin says:

    Regardless of anything else who would even think of putting mincemeat in an omelet? There is no way it could cook and if you want to eat raw mincemeat (I do occasionally) well it won’t do you any good. I’m with you on the whisking and whisking, though, and just had a friend tell me the same about a quiche her son had made.

  6. Ian Luck says:

    I learned to cook at school – and at home, by both parents. Mum was a very good cook, as was Dad – his mum was a Cordon Bleu Chef, who spent her summers in Jersey cooking for rich friends of hers. Dad picked up things like preparing fish, crabs, and lobsters, from her, which always fascinated me, watching him literally dismantle an annoyed-looking crab, almost without thinking about it, knowing the good bits from the not good bits. He showed me the good cheeses, too, and the life changer when I came in hungry, one day, when I was about 12, and asked him to make me a bacon sandwich, and he showed me how to do it myself – possibly the least unpleasant life skill to learn. His rules for cooking were simple:
    “If it’s brown, it’s done. If it’s black, it’s buggered.” I have found that to be absolutely true.

  7. Jan says:

    Ian Dead Mans Fingers….amongst the not so good bits of crab.Great phrase I always thought and also a pretty good spiced rum. Made in Cornwall. I tried Dead Mans Fingers rum earlier this year whilst I was on a camping holiday in the Scillys with no proper sleeping bag. It was SO COLD I used to have to put all my clothes on at once plus a coat every night. Then when the sun came up would be really warm by about 0730. Had to get undressed to start the day. Camping is bloody well weird. It’s like real life gone awry.

    One particularly cold + stormy day (and there were a few to choose from) after coming back to St Mary’s from a visit to one of the now uninhabited islands I tried Dead Mans Fingers in one of the locals. God it was good. I actually felt warm for a few minutes. Two doubles I had, then had some trouble getting back to the campsite from the harbour. Everything on that island seemed to have moved that evening.

    Got a bottle last Wednesday for some reason. And a bottle of Kraken. Krakens a lovely rum but black like treacle. Not as spiced as D.M.Fs but very pleasant stuff.

  8. Ian Luck says:

    Kraken Rum is one of the three required spirits in our house. The other two being;
    Standard Jack Daniels – it’s perfect as is, and does not need any millennial tarting up:
    Copper House Gin, by Adnams of Southwold. Again, perfect as is.

  9. Jan says:

    Can’t be doing with whisky can cope with a couple of the Irish versions but think its ruddy unpleasant stuff really.

    My tastebuds don’t register any difference between gins unless they have been specifically flavoured. My sister got some orange gin for Xmas. That was ok. I make sloe gin we’ve got a couple of bulass bushes on the farm. Bulasses are like large sloes and we have a good few normal sloe bushes. The real trick with making sloe gin – which is more like a liqueur than any sort of gin is lots of sugar and to freeze the bulasses or sloes prior to making the s.g. They are a bit like parsnips they won’t sweeten or create a decent taste till they have been exposed to a frost or a pretend freezer frost. Best to use the cheapest roughest Aldi type gin to create s.g. which is very handy cos that’s wot I buy anyway. Am a right connoisseur me!

  10. Helen Martin says:

    Always wondered about sloe gin. Thank you, Jan. Looked it up and found making sloe gin is easy. Freeze berries, put layer in bottle, sugar, berries, sugar , etc. till bottle full. Pour in gin. Put in dark cupboard for 2 to 3 months. Every time you think about it take out bottle and shake. At the end you can make jam from the berries or mash and add chocolate (don’t know in what form, though). We aren’t one of the areas with blackthorn bushes, though. Everyone else but not us.

  11. snowy says:

    I think I might of over done it a bit* on the Sloes this year:

    Sloe Syrup, a teaspoon is a remedy for a cough, a tablespoon to go onto a bowl of porridge or diluted as a cordial.

    Sloe and Crabapple jelly, serve with Roast Pork, Duck, Goose or as a change from the over-sugared Cranberry that gets doled out at this time of year. Any leftover goes on toast as an alternative to marmalade.

    Hedgerow jam, has got some sloes in it somewhere… amid the haws, hips, rowan, bramble, elderberries and assorted apples.

    [And a rather experimental Chutney which hopefully might have calmed down enough to be actually edible after about 6 months er… maturing. Assuming it hasn’t dissolved the jars and gone wandering about.]

    Tipsy Sloe Chocolate is quite easy: butter a Swiss Roll tin, [or anything similar], mash the sloes to get the stones out and spread the fruit across the tray. Melt a couple of large bars of Chocolate in the microwave and pour over the fruit. Allow to cool down a bit, score into squares and then transfer to the fridge to firm up.

    [* 10kg is a bit much, even by my standards! But it was a very, very strange year for fruit.]

    [H, if you are unable to make your own, a little light looking up reveals that the Devine Vinyard in Victoria do Sloe Gin as a seasonal special over your way at this time of year, it even won an award! Available in liquor stores.]

  12. Ian Luck says:

    Jan. Bullaces, like Medlars, and the fruit of the Wild Service Tree (sometimes known as ‘Chequers’) have to be (and I love this word) ‘Bletted’ or allowed to partially rot from frost action on the branch, before they become palatable. They have to be left on the branch, though – picking them, and sticking them in the freezer just turns them into acidic slurry. Temperature variation, and moisture, and sunlight have their parts to play in the bletting process, and an airtight, dry, and artificial frost is no use at all.

  13. Ian Luck says:

    Helen – Sloe Gin is awesome. I have been hammered on Sloe Gin many times, and suffered no after effects.

  14. Ian Luck says:

    I had a really nasty cold over last week, and got rid of the sore throat by gargling with Johnny Walker Red Label. It’s like mouthwash, but doesn’t harm you if you swallow any. Which happened quite a bit, actually.

  15. Helen Martin says:

    Thank you Snowy and Ian. It involves alcohol so of course this crowd has knowledge and opinion on the whole matter. I will look into the local sloe gin, but I’m going to inquire at my local plant store because I have a nice area that may be crying out for a few bushes and then I could make my own. You guys are going to turn me into a drinker at this rate.

  16. Jan says:

    Tell you wot Ian its always worked for me with sloes the short freezer stay. Shouldn’t leave em in too long just long enough to mimic an overnight frost / part thaw. Probably best not give them time to freeze completely through but needs more than just getting cold. Cos I’m in a part of the UK where winters damp rather than proper cold the fruit rots to an unusable state if left on the Bush. Is what the French called arse fruit cos they pretty much look like anal sphincters- is that Medlar? I’ve never really Sussed out wot Medlars actually are! Never heard the term WILD SERVICE TREE that sounds odd. Wots chequer fruit then? It was my landlady who identified bulasses to me I just thought they were big sloes. I’ve heard about bletting its a proper good term isn’t it?

    Snows can u use milk chocolate for the tipsy sloe wonderful sounding thing? I take it that u r using the fruit you have removed from the sloe gin Mix? I have been given a really big bar of Swiss chocolate (milk choc) this Xmas and this sounds like a good use for some of it. But it would be a right waste if dark choc would be more suitable. And I immediately thought dark chocolate when I read your recipe.

    I used to make rum tof using all different summer fruits (but it always ended up looking dark purple cos I added too many blackberries at summers end that I didn’t use for jam. ) I used to strain the fruit out and leave a small quantity of the Rum liquid in and it went brilliantly with chocolate ice cream. And vanilla ice cream come to that.

    Really what we r on about here are pre refrigeration methods of preserving fruit through the wintertime. It’s just a extra bonus that it involves alcohol. But wot a bonus!

    I seem to remember I gave Sir Christopher of Fowler a little bottle of sloe gin once upon a time. (Bet he binned it in case of possible poisoning)

    Snowy there’s tons of berries and nuts about this year really loads. It’s supposed to be a good indicator of a very cold spell in winter. A bloke from Norfolk told me that once. A sheep farmer was talking about it the other day that there’s a few pointers to a harsh winter. Muggins here has been daft enough to run her freezer stocks down (cos the ruddy thing was rammed full) best I start cooking and yellow sticker buying to get it filled up again. If we get snowed in its a fair old plod to the village to find everyone’s beaten you to the bread. Stocked up with long life milk, tinned and dried foods. Time to get properly sorted when I get back. Boots want ‘re heeling as well.

  17. Jan says:

    Helen

    If you decide to have a go @ making sloe gin get all the doings into a decent size container seal the lid on with tape make sure its really properly watertight and stick it in the boot of your car. It’s a pain in the arse shaking the container about and you keep forgetting all about it. Regularly rolling round the boot in the dark does the trick.

    I recently found some bottles I made a couple of years back it does improve with age. Cheers

  18. Helen Martin says:

    This is without a doubt the strangest and most revelatory discussion we’ve ever had here. And everything is improved with dark rather than milk chocolate.
    I am lacking in all the ingredients for this project but with a little effort I should be able to be in a situation where I have to explain to the officer that the taped jar of alcoholic fruit is just a cooking project.

  19. snowy says:

    This is going to be ‘Turnips’ all over again; and we are all going to get our legs slapped!

    Jan

    Chocolate, I’d go dark but I’m not really a milk choc fan, um… there is a lot going on already with the fruit, sugar, alcohol and flavourings, a good Swiss chocolate will probably get lost under all that and be a bit of a waste. Bettered saved for something where you can actually taste it. [Any hen-houses about? Nip in, lift some really fresh eggs and make a mousse instead?]

    [If you are anywhere near an ASDA they do a dark choc bar 30p/100g that is quite decent. Aldi do a milk choc for the same price.]

    It was a terrible year for fruit round here, Winter was 12 weeks of constant wet followed by 12 weeks of the hottest Spring I can remember. Apples late or not at all, no pears or damsons, elderberries very scanty and the most confused brambles I’ve ever seen!

    I’ve had a farmer tell me the same tale – it’s a load of old tosh – unless you believe that ‘fruit can predict the future’, really? Try asking a tin of cling peaches who’s going to win ‘The Grand National’ and they haven’t got a clue, honestly, that was 6 quid I won’t be getting back.

    Helen

    The post was titled ‘British Eccentrics’ – what did you expect?

    If sloes are not to be found, plums make an excellent substitute, available everywhere and require less sugar. Cherries are also great, even shop bought, a friend made a lovely cherry gin for years.

    General Note for all that might be tempted to try this:

    Steep the fruit and gin in a JAR! Do NOT do it in a bottle as some of the ‘cut and pasted – without actually doing it’ instructions you find in the internet suggest.

  20. Helen Martin says:

    Further reading has led me to absolutely determine to get a prunus spinosa plant. The mashed fruit will dye linen a reddish purple which washes to a lasting blue and *this* set it in stone “in the Middle Ages a commentator on the Talmud described using the fruit in making INK to be used on manuscripts.” I’ve been making inks lately (avocado is a good reddish colour) and would love to try this one.

  21. Ian Luck says:

    Jan – try and get a copy of ‘Food For Free’, by Richard Mabey. It’s full of real old fashioned stuff to do with the wild food available in the UK. If you’re squeamish about killing things, don’t worry – the only animals in this book are shellfish, simply because like plants, they don’t move around a great deal, and also they are easy enough to collect only what you need. I’ve tried a lot of the items in the book, but as I don’t live near a rocky coast, Rock Samphire is going to have to wait, (I love the completely unrelated Marsh Samphire)and if I want to try Alexanders, I’m going to have to find some growing where dogs haven’t used it as a pissoir. Modern copies of this book have better illustrations, but older, 1970’s copies are less fussily edited. I have neither at the moment, both of mine being ‘borrowed’ by persons unknown.

  22. Jan says:

    Point taken entirely Snows ‘re. Wot you say about the wild fruit guide to weather prediction but some ways it always sort of works. But you can make this stuff work in your own mind.

    There’s lots of this samphire round Portland and on the Chesil, think I have tried it and it were lovely. Saying that if you put that much butter with practically anything it would be beautiful.

    Not that squeamish in fact I have so much trouble with deer eating stuff out of the garden…. do you know the flaming things ignore greenery and eat the flowers I think because they must taste sweeter to them the amount of rosebuds and pansy flowers I have lost through the dreadful beasties just hacks me right off. Bloody things! When I drive onto the farm in the evening I pass the orchard and there’s often a couple of youngster deer in there eating their way through a massive pile if fallen Apple’s (was a great year for fruit down our way on) The alcohol is building up in the windfalls by now and i chase the critters down the drive. They definately are a bit intoxicated I’ll catch one of them one night. Be sorted for months!

  23. Jan says:

    This making inks sounds like an interesting idea H. Snowy is bound to know more about this than myself( this sounds like an area of possible Snowy expertise) but if I’ve remembered this properly the main form of ink used by the medieval monks who worked as scribes – and on into the Tudor period and beyond I think…well that was ink made from oak galls.(probably wrong spelling)

    A particular type of wasp I think deposited its eggs into the oak which in turn might have been infected with some semi parasitic organism and they transformed the part of the oak wood they landed on deforming the gall and in some way forming a dark coloured liquid that after being refined by the scribes/monks made a very useful dark coloured ink. Obviously very long lasting + able to be further refined to take on other colours. Real piece of luck discovering this natural product.

    Ingenious really. The medieval period produces some fantastically interesting solutions to problems. Apparently back in them days a better, clearer, more refined blue glass was produced than could be replicated until the last couple of decades of the 20 C. Who knew?

  24. Helen Martin says:

    You’re mostly right about the oak galls aand we don’t have them here partly because we’re lacking in the wasp because we don’t have native oaks, at least not the right kind. Walnut ink is good, too (boil the shells for a very dark ink, also long lasting.) Three elements to ink: a colouring agent, a carrying medium (usually water) and a thickener (gum arabic) to keep particulate from separating out.
    I have a gorgeous book written by a Toronto man on foraging for ink materials. It is eastern specific, though, so aa lot of what he suggests aren’t available on the west coast. Never mind you just follow the general suggestions and see what you get. Begonia blooms are showing promise, as is an ornamental cherry whose leaves give quite a bit of red. If materials require something odd like the washing soda you use to make avocado pits yield up the red dye – well, I’m not likely to discover it on my own.

  25. Jan says:

    How come avocado forms a red ink Helen? Is it from the big central seed stone rather than the flesh or peel?

    You know I don’t think I ever eaten two avocados that taste the same. Not that I’ve eaten many. But they are a weird thing. You know how they say mint mutates very quickly so as you age the taste of mint isn’t as you remember from being a child because in actual fact it just isn’t the same.

    Well avocados seen to have refined this changing flavour thing to the nth degree so each and every fruit tastes different. Most peculiar.

  26. Ian Luck says:

    I’m not squeamish about eating wild stuff – I quite like pigeon, but not keen on picking shot out of my teeth afterwards. I had a friend in Yorkshire whose father had a freezer full of roadkill. I had some wonderful roast pheasant there for dinner once. Yup, roadkill.

  27. Jan says:

    Ian I ‘ve considered it as so many partridge and pheasant are practically suicidal. They throw themselves under the wheels of passing cars. Mad creatures. At a genetic level they seem to have programmed themselves not to take flight as a gent won’t shoot em on the ground. But they are that daft.

    As for deer (my sworn enemies) you occasionally see one lying beside a country road. And the car they’ve collided with is normally a write off. But you never see them more than once.
    So they work their way onto menus one way or another. There’s nowt worse than disentangling shot from round your gums so at least these rta victims don’t pose that problem. Think more folk have probably eaten roadkill than they realise.

  28. Helen Martin says:

    My mother was so angry at the deer for eating the buds off her favourite rose that she said she was going to go out and buy a 30/30 and sit up waiting for them. We had an English friend visiting at the time. He just stared at her and said afterwards that “she really sounded serious”. Yes she was, although she didn’t do it. In the Greater Victoria area (where they make the sloe gin) there is an infestation of deer. They are still talking about the answer to the problem.
    If an animal is killed by a car and you take it away immediately why shouldn’t you eat it? I admit that I wouln’d want the viscera to have been mashed into the flesh but otherwise why not. My grandfather had deer in their freezer (in Saskatchewan) that had definitely not been shot during the season, but he was enough of a farmer not to shoot a doe with young.
    If you can find a book called Stanley Park by Timothy Taylor you can find a whole range of cooking hints and such for wild food. It’s a murder mystery as well.

  29. Helen Martin says:

    Oh, avocadoes. Yes, it’s the pit that yields the dye. Pop it in boiling water to loosen the brown skin and you’re left with a pure creamy white shape. Chop it up, cover with water, boil for a fair length of time then add a tablespoon of washing soda. The dye sort of gushes from the pores. There is a complicated chemistry way of creating the additive but washing soda is what you’re after and so much easier. The people of Guatemala used this dye for centuries but I’ve no idea how it was discovered. I haven’t noticed a change in avocado flavour, but I don’t know how good my sense of taste is.

  30. Jan says:

    Helen I feel exactly the same as your mam. Them deer are not worth pitying that “Bambi” Disney Cartoon was like a total propaganda movie. On the cross country bus to Dorchester shortly before Xmas a very nice lady originally from Canada but resident here since the ’60s , was bit upset as she’d heard shooting nearby her village one day and had serious concerns that deer might have been culled. One of the locals, a farmers widow, reassured her that she had probably heard a bird shoot. But I must confess between us myself and this farming lady could not muster up much support for our four legged floral chomping companions. No sympathy for them creatures whatsoever. I could happily spend hours outside watching meteor showers through the night and take the odd pot shot at invading deer. They wait till its dark the robbing bleeders then they set about selecting their supper out of my container garden. I might as well have kept all me winter flowering pansies in the trays I bought them in and just hand fed the bloody things.

    One night with the patio light on I caught one of the blasted creatures(and it would have e been blasted if I’d had the chance) eating out of the flowerpots on the garden table.

  31. Jan says:

    Interesting about the avocados Helen. Whats in commercial ink then? Chemical dyes?

  32. snowy says:

    The RHS have a list of deer-resistant plants, it breaks down into Spiky, Smelly or both. There are some suggestions of inter-planting herbs and alliums between the florals to mask them, or get the other half to ‘mark territory’.

    [Bonus points if you shout encouraging remarks – out the window – mid-flow, “Can’t you get it any higher?”, “Wave it around a bit!”, “Don’t get it down your leg”, “Watch out for that patch of Nettle… Oops”, “Well it’s your own fault”, “No, I’m not rubbing it with a Dock leaf!]

  33. Helen Martin says:

    You may laugh, Snowy, but they are a real nuisance even if they do look charming. How would you like to wait months for your rose to bloom only to have the whole first flush chomped away? On the prairies it’s pronghorn antelope – gracefully bounding across your grain field after eating the roses.

    Jan: inks are as I described above basically . If they are dye based they’re usually clear but if they are made from ground up material (I have a bottle made from finely ground amethyst) then you need the precipitation preventing matter to keep the powder in suspension. There are acrylic inks which are wonderful to work with but don’t ask me what is in them except acrylic (?) I assume. I have a bottle here which suggests there’s water and acrylic and you should shake lightly before using – an indication of powdered material. Part of the label is covered with hardened paint so I can’t read it.

  34. Ian Luck says:

    Jan – so long as one doesn’t have to scrape the roadkill off the tarmac with a fish slice, then it’s fine by me. If you actually hit and kill a stupid gamebird with your car, then you can’t by law, pick it up – however, should the next car be full of non millennials who will know what to do with dead game, stop and pick it up, then they can. So, if traversing country roads – use two cars. Someone I knew used to dissuade deer by lobbing fireworks at them. They soon learnt that if he was sitting in the kitchen, loud noises they did not like at all would shortly ensue. Deer are considerably smarter than game bords.

  35. Ian Luck says:

    Accidental Tyneside spelling of ‘Birds’ there, I notice. Sorry.

  36. Jan says:

    Now I like this fireworks idea Ian. There’s possibilities in this. I could be sat outside at about 3a.m. wearing me old ski gear watching the Quantratids- the meteors ( – not letting you know I’m into dogging)

    Tried that herb planting wheeze – it don’t dissuade it encourages the fiendish creatures.
    Tell you wot does work to keep squirrels from digging the crocus bulbs out of your containers for their lunch is transplanting a bit of Holly into the tubs. It’s a bit cruel really but it really does work. Doesn’t dissuade the sworn enemies though they live for danger. Just like taking risks the dopey things. Bloody adrenalin junkies.

    It’s like that stuff our Barb bought to keep cats from peeing on her garden. This product was imaginatively titled “Cat get off my garden” and it was like bloody cat cocaine they couldn’t get enough of the stuff.

    Did I ever mention the sheep that came to stay in the early summer of last year? They were dodgy creatures as well. We’ve got quite a few sheep here rare breeds and that are lodged from different farmers. Well we got these three sheep that came to stay that were like this woman’s PETS (yes we were the equivalent of boarding kennels for sheep) Well as they were used to roaming round this woman’s home and garden( crapping everywhere probably ) these things did not much take to being enclosed in a field. There was tons of space for them but they wouldn’t have it they kept legging it. So first thing the electrical shepherd was fitted, that’s a fancy name for an electrified fence. Which I kept getting shocks from. Stopped me from gathering the elderberry flowers for cordial I’ll tell you.

    But these sheep seemed to enjoy being electrocuted and regularly ran at the thing full pelt. Electrical shepherd my arse. Every morning you woke up to the smell of burning wool. Then even worse the landlord fitted bells round their necks so we’d roughly know where they were the bells- the bells! Such a racket it was – like windchimes turned up full volume and these things ran about all day. And I looked a bit like their owner so they ran toward me all the time thinking it was home time. Which was rubbing salt in the wound really. After a few weeks of this noise nuisance I got to really hoping my next glimpse of them might have possibly been in bits well cooked and lying between gravy, mint sauce and roast tatas on a plate round some local pub one Sunday.

  37. Jan says:

    Ink from finally ground amethyst – blimey Helen!

    We used to have this purple ink at school which was really lurid. When we were learning to write with real old fashioned pens.

    Do you have Quink ink in Canada? Quink used to make this turquoise ink that I thought was just such a wonderful colour. However before Xmas this year because I am studying part time at the local college and am pensioner I can go to the the training Salon at the college to be experimented on. After adding in all the different discounts and the free coffee it’s a gr8 way to spend an afternoon…or so I thought. This young apprentice hairdresser told me she would charge me no more for loads (practically a full head) of highlights than she would for just a few colour slices. Which was my original plan just a few strands of colour. Well I like a bargain me and all still would have been well if I hadn’t spotted this beautiful bright turquoise hair colour sample. It looked beautiful really lovely exquisite I thought.

    However I ‘ve actually got white hair which hasn’t been coloured for donkeys years. After this treatment it looked like somebody had tipped a bottle of this turquoise Quink over me head. I looked like an elderly version of that Princess on Frozen. Other students and customers in the Salon were saying “Does that woman know what’s happened to her head!” Was shocking and I had to face spending Christmas with two young men (the nephs ) who would have ripped the Mick out of me something awful for days if I had rocked up with this hairdo.

    So I had to purchase and use industrial quantities of that purple shampoo that’s supposed to brighten white and grey hair. Which has been like regularly tipping the lurid purple skool ink over me head a few times a week. At least I can use gloves when I work it up into a lather. It’s sort of faded to pale green.

  38. Ian Luck says:

    Sheep are notoriously dim. And, like a lot of young people today that are mortally terrified of being seen to be individuals, will follow their ‘leader’, even to their destruction. Sad, but true. I use the description ‘sheep’ quite a lot, as it’s perfect. Also, I’m amused that most ‘sheep’ don’t know what is meant when they are called such.

  39. snowy says:

    Getting mugged by the local wildlife/livestock is the price you pay for living in the green bits, [don’t I know it].

    The amount of nice mushrooms I’ve not had because the milk-bags have caught sight of me coming and started formation pogo-ing all over them, woolly assassins chomping the tops off of stuff I had my eye on. Squiggles taking a bite, and just one bite, out of all the cobnuts before tossing the remainder on the ground like bored potentates.

    Rabbits have had a population collapse and are only just beginning to recover, Deer aren’t as common round here as they are 6-7 miles away, where they can be a real problem. A friend was plagued by Badgers, nasty things with teeth and claws. They would rip up the lawn to get worms/leather-jackets, he was too shy to ‘water the garden’ and ended up paying ‘protection money’ in the form of bags of peanuts. [Protected species can’t do much, even if you catch one coughing.]

    Ahem…

    The sort of fireworks you want aren’t generally sold in the UK any more, but can shipped in from European suppliers, [online]. What you can get off the shelf are bird-rockets,[ the local Farm Stores should carry those]. Or Thunderflashes, [most places that let office-types run about in romper-suits splashing Dulux onto unsuspecting trees. Mk IV of Mk V should do.]

    [Holly isn’t particularly cruel, animals recognise the distinctive shape of the leaves and know that it is tough and spiky. Getting enough of it and then nailing it in place presents the challenge.]

    ” ….And now over to Pippa Greenwood for some news on what to do if you discover mould in your spurge”

  40. Jan says:

    No ones told the rabbits round here that they have been having a population crisis. They won’t half be surprised the whole ruddy lot of them.

    Have checked garden containers no visits by sworn enemies – the doe foe – overnight.

    Have a good weekend. The Quatranid meteors peaked last night. I went out and saw a few early on about 2100 but it was that cold and I was well knackered. Couldn’t be bothered getting ski suited up and dragging the duvet outside in the early hours. I slept through the night once I had got into bed. Set the alarm for 0230 and ignored it. Was working Friday afternoon -into the evening. Had only returned home late on Thursday night.

  41. Helen Martin says:

    Mercy! I miss this strand for a day and look what happens. I can imagine your hair, Jan, because I am familiar with Quink and never cared for that colour much. There’s a young woman with three children in our congregation and she has gone the magenta route with the amount of colour varying from week to week. A deep royal purple might be an elegant way to go, but perhaps discrete highlights rather than an all over effect.

    There are rabbits down in the sand banks near a local bridge hopping and tunneling (there’s another of those double the last letter or not things) all over the place and people who have tired of their pet rabbits used to leave them in a nature park across the river but we don’t have them – just raccoons, skunks, and coyotes. There was some sort of European weevil thing imported in with a load of lumber they think that has infested lawns all over the municipality. They wouldn’t be such a problem if the fore mentioned beasties didn’t dig up the grass looking for them.

    I didn’t know about the Quatrantid meteors but it’s been raining and cloudy every night this week so couldn’t have seen them anyway. It usually is this time of year so perhaps that’s why there hasn’t been much made of them

  42. Ian Luck says:

    Jan the fireworks lobbed by my friend at the cervine bastards who were eating his flowers and tree bark, were bangers, which you can buy on line, but not in shops here anymore. Possibly due to the number of people who didn’t understand the science behind explosions, and bid adieu to some of their fingers as a result.

  43. Jan says:

    I didn’t know you couldn’t buy bangers from shops any more. Wots that all about then? I went out at midnight at the start of the year – to let the New year in I was staying over in the Chilterns with friends and the sound of the big fireworks going off was mega so it can’t be noise. Are they that dangerous then? I was always told by firemen + ambulance men we worked with that the single most dangerous firework in terms of injuries received was sparklers but that was mainly because younger kids couldn’t appreciate how dangerously hot these seemingly innocent little spark creating sticks could become. I suppose if enough fingers have been dislodged by numpties carelessly chucking bangers about they had to do something.

    No one does first footing any more at least not in the S of the UK. I was the only daft sod stood on the road outside for start of 2020 (the year of perfect vision) Was a big thing up at home when I was kid nearly every house sent someone to the other side of their front gate with a bit of coal in their pocket, salt and a drop of whisky either in a glass or carrying a miniature.
    You opened the back door to let the old year out and walked out of your front door to bring the New year back in with you when you returned.

    Should really be a dark haired bloke who does this job, not a white haired old bird with pale green streaks in her hair but there you go.

    No you are quite right Helen it was the sheer amount of the vivid turquoise-blue dye that caused the shocking result. I had my eye on a subtler mauve blue colour as a follow up then saw Dame Edna Everage on telly and realised her wig was exactly this shade. So maybe not. I couldn’t carry it off with her sheer style. I know when I’m beat.

  44. Ian Luck says:

    Jan – Some people are that dim that they don’t realise fireworks are explosives. Holding a banger in a closed fist means not having to buy fingered gloves ever again. Even holding one in an open hand could be severely injurious. The ones you can get on line are small, but extremely loud. An experiment with a broken Japanese robot toy, resulted in a blizzard of plastic shrapnel, and a really, really broken Japanese robot toy, most of which was now relaxing all over the garden.
    New Year’s Eve traditions have vanished – my parents, Dad (Welsh), Mum (Scots), always loved it, and would always open the front and back doors, as would our neighbours, and we’d all wish each other a Happy New Year. No fireworks in the past – you could only buy them for November 5th, in those days. What DID happen at midnight though, was far nicer, and way more evocative – all the ships moored up in the docks, would sound their hooters. A sound, once heard, never forgotten. And sadly, unheard for many years, now.

  45. Jan says:

    You know I’d forgotten ALL ABOUT that Ian! You r a star to remind me. The road I lived in was v close to the Manchester Ship Canal – in fact you could watch the boats pass by the end of the street, it looked proper weird thinking back. At New Years the boats would sound their horns or hooters and the booming noise was really great. Not heard for many years not just because the tradition was forgotten but because the Manchester Ship Canal was practically forgotten and unused till someone twigged on that it was ideal for transport between Liverpool and Manchester.( Although Salford docks are long gone. ) Of course that had been the whole point of It’s construction in the first place Doh! ….Funny what gets forgot.

    In fact my great grandad and his family my Grandad George’s dad came down from the N.E. Newcastle to work on the MSC construction.

  46. Jan says:

    Them bloody deer did pay a nocturnal visit last night. Pulled plants right out of containers.It won’t be their hooves this lot want to worry about been blown off I’ll tell you.

  47. Helen Martin says:

    And they made so much noise they woke you up? Jan, it sounds as if they’ve been reading over your shoulder and are getting vengeance.

  48. Wayne Mook says:

    I did the door thing this year, I sleepy and went to bed but I was woken and told what to do by my lovely Dia. She’s a gardener too but her deadly enemy were ants, they took here Pak Choi and green beans.

    I’d forgotten about the horns, I used to live backing onto Trafford Park so could hear it, car horns joined in too.

    Bangers and firecrackers were banned late 90’s, it was due to injury (in part to throwing) but especially due to the short fuse, it wasn’t always possible to get away from them in time. It had nothing to do with dropping them in milk bottles and then running like billy-o, the effect of dropping them down grids could be quite spectacular I’m told.

    We now have airbomb repeaters, single airbombs were banned mid 2000s and then there was a clampdown on flash powder by the UN.

    Have you noticed a lack of pectin for Jam? I can’t be bothered making pectin from apples. Another excuse for not making stuff, I’ve mainly only done very basic cooking, not even baking biscuits. I’ve not even made dumplings for a while.

    Wayne.

  49. snowy says:

    I said this would go ‘Turnips’

    Oh well.

    I’ve never bought pectin or ‘Preserving Sugar’, some fruits are naturally high in pectin and don’t need it eg. damsons, crabapples and brambles if picked at the right time, slightly under ripe. If half the fruit(s) in a batch are pectin rich and there is enough acidity, [lemon juice] then they usually set.

    [I have/will make liquid pectin from crabapples, it is a bit of a bother getting them to break down without them catching on the bottom of the pan, but I have a sneaky new plan to do that stage in a slow-cooker, [terribly retro, but they are not just for ‘Geordie Hummus’ and Steak and Kidney Puddings!] Where was I? Break down, strain out the liquid and then reduce that down in a pan, keep in the fridge.]

    If you want to try your hand at preserves start with a chutney, they are completely foolproof*, mixed veg, bit of fruit, sugar, vinegar, spices; reduce until the right thickness and jar up. Opened a jar of homemade Green Tomato Chutney at the weekend, lovely, could have eaten the whole jar with a spoon. [Pinched the recipe from Nigel Slater, modified very slightly to match what was in the cupboard.

    What else do you do faced with 8lb of tomatoes that are never going to ripen short of smuggling them into a tanning salon?]


    [ * Still a bit wary of this Sloe Chutney,,, thought I might send some down to Jan to put in her ‘Super-Soaker’ as a deer deterrent, but it’s quite thick, there are very strict laws about Chemical Weapons and deer with big holes through them tend to raise difficult questions.]

  50. Helen Martin says:

    What do you mean there’s a shortage of pectin? If you’re going to use it why don’t the stores have it? I’m with Snowy, though, and don’t usually have a need for it. Marmalade sets itself and I’ve tried a few recipes besides my Mother’s 3 fruit Seville . You can add apple, especially crab apple, to most jams and get a set. It’s fun as long as you don’t do too big a batch. I used to do pickled onions where the process took a week, but I just don’t have the energy for that any more.

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