Saturday, 11 July 2009

Dough and, um, dough.

I started making my own bread just before last Christmas. Bit daft considering we run a shop that sells the stuff ready baked but I like being able to bake a fresh loaf when I please. When I say 'I bake', what I mean is I buy the packet mix that has the yeast already in it. I just add tepid water and any flavourings I want.

My favourite is a focaccia mix to which I add rosemary (from the garden), loads of olive oil, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes and/or black olives...and more olive oil! Goes down well at BBQs. Plus, it freezes well, too.

Going off at a tangent...What I was saying in my other post about emptying the suitcases, I see we have some Egyptian pounds left over from our spends. I think 100 Egyptian is around 10 quid sterling. We didn't realise till we got to Egypt that they don't like their own currency (something to do with exchange rates). No, they prefer the Euro or US dollars which can be a bit confusing when you pay for something in EGP that is marked in USD or EURO and you get back change in sterling.

Oh and while I'm on the subject, Himself bought an English newspaper while we were out there and it wasn't till he was putting the change back in his wallet that he realised he'd been 'had'! His own fault really, he'd given the man USD instead of EGP and we worked out that copy of the Daily Express cost us around £10!

Anyway, I digress. The reason I mention the left-over spending money and moreover what that has to do with baking bread...I've been out this morning and bought an automatic bread maker with the left-over spends - Netto £49.99. I've got a whole grain loaf in at the moment. Smells delicious, takes half the time of kneading by hand but to be honest not nearly as satisfying. The kitchen worktop (and me for that matter) doesn't have a spot of flour on it and there aren't jugs and spatulas to wash up but now I realise that was half the fun. Ah well, at least I can set the timer to prepare the dough while we're asleep so we wake up to fresh baked bread of a morning. That def beats getting up at 6 to do it...not that I ever did!

PS Baked this on Sunday
What a relief to finally get to the bottom of the suitcases - instead of just dumping all our holiday clothes in front of the washing machine, this time, I've left them in the cases, taking out one wash load at a time. This way I'm kidding myself there isn't THAT much dirty washing or (worse) THAT much ironing to do.

But now I'm looking at freshly dried sundresses,shorts and T-shirts piled over the banister awaiting introduction to the iron and my heart sinks. But wait, will there be many more hot days left this summer on which to wear them? Probably not. So can I get away with banging them on hangers un-ironed? Come next holiday I'll only run them through the washer again anyway 'to freshen them up', so what's the point in doing it twice? And I'd be saving electricity and hence the planet by not ironing them, wouldn't I? And it'll free up the time for me to get some writing done. That's it then. My conscience is clear.

Friday, 10 July 2009

I forgot to say...

...the holiday was great. 44 degrees most days so I stayed under a parasol smothered in industrial strength suncream. I'd have come back paler than I went were it not for the prickly heat rash on my body and an allergic reaction to said suncream that has made my face swell so I resemble a greedy hamster.

That aside, we saw some amazing sights. The sea-life is spectacular. Like a screen shot from Finding Nemo.

We went into the eastern desert by jeep where Himself went off on a quad bike while I explored the Bedouin camp where we were to take supper later that evening. I rode a camel which I have to say was scary - they seem so tall from the saddle! A nice Frenchman riding beside me said I looked a bit tense and went on to assure me that they can only gallop at 60 miles and hour and they can only keep that up for about 5 miles. What?!

We climbed a mountain (well a very high sand dune - think quarry pit kind of thing)and watched the sun set over the desert. Very surreal and so quiet.

The supper - we'd decided to decline (health grounds you understand and the fact that we'd watched the women making the bread!)but by the time they served it up we were so hungry we'd have eaten a scabby camel. And you know what? It was DELICIOUS! There was chicken, a green bean stew of some sort, er another stew, a sesame/vinigrette dressing, sausages, fresh salad, and all washed down with cola, with watermelon to finish. And no Mummy's Revenge the next day! Yum!

Then the entertainment - the Bedoiun children and adults did a dance for us - a bit like Morris dancing with knives. Then there was a belly dancer, a whirling dervish and finally a man on a stallion which I have to say looked distinctly unhappy - the horse not the man. And as we were sitting at hoof level, was a bit un-nerving as the rider attepted to keep his mount under control.

As it grew dark, the camp lights were extinguished and we then took turns to look through a telescope at the night sky. Have to say was a bit unimpressed as all I could see was this bright light...possibly the moon, dunno?!

And here's a pic of me with two gorgeous Bedouin children.

It's a Man's World

I've been back home for two days and have spent most of that time on the phone to various companies regarding our car insurance renewal because Himself has gone back to work and doesn't have the time. Like I do?!

Anyway, normally it's straight forward i.e. if we get a similar quote to the previous year, we just go with it. Yes, I could search on-line but have you ever tried using those comparison websites? The ones where you fill in your details (just the once as the adverts tell us) then seconds later the PC crashes as the quotes come on screen meaning you have to start from scratch again!

Thing is, I have a few little problems this time around as the present car's insurance expires on the 11th of this month but it's due to go back to the lease company on the 17th so basically we only need a week's insurance. Add to that the fact that the new car is delivered on the 14th and...well you get my drift.

The first quote offered was massively more expensive than anticipated so the kind person said they'd transfer me to another company...and they, in turn, transferred me to another...and then another...and then another...

Until, eventually I'm talking to someone called 'Bri' at NATO HQ. At least, by his over-use of the phonetic alphabet, the guy fancies himself to be on military manoeuvres rather than sitting in a call centre in Coventry. But he's confident he can help me so I stick with it.

'Kilo-Mike-zero-niner-Oscar Juliette-Foxtrot,' he sings down the line. 'Is that affirmative?'


'Your new registration number, madam?'

'Oh, um, yes.'

'And your postcode?'I tell him and he comes back with,'Sierra-eight-zero-niner-Lima-Papa. And your are you spelling it? Hotel-Oscar-romeo-tango-alpha-November?'

By this time I'm right there with him, fighting off the insurgents. Combat trousers, flack-jacket, the lot.'No, it's H-o-u-g-h-t-o-n,' I say.

A five second delay, then, 'That's H for...'

Harry Potter? Herpes? Hell, life's too short for this c**p, and I hung up.

5 mins later I'm back with the company I should've called in the first place, gratefully signing up for over-priced insurance but hey, the woman on the end of the line is called Vanessa and we had a nice chat about my holiday and guess what? Her sister's got the same car as ours except in the metallic bronze colour. She's not sure what it's called but it matches her Mischa Barton handbag.

No, of course she didn't say that...the bag was from Primark.