Thursday, 16 November 2017


Well, she's so old that she remembers them both very well! "Why?" I can hear you all ask.

Well, tonight she was tidying up a little cupboard which is in the sitting room and came across a box tucked away at the bottom. It contained a slightly weird collection of bottles of alcohol.

A litre bottle of Canadian Club was the first one she pulled out. The other were: Bushmills Single Malt Irish Whiskey 10 years old, Creme de Menthe, Creme de Cacoa, Kummel, Cointreau, Peach Schnapps, Ricard and lastly, a bottle of Courvoisier.

She sat down, slightly flummoxed and thought 'Where did they come from?' She looked at the Canadian Club for there was a little label on the neck of the bottle.

And there.. was the answer! It came back to her and she remembered where they had come from, she'd bought them at Malaga Airport, January 1974. 

She was en route back to London having been staying with her parents. In those days, you could literally take as much as you could carry onto the plane and she had scooped as much as she could fit into her lovely basket from duty-free prior to boarding Iberia 825.

Upon arrival at Heathrow, she went straight into the Something to Declare channel and said "I've gots lots to declare!" 

customs official roared with laughter and said "Ok, show me", he looked at the bottles, sucked his teeth and said "well miss, seeing as how you've  been so honest, I am going to ask you for £10.00 and you can go off and have a happy time with all of this!"

They both laughed, she handed him a £10.00, he 
gave her a form saying 'Duty Paid' and off she 
went with her swag.

She was living in a friend's flat dog sitting whilst the owner was away working in America and she lived there for just over a year before moving in March 1975 into the flat where we live.

Some of the bottles are still unopened, which is a miracle seeing as how, in those days, people used to drink all manner of 'exciting' drinks after dinner!

But, I'm sure you're wondering about the reference in the title to the old Spanish currency, well, you see the little label on the Canadian Club was the price label.. in Pesetas and how much was the price of this litre bottle?

Be prepared.. Pts 23.90. Ah, life in the 70's was 
'pretty good', for you see, Pts 1,000 was £5.00!


GeeGee Parrot.
November 16th, 2017.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017


Well.. Dear Readers.. there were a couple of very confused people on the North End Road yesterday. for they were searching for a shop which wasn't there. 

Mum was talking to Maggie, more on her later, when these two women approached them and said "We are looking for the Aldi store, do you know where it is?" 

Maggie and mum said in one breath "the nearest one is on Tooting High Street, you can either go to Clapham Junction on a 295 and catch a 319 or go by tube to Tooting Broadway".

"But there's one here on this street" said one of the women, who pulled out her mobile phone and fiddled with it. Maggie looked at mum and smiled, "there" said the woman and sure enough, on Google, there was an Aldi store listed as being at 375. North End Road, Fulham, London SW6.

"No, sorry love" said Maggie. "Number 375 used to be a shop called Shop & Save but it's now a Farrow & Ball Paint Shop".

And Maggie and Mum both said "Fake News in Fulham!" 

Poor women.. off they trundled with their fabric bags on wheels, goodness knows where they had come from but they weren't happy. 

Back to Maggie, she's been away for ten months in Australia but NOT on holiday. Her lovely son, who was living in Melbourne, was savagely attacked, beaten and left for dead by three young Somalians. 

Luckily and extraordinarily, the whole incident was captured on camera and the three men were found and are in custody. 

Initially, they thought that he might never recover from his injuries, that the damage to his brain was too severe and that he would be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

But Maggie has now been able to bring him home, the hospital in Melbourne to where he was taken were absolutely brilliant. Their rehabilitation teams worked wonders, but he is left with damage to his frontal lobe.

Oi vey..

She's off to her Moorfields Glaucoma Clinic and I'm going to spend the day figuring out how to get this cupboard door open.. for the top shelf, where there are piles of bed linens, would be a mighty snug place to snuggle down and spend the day. 


GeeGee Parrot.
November 15, 2017.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017


Came home in WW with her yesterday afternoon, for the weather is now cold enough to justify her cooking a large piece of beef and to make a huge stock pot of pork soup. And in the winter, in our house, a large piece of beef will always be brisket!

This cut of beef is solid meat with its' wonderful fat which she cooks in a big casserole with browned onions, lots of minced garlic, seasoning, beef stock with smoked paprika and Worcestershire sauce.

She got it into the oven at 6pm, looked at it at 11pm and decided it needed longer, so it cooked for six and a half hours at gas mark 3. And on top of the stove was a huge stock pot full of pork bones and a pair of chopped up trotters, trotters being the correct name for pigs' feet. They give a pork based vegetable soup a wonderful amount of gelatine and are extremely tasty.

As neither of this items would have been ready for us to eat last night, she reached into the chilly white larder.. aka fridge.. and pulled out a package which Juliano had given her when she left on Saturday night. And, oh joy! LookieLookie, there were eight beautifully stuffed cabbage leaves!

She took four of the cabbage packages, put them into a small saucepan and with a ladle, reached into the stock pot and and took out a generous amount of pork stock, brought the stock up to the boil and simmered the stuffed cabbage leaves for several minutes.

Now many of you will, I am sure, know how to cook brisket but if you don't here's a simple but truly veryvery delicious recipe for you.

First go to your butcher! Do not go to a supermarket for brisket, they'll have trimmed off most of the fat and if you're slow cooking beef for several hours, you need all of that fat!

And there's absolutely no point in buying just a little bit of this glorious meat! Because it takes a long time to cook, you might as well cook a large amount and freeze a lot of it or share the meat with friends.

So off she and WW went down to the North End Road. Her butcher pulled out a whole brisket and asked her how much she wanted, she drew a line across it and said " I want this piece with the fat" and he smiled at her and said "how many hours and what with?". 

"Ah", she said " you know me, I do it the way Mary taught me and it's so good, why would I ever do it another way, she was a brilliant cook, wasn't she?" and they smiled at each other.

This is a dish which is much much better cooked a day or two ahead of when you want to eat it. Cook it one evening, let the casserole sit in the oven with the heat turned off for the night, in the morning take the fat off and let the dish sit in the coolest place possible.

So this is what you need and how you cook it..

You need a good amount of brisket from a proper butcher with the fat.
3 good sized onions.
We use almost a whole head of garlic.
2 Tbsp of Olive oil.
Freshly ground Pepper and salt.
1 Dessert spoonful of Smoked Paprika.
1Tablespoonful of Worcestershire sauce.
2 cups of (preferably home made) beef stock.
3 large carrots sliced not too thinly.
2 skinny but not too big parsnips sliced not too thinly.

You will need:
A large frying pan.
A smaller frying pan.
A casserole large enough to take the brisket.

**The lid of the casserole has to be a good fit, if it isn't, when you're ready to cook, put a layer of tin foil over the top of the casserole, crunch it down around the sides and then place the lid on, you want all the moisture to remain inside the pot!

Preheat your oven to gas mark 3 or the equivalent in electric.

Take the brisket and rub it allover with a mix of crushed and chopped garlic (4 or 5 fat cloves), freshly ground salt and black pepper and smoked paprika. Let the meat sit for at least 30 minutes.

Gently fry the sliced onions and 3 crushed & chopped cloves of garlic in 2 tbs of olive oil until they are brown but not burnt.

In a big skillet / frying pan (WITHOUT any oil) which you've previously heated up, place the meat, then turn it and brown it on all sides.

Mix the stock & Worcestershire sauce together.

Put the meat FAT side up into your casserole. Pour in the beef stock mix, put the carrots and parsnips around the meat and then place the browned onions and garlic on top of meat.

**Please read this about keeping the moisture inside the casserole!

Set your timer for 5 hours.

The piece she cooked last night was very large, it cooked for six and a half hours. The casserole was much too large to go into the chilly white larder, so she just turned the heat off, left the oven door open and went to bed. This morning it looks like a dream! The fat has become solid, this afternoon, she'll skim it off, melt it down, pour it into an old glass jar to keep and use as dripping.

About half of the meat will be portioned up and frozen, the remaining half will be split into two, half for us and the remaining half we'll up the road to our Lebanese friends for a supper on Thursday and we'll eat it with a crisp salad of endive and radicchio served with a lemon dressing and it will be truly delicious.

Now, off you go to talk to your butcher..

GeeGee Parrot.
November 14th, 2017.

Sunday, 12 November 2017


Not many people know that I have a second name, in fact, I think it's probably only known by mum and myself. Luckily I'm called by it very seldom because it's quite shameful.. it's.. Sloth.

She gave it to me one day when I had started to 'grow up' and become a bit independent. I was slow, veryvery slow to come to her hand one night and when I did eventually step down on to it, she brought me up to her face and said "You know what your second name is? It's Sloth.

Moving swiftly along.. today was a pretty good day. First of all, it was very cold (read freezing) when we woke up, so we were both extremely glad to have our eggy yumyums and slurps of lapysang tea. It stayed cold too, so she dressed in cold weather gear, kissed Beaky and set off up Yeoman's Row to visit our Lebanese friends to collect stuff that she was giving to mum for charity.

It took WW and her four trips to collect all the stuff that she was donating. Books, three huge bags of linens, lace and crochet trimmings and some lovely silver which will be divided between the 'Crisis' Charity shop in Hackney, Crisis supports local homeless people and this shop is a near neighbour to her opticians in Mare Street and New Horizons in Cadogan Street.

She combed through the linens and the trimmings, separating them into two piles, the silver and the pile of linens will go to Crisis and the trimmings will go to New Horizons. There are people there who want lace and crochet trims but don't want linens, it made her work much easier!

She went up the road a fifth time and stayed for over an hour having a cup of tea and saying "Thank you for the donations" then came home.. to a cosy flat! She feblt the difference as soon as she came through the front door. It was toasty warm.. how strange because it wasn't warm outside, that was for sure!

She suddenly disappeared back out of the front door, then reappeared literally a minute later with a huge grin on her face, the upstairs neighbour has arrived. Her flat must have been chilly when she arrived from goodness knows where. (She has mulpile homes, as you do when you're a Venezuelan (by birth) lawyer now carrying a UK passport who specialises in 'taking' companies overseas and basing them in Panama).

In fact, her home must have been absolutely freezing when she arrived for we haven't been heating it with heat from our boiler, that's for sure! HeeHee, maybe we won't have to switch our boiler on in December after all. That's good news when you're saving up for something and being frugal, isn't it?

She had another piece of good news. The invoices have arrived for the allotments and due to the huge amount of rain that we have experienced this year, the water bill for each plot for the coming year is only £4.70!

Phew.. that's certainly worth a Yubba-Dubba-Doo, don't you agree? Now it's goodnight from us both.

GeeGee (Sloth) Parrot.
November 12th, 2017.


Yubba dubba.. what a delicious supper we had last night with our new young friends. They are Romanians and we met them recently through an Armenian friend whom we met through our much beloved Lebanese friends, our circle of friends is truly cosmopolitan, is it not!

Getting there to their home could not be easier, for they live forty houses away from a C1 bus stop on a quiet street overlooking a beautifully maintained square. They're lucky, because not only do they over look this lovely space but they have a huge terrace as well!

He is the cook in the family and what a cook too! The smell, as we entered their flat, was scrumptious and so after she had shed her jacket and unpacked me from my tiny travelling cage, she went into their kitchen to greet Juliano and investigate the source of the smell!

To find.. ooh! One of our favourite winter dishes, three gammon hocks roasting in stock with beans and root vegetables. I love this and she thinks my eating the fat is responsible for the glossiness of my new feathers, which Dear Readers, I'm sure you will be pleased to know, are covering up most of my tumtum.

She had taken two hostess gifts, one was a huge pot of our home made labneh and the other a gift box of her, also home made, crystallised ginger. As we've said before.. a cold winter is a'coming and ginger warms your tumtum and helps keeps that naughty cold at bay!

What a funny time they had! She asked them how they met as they didn't meet in Romania, Andreea grew up Bucharest and Juliano grew up eight hours away from the city in the depths of countryside. The stories of how they both got here to London is a book in itself!

And they started taking about the Romanian 'beggars' who have come to 'work' in the UK and oh boy, did they have tales to tell! Andreea went to fetch her iPad and went onto a Romanian website on Romanian Gypsy architecture and interior design, there were hundreds of photographs of the most extraordinary houses with interiors the like of which you cannot, could not, would not believe to be true! They squealed with laughter at the look on her face.

These two, I hasten to add, are not Gypsies and are both carriers of legally obtained UK passports!

Then it was their turn to ask her.. when did you come to London, what did you do, how old were you and they were incredulous when she said "I came to London fifty years ago" and filled in the past fifty years!

Meanwhile, I was perambulating about the dining table as free as 'de bird', having a little snack here and a little snack there off everyone's plates.. sadly she told them that I wasn't allowed chocolate, so I didn't sample the delicious looking chocolate mousse that Andreea had made.. that was a great pity as it looked very tasty.

But time waits for no man and soon it was quite late and our sweet hostess said "It's cold, I'll run you home", so I clambered back into my cage, Juliano was kissed, down the stairs and out to the car we went and ten minutes later, we walked in through our own front door. What a pleasant evening..

And we have awoken to a sunny but damp day, she'll go to the library, take tea with our Lebanese friends, collect things that she is donating to charity and tomorrow, well tomorrow, as Scarlet so wisely said, is another day.

GeeGee Parrot.
November 12th, 2017.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017


Brrrr.. Monday's lovely weather seems like a dream, for today it's chilly and wet outside. She's being extremely frugal and apparently the heating isn't going to be turned on until December. I had a sneaky thought that she might be subjecting us to this because she thinks it will make my feathers grow back faster, evil wench! And I do admit to wishing that I hadn't plucked them out.

She would like to pull up the 'drawbridge' as it were because outside doesn't look at all appetising but library books won't change themselves, she has to investigate something at PC World and then go to Lidl at Clapham Junction for lots of their dark chocolate and an assortment of nuts with which she'll make several chocolate salami.

Talking of nuts, fresh (wet) walnuts are in the markets! Oh, slurp-the-durp! She saw them on Liz's stall in the North End Road last Friday, £1.00 for a big bowl of them, they're so delicious, especially if you've got some very good cheese to eat them with.

And for a huge treat she's ordering a brisket from Dickinsons, our very lubbly-jubbly butchers also in the North End Road. Cooked slowly and for several hours, it is one of the most delicious (and cheap) cuts of beef.

She rubs hers with smoked paprika, crushed garlic and herbs, it is wonderful cooked with carrots and shallots, we can't eat ordinary potatoes in this house as being a member of the Nightshade family, along with tomatoes, aubergines and peppers, they cause her arthritis to flare dramatically and the knuckles on her left hand and both her knees to become extremely stiff and swollen. But mashed sweet potato goes with it just as well!

Other things make her arthritis flare.. Wheat and Corn are two other BIG triggers as is dairy.. but only sometimes! She can eat some cheese but not others. The harder the cheese is, the less pain she gets so very sadly she is having to say "Farewell" to her two favourite soft Goaty cheeses.

Well, this isn't getting those library books changed, is it? She's off out and about and so I'll flap my way to a comfy perch and cogitate my somewhat bare tumtum. Silly me. Let's hope my 'clothes' grow back quickly and that I resist the urge to pluck them out again.

November 8th, 2017.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017


We slept well last night. She made a delicious supper of gammon, with mashed pumpkin over which she'd sweated chard, endive and spinach leaves and our pudding was a chunk of that most excellent Kirkhams' Lancashire cheese and one of our own Idared apples.

With full and happy tummies, a good book for her to read and a comfy warm head for me to doze upon, the evening was extremely pleasant and a much needed rest after the six and a half hours hard graft she had put in at the allotments.

Today it is dull and gloomy out there. A day to stay home and do laundry and housework, who says that laundry has to be done on a Monday? 

Not in this house it isn't! It's done on dull days when the weather is grim. 

I've been invited out to supper! She received a call this morning to ask her if she like to go and have supper on Saturday with Andreea and Juliano and Juliano said "and please bring GeeGee with you"! 

We met them quite recently and it was Andreea who was the first to coo and cluck over me and to 
let me meander all over her head. Juliano wasn't so brave but I charmed him and now, I have two new friends! 

How about that! She'll make a fat long chocolate salami to take with us as our 'thank you' gift.. it being wintertime, she'll fiddle with the recipe a little bit by adding crystallised ginger and a slurp of ginger syrup.

When she woke up this morning, she sniffed the air and thought 'that's curious, something smells different', then realised it was the carnations and the roses that are in an old jug beside her bed.

In gratitude from being 'rescued' from the cold allotments where Mr. Jack Frost has come to visit, they're filling the air with their divine perfumes.

Ain't nothing like the smell of your own flowers.

Time to go Dear Readers.. jump about a bit, stay warm, drink hot tea and eat ginger!

GeeGee Parrot.
November 7th, 2017.

Monday, 6 November 2017


The sky was the colour of a dark blue topaz, it was 3 degrees and the garden nutter, aka my mother, trotted out of our house at 08.30am.. I tell you, Dear Readers, there's no hope for her or me, for that matter for she is, afterall, my only parent.

We had woken up at the hideous hour of 06.45 and she bribed me to be 'a good girl' by giving me a soft boiled egg with a teaspoonful of labneh together with my own mug of warm, being careful that it wasn't too hot, lapysang tea.

Many layers of clothing were put on! Her, not me. Thick cotton tights, long sleeved thermal vest, cotton t.shirt, her much beloved Scottish winter sweater, corduroy trousers and boots, a scarf round her neck, woollen gloves and an old Barbour tweed jacket.

She filled Constance's thermos with lapysang, put some bags into a basket, kissed Beaky and left for the plots. And the connections all came along as soon as she appeared. The train pulled into the station as she got to the platform, the bus appeared when she got to the stop and she walked down the steps onto the allotments in less than forty minutes after leaving the house. That's a record!

AND.. OH BOY! Old Jack Frost had come in the night to the plots and had scattered his icy wares everywhere! She had two huge Hubbard squash, that on Sunday were alive and in great shape, but naughty old Jack had struck at them last night with his icy wand and now they were dead and her dark crimson dahlias in a huge terracotta pot on the terrace didn't look too happy either!

But now there wasn't a cloud in the sky, the sun was shining and raking leaves and digging gets you warm in no time!

Soon Corinne appeared and they imbibed fresh coffee and ate fresh homemade Madeleines! Then it was back to work, she pruned all the roses and two of the apples trees. She'll finish them and do the four pear trees on Wednesday.

Time to trundle again.. up and down the track she went fetching more manure to cover the vegetable bed. The frost had worked its' magic on the bed that she'd filled yesterday, the level had dropped dramatically and so another eight wheelbarrow loads were added, yes, that equals a lot of trundling up and down the track.

Wow.. four o'clock! How times flies when you're working hard at something you love. She packed her tools away, picked up a pair of garden scissors and went off to pick flowers. There was lovely things, several dark scarlet Royal William, pink Savoy Hotel roses and lots of delicious clove smelling white carnations.

Shack locked up, she poured herself a cup of tea and stood looking at her plots and thought of how grateful she is for the peace and pleasure that this small piece of land has given her for nearly seventeen years.

Winter is a'coming and last nights frost was a taste of what's to come, the bushes are all laden with berries, she thinks that this winter will be a bitter and very cold one and will be getting a big supply of fat and seed balls for her allotment birds and will make sure their water supply is kept full, she pours a little olive oil into it to help it stop freezing.

Water is vital for birds in wintertime, please make sure that your wild birds have a good, clean supply  but not at ground level so that they can perch and drink safely away from cats and dogs. Now.. where's my night-time mug of tea?

GeeGee Parrot.
November 6th, 2017.

Sunday, 5 November 2017


Up and down the track she went eight times, trundling along with a wheelbarrow, up empty, down full of horse manure. She made a new raised bed last weekend with double board edges and being so high, it took a LOT of manure to fill it to the top of the  boards. 

After this, seemingly endless, trundling back and forth, it was light work to plant all the cloves from two huge garlic into beds that she made in September. 

Mr. and Mrs. Worm had pulled the manure that she had covered them in down into the soil and it's light and fluffy and, it was weed free!

It was a glorious day! Too chilly for me to go but she was wearing cold weather clothes and boots and had a woollen hat for when the sun went down. Short hair and chilly autumnal days equal cold ears! 

And.. She is.. OH.. SO happy! The tree surgeons have been and taken down all of the dreaded self-seeded sycamore trees which covered the plot to the east / south east of our plots numbers 39 and 41.

There were so many of them and they were so big we never got sunshine until after 1.30pm and now the difference in light on our plots is truly amazing!

At 4pm, with the sun and the temperature dropping fast, it was time to gather her tools together, lock up the Shack and catch the bus home but not before she had gathered a bag of winter leaves, sorrel, chard, cabbage, endive, which is going crimson as the temperature drops, spinach, mizuna and landcress.

There weren't enough to put in a box to bring home but certainly enough to pop into her mouth and savour.. ah, Autumn Raspberries but there were lots of glorious roses to pick. Pristine, Peace, Ellen, Compassion being some of them.

She's off there again tomorrow at some outrageous hour to meet Corinne, they're renting a van and collecting as many pallets as they can to repair their fences and will use the van to carry giant Hippo bags full of manure down to their plots.

Corinne will bring a home-made yumyum, she's a 'serious' baker and mum will produce proper coffee. The weather forecast is for a bright sunny day.. sounds good to me. 

I'll doze at home.

GeeGee Parrot.
November 5th, 2017.

Saturday, 4 November 2017


Whey is a by-product of cheese making and it's not to be thrown away unless you're a very silly-billy! She makes Labneh (aka Lebanese cheese) every week and as there are times when she hasn't got that fresh raw goaty milk, she uses a shop bought yoghurt called 'Lancashire Yoghurt - Greek style'.

This particular yoghurt is extremely good value for two tubs of 500g (1000g) makes about 980g of labneh and it's quicker to drain because the yoghurt is denser than the one in the paler blue pot, there's much less whey in Greek style yoghurt.

We have a secret passion.. roasted gammon hock! After eating the meat you have the skinny bones which she puts into one of her big stock pots (with other hock bones that she has kept in the freezer) with lots of root vegetables, onions, garlic and herbs and seasoning.

Hubble-Bubbled for several hours over a medium heat it produces a wonderful liquid, which you could use as stock but we prefer as a thick soup with the softened vegetables mashed up and just before she ladles it out, in goes the whey!

So if you make labneh.. keep your whey and use it for : making Bread, Soup and Stock.

Waste not.. Want not.

Rain is tipping down here in deepest Knightsbridge! We're at home, she food shopped on Thursday, so we want for nothing. There's a slice of Skirt aka Flank or Bavette steak sitting on the work surface with herbs rubbed on to it for an early supper, which we will eat with together pumpkin with garlic, ginger and nutmeg which she made yesterday, Beaky had many slurps of that last night. Yum! Delicious!

The weather forecast for tomorrow is for cloud with sunshine and a bright, clear and sunny day on Monday with rain due on Tuesday, that suits her well, as does this rain. For it will help rot down the copious amounts of horse manure she spread over the beds last weekend and Mr. & Mrs. Worm will be extremely happy to have such a snuggly bed for the winter!

Tomorrow and Monday she'll: finish loading manure onto the beds, plant copious amounts of garlic, complete the apple and pear tree pruning and plant lots of different varieties of tulips in the back bed, she's planning to have delphiniums and hollyhocks at the back of this bed which is the back border of the terrace.

Our Lebanese friend has called, she, too, is having an at home day, yes, it's really miserably cold and wet but they've made plans to meet on Friday. We're sorry for Corinne having to be out in the rain, she's on duty at her youngest son's rugby training, we're also sorry for her husband, whose new motor bike was stolen from outside Waitrose in Chiswick last night at 7pm! Sadly, he didn't have a tracking device on it. Corinne has immediately booked an appointment with her garage to have a tracker fitted to her scooter!

That's our news.. all is well and we hope that it us with you too.

GeeGee Parrot.
November 4th, 2017.
PostScript: We have just had a call from a happy Corinne, her husband told his Honda garage about his bike being stolen and they said "walk the streets to look for it, it's a very heavy bike to push, they will have broken the steering as it was locked and they'll have left it locally until they get a trailer for it.

So he got up reallyreally early this morning and well.. LookieLookie what he found! There was his
motor bike, tucked away down a quiet cul-de-sac and only five streets away from his home! Needless to say it's now at Honda being repaired and with a tracker being fitted.