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Friday, 28 May 2010

Wow!! My first travel review has been accepted

Whilst looking for work I have also been working hard on trying to get my travel writing in a forum where I get paid for it. My friend Jeanette suggested that I try and over the last three or four weeks I have been working hard on two travel reviews. One of them is about my recent trip to the lovely city of Norwich and one yet to be published is about two hotels in Bordeaux and eating cheaply in that most fab of French cities. Simon Seeks are very professional and very exacting with the reviews that one submits and I have had to edit my review at least three times and change the size of my photos. All good stuff though.

Check out the link because my review is on the front page. Go Phil!!!!!

PS: I start my new job this afternoon. Looking forward to it.

Phil x

Monday, 24 May 2010

Great news. I have a job in the food/hospitality industry

You couldn't have written this opportunity more perfectly. Coco Tang are opening a Parisian style cafe in the centre of Nottingham in early June 2010. The empty premises is currently going through a re-fit and I have been recruited as a plongeur - a kitchen porter. For those on flickr who know me as Frenchyphil this job couldn't be more perfect and I am so happy. It's French in style, it's quality food, it's chic, it's sexy and it's very easy for me to get to work. I am waiting to hear exactly when I start but I believe it to be this weekend. Wow!!!

Big thanks to Steve and Henry from Coco Tang for putting their trust in me. I hope to be a great asset to their business.

Big thanks to all of my followers too for all your support and encouragement in these last 17 months since this blog first started. Twenty-three plus thousand hits so far can't be wrong. Merci bien.

Phil xx

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Foodstuffs made from lavender

I love lavender and have a small garden full of the lovely smelling herb. Yesterday I went out and weeded the bare earth around my lavender patch and arranged some loose bricks to put some pots of lavender and rosemary on. From last year's harvest of dried lavender flowers I made myself a lavender bag and think I over did it. I popped the finished article on my pillow and zonked out almost instantly. When I woke up (hours later) I felt very groggy.

Lavender pillow

Lavender flowers

Now, did you know that you can cook with lavender? Oh yes. There's many a delicious thing to be made and enjoyed by breathing the scent of lavender on to your plate. Here's an enticing list of some of things you can make:

Lavender jelly
Lavender butter
Lavender wine sauce
Lavender honey
Orange and lavender thins
Caramelized lavender flowers
Lavender and peach sorbet

From the excellent book, Lavender in nature and garden,home and kitchen by Anne Simonet-Avril, I am aware of two French companies that introduce small amounts of lavender into their cheeses. The company Fromagerie Lou Canesteou sells lavender flavoured goats' cheese and the Fromagerie Du Comtat have a cheese that is infused with lavandine du Venaissin.

Lavender drying in my kitchen window

Another Parisian establishment called Goumanvat run by Jean-Marie Thiercelin (a spice wholesaler) sells lavender oil infused with lavender and lemon thyme, lavender honey and teas as well as crystallised lavender and lavender essence for cooking. Their website can be viewed at

Monday, 3 May 2010

Thoughts on my present and future situation.

A few days ago I learnt through Facebook that an old work friend had passed away after a short illness. Peter was a lovely chap who was working at Capital One when I knew him last and was a very likeable, self effacing man with a background in professional touring theatre productions. Three years ago he had just taken his retirement and was looking forward to relaxing in his retirement years. He was single and will be fondly remembered.

This sad news came as a bit of a shock for me and other friends and many people would have missed the funeral in April. The event has made me re-evaluate my life and think what I am doing with my present and future years on this planet.

So, as the clock on the side ticks away I’ve been thinking about myself and where I want to go in life.


Sometimes I think that I am good at too many things and being of a bit of a butterfly nature I tend to flitter from one brightly coloured interest to another. There never seems to be enough time to do everything – despite me being unemployed – with all the time in the world – in theory. I also have a tendency to take on too many projects both work and leisure and then I wonder why I feel tired all the time.

The work I would love to do: travel & food writing.

I am currently being asked by a government body to ‘up the ante’ on my job seeking and expected to apply for large amounts of jobs per month. I do my best to comply and some opportunities have arisen from my endeavours but being a non-conventional person at heart, that same heart sinks quicker than the Titanic at the very thought of being stuck in an office based role all day. Yet this is what I feel I am being asked to do because of my previous work history. I have applied for a lot of jobs in the last year and a half and I hear absolutely nothing back. I often feel very confused about my way forward and disheartened and marginally depressed, hence the constant tiredness. If I was left alone to do it ‘my way’ it would probably be a lot easier. I am grateful for all the help I get but I now I feel I need to take control and get out of this situation.

Thankfully, my creative hobbies help to ease the way. The things that cheer me up are writing this blog and my other blog at and the involvements I have with the Lace Market Theatre and the support of some good friends. Also, I have had some writing published in the Derby Evening Telegraph of late about my childhood years. This is unpaid but at least I am getting published and will add to my list of published work as a writer.

Writing notes for my French journal in Bordeaux.

I do get fed up sometimes with the lack of work situation but, then I have mad moments like making the silly videos of late and then all is sweetness and light again. I’m just an entertainer at heart I think and those who read my blog know that I am passionate about food. I love my times in the kitchen or watching food programmes and would be more than happy to be paid to write to amuse and enlighten all day. Finding a work position in the food industry where I could help and advise folk would suit me too.

I feel I am at a stage in life age-wise that whatever I end up doing it has to be for me, not just something to get paid for and, be unhappy in, until the day of retirement comes lumbering into view. I need to live for now not later.

Me and lovely neighbour Joanne. (Jo).

My main passions are acting, blogging, writing, photography, travelling, learning French and German, enjoying food related events and cooking. I also enjoy the company of my close female friends, my neighbour Joanne and my good friends Janette and Marian amongst others. I do have a few male friends. They are usually artistic souls and I avoid what I call ‘blokey blokes’ who are mostly into their sports and being brash. Well, you know what I mean. Someday soon I hope to meet a nice woman to share my life with and cook some nice meals for. I’m very domesticated you know ladies.

Look ladies! He irons!

One thing at a time, perhaps. I have been told that I’m a ‘catch’ which is good cos I was born under the sign of Pisces. See, I still have my sense of humour intact.

My plans are to get out and exercise more, maybe tai chi and walking, structure my time better and really buckle down to looking out for work opportunities that inspire me, not depress me. I’m not that physically fit and don’t sleep well and I think doing some regular exercise would help me feel better about myself and to see a more positive side to life.

Phil enjoying time in the kitchen

So, thank you for reading this blog post. I know it is different from my usual food related stuff but I just wanted a forum to express how I happen to be feeling right now. Thanks too to the late Peter Fryatt for the joy and laughter that you brought into many people’s lives. If I could have any epitaph that would please me no end, to be described thus. But, think on, I ain’t planning on going to advise Jesus on the best way to serve bread and fish just yet. The heavenly kitchen can wait awhile. I’ve things to do, people to see and wine to drink.

My future plans involve directing Bouncers at the theatre, adapting Beowulf for the stage, possibly going on a cooking course (I year) at a college in Nottingham and enjoying my friendships and a few beers along the way. Some money coming in and fulfilling work would be rather handy too. Cheers!

Hmmm beer.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Blue Food? Would you eat it?

I think that it was in the epic film 2001. A Space Odyssey that I first saw blue food. If memory serves me correctly it was a bowl of blue cornflakes in the ‘everything’s gone loopy’ sequence. You know, after Dave the astronaut has gone into the void with all the colours man. Then he ends up in some kind of room. That’s the bit. Blue cornflakes. Then the foetus in space bit and the end titles. Or maybe that was just all a very weird dream. Anyway. Blue food.

Apparently blue in plants and foods is a warning sign that it could be poisonous and so we naturally shy away from foods that look blue. Apart from blueberries that is. So in a moment of madness I decided to get some blue food colouring and dye a few bits of food to see what it looked like. Even if it was safe to eat I wouldn’t want to eat any of this stuff.

Blue milk on your cornflakes? I think not.

What’s that black monolith doing in my garden?