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Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Not long now

Less than a week to go until I fly off to Karlsruhe to perform my one man show of A Christmas Carol at the Jakobus Theatre. People keep asking me if I'm nervous. The answer is 'not at the moment', more excited about the 'journey' both practical and theatrically speaking and meeting up with my friends from Karlsruhe, having the chance to shine on their stage and a chance to explore the city and its proper German market. I also love their old fashioned trams so will be gliding about town in the big yellow/gold trams and soaking up the atmosphere. A small glass of gluhwein and a bratwurst in a bun might come into the equation.

I am performing on Tuesday and Wednesday night and the second night is sold out already and apparently there aren't many seats left for the Tuesday. Nervous now Herr Lowe? Hmmm. In a good way. After the shows I may well be found in the lovely Cafe Bleu opposite the theatre.

Back here in Blighty I have been going over my script and making sure that all is organised for me in Karlsruhe. As an actor I have also been talking to myself oftmal in the mirror and devising ways of making an entrance. Actually they are doing a fantastic job of promoting my show and I even have ideas of what else I can take over there in the future.

I will be taking my camera so next time around I will be able to show you readers some of the places and people I have visited. If I have time I will be writing a blogpost about German food culture soon.

Monday, 21 November 2011

Barcelona - wish I was there.

Feeling the cold today and going through some old photos in an album I came across some images from a holiday in 1999 to Barcelona. There is me with my sun hat on by the Sagrada Familia. That week my girlfriend and I had visited a monastery in Montserrat, eaten at a seafood restaurant, and various tapas bars, enjoyed the fabulous Gaudi architecture all over the city. Like good tourists we visited the wonderful indoor market (Mercat de Sant Josep or La Boqueria) and drooled over the aromatically and visually fabulous displays of food, familiar and un-familiar and the small bars serving sherry.

The menus were written in Catalan and Castilian and part of the eating challenge was working out what the food was as neither of us spoke even a smattering of Spanish, which might have helped. Finally, after several failed linguistic attempts we worked out that 'els Entrants' were the appetizers, 'el primer', the first course, 'el segon' the main course and 'postres' were the desserts and nothing to do with stamps. Of course, in Barcelona, like all of Spain, they don't eat their evening meal until after eight in the evening. Back home we were used to eating between five and six so waiting another two hours (and more on occasion) was murder sometimes.

Las Ramblas
Parrots flew through the air and palm trees were normal street furniture: living statues entertained on La Ramblas and practically every street corner and the old Medieval cathedral in the Gothic quarter was truly beautiful and cool respite from the heat outside. How I wish I was somewhere warm and full of artistic treasures as I sit typing in my cold kitchen. Maybe I'll put the heating on and cook a pollo. Sherry anyone?

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Luks grate. Dus wot it sais on hte box overall.

I am currently looking for a new washing machine to replace the old one that starting smoking (bad habit, I know) and couldn't help but share some of the reviews on a couple of Zanussi machines. In fairness most of the reviews were well written and formulated but these just had me in tucks. They are based on good and bad aspects of the purchaser's opinion of the washing machine. N joy.

* looks great, simple to use, quick wash options,has delay option and different spin speeds which reduces irony, always a bonus to me!

*Looks good, very easy to use, large drum, quieter than expected, washes very well and 1200 spin gets everything much drier that our previous machine, which was 1000 spin. Our previous Zanussi lasted 16 years and so we wanted to replace with another Zanussi.

*is bigger than the last machine i had, and doesn't qutie fit in the same space

 *great value - does what it sais
*I found the washing machine instructions very easy to fowllow for plumbing in and using hte machine.

*Good no nonsence machine

*Bad Points. non so far

*I put dirty washing in and clean washing comes out.

*Good value for money easy to use, having a larger drum is extremely helpful when the children move back home,easy to use. (no spare room? - Phil.)

*a bit noicy

*Clean looking machine works rfficiently

*good that you can have a quick wash

*Well built, well priced product with all the programes you need without being over elaberate and too gadgity. Runs quitly. Vwery happy with this washing machin

*I have just retired your previous model after loyal reliablity of two washes a day for 19 years after my sister gave it to me second hand at 2yrs old.I am so pleased to say the new one is quieter and looks younger so hopefully this one shall lasts as long. Thanks Zanusi

*we have always had sanuzzi and this was great value

*It's a Zanussi. It just works.

*Much quiter than my old Zanussi. Very easy to use - neither my husband or I have looked at the instruction book yet!

*Very happy overall. The drum size is significantly bigger and I'm very impressed.

*the start and pause button are too close toether and often end up pausing it then realise half an hour later its not on!

*Haven't found any nega yettives

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Another day at the homestead

Had a great day considering I didn't get up until midday. I cleaned all the house, hand washed a load of clothing and towels (no washing machine presently) made a meat ball dinner with pasta and watched episode after episode of Frasier. Not laughed like this for ages. As I type I'm on the last series. Frasier is currently dressed as a clown, with a cleaver. Frasier's father has just had a heart attack!!! Ok, a cardiac event.

I have trimmed my bush (the lavender, behave!) and bagged up all the garden rubbish.

Here are some pictures to celebrate a fun day off.

trimmed bushes

washing time

visit to the bottle bank


meatballs coming out of the oven

chuckling at Frasier

Frasier time

meatballs and pasta

Saturday, 5 November 2011

snails for tea?

Do you like eating snails? Certainly not something I do every day, in fact I think that I’ve only ever eaten them twice in my life, both times in the French Living restaurant in Nottingham. Rick Stein featured them at an Escargotlade (snail festival in France) in his French Odyssey series and also in the recent one about Spanish cuisine. The snail festival looked good fun actually. When I had them at French Living, the person I was having the meal with reminded me (just as I was about to pop at portion in my mouth) that the oil and garlic liquor was red hot! I could easily have got a burnt mouth.

When I’ve been abroad I have seen the snails sold in tins and the two varieties of snails most commonly found on menus and in their stores are the escargots de Bourgogne  and the petit gris. The petit gris are about one third the size of the escargots de Bourgogne. I have also occasionally seen the achatine variety in markets. This is a tropical variety from Africa and Asia that can grow to half a kilo in size, but is sold in France at the same size as the escargots de Bourgogne, which are normally described as gros (large) or extra gros (extra large).

As I mentioned, snails are commonly sold canned. Small cans, 200 grams gross weight, will contain either 4 dozen small, 3 dozen medium, or 2 dozen large snails. The next size up is three times larger and contains a proportionate number of snails. Canned snails are cooked in a court-bouillion prior to canning and some of the cooking liquid is packed along with the snails. The cooking liquid may be as simple as water, salt, and spices, or it may also contain some vegetable matter. Before use, the snails should be thoroughly drained and then rinsed under flowing water. The canning liquid is either discarded or reserved, depending on the recipe. If the recipe calls for small snails and all you have is large ones, the snails can be cut in half without affecting the finished recipe.