Archive | August 2013


Friday night and I was missing her, so I sent my daughter a BBM to tell her so. I asked what she was doing and she replied “Watching a movie with Dad and xxx.” A viper slithered across my heart. She has a knickname for this new woman already? While my kettle boiled for a soothing cup of tea I reflected and came to the conclusion that having a pet name for she-who-will-become-the-stepmother can only mean that my child is fond of her and this must mean that the woman can’t be a demon. I must be grateful for that. I guess.
“Step Mom, you entered our family at my father’s side with wisdom and patience. Though of your flesh I was not conceived, you cared and filled an empty need.” – Author unknown.

Empty need … oh bugger off; you can never  take my place as her mother!

I’m trying to create a refuge her for my girl, in case things get hairy over there. We went together to choose her wall colour and curtains. Unfortunately, she drew the short end of the stick – the view from her room was obscured by curtains when I viewed that flat prior to purchasing it and I didn’t see this appalling vista:

the ugly room challenge 2_edited

the ugly room challenge 1_edited

It was a great challenge to transform the ugliest room in the place into a tranquil space. My clever girl chose silver brocade for the windows – she’s a chip off the old block, it seems: if you’re given an ugly lily just gild it!

silver brocade_edited

This is just  a corner of the room; it’s three times the size. Her dad still needs to bring over her armchair and desk for another corner and she needs to bring over her posters and personal knicknacks to make it truly her own.

chelseas room corner

Many ugly lilies have come to the front as I go about redecorating the apartment. The previous owner has shown himself to be a cad and bounder of the first order. New flaws reveal themselves daily and money drains out as I get people in to fix things; a litany of dodgy plumbing leaks not being the least alarming. I am told that I have legal recourse for things like this:

spare bathroom tap_edited

Your scoundrel also did such charming things like removing every lightbulb from every ceiling fitting in the flat and replacing the gas bottle for my stove hob with an empty one.

I’m striving to be stoic and roll with the punches and to match calamity with serenity. I’ve come close to conceding defeat a couple of times, but at such times I’ve found chocolate to have the necessary palliative properties…



Being carless is beginning to make me experience severe cabin fever; I was going batty with little to do except watch my flowers open.

flowers opening
A glance at my very full laundry basket reminded me that I urgently needed to purchase a washing machine and prompted me to do what many people who live in city centres the world over do: catch a taxi.
My drivers, Cecilia and Thobile, were very entertaining and they showed me clever shortcuts to use there-and-back in future.

Thobile with her Cabs for Women taxi cab.

cabs for women
Washing machine duly purchased (they can only deliver next week), I did some other shopping for bits and pieces I needed, including a plunger for one of my bathtubs that won’t drain. Alas, the plunger hasn’t done the trick and I’ll have to fork out for a plumber to come around.
I had time for some lunch while reading up on some Italian recipes and thinking about my answers to Mandy’s ‘Getting to know you better’ series. All too soon my outing was at an end and I had to rush to meet Thobile for my ride home.
Mandy has revisited the series on her latest blog post and I thought I’d do it to see how many of my answers have changed since the last time I completed the quiz way back in 2011.
1. What is your favourite non-alcoholic drink?
Coffee, I drink copious amounts of it throughout the day.
2. What is your favourite alcoholic drink?
I’m an alcoholic in recovery, so I don’t drink, but I used to love red wine.
3. What is your favourite food?
I’m a bit fickle and it changes from day to day, generally I favour Italian food, but today I just read about it while eating good old fish and chips.

taxi outing lunch_edited

4. What is your least favourite food?
Carrot cake, I don’t get what all the fuss is about.
5. What do you eat that others think is really weird?
Tripe, I don’t cook it myself, but I make a pig of myself when I’m invited to eat it at someone else’s house.
6. What is your favourite thing to cook/bake?
I love cooking fiddly little things that look pretty, like stuffed and breaded pumpkin flowers. Pic from when I blogged about them on 21 November 2011.

7. If you could only chose one, would it be sweet or savoury?
8. What time do you usually eat your dinner during the week?
I’ve long had the philosophy that eating a big meal after 4pm is not good for the body. I have my main meal at lunchtime. If I am peckish in the evening, I usually have cheese and crackers.
9. What kitchen item/s have you never owned?
A chinois, I first saw Tandy using one to make sous vide crayfish bisque and have yet to get myself one.
10. What tip would you give to a newby cooker / baker?
It’s easier than you think, relax and enjoy the process and the rewards.
11. What is the best vegetarian dish you have eaten?
Parmigiana di Melanzane. I love it! Picture from when I made it from Jamie Oliver’s recipe on my blog on June 14 2011.

12. What is the easiest meal you can cook?
Mie goreng. Picture from the recipe I posted here on 2 October 2010.

13. If you could only grow 3 herbs in your garden, what would you grow?
Coriander, rocket and parsley.
14. What would you use as a substitute for salt?
Soy sauce.
15. What 5 items would you pack for a quick and easy picnic or day out?
Ciabatta, humus, taramasalata, cottage cheese and cranberry juice.

And now I’m hungry again …


Now if this electron is displaced from its equilibrium position, a force that is directly proportional to the displacement restores it like a pendulum to its position of rest.
Pieter Zeeman

The pendulum of my displacement has stopped swinging – at least for long enough for me to share some pictures of the progress I (together with my fantastic crew of helpers) have made on the flat. I’m glad to report that the glue came off the floors easily enough and Our Alice and her sisters applied lots of elbow grease to get the shine coming up nicely. My painter has started working his way around the rooms, the bathrooms will be tackled by a different contractor.
My best friend from my school days, Tania, gave me a wonderfully thoughtful housewarming gift; she sent around her handyman for a full day to help me hang pictures and shelves, and to attend to various plumbing gremlins.
There’s still a long way to go yet, but I am very happy in my new nest.

floors looking better

first morning coffee

it's starting to look a bit li_edited


pot on stove




heidelberger poster hung

time for afternoon coffee

And my flatmate? Princess Ally is ignorant as to what all the fuss is about.  She acts as if the two of us have lived here forever …

ally afternoon nap



It’s a wonderful world. You can’t go backwards. You’re always moving forward. It’s the wonderful part about life. And that’s terrific.
Harvey Fierstein

Well, I guess it’s a good thing we can’t go backwards, because when I saw my new flat standing bare I wanted to run back to my old home as fast as I could.
Curtains and furniture conceal a host of sins, and – when I viewed the flat prior to signing the offer to purchase – I was only looking at the bones of the place. I felt the olde world ambience of the building and fell for it, without stopping to look up at the ceilings and to notice the lurking grime and peeling paint.
I was appalled by the wall-to-wall carpeting, but delighted that the original parquet flooring underneath was in good condition. My first appointment as the legal owner was with a flooring contractor to lift and cart away the offensive carpets.

limore begins

I was horrified to find that the carpets had been glued down and that I had to fork out for another contractor to come and remove the glue.

gluey floors


The bathrooms are a nightmare and – although I am taking a cleaning team in tomorrow to give them a good dose of elbow grease – I can’t wait for the makeover I plan to give them in the coming weeks.



How anybody could bear to take a shower while looking at this beats me:

bathroom mold_edited
The kitchen was the biggest shock, while plaster fell onto my head from the roof; two cockroaches skittered over my foot. All surfaces are sticky to the touch and the cupboard doors don’t close properly because of built up dirt. I have a week to sort this out, with the help of a very capable handyman.




The balcony I envision to be my tranquil haven at sundown currently looks like this:

After being completely overwhelmed by the scope of work that lies ahead, I took a few deep breaths and began making lists. I’ll conquer this and make a nice home for myself. I have the stamina and – above all – I have the time: one day at a time.
Keep watching this space.

As much horror as we have always created, we are a species that keeps moving forward, seeing new sights in new ways, and enjoying the journey.
Martha Beck