Wednesday, 7 December 2016

A-Z of Cats - The Russian Blue

A to Z of Cat Breeds
Russian Blue

The Russian Blue are a sweet tempered, elegant cat.  They are intelligent and suitable for most cat lovers, being very sociable animals.  There are quite a few breeders in the UK, so finding a kitten should be fairly easy.  Expect to pay around £400 to £500.

A new kitten might be a little timid when first introduced to you and your home.  It's best to provide food and water, plus a litter tray of course and eventually they will seek you out for a cuddle and affection.  They do become very attached to their owners.  They normally get on well with other cats and dogs.  Breeders say it's rare for them to scratch or bite.

As the name suggests, Russian Blues have beautiful silvery-blue fur which is velvety and easy to groom. It's short, thick but fine with a dense undercoat. An occasional brush with a soft brush would be a good idea.  They have vivid almond-shaped green eyes.  The wedge-shaped head is topped with large, pointed ears. The body is long and graceful with long legs, a long, tapering tail.  They have small oval paws.  Their lifespan is about 15 years, although it wouldn't be unusual to reach the late teens.  They are not prone to illness and don't have many health issues.  They can appear to be staring into space or like they had one vodka too many.

It is thought that the Russian Blue was first shipped to the UK back in 1860 by British sailors returning from the Russian port of Archangel, so they were known as Archangel cats. The cats boarded the ships with the sailors and went all over Europe.

Russian Blacks and Russian Whites have been cropping up in litters for years and were first officially bred in the UK in the early 1960s. The GCCF has given preliminary recognition to these cats, which are identical, except for their colour, to Russian Blues.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Beef Stroganoff

Beef Stroganoff 

1 onion peeled, cut in half and sliced
A knob of butter and tablespoon of oil to fry
1 fillet steak per person cut into thin strips
A few sliced baby mushrooms
A pinch of dried herbs to your taste...I used herbes provencal
Fresh flat leaf parsley to garnish
Double cream or low fat creme fraiche for weight watchers
A splash of brandy
Salt and black pepper to taste


Melt the butter with the oil in a large saucepan
Gently sweat down the onions
Add the mushrooms and sauté for 5 minutes, followed by the steak for a further 5 minutes
Meanwhile add the dried herbs if using, brandy and finally the cream

Serve with white Uncle Ben's rice or any long grain rice
Garnish with freshly chopped parsley

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Is Tai Chi for you?

In order to help get more movement in my recovering broken shoulder and arm, I had my first Tai
Chi lesson a week ago.

I got lost and turned up 5 minutes late. I saw a teacher facing people standing perfectly still and listening to him. This went on for another 5 minutes and the teacher called me as he could see me through the glass door. He asked if I would like to join them and I briefly explained about my shoulder and jumped right in after taking off my coat. There was just one movement I couldn't manage which involved hanging the right arm out at shoulder level with the wrist facing down. He said if I imagine doing it with my eyes closed, eventually the body will follow. Hey ho.

I wore my double air Nike trainers, whereas plimsolls would probably be more suitable for the foot swivels, so as not to damage knees.

Been there, got the

I don't feel I can do my physio today as my poor arm has been through a lot the last couple of days. I definitely hope to go to more Tai Chi. My knee hurt a little, but hopefully, it will strengthen the muscles around the knee.  Normally after exercise I feel exhausted, but I caught sight of my eyes in the toilet mirror and they were all sparkly. I felt invigorated.

Yesterday, I returned for my second lesson.  It involved the same moves plus breathing techniques but best of all balancing on one leg and walking properly to make falls less likely.  I feel it's helping to make my shoulder more flexible.  Some people felt incredibly hot after the session and I must say it's incredibly relaxing.  I don't suppose it is for everybody as it is somewhat slow, but in my opinion a good way to get fit after an illness or accident.

Autumn leaves in Central London

Just thought I'd share our solitary autumn tree!!

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Chicken and pea risotto

1 onion finely chopped 
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped 
A chicken breast for each person, cut into slices
A sprinkle of oregano and basil
2 bay leaves 
Small tea cup of peas (asparagus is nice when in season)
Salt and pepper to taste
500 mls chicken stock
A good drop of white wine
A knob of butter and olive oil to cook
Padano cheese, grated into slivers with a potato peeler 
Melt the butter and olive oil in a large frying pan.  Gently fry the onions and garlic for a few minutes before adding the chicken pieces.  When the chicken is sealed, add the rice, peas, seasoning and dried herbs.  Stir everything to mix well.  With a ladle, add the chicken stock slowly one or two ladles at a time.  When the stock is finished, add the wine.  Continue to stir occasionally and if it needs more liquid add a little water in the same way.  Take a spoon out to check if the rice is cooked.  It shouldn't be mushy.
Side 1
I made a side of courgettes (zucchini), cubed with sliced mushrooms in a little olive oil, butter, teaspoon of turmeric, salt and pepper with a little lemon juice.
Side 2
A large bowl of mixed salad
Avocado spring salad

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

They say strangers don't speak to each other in London!

Yesterday, I went to an exercise class in Kensington and spoke to a few people in the class. As the journey home clashed with schools out, I decided not to get my usual bus from Notting Hill Station as I'd be lucky to get a seat, so walked to Holland Park to get a quieter bus.  After 10 minutes the other person at the bus stop gave up waiting.  A policeman passed me and then 5 minutes later came back to the bus stop, noting I was reading the times of the buses and looking at my watch.  He  told me the bus would be here any second as he'd checked with the latest technology.  Then I got chatting to a lady on the bus who admired my mini tote bag from Kensington Palace and we had a chat till her bus stop. Walking home from my bus stop I stopped to let a lady teaching her son how to use his camera to photograph his nana.  If I carried on walking, I would have ruined his photo and they stopped me to thank me.  Who needs the new badge the tube are handing out saying "Tube chat?"

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Real sponges

Which do you prefer?  Real or artificial?

For the last so many years I have been using the artificial but on a recent holiday in Rhodes I saw this and couldn't resist.  The thought of little fishes slipping through the holes, before I got to wash with it.  I haven't tried it yet though.  Is it a little creepy?

Sunday, 2 October 2016



Cooked baby potatoes in their skin....chopped into cubes
One tomato, chopped into cubes
A handful of flat leaf parsley, washed and chopped
2 beaten eggs per person
Salt and black pepper
Curry powder to your taste
Olive oil or butter to fry


In a frying pan, put the olive oil or butter (or both).  Add the potatoes, tomatoes and parsley with the salt, pepper and curry powder.  Give them a stir and then add the beaten eggs and cook until scrambled.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Chicken Casserole with Red Peppers and Mushrooms


6 boneless chicken thighs
2 skinless chicken breasts cut into 4
One large cooking onion peeled, cut in half and sliced
Four large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped or crushed
Fresh mushrooms cleaned and sliced
1 red pepper cut into small chunks
1 large tomato cut into small chunks (tinned is fine, if you don't have fresh)
Splash of Lee and Perrins Worcestershire sauce
A heaped teaspoon of paprika 
A heaped teaspoon of dried oregano 
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil and butter to cook
Splash of good quality red wine
Chicken stock to cover


In a large deep frying pan, add the butter and olive oil and warm.  Add the onions and garlic.  Add the chicken and fry until sealed. Then add the mushrooms. 
Add the rest of the ingredients and cook on a low heat for about 40 minutes.  I set the timer.


Courgettes on the griddle pan

Cut the courgettes as in the photograph.  I sprinkled them with salt to release some of their water.  Then heat a griddle pan and pop them on with black pepper until charred.

Potatoes with zatar and sesame seeds

Boil some baby potatoes.  Wash and drain them.  Cut in halves.  Put some butter and olive oil in a frying pan and warm them through again, adding a teaspoon or two of zatar and some sesame seeds.  I had fresh rosemary and parsley to hand so cut some over the potatoes as well.