Tag Archive: Lasagne


Looks like I shalln’t be going to the Quiz this evening; not on my own. It’s pathetic. I can’t scrape up a single person to come along this evening. Naturally I’ll take the hint and cry in a dark corner somewhere before becoming a 21st century Miss Havisham.

Levity aside (?), this gives me the rare experience of a free Tuesday. Once upon a time, this would have potentially meant a trip down to Streatham but I don’t feel like doing that. Could go home and play Xbox – finish Banjo Kazooie (only Click Clock Wood and the final challenges to go) and maybe get stuck into the Force Unleashed. But again, this doesn’t particularly have significance or at least not tonight. No, I want to go out and _do_ something but there’s nobody to do it with…

Phrasing Straw, phrasing.

Of course, I could apply a little reasoning and logic, pocket the cash I won’t spend tonight and mentally take it off how much I spent at the weekend on my new toy. It’s a nice idea; won’t happen but pleasant thoughts and all that.

Anyway, let’s park random thoughts for now. Nowt to report from last night except that the only place you can find sugar-free juice are the huge supermarkets. Every little store has calorie packed rubbish but try and find the healthier stuff and you’re boned. Ate two salads yesterday, one for lunch and one for dinner. It wasn’t my intention as I brought in a Quorn lasagne to work (3 for 2 in price) but yesterday lunchtime, just didn’t feel like it so headed downstairs. And frankly, the thought doesn’t fill me with excitement today.

As you can tell from the above, I’m having trouble coming up with something meaningful for today’s blog entry. Not that every day has to be definitive in terms of reportage – just look at the third rate columnists in newspapers like Carol Malone, Richard Littlejohn and of course, Bojo. And yeah, I could pass comment on all today’s major news stories but then you’ll be reading professional journos and not this lazy old hack.

Anyone seen the adverts for Sky on Demand where Joanna Lumley waxes lyrical about television on her iPad? I don’t know what the live-action version of airbrushing is called but for a 67 year old woman, she had nairy a wrinkle or a facial flaw in sight. In fact, her skin appeared to be eerily white and glowing, as if she had come fresh from a nuclear power plant. Who the hell are they trying to kid?

Dear EE – if as your advertising and other associated promotional materials claim you are the biggest network in the UK, wouldn’t it be an idea for you to hire more staff so that your customers can get a phone call answered within thirty minutes, especially at peak times? And please remember that phones tend to auto disconnect after an hour so when queuing to get your call answered, a little speed is appreciated.

Dear Waterstones – sell more board games.

Dear Woolworths – come back, these pound stores are just terrible. Except for sweets though they can’t beat you for pick n mix.

Dear Supermarkets across Britain – re self service tills: can you please organise into two lines. One for morons and one for people who know how to use the service properly. That way you’re not stuck behind people who despite having seen checkout staff operate machinery hundreds of times, still have trouble passing a barcode over a scanner.

Dear Computer Hackers – stop making viruses. Virus scanners slow our PCs down far too much and interfere with legitimate processes. Thank-you.

Dear Secret Escapes – if I see one more advert with that irritating woman whispering to the camera, I shall behave like Tamerlane Khan and build a pyramid of skulls from your employees. It does NOT make me or anyone I know want to browse your website or buy any of your products.

Dear Coca-Cola – stop putting sugar into your products. That way, people won’t be quite so fat. Dear Pepsi, please do the same.

Dear America – please tell us who shot JFK, we can’t wait for the files to be declassified.

I’m turning into Grandpa Simpson…



Friday was the sort of day you just want far more of; come into work late because there’s a complete collapse in public transport again. Delays on the Northern Line somehow equated to no access to ANY trains at King’s Cross so I was forced to walk over to Euston and board the trains there. Anyway, after a rant and some very dark thoughts involving a smouldering poker and Peter Hendy, I arrived in the office coffee-less as the contents of my pedestal had already been packed away.

One prolonged Starbucks trip later (enjoyed the free Brahms download), there wasn’t actually anything to do at work other than a few odds and sods of admin rather than some prolonged policy study. And before I knew it, lunchtime arrived. After lunch was some last minute tidying up and then we were all booted out so our section of the floor could be boarded up for the refit works.

Alas, this all comes with a price and that is the fact that perhaps the biggest directorate in the entire Department is homeless for two weeks. I’m actually rethinking my “lets not take leave just to spite the Department” as the whole looking for a place to sit is so…depressing. Mind you, there’s stuff happening this fortnight which negates the wisdom of taking leave.

Friday evening was the house-warming dinner party with Xian, Daniel, Aqeel + Holly and Henry. After a two hour long walk home foolishly through the park which included swinging by every supermarket between Westminster and Camden hoping to find some pigs ears (don’t ask), I arrived back only to find that my broadband still hadn’t been connected. Yeah – It was supposed to be ready for use on Friday morning but I couldn’t force a connection so left the computer on all day just in case.

Got home, spent 45 minutes cussing a blue streak at my laptop, EE and the universe in general when I decided to go into the Router and painstakingly check every single setting. Finally I found the cause of the problem (something reset when I selected ADSL mode rather than Fiber Optic and needed adjustment) and broadband was back. Celebrations included some Brussels chocolate and downloading of yet more Apple updates but until Whatsapp is patched, I ain’t getting iOS 7. The laptop also spent forever and a day downloading security patches from MacAfee.

Dinner party itself – Daniel arrived on time (love that German punctuality), everyone else was late. The lasagne tasted superb; leaving it to ferment twenty four hours was the right thing to do and the addition of the weird beans really worked. I’m happy to consider that recipe again but as I said last time, double the recipe for the metal pan. Dessert was treacle tart with ice-cream (as I didn’t think to buy any regular cream. We got through three bottles of wine, several bottles of cider and I think the majority ended up down my gullet.

Saturday…oh Saturday. Woke up at 7.30 unable to breathe – I was so congested, it wasn’t funny. And the hangover…it wasn’t pretty. Plus I had a sore throat but only on one side of the throat which hurt to swallow; great I thought, a viral infection. Eventually made it to from my bed to the couch watching Buffy and feeling pretty lousy, only rising from my sick bed to make another cup of green tea and holding the warm/hot mug to my throat hoping it’d nuke whatever was going on in there.

Around 4pm I rallied a little and left the house. There was no way I was going to get down to Waterloo for Streepass Day down there – felt feverish and clammy (coming from a Brit, that’s bad). But I did walk around Camden just having a nosey. Popped into Game and looked at brand new and second hand Xbox prices; quite reasonable but could I find a member of staff to assist me? Could I hell. Went to Curry’s – they don’t sell them. Went to Cex – they only had 4GB consoles in stock. Went to Argos – they didn’t have any in stock. Went to Sainsbury’s – bought some Lockets for my sore throat and a bottle of coke. Might as well have bought a phial of sulphuric acid; stupid idea.

Went over to Westfield instead (don’t ask why, it’s just a prime example of male contrariness), went to the Game store there – again, another shining tale of exemplary customer service and keen, attentive staff.

My sarcasm-detector just exploded btw.

Went upstairs to HMV; kind of my last chance saloon. Saw they had a GTA V pack so snapped it up and tried to buy it. Guess what? They were out of stock. Effing typical. With some extreme reluctance on my part, I agreed to buy the FIFA 14 pack instead but asked if I could immediately part exchange it. They said yes. Then they said no – the game was “to be sold with console only” so the packaging had no barcode to scan into the system. Rather than faff about, I took the console and game home with me.

Get home with new toy, set her up and start my gaming. It took me a while to get my PC-created Live profile to sync with the console (why was there no option off the bat to “download profile to console”? Naturally, my first purchase was Banjo Kazooie and I enjoyed playing that before ultimately heading to bed.

Sunday…well, I had a new toy so you can guess what I was doing for most of the day. Felt a bit better though, no further congestion though I think I broke my record for most concurrent sneezes with eight. Think all the tea and mug-on-throat stuff really helped as it stopped hurting to swallow. Went out after lunch (leftover lasagne) to Cex and bought a load of second-hand games to begin a collection: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, Batman: Arkham Asylum, GTA IV and the other two titles whose names currently elude me. Also bought Rainbow Islands from the Arcade.

Didn’t do much otherwise on Sunday. Cut hair and trimmed beard, looking vaguely human again always makes me feel better. Popped out for ice-cream and a walk at 9pm. Came back with a tub of chocolate chip and a scoop of banana. Oh; and realised I had fallen afoul of the Banjo Kazooie bug where if you complete the pictures before you do the levels, any notes collected are no longer collectable in the game, irritatingly enough. Couldn’t see any way around it so erased my save game and started again…

So that was my weekend – new console, illness and revelry. This week is a fairly quiet one in terms of my work calendar though there’s some stuff happening during the week. Quiz will be different this week as the Book of Mormon prize was actually booked for tomorrow. So we’ll be down in terms of numbers. So far it’s just two of us – possibly three if Dom comes along. I’ve been trying to find another two people but alas no luck thus far.

Ah, and my travelcard ran out yesterday. I dunno if I mentioned but I’ve no intention of buying a new one. Rather, because I tend to walk home, I’m just going to have a PAYG Oystercard which will cost approx £2.10*20. This means a saving of about £90 per month on travel which I think is a bargain. Ok, there’s miscellaneous travel to consider as well as my trips home from Vauxhall on Tuesday evenings but I still think there’s a saving to be had. Don’t always have to get the tube though; buses work just as well.

Well, in MS Word terms, this is a 3½ pager. Phew.

Garfield wouldn’t be happy

It’s not often I make culinary mistakes when pottering about in the kitchen but last night’s lasagne was an abomination which I am not proud of. The main reason for whipping up a batch of lasagne was to provide for a couple of lunches in the next few days as there are always plenty of leftovers but as I haven’t done a main shop this month, my fridge is looking bare. So the lasagne which is usually a vegetable orgy consisted of Quorn mince, onion, mixed pulses gently fried in chilli oil for some needed zing.

Whilst the above was bland, what ruined the lasagne was the fact that I didn’t bother to check whether I had enough lasagne sheets and that I didn’t pre-soak them first to soften them up a little. The first layer was penne pasta and I thought I’d bulk it up with some crushed BBQ crisps (would have worked had they been distributed on the top layer rather than in the middle) whilst the second layer probably had too much in the way of sheets.

So all in all, I considered last night to be the worst meal I’ve made for 2012, and it’s only 23rd February. Perhaps some Tabasco sauce or something can rescue it when it comes to second helpings, just to sex it up a bit. The cheese was good though, extra mature cheddar although I think it should have been cooked on the middle shelf of the oven rather than on the upper level.

I had a brief…appointment after work last night so rather than do the Hyde Park loop, I decided that in honour of Blackfriars station reopening, to walk along the South Bank to London Bridge as the entire stretch has reopened. From Vauxhall it took about an hour without dawdling though the wind and the occasional spitting from the clouds made it a little depressing. Still, it was nice to be able to do the complete stretch. There was a temptation to go in at Blackfriars station itself just to poke around but as I wasn’t able to get out at lunchtime for a stroll, my legs propelled me forward further on down the river. I don’t know what the new fairground ride-thing was opposite the carousel by the bridge – it said something about a maze but it was all boarded up.

Not only is the party on but Paris is finally on also. After almost six months of what I can only describe (politely) as indecisiveness, Lee and I have agreed to take the 20th and 21st off of work to go to the city of light and spend two days there. He was a bit shocked when I said the only cheap fare was the 5.40am train outbound but I did warn him it was early…still, I’ve done 18 hour days plenty of times when the spectre of insomnia looms over my bed and I’ll cope. It’s a perfect excuse to quaff lots of French coffee and eat lots of baguettes and fromage. Du pain, du vin et du Boursin.

Invites were sent out last night to the party and almost all have responded positively, only a couple of people have declined to attend though this may increase over the coming weeks. There are some people who I have been uming and ahing over inviting so they’re on a reserve list. The “key players” as I deem them, have all rsvp’d yes except Joey who is henceforth a pariah and will be cruelly mocked at every possible opportunity. Vengeful? Moi? Certainment.

One thing I’m willing to take bets on is the amount of time it’ll take for some whack-job in Argentina to blame the latest train wreck on the UK or how it never would have happened with Argentine control of the Falkland Islands. Just the same as the vile Phelps clan blame every natural (and unnatural) disaster on the LGB community, I’m sure el Presidente can be counted upon to make some sort of announcement soon. Though I have to say I liked Private Eye’s take on it this fortnight. A return to form for the satirical periodical.

Sail Barge Assault

Today’s oddly inspired title to my blog comes fresh from the music I’m listening to – specifically the randomiser on iTunes has selected Return of the Jedi’s Sail Barge Assault.  When I listen to this tune, I don’t think of the film but the game Rebel Assault 2 for the original Playstation, a game that took a bunch of FMV clips, sewed them together and the result is a two-disc epic.  This music plays when you’re attacking the Tie Phantoms in an attempt to flee the Super Star Destroyer Terror.  Fun little romp.

However, it’s just finished and it’s one of my many mixes of One Man & His Droid.  So, New Year’s Eve is here, text messages have been flooding in since 8pm with Mr J’s poetry (I dunno why he gets so sentimental).  I’m here at home in front of my laptop waiting for the virus scan to finish its job before I can get on with Act 2 of Rise of Legends.  I cannot be bothered with doing anything else tonight, no partying, no socialising, just me and my home consumables.  Even the cats have buggered off – correction – I kicked out the cats earlier as I have no wish to have them in the house scratching at the furnishings.

Pie and Mash last night was a blast – even before I got there I was good and liquored up and about five minutes after my arrival, Stephen and Christian turned up so we hung out for about an hour before they went to Tonker at the Eagle.  I spent the rest of the evening swinging between different friends, associates and the like, getting more and more drunk.  I think several people made passes but I cannot be sure.  Not that I particularly minded however, it’s always nice to feel pretty.

After we all got kicked out the pub, Rob, Lee and myself went over to Tonker and chilled for just over an hour.  We got in for free as I gave the doorman one of the Terry’s chocolate oranges stuffed in my bag.  Foolishly, I’d decided to take home all my chocolate purchased over the last few days at a reduced price.  But there’s still a tonne of it at work.  They orbited the bar a couple of times and I said hi to Nic and a couple of other people.  I also refused to take off my grey overcoat as it gave me the bouncer look so people stopped arsing about at my approach and moved to let me past. 

Then there was a 90 minute journey home to contend with together with my sudden urge for a Subway sammich – trying to find an open branch wasn’t easy but I knew the Dean Street one wouldn’t let me down. The 25 (ugh) almost broke down somewhere near Bethnal Green much to my annoyance and it took a while for the damn bus to get going again.  And I fell asleep around Mile End but I did the phone trick so when I totally relaxed, it dropped out my hand and woke me up.

Slept in until 1pm today, it’s been a while since I did that – husband called round but I was too tired to go to the door so kinda ignored the phone call attempt to gain access.  Did a couple loads of laundry, popped over to John Lewis to buy a replacement baking dish (£60 btw) for the one that Barry smashed on Thursday and cooked my world famous lasagne.  Turned out great yet again though I’m feeling totally full now.  No chocolate with the gaming methinks.

And that’s the minutae of my life as summed up.  Tomorrow of course isn’t New Year’s Day, it’s two months before my birthday, the infamous 60 day countdown.  It would be 59 but frickin’ February has to be 29 days this year and so I have to plan accordingly.  Lee indicated his willingness to go to Paris in March and I’ll see about availability and all that.  But I dare say the days and weeks ahead will be full of the usual planning, plotting and scheming.

Right, that’s yer lot for today.  I’ve got games to play

Nihilistic Societies

The past week has been one of the most expensive I’ve had in 2011 outside of shock purchases and whilst it’s been entirely avoidable, I didn’t feel like curtailing it. As well as the DVD purchases last Monday, I also splashed out on the quiz, lunch with Andy, drinks with Brendan, coffee with Paul, Tesco shopping (what was to be a £30 visit quickly turned into £110) and a trip to Forbidden Planet. All in all, I think £320 has shuffled its way out of my account in addition to the monthly rent and overdue water bill. This leaves me with about £350 left for the second half of the month but is still scary how rapidly it evaporates.

Previous blog posts have indicated “save, save, save” and this week it’s been “spend, spend, spend”. Viv Nicholson without the Pools win. Or the dreadful stage adaptation.

So, to recollect the weekend in a capsule review, Saturday was again lost to chores, sleep and video games at least up until the early evening when I forced myself to go out to Tesco to spend the above £110. As always, it would have been cheaper but I did buy a glut of Pepsi before realising when I got home I bought those farty little 250ml cans (stupid, stupid mistake given as I successfully avoided that blunder last month) and there was a Crabbies offer on and I bought two cases of the ginger brew as it worked out at £1.25 a bottle. The rest just…added up.

Sunday was a repeat of sorts – gaming in the morning/very early afternoon and something in the afternoon which was coffee with Paul at Costa. The damn coffee shop was rammed to the rafters with people sitting down not drinking. I know the staff are paid minimum wage and don’t really care but they should “encourage” customers to move on if they’re just sat there sucking up the oxygen. Though I wonder how much more business they’ll have if they offer a table service. Still the company was nice which is the main thing and sitting outside wasn’t too bad given as we were right next to the air extractor which blew a warm breeze (possibly suffused with Legionnaire’s Disease, I dunno).

Soho was fairly crowded with the same sad, old and tired faces and I find it’s just less and less fun to go out in that neck of the woods. I think of Chairman Yang from Alpha Centauri –

“If our society seems more nihilistic than that of previous eras, perhaps this is simply a sign of our maturity as a sentient species. As our collective consciousness expands beyond a crucial point, we are at last ready to accept life’s fundamental truth: that life’s only purpose is life itself.”

In the evening, I resumed my Greek game on RTW, refamiliarising myself with the exact board positions and my broad plan before continuing. I went from 26 to 38 provinces including the capture of Rome. This was again resumed on Monday evening when 38 became the magic 50 following a devilish repeat of my “attack Alexandria and Memphis straight from the sea” strategy. Pleased as all hell to have won a game with a non-Roman faction – I have the Egypt and Briton games started and I am eager to progress those.

I had two back to back meetings taking up my time from when I got in the office until 1pm which was nice – effectively half the day gone and the afternoon went by rather rapidly. After 6, I toddled down the usual walking route and checked progress of Winter Wonderland which opens on Friday. It seems bigger than last year’s efforts and there’s at least one new “ride” that I was able to spot. But as it’s prohibitively expensive, there’s a question on vfm if I do partake. And there’s the usual German Christmas Market Experience on the South Bank.

Oh, a letter arrived at the house addressed to a Mr Ali – there has not now nor has there ever been a Mr Ali living here. So I opened it and it was a debt collectors letter from something like “RTF Subscriptions” which to me sounds like a wank-channel on Sky. I laughed and ripped it up. The neighbours aren’t called Ali either, unless there’s someone else on the street of that street. Not that I care.

In one of those smug aside moments – whilst I might have spent lots at Tesco, I did a bit of rough maths in my head today regarding the cost of my lasagne, wondering if it was value for money or a gigantic rip off. I calculated that if I’d have bought the ingredients at full price, it’d have come to £14 or so and with a 6 portion lasagne made, it would have worked out at £2.66 per meal – slightly pricier than an instant meal but less salt and more filling. But given various offers and buying in bulk, it worked out at £7 or £1.33 per portion. Bargain – and I have enough to make a second lasagne next week if need be.

I’d offer you lovely people my recipe but no two lasagne’s are ever the same and so its futile.