A Milestone With Meaning…

It’s Good Friday here in the UK and after an impromptu dinner out last night with a work friend (and a nice bottle of red shared between us) it’s been a lazy start to the day. But with Vegemite toast done, the coffee machine warming up and back episodes of Frasier on the telly, I’ve popped by to see what was happening.

And it seems rather a lot – in the last few days, Gidday from the UK has tipped into triple figures and passed 100,000 page views.

It might not seem so much to some but when I started tapping away in 2008, it seemed quite impossible that anyone outside my nearest and dearest would actually find my witterings in the big wide blogosphere, let alone read them with any regularity. And that’s because I really started this blog for me, to find an outlet to express both the richness and ordinariness of my everyday expat moments that seemed to fall short in their relating during long distance phone calls to loved ones. 

But it appears that there are many more of you out there – and for the most part we’ve never physically met each other – and I feel enormously humble when I think about that.

So whether you’ve been visiting for a while or you’re a newbie here, thank you for stopping by and being part of the Gidday community.

And have a wonderful Easter however you choose to spend it. 

Flattened By Easter…

As you know I like a little baking foray every now and then. Easter is a very opportune time for this as a) I love Hot Cross Buns and b) every one of the little blighters here comes with a healthy dose of mixed peel (which I cannot eat being allergic to oranges). So as I started last year meaning to go on, it was time for Gidday’s Easter Buns.

Buoyed in anticipation of lashings of butter on warm fruity buns, I weighed and mixed and kneaded and poked the fruit in. Waited an hour then formed my little parcels of Easter yumminess ready for the oven.

But something didn’t feel right and I knew before I took them out of the oven (actually I knew before that but I was in denial) that there would be no light and fruity bundles scoffed at Gidday HQ today.

There was no rise. No uplift. The yeast had lain inactive. Inert. Literally flattened by the chill in the air. (In retrospect, I should have left it in the bathroom – the warmest room at Gidday HQ – to do its ‘thing’.)

So I spent 4 hours today making fruity – and inedible – rock cakes.

Buggar.

Nice Buns!

My Year of Baking continued today with a rather splendiferous, Easter-themed foray into Hot Cross BunsNow this was a drama in three parts:

Act I:  The Cast (and a little creative workshopping)

Gathering all of the ingredients before me on the kitchen bench, I proceeded to make the dough and you know what that means – yeast!  I have not worked with this little devil since a disappointing bread-making incident in Year 7 Home Economics, way before the world actually had breadmakers called Kenwood, Panasonic and Morphy Richards.  Nor was I about to be put off by some diametrically opposed instructions: the recipe called for the yeast to be mixed with water whilst the completely contradictory and carefree directions on the yeast packet informed me to basically just toss it in with the flour.  Anyway, after getting in amongst it and ending up with mighty sticky/dough-y fingers, my little mound of yeasty goodness went down for an hour’s kip in my sunlit front window.  As did I.

Act II  Rehearsals (and a little Diva-ish behaviour)

Roused by the insistent beeping of the ‘timer on the stove’, it was time for a little more kneading before separating the bigger-mound-of-dough-than-it-was-before into 12 equal (so they say) balls and fitting them nicely on to my greased baking tray.  However the incising of the cross (without which these would merely be ‘Buns’) was more than these poor darlings could take and they downed tools (or was that me?) and went off for a slightly long-ish 30min, window-warming power nap. 

Part III  Opening Night (for one night only)

The final act was to move these bigger-than-they-were-before mounds into the less temperate environs of the oven.  And just 15mins later they appeared in the wings for their curtain call, ready to be iced and glazed before appearing in front of their adoring public….
…and quite frankly, I couldn’t wait to get myself an autograph!

Happy Easter everyone

The Joy Of Eggs…

Being Easter Sunday, I have been thinking about what sort of Easter post I should write…and bonnets and bunnies were just not inspiring me at all.  But sometimes inspiration comes from the most unlikely places and while I was meandering through my list of favourite blogs, I came across an absolute gem from adbroad (the oldest working writer in advertising or so she says).

Apparently this episode of ‘I Love Lucy’ got the longest recorded laugh in television history (no canned laughter for these bastions of situation comedy)…

I laughed out loud (the neighbours must be wondering what is going on) and thought it was a perfect way to bring a little joy into a sunshine-y Easter Sunday.
And let’s face it, it brings a whole new hilarity to the phrase ‘walking on eggshells’.
Enjoy and have a wonderful Easter!
ps…if you liked watching this episode, click here to head on over to adbroad’s latest post and watch some more!

Let Me Eat Cake…

I thought it was about time for me to report on my efforts so far in The Great Bake Off

I have to confess it’s not been a frenzy of culinary activity and after an incredibly slow start, there has only been a slight acceleration in pace this year.  But I’ve managed three successes out of three and have become ‘sold’ on the whole concept of planning a Sunday afternoon baking ‘sesh’.

It started out in October last year with Pineapple and Banana Loaf, followed by my inspired return from Christmas in Australia and the even more inspired Mango Fruit Cake adventure in March.  Today’s sunny Sunday success is Apple and Raspberry Squares…
Yes, that is evidence of my choppers tucking in for a little taste…
Whilst not wishing to brag at all (ok, maybe a little bit), I appear to have ‘mastered’ the whole cake with fruit thing so in the spirit in which My Year of Baking was born (ie. to remove the mystery from baking in all its forms), I promise to move into uncharted territory next time (maybe chocolate, pastry?)…although Easter is next week, and if I manage to find a substitute for mixed peel (I am allergic to oranges – but not lemons, limes, grapefruit – go figure), I might just need to give Hot Cross Buns a whirl…
So does anyone know where I can get candied lemon peel in SW London?  Anyone?  There could be a cuppa and a potentially decent Easter Bun in it for you….

Easter Parade

We’ve had a fairly restful Easter up here on Kingston Hill and as I’m watching the sun still peek through the clouds at 6pm, I’m finding it hard to believe that I’ll be back at work tomorrow morning (lady-of-leisure-ness is so NOT over-rated!)

But in reflecting on our weekend of me ‘n’ J just hangin’ out together, I think we have managed a number of high points which I thought I’d share with you:

1. The return of Ashes to Ashes Series 3 on Friday night (Gene is back, the fashion is still questionable and we still have no idea how it will all turn out)

2. The return of Doctor Who on Saturday night (and whilst not quite ready to relinquish the top spot in my timelord affections to anyone other than the rather lovely David Tennant, I have to say I like this new doctor’s quirky gangly-ness)

3.  Watching Frost/Nixon on Saturday night (which we have been threatening to do for ages – completely fascinating!)

4.  Having our first BBQ of 2010 on Sunday (shamefully late I know but we hope to get in the groove from now on in)

5.  Finally finishing the Rupert Everett bio on Sunday (a personal goal of mine – it was going on a bit and I was torn between finishing what I started in case there was a cracking ending or bailing and wondering did I miss something – fyi it was a combination of the former and the latter which I will leave you to work out)

6. Learning how to play Monopoly Deal (card game version of the board game – much faster and furious-er) and playing several mini ‘tournaments’ over the weekend – J is ahead 2 ‘sets’ to 1…grrrrr maybe not such a high point? 

and last but by no means least…

7.  Sleeping til we’ve finished (a little piece of everyday heaven)

and I still haven’t cleaned my windows or ‘redone’ the garden…

Sigh…what a perfect weekend…

HAPPY EASTER EVERYONE!

No Raindances Please…

It’s Easter Sunday and we’ve gotten off our backsides to rectify some rather uncharacteristic behaviour that has shadowed us thus far into 2010…

…we are having our first BBQ of the year!

Yes it’s true.  What with…well…weather (no raindances please) and the busyness of life in general, we have not ventured into our small patch of ‘great outdoors’ to fan the flames of BBQ bliss this year.  But we are rectifying that oversight this afternoon and J’s already out there fanning said flames in anticipation of our guests’ arrival.  We have mountains of meat and the obligatory salad-y accompanients and I believe there is even a small trifle for dessert.

So there you have it.  The sun is shining and the bbq is smoking…but enough of this gas-bagging.  I’m must be off peeps…I’m already 1 G&T behind!

Wishful thinking…

Well here we are…it’s April, it’s Easter, we’re on British Summer Time…
…and I have no daffodils…
Such a disappointment after I got 6 gorgeous sunshine-y blooms last year and after only 2 the year prior, I thought things were heading in a more prolific direction…
So J bought me some home the other night to console me…

So happy and bright aren’t they?

But part of me still wishes that I grew some of my own.

Sigh….