Moving…

Visit my new blog

http://thedorsetflop.blogspot.com

Door Bell

We’ve done it!  We are back in England!  Hence the title – given to us at the quiz night down the local.  Door (as in Dorset) and Bell (as in Belgium).  We have left dour old Brussels and are now deep in the country in West Dorset and it is brilliant!  Why didn’t we move back years ago?  A move from hell (and still quite a few boxes to be collected in Brussels) but we are ‘home’ at last.  I have been away from England for 30 years and The New Husband for 20.  Why?  We have moved to a dear cottage in a lovely village and I have an Aga.  What more could a girl want.  As Miss Super Organised I am soon going to start a new blog on our new life here and will make an enormous effort to write one post a week.  As The New Husband will be making quite a few trip back to Brussels, I will have some quiet moments sitting in the kitchen, surrounded by delicious Aga warmth as my fingers become a blur on the keyboard.

FIRING SQUAD

I have been reading about the guy in Utah who has just been executed by firing squad.  Why do I think this is worse than a lethal injection?  Does the idea appear to be more barbaric?  I know he could choose between a firing squad or an injection and he chose the former, but I personally find it horrific – actually not so much for him but for the poor guys who got the short straw to carry out the shooting.

Injection or firing squad, I am against capital punishment.  But on the other hand, if someone killed one of my loved ones, I would probably go out and buy a gun just to make sure the bastard never repeated his crime.  I think many must feel this way.

In the same jolly spirit I read in the Figaro today of a man who, totally pissed, sloshed petrol over his wife and then set fire to her.  She is fighting for her life.  He has superficial burns to his arms.  If this poor woman survives, her life is over (we don’t like burnt people), he will get the best medical care France can offer (and it is excellent) and will probably be out of prison within about 5 years, with good conduct, finding God or whatever.  This man pleaded being drunk because of money problems and a possible separation.  Sorry … you don’t set fire to someone because you have money problems or that your marriage is over – otherwise most of us would be doing the same thing.

Voilà, my little rant for the day.  How do you feel about capital punishment or life imprisonment; by life imprisonment I mean it – you go to prison and only come out feet first.

Have a good weekend and think of me in Brussels with the skies about to open again …

TOAST AND MARMALADE

I should have posted this a month ago – however, a month ago I didn’t have Seville oranges so I couldn’t tell you about the recipe which I had never tried before.

I am useless when it comes to making jams and marmalades – but this is totally idiot proof and above all, soooo easy.  So if you can still find Seville oranges in the shops and have an afternoon to waste, do make this marmalade.  The result is perfect.  There should be photos but there aren’t as I can’t find the camera, but take it from me it looks and tastes divine.

The recipe will make about 7 or 8 average pots so before starting, hunt them out or turn out your fridge for pots that have bits that have been lurking in them for months going mouldy, put them through the machine and get going!

WHAT YOU NEED

10 Seville oranges (don’t worry about the weight)

1 lemon

2.5 litres of water

2kg of crystallised suger

1 large stewing pan and a colander

Piece of muslin or a tea towel + bit of string

METHOD

Put oranges and the lemon in pan with the water – leave them whole.  Boil for 30 minutes until soft.  Lift them out into colander and allow to drip over pan.  When cool cut in half and scoop out middle into muslin which is lining a largish bowl.  Put zests to one side.  Dissolve sugar in your pan of water, stirring until dissolved so that it doesn’t stick – this takes a few minutes.  Slice up the zests to the thickness you require and put in pan.  Tie up muslin with string and stick it in pan, attaching it to one of the handles so it doesn’t float around too much.  Bring this to the boil stirring occasionally and keep on boiling for 45 minutes (you will get a rolling ball as the juice starts to thicken a bit – this is pretty self-explanatory if you watch the bubbles).  Turn off heat, take out muslin, put in colander and allow to drip over marmalade.  When cool enough squish out remaining juice into marmalade (I use a potato masher).  Give marmalade a good stir and then put into hottish steralised pots.  This is messy and your fingers suffer!  Allow to sit for 5 mintes and then cover.  Wipe off sticky marmalade stuck to outside of pot – this is inevitable.  Leave to sit for 24 hours and then eat!

This must be the easiest and least messy way of making marmalade.  It works out at about £1 a pot which is about the same price as in the supermarket, but far more satisfying to eat your own, or if you have lots, to give as a present.

If you find the oranges (as the season is now drawing to a close) but don’t have time to make it, put the oranges into the deep freeze until needed – defrost 24 hours before using.

Et voilà!

FIRST AWARD … THINGS I LOVE/ENJOY

I am sure that all those I mentioned on my last post have already received awards and written stuff like this – so don’t feel obliged!

So … my 5 things I love/enjoy are :

1. The most important must be married to the New Husband – he is completely batty, has one thousand ideas a minute, is so, so kind to neurotic me, and makes me laugh every day!

2. The fact that my children have moved up to Brussels and are making new lives for themselves – I hated it when they were hundreds of miles away and when things went wrong I wasn’t to hand (not that I can do much!).

3. Having a new, enormous circle of friends here in Brussels and evenings of drinks and supper ‘en famille’.

4. Having a garden (albeit very small) here in the heart of the city, and an open fireplace in the drawingroom.

5. ‘Meeting’ so many people on the internet through their blogs and discovering their lives.

… and I have to add a 6th love …

My Scottish terrier, Angus, who is definitely my Best Friend – even though he smells like a sewer most of the time!

MY FIRST AWARD!

Many thanks to Marmite for my first award – of course I am quite incapable too lazy to add it to the column on the right!  A lovely blog by a woman who moved to France for 5 years and has now returned to England.

I read far too many blogs and can spend hours wandering over the Web clicking on links from one blog to another, so here are a few I read religiously!

Visit Madame Smoking Gun who has recently had Rodent problems which has inspired her to clean her house!

Why not trip over to Not Waving but ironing who has a wonderful banner heading of which I am very jealous – and great content.

The on to Lives by the Woods to visit her and her accident-prone husband.

French Leave which I can relate to – having lived there for 25 years – this is the warts and all France that all potentiel expats should read …

And finally, the only male blog that I read frequently – written by Roads (he is a runner) it tells the story of his wife’s fight against cancer and how life goes on – strong stuff.

And now I have to write about 5 things I love/enjoy or something.  This will come later as I am totally exhausted having to put in the links to posts!

DYING DAYS

I am very lucky – my Mum who is nearly 82 is in good health and still has her wits about her (I can write all this as she is not computer literate!).  She lives by herself with her cat, drives, cooks, goes out and has some great neighbours who make sure she is okay.  I am also lucky that I won’t be obliged to look after her in her old age – I might do it, but won’t ‘have’ to.  She is fortunate enough to be able to pay the whopping fees demanded by BUPA, and if she needs to go into a home, she can sell her house and go into private care.  She lives in Jersey in the Channel Islands where a ‘living will’ does not exist … so while the going is good she rang me and my brother the other day to say that should she come down with senile dementia or cancer, no-one was to keep her going come hell or high water.  She just wishes to be made as comfortable as possible and have the drugs increased that she might need.  She had this written in her Will, although I did explain that Wills were normally read after death … that sort of passed her by!

My Father died of cancer ten years ago – when the prognostic went from a year or so to a few months, he said that there was no way he was willing to go into an hospice; he wished to live and die at home.  And with the help of Macmillan we managed to keep him at home until the last couple of weeks – then just after Christmas he has an attack and was no longer capable of swallowing the morphine pills.  He was rushed to hospital and put on a morphine pump and quickly ‘recovered’ from screaming in pain when he could no longer take morphine orally, to being totally spaced out and making us laugh in such tragic circumstances.  These ‘highs’ didn’t last long and before I left to go back to France and my children, I had a meeting with the oncologist (a prat wearing a bow tie) and said that my Father would have wished to go speedily and not to suffer supplimentary pain and loss of dignity.  I told him to up the morphine and stop the feeding, and if he wanted to be discharged from the responsibility, I was more than happy to sign any papers (there weren’t any).  After I left, I’m afraid my Wicked Stepmother had a change of heart and he was actually kept ‘alive’ for 3 days more … however.

Last night on the BBC Panorama showed the programme on Kay Gilderdale who recently stood trial for the murder of her daughter Lynn, who had been bedridden for 15+ years with ME.  Kay was recently cleared of murder.  What horrified me was that when Lynn decided it was time to go, she actually had to inject herself with the morphine that eventually killed her in case her mother was charged with manslaughter.  The ide of injecting yourself with a drug to end your days makes me shudder, but fortunately I am not in total physical breakdown as Lynn was and where those shots were relief.  Or can you imagine sitting by watching your child take their own life – there, in front of you?

If you didn’t see the programme, there is an interview in the Telegraph with Jeremy Vine (of Panorama) which I will try and put a link to, as it will fill you in on the details if you didn’t see the programme.

Following that was the Dimbleby Lectures where the guest speaker was Terry Pratchett ‘Shaking Hands with Death’.  Thanks to his reknown, people have taken notice of another very ugly problem – Alzheimer.  He has a rare form of Alzheimer but seems totally ‘there’, but there is no cure at the moment – there is not even a drug to arrest the progression.  So slowly but surely he is on the downward path – fighting every inch of the way, but knowing that in his heart he will eventually no longer be the articulate and bright man that he is today.  The disease is already affecting him – he can no longer type, he buttons up his shirts wrongly, and last night he asked Tony Robinson to read his speech for him, as he knew he was no longer capable of doing so.

The message from him came over loud and clear – no way did he wish to descend into the hell of being senile, dribbling, incapable of knowing who was standing in front of him and therefore he wished to be able to die rather than suffer the horror and indignity of his demise – for himself and for the family left behind.  He doesn’t believe in God so therefore he says he is breaking no religious dogma.  The argument was that the law must be changed to deal with what is becoming an ever-increasing problem – we are living longer and the baby boomers are fast approaching old age … ‘care’ is sadly lacking, the NHS cannot deal with it and the numbers of old people are on the increase.  Can we in all honestly ‘dump’ our old in homes and leave them to die, for that is what is happening at the moment.

Going to Switzerland to die is not the answer (well, for the moment it is) – people should be allowed to die at home, with their family and as comfortably as possible.  The argument is put forward that there are unscrupulous relatives around that will bump off a family member in order to inherit – quite frankly, those people exist already.  So an independant assessment should be set up with doctors, lawyers, whatever, that can decide if and when someone can legally die.  This committee must not be controlled by Government, who already control too much of our lives.

Damn, my thought process has been interrupted.  What do you think?  Assisted dying or staying on the bitter end?

Will put the Telegraph link up later – but if you google Kay Gilderdale you will find it.