I’ve just been fooled and I’m furious with myself. It’s getting a bit autumnal outside and my thoughts turned to the usual hunt for a winter coat for dogwalking, playground duty etc. Something waterproof and warm to replace the Red/Green of Scandinavia jacket I’ve had and loved for the past 12 years. I was discussing the need for a replacement with my sister and she mentioned a down filled jacket she’d seen made by one of the outdoor clothing manufacturers. I had a look online and eventually found a Barbour jacket I liked, waxed cotton outer, down filling, a good hood and pockets – great! It was a bit pricey but Barbour have outlet stores with bargains so I started searching and sure enough came up with BarbourOutlet/barboursale UK – and there was the jacket I liked reduced to half price. Excellent so I found my credit card, tapped in the info and received a fairly standard transaction email in return except for the line which read that my credit card transaction would be billed as payment to RONG JIN TONG FU rather than Barbour Outlet/barbour sale UK as that was the billing agent used and that it might show a slightly different amount due to exchange rates. Hang on, why would Barbour use a billing agent – and a foreign one at that? Checked back to the website and discovered that the Barbour Outlet/barbour sale UK is actually hosted by http://www.wwdn.biz and nothing to do with Barbour.com. I rang the credit card company only to be told that I must wait 30 days before they can dispute the payment, there is no cancellation possible until this time has elapsed. So I have 30 days to stew whilst no doubt Rong Jin Tong Fu is happily spending my money and maybe even using my card number for other purchases. I’ve contacted Barbour and filled in their counterfeit website form so at least they can warn other people not to use it but I’m so cross with myself for not checking their counterfeit website list first – except I didn’t know it existed until after I’d parted with my card details and spoken to the bank. Looks like my old jacket will be in use again this year!
When we refitted the kitchen a couple of years ago we bought some very pretty flooring, it looks like white painted wooden boards and is grained to feel like wood although it is made from vinyl. It looked lovely when it was laid but we very soon discovered its drawback. With two dogs who spend much of their days in the garden the floor gets muddy. The graining makes the floor non-slip but also provides deep grooves for the mud to sink into. Cleaning with either a normal string mop or a squeegee type mop cleans the surface but does nothing about the ingrained dirt. Despite regular mopping the floor was beginning to look decidedly mucky and I began wishing I’d gone for plain vinyl instead. I bought a steam cleaner – that cleans and disinfects the top layer but again does nothing for the ingrained dirt so over the weekend I have resorted to a scrubbing brush and a bucket of soapy water. Much to the amusement of the dogs I have spent hours on my hands and knees cleaning, and the floor finally looks as it should. I was so pleased I spent this morning performing a similar deep clean on the bathroom floor (textured pebble vinyl – we don’t learn from our mistakes!) and plan to attack the hall flooring (same grained wooden vinyl as the kitchen) tomorrow. I’m a long way from “houseproud”, usually doing the minimum to provide a relatively hygienic living space, but I am pleased with my efforts. Inevitably we had visitors on Friday in the middle of the kitchen floor cleaning, the floor was half bright and shiny and half still a muddy mess. Fortunately they were more interested in the homemade scones and jam, lemon cake and cups of tea than in the state of the floor and we had a lovely afternoon chatting and playing with the dogs.
As we are not globetrotting this summer I decided that our Saturday evening meals should be at least holiday themed over the summer – partly to encourage myself to cook something different instead of making variations on salad every night. Last night I decided to make paella. I used to love making paella when I was first married, had a proper paella pan and bought rice in Spain to bring home. I no longer have the paella pan but my Le Creuset heavy cast iron pan did the job well. The rice is available at the local grocers and the other ingredients were a combination of things I can eat – fresh peas, a couple of tomatoes, a little chicken and lots of onions plus some spicy chorizo sausage and prawns for my son. We had fresh herbs from Spain courtesy of my friend Liz and I already had some saffron from making saffron buns earlier this year. Photo courtesy of Le Creuset. The whole thing came together beautifully and was very tasty, all the better for spending the last 15 minutes in the oven keeping warm. Making it made me look back to my early years of cooking, I grew up determined to learn to cook as Mum was not a keen cook, she made the same meals on the same day each week – if it’s Tuesday it must be lamb chops, grilled to a charred, leathery texture and served with peas and boiled potatoes. I used to raid my mother’s Good Housekeeping magazine for recipes and kept a little scrapbook of dishes I wanted to make. Since most people’s idea of foreign food at that time was Vesta Chow Mein it was difficult to get ingredients and many of them were vetoed by Mum before I started as “nasty” a term used for garlic, yoghurt, most spices and in the fabric world for polyester which was always spoken of as “that nasty polyester”. I’m not a fan of man made fabrics either but I was amazed at Mum’s dislike of certain foods as she happily tucked into tripe, Fray Bentos steak pies (in a tin!) and ox tongue. I became an expert at sneaking ingredients into the fridge and into the food without her noticing but never converted her to yoghurt unless it was strawberry flavoured and bright pink.She considered the main course as something that had to be eaten in order to get to the desert so she was much more inventive with puddings and cakes and could always be relied on to have something sweet in the cupboard as a treat. I share her sweet tooth so have tried hard to develop and interest in savoury food too as I had no wish to follow her example to need to have dentures by the age of twenty one.