Kitchen Disasters


Okay, it wasn’t quite this bad.


Minor disaster day.  The toaster exploded.  I like to believe there was a spiritual connection between this and our shopping trip for an oven at the weekend.  The first proper oven in the Portuguese kitchen we are attempting to renovate.  While looking for this we’d been distracted by luxury toasters.  But we already had a toaster, a nice one at that which we’d been bought for a Christmas present, so we couldn’t justify a new one.

pic: Tod McLellan

pic: Tod McLellan

Now we’ll probably have to get one.  We all rely heavily on toast between meals in this household.  Although we do have a George Formby grill to keep us going which I found brand new and still boxed in a house I once bought, so we’ll not starve on the toast front.  Zed is meanwhile inspecting the workings of Portuguese plugs.

Toaster John Lewis

This one….

John Lewis toaster

or this one….

red toaster, john lewis

… or this one.

Meanwhile, aargh,  I then managed to burn the soup for our midday meal.  I know that’s quite a difficult thing to achieve and I only have a small window when Jae is home from school for cooking lunch.  Clearly being happily engrossed working on the computer while multi tasking at cooking doesn’t work for me.


It didn’t look like this

I replenished the saucepan with water (tip it away – are you kidding?)  and vowed never to go on the computer again while cooking.  On the way back from the bathroom I just…had a peek at emails…clicked through to a blog (about a Vietnamese food tasting tour on motorbikes) then skyped a message to my god daughter’s mother that my god daughter, who is currently in Vietnam, should try the food tasting tour.  I’m not sure her mother will welcome my suggestion that she travel around Ho Chi Minh city on a motorbike tasting food though.

Maybe I should take the tour

Maybe I should take the tour

Meanwhile, the pan was looking black again and burning smells wafted out the kitchen.  Hmmm.  Don’t have time to cook anything else.  Add more water again?

Strangely it tasted delicious.  Here is the recipe for ‘Cook and Double Burn Soup’.  One for Halloween?

Two carrots, three potatoes, handful of frozen cabbage stalks, an onion, cup of peas, stock cube.  Approximately 1 3/4 litres of water.  Put in a pan and cook until the water has almost boiled away and the pan is going brown. Replenish the water.  Boil the water away again until the saucepan is almost ruined.  Replenish the water.  Blend.  Serve with rolls, warmed in a George Formby grill or oven.  Or toast, for those of you who can.

No.  Not serious.  Don’t try this at home.

Adventure story age 8

Available in print or Kindle from Amazon.




Power Cut


I’m writing this in darkness. Groan. Another power cut. Zed was in the middle of a promising sentence “do you want a dri..?” when the kettle stopped. Time for candles, torches, another eccentric evening in Quinta Blackberry.

I move closer to the fire remembering from my childhood the English power cuts of the seventies, wintery nights spent in darkness while the miners went on strike. Candles came out. It was exciting. Thrilled at being sent home early from  country dance class at school because there was no power.

Reminded of the power cuts in the 1970s

Reminded of the power cuts in the 1970s

Forward to the noughties and er…progress. Power cuts in our Cambridgeshire village happened every time there was a storm, which wasn’t surprising given the way the wires lit up across the road potentially electrocuting every bird perched on top.


All power to Cambridge

Our burglar alarm would go off. The first time this happened I expected the police to roar up with a view to apprehending burglars. I waited with panic and embarrassment and then what happened? Er…nothing. No-one came. For that extra service, actual help and rescue, we would have to pay an exorbitant fee. That first night we called the alarm manufacturers and they charged triple figures to stop the noise. After that we just let it carry on and after twenty minutes the alarm went off by itself. It didn’t seem to matter since no-one was planning to rush to our aid. We bought a large, black dog instead.

Neither did we escape power cuts when we moved to Spain. We only had a certain amount of power on the system so if we had a heater on and boiled the kettle we would be thrown into darkness should we decide that oh, we’d rather like to make some toast too.



It’s late now and I want to get to bed but it’ll be cold in the room with the electric heater off. This series of power cuts started during a storm several weeks ago but now they continue through milder weather. Zed’s braving the cold upstairs but I’m remaining by the gas heater.  Next to it I can hear a snuffling in the darkness, a soft furry body and then heavy breathing. A large black dog to keep me warm. Burglar alarm, heater and dog all rolled into one.