Chicken & Stuffing Pie 

The other week I gate crashed a lunch date. I’d been given a menu to look at and one item in particular intrigued me: chicken and stuffing pie. I had to have it…

The pie was yummy – chicken and stuffing in a pie served with chips, peas and gravy. That’s when I said to someone at the table that I would probably put the peas inside the pie so I didn’t have to chase them across my plate. The pie was delicious. It was really, really yummy. 

I had no choice. Either I have to frequently drive ~20 miles to eat the pie or I have to make my own pie…

But if I make the pie, can I make it better? I gave it a go:

  • Shortcrust pastry – cooked the base briefly.
  • Cooked 3 chicken breasts and chopped them up.
  • Made a mixture of sage and onion stuffing from a packet. Stirred in the chopped chicken.
  • Stirred in peas and defrosted spinach.
  • Added a tiny bit of gravy to make the mixture sticky (not wet).

Then I crammed (squashed) the mixture into the pie base before stretching the pie lid over the top. I baked it in the oven for 35 mins. I brushed the pie in gravy that I had added to the filling.

I’m actually quite shocked that food this tasty can come out of my kitchen…

She’ll be coming round the mountain…

My mood hasn’t been all that great over the last week, so when I was out and about with my friend, and I showed enthusiastic interest in a particular mountain, he decided that we should do it. I didn’t object. I didn’t oppose the idea. I didn’t try to come up with an excuse as to why I couldn’t go out. In fact, I rather looked forward to the climb – it’s a bit scrambly and I like to scramble.

We got up to the top of Tryfan in 3.5 hours. I’m sure my friend would have been quicker, but he was having to wait for me. I’m not a quick walker. In my defence, he knows that.

It was about 18:50 when we left the top to come down. Coming down rocks is always a bit trickier (for me) than going up them. However, knowing what a slow coach I am, my friend was confident that we’d either be on the path or back to my car before it began to get dark.

Well, a combination of poor decision making on my friends part (regarding our route down), and slow walking on my part, meant it was 23:35 before we reached my car. Thankfully one of us had a head torch. We both would have but my confident (and experienced) climbing/mountain friend was sure that we wouldn’t need one head torch, let alone two! So I left mine at home and had to wear my friends torch.

Not only had we been to the top, but we’d also been all around the mountain. It’s not a grassy mountain. It’s a rocky one with massive boulders to climb over.

This morning there’s not a bit of me that doesn’t ache. My muscles feel like they’ve died. I think if it isn’t hurting, it’s probably become numb. Someone should probably dig out a walking frame for me…

I’ve written this blog post from my lovely warm bath…

Changing tastes

I used to scoff at people who told me that my tastes would change. What I like today, I might not necessary like tomorrow. What I disliked yesterday, I might like today. But I always wondered how I would know that I now like something when until that time I haven’t.

Take, for example, my attitude towards vegetables. When I was living at home, I ate vegetables because Nanna served them. I’d take the bare minimum on offer, and I never really enjoyed them. I much preferred to eat my vegetables disguised in stews and soups. Just like salads have never appealed to me. 

Now I’m doing my own shopping, I could be forgiven for not buying foods that I dislike. Now I’m cooking for myself, I could be forgiven for not cooking foods that I dislike. But, they’re ok when hidden in the depths of a stew or combined with other foods that I do like.

So, how have I discovered that my tastes are changing?

It started at Christmas. I was at a Christmas meal with colleagues, and I had a single Brussels Sprout. I just had one. I dipped it in gravy, I put it in my gob, I chewed it and I realised that there was something different about it. The expected taste of sour ear wax didn’t come. The anticipated taste of disgustfulness didn’t arrive. 

I won’t go so far as saying that I particularly enjoyed my annual Brussels Sprout, but it was more pleasurable than previous years. 

My experience got me thinking: what else might taste better? I’ve been trying “new” foods and have discovered that actually, a lot of vegetables and melons aren’t as yucky as I have previously analysed them as being.

  • Cider isn’t as yeasty as I previously thought it was – flat cider is still rank though…
  • Wine can still be bitter but I have produced a short list of my favourites.
  • Cauliflower isn’t as bitter as it was before – but unless I’m turning it into soup, I don’t like the taste when it’s too soft. It tastes nicer raw.
  • Courgettes have quite a nice taste when cooked in butter and black pepper.

However, peppers and lamb and mashed potato are still quite gross…

It doesn’t just apply to food. I’ve discovered that my TV habits are changing. I now find myself watching reconstructions of murders in relationships, house buying programmes, programmes about history and Columbo. I’m also finding myself browsing the home furnishing, DIY and furniture departments in shops with interest rather than boredom and tuning into Radio Two…

Pay to pee!?

I know that the concept of having to “spend a penny” has been around for a rather long time, now. The Internet has just told me that it can be traced back for 2,000 years. I’m just shocked by the fact that this is (still) legal.

I am human (LOL).

I drink fluids – all the medical experts are telling us mere mortals that we need to drink so much per day…

I urinate. What goes in, must come out.

Yesterday (and on several other occasions) I have faced a bit of an issue: to be able to urinate in a toilet, I have to pay 20p.

I could choose not to pay the 20p. By choosing not to pay, I run the risk of either developing a urinary tract infection (which I’ve been prone to in the past), wetting myself as I can’t hold it in much longer, or being arrested for urinating in public. The last option appeals to me more than being forced to pay for the privilege of using a toilet.

What disgusts me the most about the idea of paying to pee, is that dogs and cats can pee and poop wherever they like without being charged. At least I pay my taxes! Not only do I pay my income tax, but I also pay my council tax – yet, in the county I live in, I still have to pay to pee when I’m out in public! Loads of people, everywhere, are forced to pay to pee.

How is this even the slightest bit legal? With all the Human Rights that hover around, how is it that in some places, there is no other option but to pay to pee?

Sometimes I have no change on me. Sometimes, the change that I do have on me, doesn’t add up to charge being imposed. Some of these machines don’t even give change – so, am I really going to put a £1 coin into the machine? I don’t think so. I could go into a nearby pub and use their toilet instead, but they sometimes put signs up to inform us that the toilets are for paying customers only. And when I don’t have change on me? Well, that’s when I have to beg – and even when I’ve had to do that, I’ve not been successful.

I have considered putting loose change in my car, or keeping a spare change on me. Sometimes, I don’t go out in my car. Sometimes I just take my bank card when I go out. Sometimes I really need to spend the loose change on other things that I have to pay for – like parking.

I understand that the money supposedly goes towards maintaining the toilets and making them all lovely for us users. I don’t see that, myself. In fact, the free toilets are often a lot cleaner and are more “equipped*” than the ones I pay to use!

*By equipped, I mean, toilet paper and soap. I don’t mean that I’m greeted with a champagne reception with canapes…

In all seriousness – I understand that these toilets have to be maintained, but I think there should be an alternative way to go about this. If I denied someone that I was caring for access to the toilet, I would be in in court on all sorts of criminal charges – and, no doubt there would be some Human Rights law that I would be breaking. Wouldn’t an honesty box work out better? For the times we can’t pay the charge they impose, we can still use the toilet. But for the times we can pay the charge they impose, we pay – and pay our debts?


I’ve decided that I will decorate one of the rooms in my house. I had big plans to start between Christmas and the New Year. I actually had big plans to complete the task before I return to work on the 3rd. In theory, I have begun this mammoth task (Rayna disagrees LOL). I have been shopping for supplies. I’ve moved my deadline to a more realistic timeframe – I’d like to have completed my decorating by SSeptember!

I have been given lots of advice regarding this matter – all of which has been greatly received. Some of the advice that I’ve received has been somewhat conflicting, though. The Internet hasn’t been of much help in getting definitive answers, either. 

Rayna sacrificed a PJ day for me by taking me to the shops where, in B&Q, my education on decorating has begun. Fi had already suggested that I pull the wallpaper off the wall before I paint it – which other people had also suggested. I see that this is possibily the best idea because I don’t want the wall paper showing through the paint! I don’t like the wallpaper, hence the fact I want to decorate. So, I have bought a scraper. 

What about a steamer? So many people have told me that a steamer is an essential piece of kit for my bit of decorating, but the wise people (both on and off the Internet) have informed me that a sponge and hot water is just as effective. So, I got some sponges!

Someone else (as well as Rayna) suggested I wash the walls before I started slapping the paint on. I thought they meant by using soapy water or bleach water. Rayna steered me towards sugar soap that I have to dilute in water! So I have some sugar soap!

And then I got a good deal on rollers, trays and brushes! 

As you can see, I have started my decorating adventure. I am preparing for the challenge that awaits me. 

Between Rayna and a B&Q booklet, I am now sufficiently educated on the types of paint there are available to me. Matt for the walls, satin for the wood? I think! I can’t quite remember! I think I have that right!

But then there are the different colours! 

First of all: my house, my money, my choice. 

I want a pink and purple scheme. They’re my favourite colours and the room I’m decorating is a room that I’ll be spending a lot of time in after September, so, I want it cheerful and not too cluttered! It turns out, though, there are more variants of pink and purple than I could ever have imagined. So, I have lots of colour cards to put on the walls once I strip the walls. 

After all of this, I regret responding to the question “will you get someone in to do your decorating?” with “it’s only a tiny room, how hard can it be?!”

New house, new adventure…

This year I have been in a position to get my hands on a house. 

So, I got my hands on a house.

I’ve been here now for nearly 5 weeks and the only major job I’ve had to do is get a lock to my back gate. It’s a temporary fix because I need a new shed door and it was important to me that I have a safe place to keep my bike. I have a few jobs lined up – I want to make the steps into the garden safer, I need to make my attic access safer and decorate my study room. I also have big plans to have a vegetable garden in my little yard – a job I hope to get started on in the New Year so I might get a small yield this summer and autumn! 

It’s odd that I no longer have a landlord! I can pretty much do as I please here without checking it’s OK first. I could paint every inch of my house neon pink and I don’t have to explain myself to anyone. I don’t think that part has sunk in yet. 

My neighbours all appear to be very nice – I can’t hear any of them which must be a testament to the way these quarry cottages were built! In the house I was renting (a newish build (70s or 80s)) I could hear my next door neighbour banging cupboard doors as though she was in the house with me! Also, I’m further up the hill from the dual carriageway and train tracks than in my rented house, so that adds to the quietness.

I can see a bit of the sea from my kitchen which makes it a great place to sit with a brew and a packet of biscuits!! It’s also a beautiful kitchen (I think!) so it welcomes me to sit there.

It was a bit stressful moving so I hope that I don’t have to do it again for a good few years!! It’s not just the logistics of moving stuff but of phoning all the people – the utilities, the council tax people… But, I hope to enjoy a few decades here, so thank you for making it possible!

Crock Pot-ting it up…

Last Sunday it was suggested that I should get a slow cooker. Nanna’s fed me so many meals from the slow cooker, so appreciate that a slow cooker is an appliance that I will greatly benefit from – especially as I’m only cooking for myself. In these last two months I have found cooking to be quite a chore! I was beginning to get a bit lazy with the whole dinner experience by coming home from work and whacking anything into the oven. It was easier for me than worrying about pots and pans and timings of things that need to be put on and looked after.

Knowing that a slow cooker is going to be a benefit to my life, I planned to get one at the end of June. After chatting to two friends I began searching the Internet for recipes and got quite excited about my pending investment. I messaged one of my friends and told her that I was definitely going to buy one.

No! She suggested that I don’t rush out to buy one. I need to do my research. I need to compare the bowls and the settings. Which, I did. I couldn’t make head nor tail of all the reviews of a slow cooker. They all appeared to do the same thing. But I carried on with my research because I didn’t want to waste money on something that was going to be rubbish!

Two days later, my friend’s house warming present arrived – a Crock Pot.

I was super excited! I had a quick look on the Internet and found that I could wrap a potato in foil and bake it in there on high for 4-5 hours. I did that. It came out as though it had been cooking on a BBQ! It was delicious. So, on Wednesday I went a bit more ambitious.

Into my Crock Pot I added tinned tomatoes, onions, peas, rice (with water), sausages and bacon. I trotted off to work with my Crock Pot on high and spent the entire afternoon looking forward to my dinner.

I came home to something that resembled a risotto with a charcoal crust. I ate around the burnt bits and it was quite tasty – like a smokey bacon and sausage risotto. It was nice. I would eat it again – but there was so much burnt stuff that it has taken me 24 hours to get rid of the burnt bits! My lesson has been learnt though – I’m to leave it on low!!!

This morning I refilled my Crock Pot – I added chicken, a jar of curry sauce, onions, peas and broccoli and left it cooking on the low setting, after using the instruction book to convert the cooking times. Tonight I came home from work to a yummy curry with no charcoal! Mission accomplished – I now have 2 pots of curry ready to put in the freezer.

Tomorrow I plan to make soup………