‘Gourmands on the Run!’ free on Amazon

3D Gourmands_on_the_Run_3dfinGourmands_on_the_Run_fin2 2

Sorry not to have been silent but I was deeply involved with finishing ebook on Amazon ‘Gourmands on the Run!

Dame DJ is English and together with her partner ‘S’, a New Yorker, who loved great food, and wanted to sample the best that France had to offer, now tells us their story from the notes she kept.

He thought France was quite small, the best hotels & restaurants from Paris to Monaco would be waiting for them, while she thought she could eat, drink and relax and the trip would be a breeze. They were both wrong!

They hired a car to drive from Paris to Monaco, through the Loire Valley visiting Chateaux Amboise, Chambord, Chenonceaux, Montrichard and other beautiful towns, down through Provence and onto the Cote d’Azur. staying at Relais Chateaux along the way.

Gourmet dinning at some of the worlds most famous places, Maison Troisgros,Chateau de Codigant Colombe d’Or and the wonderful Bernard Loiseau etc, was to make it the trip of a lifetime, but reality took over.

It open up a whole new world of sensations, discoveries, joys, hardships, illness, intensity, beauty, talents, and artistry, all unique to France, and so they became ‘Gourmands on the Run!’

Illustrated with delicate watercolours, done by Dame DJ along the journey, which survived against the odds.

Arriving hot, tiered and hungry, with, and without, reservations, ordering from oversized menus, paying some heavy prices, they were welcomed and looked after like long lost family one night at a time, then went back on the road.

They drove, they ran, they ate, they packed, then unpacked again, and again..and on every page we are right there with them, along for this amazing ride.

http://www.amazon.com/Gourmands-Run-gourmet-journey-Monaco-ebook/dp/B0158ZJU7A/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1443537271&sr=1-1&keywords=gourmands+on+the+run

Free on the 30th September for a couple of days-please enjoy but don’t read hungry:):)

DJ x

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Moving into a 1,000 year old Tunisian Medina-Arrival and Departure

Excerpt from “Moving into a 1,000 year old Tunisian Medina’
Amazon and Kindle

Departure and Arrival
We arrived in Sousse, about one hour south of Tunis, on the Bay of Hammanet, on the 18th Dec 2013 on a cheap flight packed with retired Brits living off pensions. Most of them looked sick, bit pale, feeble, but not terminal, and had arrived just in time. The flight was packed with middle aged, middle England, middle income and us.

I had expected the flight to be empty but I was wrong. The first of many ‘wrongs’.

I had booked the Premier Inn at Gatwick North Terminal the night before, as it’s literally across the road opposite the check in desk, ready for a 7am flight. After an overpriced dull dinner I wandered over to an empty airport to find the check-in desk, did some paperwork, spoke to the eastern european blond supervisor who sensibly suggested I check in that night to save queuing at 5.00 am. I gave her all our luggage, regardless of the weight and no one cared. least of all her.

Two and half hours later we landed in sunshine 17 degrees with blue skies and blue seas in an empty relatively new airport called Enfida. I expected to be engulfed by noise, beggars, animals and thieves but there were none, but a few bored taxi drivers and very few pre booked coaches. This was not Miami airport , which  feels like a hot, sticky, wild door to South America, and interestingly this didn’t  feel like the door to North Africa.

Two and a half days later the UK was hit by violent terrible storms, which cancelled hundreds of flights and left airports besieged, unable to cope and with thousands of passengers sleeping on floors clutching Xmas presents desperate to get home for the holidays.The bad weather didn’t leave the UK for weeks with the eventual  flooding devastating villages on an unprecedented scale. I have never been so grateful to be away.

I had booked the Thompson coach transfer at the last minute for £15 each after spending days trying to find a limo service to the hotel. Oh how naive! It was impossible to find something reliable, clear, reasonable and normal as I didn’t want to risk dealing with a local cab in another currency but stay close to the “hidi Hi” group of happy fat herded tourists.  We all piled on board, threw in the luggage, checked each other out and went straight to the hotel.

It was the closest thing to Butlins.

I had no idea where I was going and it was better I didn’t know.

The rest of the coach party left after their two weeks was up, and they used their return tickets as they had planned.

I didnt. I stayed, but the reason why was not immediately on my horizon.

For now it was a very sunny day, with a coach load of fat Brits, driving through empty roads newly cut through ancient olive trees struggling in caked yellow mud that stretched across the horizon. It all looked a bit boring, permanent and innocent enough.

Get hot and stay hot

Excerpt from “Downsize your home and regain your freedom’
Amazon and Kindle

Heating smaller homes should theoretically be easier but often they just turn into ‘small fridges’ instead.
If you have plenty of heating included in your rent, or service charge, then skip this section. Yes, its also theoretically cheaper but there are plenty of people living in big houses but heating just the one room.

If you don’t, you have a problem.

The price of heating is going up whilst temperatures seem to be going down. None of the savings of the low price of natural gas have been passed onto the consumer, because that would be too simple and too honest. They will squeeze us for every penny, then throw on some VAT, just in case the bill was too low.

Gas prices could surge, as my friend Putin will turn off the gas to Europe and teach us a lesson in siding with the idiot Obummer.

Being warm is not a right, it’s a luxury, so get prepared early.

Forget weather men as they don’t know anything. If they didn’t see the Tsunami coming they certainly won’t tell you when you will freeze overnight. Best bet for the UK is to see what coming over across the Atlantic after it hits the East coast.

If you are interested in history of art look at the Dutch paintings of the Thames freezing over, Europeans sleeping 5 to a bed and in woolly caps, landscapes clocked in snow and grave yards full of young people who never made it through the winter.

Be grateful and see the positives, extreme cold kills a lot of germs and its harder to get typhoid in minus 20 degrees.

On a more cheerful note I have a few tips to keep the toes warm, and avoid them dropping off whilst you sleep.

When the big chill does arrive, and it will, everyone will panic and run for supplies.

The smallest, cheapest fan heaters everywhere e.g Argos will run out immediately, that will you the expensive ones, the ones you don’t want, the wrong colour,by the wrong manufacturer, in the wrong shape and frustrated.

You need so buy the portable fan heaters before the end of November.

Keep your body warm first, and deal with the room afterwards.

Buy ski thermals. Only skiers buy them which leaves the vast majority of the population with no idea how sensible, comfortable, practical and life saving these garment are. I’ve put North Africans into thermals, they had never seen a piste, and it probably saved their lives.

Being Middle Eastern, Chinese, Brazilian, a Nomad, Indian or  from any other subcontinent, implies the population aren’t familiar with mountain apparel, but a winter is winter. Lets learn from our Swiss Alpine cousins, and stop pretending we still have fur.

Go to Primark, as they have the best range, for the best price and they wash well. Buy ‘thermal’ everything. EVERYTHING!

Thermals are not sexy garments but a huddled bag of cold bones is equally unattractive, and this is about survival, not procreation.

Shivering is the bodies response to being cold and trust me it doesn’t work. I have never seen a person ‘shiver’ themselves warm.

Buy the black/the grey/the navy, as the white makes you look fat, and it never stays white.

Buy new sets in the summer sales and give the old items away to the homeless.

Be warned our Polish, Latvian, Bosnian, Russian, Ukrainian cousins are not slow in snapping up the best sizes and colours.

Cover the windows with ‘double glazing film’ from B&Q. If you can’t get that use cling film and put a net over the window as it looks terrible.

Block all old wooden window frame holes with clear selotape. Condensation will run all over the place so hang the expense and change the selotape when needed.

Block under door drafts/gaps with mats and old towels.

Use the oven for cooking most meals and leave the door open after use.

Light a candle or two, as it gives the illusion of warmth.

Never live in a basement.

Never live on the top floor under a flimsy conversion roof.

Never live facing north.

Get coal/wood for the BBQ in case the heating goes off completely inside.

Have spare matches and lighters that are easy to find in the dark.

Stuff newspapers into floor board spaces.

Run the hot water for 5 mins to warm up the shower room.

Bleed the radiators every month in winter.

Eat curries, harrisa and eat a good cooked meal at lunch times.

Drink moderately as drunk people can do stupid things and can then freeze to death by accident. It happens every year.

Buy all the ski salopets in TJ Maxx you find before Xmas.

Learn to love fleece. It washes well, dries quickly and its warm.

Walk at least 20 mins a day outside and get your metabolism working.

Wear extra padded thick bras around the house.

Use a thick face cream on face, hands and feet as I creates a barrier to retain moisture.

Use up old tights, in odd colours, under trousers.

Buy sole liners for all your boots/trainers/winter shoes £1 pair in Primark so you are not walking on the wet ground.

Use hot water bottles and warm up the beds.

Cover the front door with a thick curtain and put strip foam around the frame.

Buy wellingtons a larger size and use thicker thermal socks.

Padded puffer coats work but add a big belt around the waist to reduce the drafts.

Put blankets on the sofas. Even the fleece blankets are warm and lightweight.

Cover the mattress with fleece blankets.

Try brushed cotton pillow cases and sheets.

Double up the duvets inside the covers.

Use slipper boots or Uggs indoors.

Buy a ‘onesie’ and learn to enjoy it.

Failing all that-get a lover for Xmas.

Clothes, clothes, clothes…. and not a thing to wear

Downsizing your home means less wardrobe space, and living perhaps in an area, in total, as big as a USA dressing room. No shelves, no shoe rack, no belt hooks, no decent mirrors but just one or two primitive cupboards.

Clothes are a problem area. A massive industry, almost out of proportion, employing a percentage of the world’s population just so we can find an item to go perfectly with that imaginary ‘outfit’ that has yet to be assembled. Like the pieces of an enormous jigsaw…we have all the pieces but no time or space to assemble them.

Probably based on our reptilian past, and the constant desire to shed the ‘old skins’, we collect ‘new skins’ with relish, stuff them away, and  forget about them.

I am not much help to anyone but I have  a couple of small tips might enlighten another ‘reptilian’;

Change your wardrobe over completely, every spring and late autumn, storing ALL winter or summer items regardless if they have been worn or not.

Its sounds like a difficult daunting task, but after a couple of seasons it’s no more than a full day and very satisfying.

My rule is everything should have been at least once or it goes off to charity. I also happen to be that charity:)

There is no way any UK house/flat/studio can accommodate both seasons clothes unless you have a huge double dressing room.

The fear is you will need the black tweed jacket in June, Hunters in August, the floating silk dress mid November and the stroppy lilac sandals early March. You won’t.

Number the boxes/bag underneath as “summer/winter” so if you happen to go south of the equator, you can find it all easily.

Pack each bag/box with a ‘group’ of clothing e.g T’s, beach, golf, tennis, sandals, evening, etc etc. If you need items for a trip, unzip, garb, and pack your case. Do not mix these items unless you are a poker player with a photographic memory.

Trust me you will never miss those items whilst at home. Unpacking them the next season is like a huge shopping trip as 65% of them had been forgotten.

I use all my decent or designer luggage as storage bags. They are stored in the hallway in piles according to sizes, then topped off with the hat boxes. It looks like the luggage belt at terminal 5.

Roll all you cotton items into sausages. My mother taught me that and it saves on ironing.

Keep all silk blouses hung together on one big strong wooden hanger as they are a beast to iron.Cover with a cotton bag or old sheet.

Place all valuable, good designer items on the top and in individual cotton bags-never in plastic. Photograph the lot if you are worried about theft.

Use old, precious, vintage handbags for thin or thick belts, winter/summer belts, smaller purses, sunglasses, scarves, pop socks, tights and hair accessories. It saves time and searching about later on. Basically you are ‘filling’ away your wardrobe.

Fold trousers into two and lay on top of each other in piles. That keeps them pressed and easy to recognise. Estimate about 10 pairs will only pile up about 6 inches high.

Don’t hang cashmere. It will stretch or droop. Wrap in tissue paper and regular check that bag/drawer as it is the first place the bugs will go to. Bugs don’t eat cheap clothes and they don’t lay eggs in nylon…would you? Sprinkle Persil into the cracks and spaces  of old wardrobes so it smells nice, and inhibits breeding grounds. Do not use bleach. Kill all moths on sight as you can’t take the risk.

Roll! Roll! Roll jeans, sweatpants, sweatshirts, jumpers T shirts and think sausages!

Go High. Buy a step ladder, put up shelves, buy boxes and use them! Go high! NYC went up high and the rest is history.

Buy storage boxes in colours or black and white. They look neat and save everything falling down on heads and somehow they do hold plenty of items. Choose two colours and alternate them so it looks attractive.

Do NOT stick labels on the front of boxes but put a small discreet number on the corner and then list in an email to yourself. No one else needs, or wants to know where your socks are. Its juvenile.

Take out the filler pillow and fill decorative pillows with jumpers, track suits, cardigans and sweat shirts. The bigger the better. Especially large lounge sofa cushions, leather cushions, puffs, and view each ‘pillow’ as a bag which needs filling.

Lace/satin bed pillows are perfect for stockings, spenders and small bits.

Allow extra time for dressing, or you will live in the same tracksuit and trainers for the rest of your life.

Plan one major, fully accessorised outfit per week and wear it every where whilst just changing the under T shirts. Chances are you will not see the same people twice and if you do they will never see it again that season.

Be your own ‘mistress of the wardrobe’ so mend, clean, iron and fold properly.

Women over 70 years old in Paris still match up silk scarves, jewellery, handbags, rings, lipsticks, belts and hats to lunch in. They cast a glances of despair around the room at a new generation in fleece, nylon, trainers, creases and rips.

Clothes are not meant to be dumped in corners or stored in dead spaces. They are natural fibbers that live andbreath. They are not extra wall insulation.

Use the boot of the car for boots, ski boots, golf shoes but nothing so expensive it cannot be insured or replaced.

Pack away missing’ boyfriends/husbands’ clothes in bags and give them away to charity. He will understand. There is no extra valuable wardrobe space for the ‘missing’. None.

Small bathrooms, in even smaller homes

Excerpt from “Downsize your home and regain your freedom’
Amazon and Kindle

Keep it empty!

It’s a bathroom not a chemist. Rows and rows of bottles are not a must in life and are not a sign of welbeing.

It’s a place of tranquility and contemplation, not a nightmare of printed messages.

Bottles of shampoo, conditioner, mouth wash, toilet cleaner, hair spray, bleach, most of whaich are half empty anyway are NOT a sign of wealth.

One bottle of shampoo and conditioner on display is sufficient. Clear the shower tray,  clear the sink,  clear the shelves of everything except toothbrush mug, razor, perfume and hairbrush. Everything else should be boxed and hidden from view.

Regain your space.

All those names Paul, John, micheal, Vidal, Boots, Fred, Superdrug, Armani,  D&G, Asda, Radox just shout sebliminal messages at you, and its all too much to adsorb.

No one cares any more if you’re shampoo is by Fred, John, Henry or Paul. It was 34 years ago Vidal Sassoon launched his hair range at The Berkeley Hotel and we were all thrilled to see a name on a plastic bottle. Its been done. Next.

Only one bottle of toilet cleaner! And the new toilet brush. If you buy in bulk hide it all.

As many loo rolls as you like,  but preferably in white. Toilet rolls dont talk.

Buy the extra large bath sheets and use one and fold/roll the rest.  Long gone are the days you had to go to Saks or Bloomindales to get a generous bath sheet bigger than a tea towel.

Forget the fluffy, germ invested, hard to wash to wash, hard to dry over thick, fluffy bathroom mats. Get decent cotton bath mats, like they use in hotels,  now about £3.50 in Primark and  throw them in the wash all the time and hang to dry. They have great ‘Calvin Klein type’ mushroom/grey/taupe colours, black/navy/brown shows the fluff and bleach marks, white is a nightmare and cream cant offend.

All the spare beach towels, odd towels, spare towels hide under the matress.

All make-up, nail varnish etc goes into ZIPPED make up bags. Its looks terrible, falls on the floor, breaks easily and gathers dust. Same for anything else small that can fit into a bag. Finish up everything over a year old and get rid of it as it will rot, smell and poison you. Stay current, not a fossil.

Face reams are not trophies. Do not display all these items, too many colours, too many names, too many unused, rotting old crap using valuable space.

Never buy white face cloths they are essentially a disposable item. They don’t stay white. Choose a neutral colour, pale grey, beige but not black. They don’t stay black.

If you need to use your shower is also a  space for airing, dripping clothing items use plastic clean hangers. If you have no drying machine don’t let guests seethis abomination so keep it clean. Use the back of the door with the multiple over door hangers.

Buy a car window cleaner wipe to remove excess water from the walls and glass. Spray damp areas with mould/shower/tile cleaner.

Spray the 99% Bacteria Killing spray onto wet walls after the shower. That way it drips into the same invisible holes the water drips into-the ones you cant see but the tiler left.

If you bathroom is right next to the wardrobe keep the shower door closed for 15 minutes after the shower to let the condensation settle and drip from the surfaces.

If it escapes into the bedroom or near a wardrobe, on a regular basis, you risk mould on your clothes as the cottons, silks, leathers and cashmeres will soak it all up.

Ventilate everything well while you are at home and do not leave wet towels in bathrooms. Cotton rots!

Clear all drains with extra strong drain cleaner every month. Be assured the previous user didn’t, and smell is everything.

Leave a a very strong expensive candle  on a shelf which will emit aroma without being lit.

Adjust the lighting so it’s not interregional.

Dont get lockin in. If its a windowless room, keep a hammer hidden away incase you are ever in that situation and need to break down the door, A mobile phone might not work or absorbs the steam.

Buy a clear plastic shower mat and clean it or throw it. The USA has law suits, whilst Europe has people skating on the soap.

The Romans sat in hot water,  as means of well being and planned an Empire.

A bathroom should be a place you ‘want to be naked ‘in, and enjoy being naked in, so enjoy.

Patio Living

Excerpt from “Downsize your home and regain your freedom’
Amazon and Kindle

Thank you China. And thank you to all our hard working Chinese cousins who work long hours, in poor conditions, on megre wages, away from home in factories to produce goods for us that we hardly even value.

We meantime,  in Europe, are exporting knowledge gleaned over centuries, fought for in blood, against medieval religious doctrines forbidding research, two world wars and fierce competition, to advance medicine, science, infrastructure, physics, construction and mathematics.

I just got the garden chairs, from Argos, in a smart aluminium trim and black canvas seats. Cheap as chips as I will be moving country again soon.

I know black holds the heat, but its very trendy. White shows the dirt, and they only had a purple or turquoise, which were horrible.

If I need to leave them I won’t complain as the folding loungers were £19.99 each, and the arm chairs were £7.99, so no great investment there. The point is I need to get into the outdoors, and sample all weathers, in day in our ever changing psychotic climate. We have a small patio now and I intend to be all over it.

In the 1990’s Florida had the best patio furniture, with solid strong metal frames and lightweight woven wipe down seats, in very slick contemporary designs. Made ‘to order’ and a glass topped table, four chairs, a couple of loungers was several thousand dollars.

The only other alternative were the white stackable moulded plastic ‘petrol stain’ chairs for the working class, again, another Chinese gift.

The western world then turned to wooden outside furniture, preferably Teak, just when we realised the Rainforest was disappearing never to regrow. Brilliant Idea to reintroduce natural woods into home decor when a strong viable alternative was being made-all be it more expensive.

The Rainforest was now being chopped down to supply the western world with wooden garden sets and no one says a word.

Habitat Furniture Store brought back the humble ‘deck chair,’ using less wood and bright coloured canvas sling back seats.

They were comfortable, light, drip dry and naff but had shabby chic status but at £29.99 each, a set of four becomes a middles class luxury.

B&Q gave us metal ‘Bistro Sets’ appearing on every tiny balcony, leading us towards a more European new cappuccino culture.

Using an outdoor metal ‘Bistro Set’ in a kitchen brings the garden inside and saves a fortune. Its summery, cute, folds away

and costs a fraction of dinning furniture. Put cushion pads under the feet, not to scratch the floor, and stick a plant on the table. Viola!

‘Decking’ came along about the same time as the new wooden furniture. ‘Decking’ is the new ‘turf’ and very nice it looks too.

Boring, badly grassed small back gardens suddenly become designer decked spaces, spot lit, easy to clean, and with a few carefully chosen grasses.

By intensifying the space it takes on intimacy and feeling, Candles, chairs, music, Bistro Sets, lanterns, water features, extra high fencing, stains, levels and gravels.

Its a couple of days work and a few hundred quid but a zen space for the year.

Start all this as you move in. Once your settled it will become a project for the next summer, and the next, and the next..

Go into the garden centres and ‘get the bug’. Some tree, ornament, trellis, pot plant, lantern will catch your imagination and you will have to drag it home. Thats the ‘seed’ of desire for your new patio. Plant it and let it grow.

Use herbs as small plants, coat decking in a pale ‘celadon’ paint, as when it wears away, it will look shabby chic.

Wire brush and clean old brick walls, replace the mortar, put down rat traps under decking, wire up holes so nothing can ‘move in under there, including people.

Get a good hose and outdoor broom.

Put a spare small fridge outside and cover with a bright thick French plastic table cloth.

The odd silk daffodil, crocus, grasses, fleshy leaves can save the day by adding colour. They do droop after it rains so wash once a season in soapy liquid.

Sheets of bamboo trellis do well as terrace roofing material. Pin down well with electric cable hooks.

Mix yellow sand with white outdoor mat paint to get a stone like texture to cover bad walls. It won’t come off so remember that.

Block small holes and open pipes with clear plastic bags so animals don’t nest e.g wasps.

Use outdoor boat lights with grill facings if you need quick economic light fixtures.

Sprinkle corse table salt mixed with white washing powder over surfaces to keep away the cats/rats as they don’t like to lick paws full of OMO. When it blows all over the place (it doesn’t seem to move) it will be cleaning and deodorizing anyway.

Yes, that is a snake you see on the white tiles in the photo. I bought a few toy wooden ones to scare away the cats and birds. Not sure it worked, but it sure thrilled the man in the Medina who sold me an item no body wants in this world:)

Use disposable ashtrays e.g plastic cups half filled with water.

Never leave food, or utensils with fat on them outside to attract animals.

Keep cheaper sun creams, mosquito repellent, and old old towels in a big portable basket

Treat the outside like an extension of your home and have warm boots, sallopets, hats, gloves at the ready and go outside.

It is one.

Live amongst colour-they are there for a reason

Excerpt from “Downsize your home and regain your freedom’
Amazon and Kindle

Use colours and let them into your life and home, it will cheer you up, stimulate the economy and distract you from every day niggles:)

Think ‘fashion’.

Think ‘season’.

“When we finish dressing ourselves, we dress our homes.”

Top designers, like Michael Kors, use a palate of three basic colours, one of which is often either black or white.

Its worth spending a few pounds on some coloured matching accessories and its worth changing them over twice a year in spring an autumn. It sounds fussy but trust me once you start it’s a welcome ritual.

Easy cheap immediate touches are;

Flat cotton toilet mats (thin ones like in European hotels are easier and cheaper to wash)

a rug somewhere

sheets/duvet set

towel set

bathroom toothbrush mug/glass/plastic

water glasses

table cloth

curtain /net

lampshade or two

coloured candles

throw blanket

plastic storage boxes to be left on show (retro ones with holes)

vases or pot plants

So choose your colour group.

This spring I used masses of lime green and bought every cheap item I come across that was a good quality, thick and rich colour.

Candles, plastic storage boxes, salad bowls/servers, picnic stuff etc in lime green. It goes so well with pinks, pale blues, yellows, oranges, and lemon.

If your base colour is white it’s a perfect mix and match but remember one of those colours have to dominate while the others hang as accents. They can’t all dominate.

This winter I will bring out all the reds, navy, dark green and anything else for the festive season. I can throw white and cream in as abase tone and a few gold or silver bits for sparkle. Go to Ralph Lauren and see what he does with the basics.

I have not thrown anything away from previous houses. Unless its broken, dirty or dangerous just give it another role e.g. towels to clean floors,,  old pillow cases use as under pillow case liners, old sheets can be dust covers for stored clothes.,,

Pick out the colours on the most important special focal item in the room, a painting, a lamp, a rug, a throw, or a vase.

Get down to Zara, Michael Kors, Prada, and Mui Mui and see what colours are in season and in what combinations.

The Italians lead in style, the USA follows hot on its tracks,  the English follow the USA (influential ‘buyers’ in home wares with MBA’s) and the French try to be different.

Change over the colours for the winter season so back in with reds, burgundies, greens, navy, browns , etc.

Change over for the summer season with limes, pinks, blues, and yellows.

Birds arrange twigs, and we arrange scatter cushions. It’s your nest and you can move stuff around to your hearts content and it’s the best cure for insomnia:)

To Light or not to Light.

Excerpt from “Downsize your home and regain your freedom’
Amazon and Kindle

There is not much new these days to say about candles.

You either light them or you don’t.

The word candle originates from Middle English ‘candel’, from Latin ‘candela’ from before the 12th century and a quick glance at the unfathomable spendor of French Roccoco chandeliers, before the Revolution, shows us they reflect more than just light.

It also shows a preference for;

Looking good in soft lighting.

Hiding the room faults and marks on the carpets.

Saving on electricity or replacing odd lightbulbs long gone.

Trying to get romantic on some level.

Confusing your guest-they wont see much.

Adding a level of elegance to dinning.

Candles cannot make a smaller room look larger in size, but it can help hide what a box it really is. Cost has become a factor in lighting candles as, apart from Ikea small tea lights, they are getting pretty expensive.

If you can find a reasonably priced candelabra for the table, buy it and collect  all the tall coloured tapered candles on sale.

Popping a tea light into the top of a big expensive candle and not buying it down saves it last visually but there nothing of the aromatic smell or light.

Small candles laid out and spaced in lines give a pretty Four Seasons Hotel moment and best on patio’s, small gardens, walled spaces without much wind.

A very good expensive scented candle can perfume a room without even being lit which is especially good for bathrooms, halls, and bedrooms.

Turn big candles upside down and burn the other end if the wick has disappeared too deep inside to reach but pay special attention to where this thing will drip. Candle wax only comes off easily in the films.

T J Maxx has the best collection of well priced, boxed scented candles that make very good gift and cost the same as wine or chocolates. I give alot of candles  or insense sticks these days.

Expensive candles should only be lit with folks you really like:)) I have regretted wasting some great candles.

Madonnas trick of pouring hot wax onto a bare chested man does not work as either he has to be a masochist, or accuses you of assult, after all, it cant be ironed off.

Do not get drunk, cause a fire and burn the house down with a 50p candle.

Lets talk ‘ice cubes…!’

Excerpt from “Downsize your home and regain your freedom’
Amazon and Kindle

We know ice cubes has nothing to do with ‘Downsizing your home’ …etc etc and the chances you will live/be/eat/drink and sleep alone but lets digress at bit…lets indulgunce for a while.

The most underated, dull, ordinary, standered food item has been the humble ice cube. They have been ignored to the point of gross neglect, and its a shame.

Store away these thoughts and ideas for when you’ Upsize’ back into the mansion, get a job in catering, have nothing else better to do or want to deliver someting unique. You and the guests will end up talking about ice cubes.

Rule 1; Ice cubes dont have to be made out of water.

Water may have been cheap but, apart from fillling up buckets, a few selective individual cubes delicatly placed in lovely glasses can liven up a regular drink.

Rule 2; Ice cubes can go in first and the drink poured over them. Its not a life jacket and does not have to be thrown in as a last resort to bounce then disappear.

Colour your ice cubes. Use the tear off flat pack ice cube bags which are so cheap at the supermarkets (Morrisons £1 bag)

Obviously use natural juices, carrot, cucumber, beetroot, fruits which can be mixed with water to get the right colour and thickness.

If using ice trays, its very easy to layer a couple of colours, but make sure the first layer is very solid first.

For ice trays pop in a pea, rasberry, mint leaf, pommegranite sead, cucumber slice, coffee bean, mini olive, choc drop, nut, or berry. It doesnt matter if they cant drink it and end up fishing it out with their fingers…it will amuse their tiny minds whilst fishing it out:)

If time is a problem buy some ready made fruit juices and use those. Yes it will add flavour but mostly just a sugary taste which is not waht you want.  Drinks loaded with pure ice, just loose the flavour of the drink first.

Tomatoe juice red ice cubes placed into a gazapacho soup adds nice touch. Add Lea and Perins, celery salt etc into the cube and add to Bloody Marys.

Freeze  bags of local cheap grapes when they are cheap and in season and throw the lots into a jar of white wine or sangria.

Freeze lemon/orange/lime rinds and mash them up under a cloth and sprinkle of everything. or drop whole pieaces into pitchers of Sangria.

Ice cubes of rose, orange and geranium waters go well over fruit salads and bowls of melon ot strawberries.

Freeze a shalow bowl of liquid, put a net/foil/papaer over the top and drop down mint sprigs so the stem freezes into the liquid like a mini garden. Use a a central table decoration.

Freeze squares of icream, add some liquer and pop into hot black coffees.  A few squares of sorbet look good over ice creams drizzled with sauces.

Last of all, freeze the left over wines and throw them into the cooking.

One day left before the Tunisian election

Saturday 25TH October 2014

I was out the door and in the Medina by 8.30 am this morning, in case there were any food shortages. I have moved into a Medina, that everyone living here, is trying to get out of.

The was indeed a shortage. A shortage of people. It felt like New Year’s Day, with that laid back, empty, relaxed feeling. It’s a four day holiday over this weekend, fri-mon for some schools, offices, and the election is tomorrow sunday 26th October.

Not having seen the motorway, I doubt if there was the thursday night mad dash into the country side, that we expect in the USA or Europe. I don’t see anyone, or anything moving that fast. Its as if every one is half asleep.

Instead of going to the food market, I went to the beach to do a good walk in 23 degrees, clear blue skies with a light breeze. Perfect.

A few scattered folks passed me by. One jogger. About 18 europeans laid out early on the only loungers still available. A few fisherman. Two or three mating couples, and one dog who had just had puppies. Not enough people to even hassle you.

I walked, sat, took a video and wondered back via the vegetable market, happy to see at least, some activity. I bought the flame red carrots straight out of the ground for juicing,(1 kilo 44p) a piece of pumpkin, for a Mauritian curry recipe I found in the Guardian last night, cucumbers for salads and juicing (1 kilo 40 p) and a pretty pink T shirt for a gift.

A collection of a few Medina locals, a few date coloured tourists, ambled about, but there no sign of any election fever. It’s not apathy, as that comes from over exposure, and they Its haven’t had that.

I walked the empty, neglected, elegant, solid looking mid rise side street buildings built by the french in the 1930s. The white walls are flaking and weather beaten, trimmed with the wrought iron lattice work of the pale blue window forget, with is obligatory.

Its all very reminiscent of Nice, after a short, light, urban, guerrilla war.

Its great real estate. Its Centre Ville. The masonry and roofs, for the most part are intact and on solid foundations. If the entire Medina, and its huge walls hasn’t already slipped into the sea, and crumbled away, this place was built on bed rock. The ancients weren’t stupid a 1000 years ago, and didn’t build on shifting sand, marshes or the Thames Estuary.

I want to join some local architectural preservation society and help save some of the building facades, before the architects and developers, run amok. There is enough re plumbing and re wiring here to keep the whole of Poland busy for 10 years, but there is no danger of that, as they aren’t going to let the Poles in to work.

The local tradesman have the market to themselves, and can continue creating havoc, mess and misery for every one who needs them.

If you have heard the horror stories about workers in the home, don’t believe them. The truth is much worse. Its beyond belief and you couldn’t put it into a third rate play. No one would believe you. I know.

A few huge hotels remain deserted along the beach front with no glass windows, a smattering of security and surprising little vandalism. If you left 300 empty hotel rooms in Europe they would not be empty for long. One owner took the precaution of setting fire to the place just to ensure no one moved in, and I suppose a decent insurance claim covered the loss in earnings.

Buying here as a foreigner is discouraged unless you buy new, in the tourist zone, at inflated prices. If you have heard the horror stories about purchasing here, don’t believe them. Its much worse. I know.

I asked a local man today “Do any of the parties want to encourage overseas private investment in real estate here?”

“No” he said and smiled. “There is not enough for the people and they don’t want the prices going up” (they don’t care about the tourist zone as no local would dream of living there)

I play a mental Monopoly in my mind as I walk, and buy up entire streets, gentrify entire neighbourhoods, list every building older than me, plus a few major palm trees, planted by the french.

I also mentally clean all the beaches, replant the Medina gardens, endorse a program to inoculate and neuter the cats, and get company sponsorship for a fleet of tasteful rubbish bins. They don’t need people like me interfering.

I know english people that fled from here, after hearing gunfire, during the revolution so I am aware anything can ignite at any time but at the moment there is nothing to report.

I shall go and battle with the pumpkin…