Friday, 30 September 2011

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Wild Mushroom Risotto


Yes, I did eat the wild mushrooms from Saturday’s forageand lived! At least, I had them for a late Sunday lunch, because I fell into bed when I got home on Saturday and just could not manage to get up again to feed myself.


First I fried some onion and garlic in a little olive oil until soft – I like to let them get a little brown and caramelised when it’s going with mushrooms.


Then I added 4 heaped tablespoons of Arborio rice, some chicken stock (you could use vegetable) and ~half a litre of water. Bring to the boil, then simmer slowly until the rice is done (but not overdone), adding liquid as needed.

Once the rice was cooked, I added a handful of grated cheese, a goodly knob of butter (James Martin would have approved) and a dash of lemon juice, seasoning with salt and black pepper to taste.


Meanwhile, in another pan, I sauteed the fungi – which had first been thoroughly brushed clean and sliced where needed - in a little oil.


Finally, slopped it on a plate and slapped the mushrooms on top. Yes, I know … ALL my risotti look like savoury rice puddings, but they taste fine. Smile

And not a magic one in sight, which is probably a good thing, maybe.

(The quantities above made 2 equal portions of the size shown.)

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Mushroom Hunting Expedition


Here are a few photos from the mushroom hunting (or fungi forage) expedition I went on last Saturday in the New Forest.

It’s was a fantastic morning with lovely company and a knowledgeable and entertaining guide. It was brilliant to get out into nature again – I realised just how much my soul needs to commune with its tranquillity.

However, it’s taken me until now to find the energy to upload the pics and write these few words. Despite being chauffered and despite finding myself places to sit down while the rest of the group went off foraging, a mere 3-hour outing caused me an 18+ hour crash, where I just slept and slept.

Well, sleep was more like a coma really, because I couldn’t have woken up or functioned, even if my life had depended on it and, of course, I suffered all the usual post-exertional malaise feverish, flu-like symptoms, with, this time, the added bonus of reawakened allergies and a bevvy of bites.

At least there were plenty of opportunities to rest while folk were foraging. I’d wanted to go because I thought it sounded more interesting than merely going on a walk, but I thought about it afterwards: there is no way I could have kept up the pace or coped if it had been a walk instead.

But silly me, I forgot how *tasty* I seem to be to the world’s bug population. I could remember to take precautions against the mosquitos in Tenerife, but totally forgot that actually, the last time I was bitten really badly (allergic reaction, massive swelling and in need of urgent medical attention), was some 20 or so years ago … wait for it … also in the New Forest!

So, without repellent some now fat little beastie first had several nibbles on my neck, proceeded across my shoulder and then the saucy little sucker managed to bite my boobs (in several places) and work him or herself down my torso and legs, supping at regular intervals. Well, unless there were several of them. And I still can’t calm the incessant itching.

Still, enough of the winging and on with the show:


You’d easily dismiss those orange spots as fallen Autumn leaves, but they’re mushrooms. Don’t ask me what kind. If there’s one important lesson I learned about mushrooms it was to leave the identification to the experts!


Very pretty, but there’s a good reason the colour RED signifies DANGER. That’s one you don’t want to pick, even if it does look super-cute.


Trees. Forests tend to have quite a lot of them. Smile 


Bracken beginning to turn an autumnal brown.


A nice little mushroom crop (I’d already harvested some before I remembered to take the photo) growing in the moss-covered base of a fallen tree.


The sum total of the harvest – and, to be fair, I only foraged around half of those myself – of mostly Hedgehog Mushrooms and Chanterelles.

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Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Help Us Get a Google Doodle for May 12th


We have started to work on a campaign to ask Google if they will create a
Doodle for May 12th 2012 which is the 20th anniversary of the International Awareness Day for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), Fibromyalgia (FM), Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS) and Gulf War Syndrome (GWS. )

A Doodle is the artwork you see on the Google search page. For examples,
please see

So far we've set up a new page in Facebook called "Google please create a
Doodle for May 12, 2012" 

If you use Facebook, please "LIKE" the page to show your support.

If you don't use Facebook, an awareness petition is available to sign at

We also ask that each person send a separate request to  asking for a Doodle. (Please copy in so we can track the number of emails sent.)

Also please spread the word of this as far and as wide as possible. We need
support from people around the world.

Any questions please contact

Thanks in advance for your support.

(Via: Life as we know it)

NB: I think this would be an excellent means to achieve greater worldwide awareness of these conditions, so I think it very worthy of support.

Links of the day 09/28/2011

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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Tuesday, 27 September 2011

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Monday, 19 September 2011



Cap'n Slappy (or was that Stroppy?) on International Talk Like A Pirate Day and no, he hasn’t been practicing a Somali accent.

The making of the Pirates of the Catibbean:


No, I will not wear the silly hat!


Very reluctant pirate was about to bite me!

Thursday, 15 September 2011

7.7 miles in around 3 hours

In 1784, a mail stage did the 120-mile journey from London to Bristol in 17 hours.

Using simple arithmetic we can work out that it ought to have been possible, back then, to cover around 21 miles in 3 hours by stagecoach and you’d hope things had improved in 227 years, but you’d be VERY wrong.

View Larger Map
How fucked up is public transport in Britain today, when one would need almost 3 hours to make a 7.7 mile journey (that would take around 16 minutes by car) by bus, train and coach, involving no less than 3 changes?

Having fancied going foraging for wild mushrooms on Saturday, September 24th, I hoped I would be able to get a lift, but as one fell through (not at all unusual: it proves almost impossible to rely on people), I thought I’d check out other methods of getting there.

Taxi is out of the question: it costs around a fiver just to get back from the village or the station, which is only about a mile away, so I used Transport Direct to look up ways of doing the journey by public transport.

However, in order to get to Burley in the New Forest – a mere 7.7 miles away, according to Google - for 9.30 on a Saturday morning, I would need to leave home before 6.30 am and either walk the mile to the station or walk around 3/4 of a mile to catch a bus there. Let’s ignore the fact that this alone is too far for me to walk without severe pain, discomfort and fatigue.

In truth there is very little to be gained by walking in what amounts to the entirely wrong direction in order to get a bus back to the station (in all other aspects of the journey Transport Direct can be trusted) and rather a lot to be lost as waiting at a bus stop where there is no seat would render it impossible for me to cope with the rest of the journey. If I were to walk to the station that would be tiring enough, but at least there I would have seat.

However, I would then need to catch a train all the way to Bournemouth, then change to a coach up to Ringwood and, finally, catch a bus back down from Ringwood to Burley, turning this simple journey into a convoluted 3 hour, 28 mile circuit, still no faster than stagecoach!

If I’d been going on a weekday, there would have been a bus from Christchurch (which would have meant only one change and would have *only* taken 1 hour 45 minutes), but the only bus doing that on a Saturday arrives in Burley at 12:00 mid-day. On Sunday it doesn’t run at all.

We’ll also ignore the fact that I avoid buses anyway, because the rattling and jolting is just too painful, because this all becomes totally hypothetical.

Even if someone in perfect physical heath were to contemplate this journey, then I am sure they would soon come to the conclusion that it’s ridiculous and just not viable. A six hour round trip to go just 7.7 miles for, at most, an hour or so’s pleasure simply isn’t justifiable, even for the young and fit.
After a 3 hour journey I’d be in no fit state to ramble and forage.

As for getting home again, I couldn’t contemplate it in the same day. And having discovered thus far that it’s pointless, I admit that I haven’t bothered to check if it is even possible to make the return journey: if there are services running back in the opposite direction later. Being a Saturday, there’s no guarantee that there will be and every chance there’s not.

imageTo add to the utter dumbshitness of the problem, Burley is a quaintly touristy, (formerly) picturesque village in the New Forest. Exactly the kind of place where people should be able to visit at weekends.

Obviously, unless they have cars, they can’t.

Even more obviously, except to those who organise public services, the more cars that pile into this tiny outpost, the less picturesque it will be and the less likely people will visit. And even less likely that it will draw the very sort of people who would be mostly likely to preserve the forest’s beauty; walkers, users of public transport, etc.

imageSo the car parks will expand to fit, the gift shops will sell more utterly useless crap and the tea rooms and cafes will probably eventually be replaced by Costa Coffee, but the real quaint New Forest village disappeared and died decades ago.

How will Britain ever get people to leave the car at home, take public transport and reduce their carbon footprints? Answer: it won’t, until it provides an adequate transport system for people to use.

This journey is but one example and is by no means untypical of the kind of obstacles that one is up against trying to get anywhere in this country.

For the majority of the elderly population in this area, as well as for myself, effectively, we are imprisoned in our homes at weekends. We are unable to attend any of the events that take place at the weekend (that’s most).

It’s not much better during the week, when the one and only local bus ends service at 2.25 pm (to be cut in October, with, we are told, the last bus arriving at 11.45 am). It means we are unable to have any meaningful social lives. Getting to health appointments is hard enough. The only means of doing shopping is to have it delivered, which is helpful, but even a simple shopping trip provides some opportunity to socialise with other humans.

And being sick and disabled only makes the already very hard, even harder.

Battle of the Little Bighorn


Warrin’ is tirin’ even for the feline versions of Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse.

Yesterday, we were treated to an all-feline re-enactment of the Battle of the Little Bighorn: more of a stand-off really, known as Custer's Last Stand.

Neighbour cat, who just happens to be called Custer, is a lanky young black and white male. He was frolicking in our garden, chasing anything that moved and generally having fun, as they do, but he’s an inquisitive little bugger (follows me around and has been in everyone’s house) and got too close to the glass patio doors. These two idiots, who haven’t yet understood the idea of double-layer laminated safety glass, it seems, hissed and spat and growled and generally got worked up. Kitty even hit the glass a few times.

Eventually, a poor bemused Custer got fed up and walked away to play.

This pair had to come and have a lie down: it was all too much! Smile

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Monday, 12 September 2011

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Saturday, 10 September 2011

Lazy Boys & Girls


That would be THEIR personal recliner (we’ll attempt to reduce the amount of hair they leave on it) now they’ve been allowed “Access All Areas” throughout the house and, in true feline style, they’ve taken over.

The merekat too, I discovered on the floor, several feet from where it normally lives and it sure didn’t walk there on it’s own.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Links of the day 09/09/2011

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Hurricane damage


Up to 50 mph winds whipped around these parts on Tuesday, September 6th, leaving in their wake a trail of devastating destruction and damage.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Links of the day 09/07/2011

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

The Land That Time Forgot


Clearly I do not fit into this area; I’m too young, I do not wear beige nor have a blue rinse and you’ll never catch me among the starched old biddies who overdress to visit the rather too high profile Conservative Club in the high street. And I sure as hell won’t be starting to read the Daily Mail! 

Well I don’t feel as though I fit into Britain anywhere, but certainly less so in this area, which I have often referred to as “The Land That Time Forgot” and here’s a typical example of the phenomenon:

On the (anti-)social calendar locally for today, Tuesday, September 6th, is "HEINKEL, HITLER AND THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN" :  THE PROBUS CLUB OF THE NEW FOREST. No, sorry, I’m not giving any exact details, because I wouldn’t wish to inadvertently encourage anyone. Hell, isn’t it time that people in Britain moved on from their unhealthy obsession with WWII?

Links of the day 09/06/2011

  • "If this bill gets the royal assent, then I see much of my professional life's efforts being undermined, and will be glad to retire.

    David Cameron and Nick Clegg will reap the whirlwind of the effects of this bill in the next few years.

    They will be known as the men who wrecked the NHS. "

    tags: cosmos uk health nhs

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

The Two-Headed Monster




By popular request, sum comparisons of the twins’ other ends.

The tails of two kitties


Not quite identical twins! (The fat butts are the biggest family resemblance!)

Monday, 5 September 2011

Links of the day 09/05/2011

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

I can haz a sunbeam


Whether I’ze allowed to be lounging on the kitchen counter or not. (It’s what we have disinfectant wipes and a taste for protein-packed cat hair for. )


Would you just look at the grumpy face on that! Smile 

(Oh yeah, look at that, sun in the UK this afternoon too – shocker!)

Links of the day 09/04/2011

  • "If anyone has a psychological problem, it is Wessely, who can’t seem to stop harming the patients he says he has tried to help. Instead of accepting the ridicule and threats that ANY and EVERY controversial researcher is bound to get, he turns up the pressure on millions of patients, who by and large have never been militant in their lives, who would never consider sending death threats. We have every right to protest and make complaints when he is harming patients. Shame on him for publicizing the extremes and making it sound like we’re a bunch of terrorists. He has once again added to the stigma we face, and all because he is a SORE LOSER, who refuses to admit that he is wrong, even in the face of hard science."

    tags: cosmos me_cfs

  • "Jet streams and ocean currents ensure that British weather is some of the most changeable on Earth"

    No, really? Who would have guessed, eh? Geez, this looks like it's working up to be a slow news day.

    tags: cosmos weather uk

  • "He intended the meal to be a special surprise for his elderly mother."

    Coincidentally, I'm going mushroom foraging later this month! :)

    tags: humour cosmos

  • "... the export of DLA (care only) is apparently being paid by UK in other European countries only if and for as long as entitled to a UK contributory benefit such as IB or contributory ESA. "

    tags: uk benefits cosmos

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

The Neighbours


Neighbour cat (Ben) can be found curled up in that corner of our garden most mornings (weather permitting), totally oblivious to neighbour pigeons.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Links of the day 09/02/2011

  • Yes, but how often does he say something then do the opposite?

    tags: uk cosmos politics

  • "Guardian: * Comment is free The notion of Britain as a property-owning democracy is in tatters. Homelessness up, housing benefit claimants up, home ownership declining. top income deciles get richer, while the lowest ones get more deprives. Bodes well for a HPC, but ... ugly."

    tags: uk cosmos

  • "The 2009 Welfare Act changed the rules about benefits for lone parents, and transferred a large group from Income Support to Jobseeker’s Allowance; as a result, they have to be available for employment and actively seek work. Now, for people who have been victims of domestic violence, these rules may be difficult or impossible to comply with."

    tags: uk benefits cosmos

  • "Job centres are to face spot checks about their treatment of disabled people claiming employment and support allowance (the replacement for incapacity benefit). Occupational health expert professor Malcolm Harrington, who has been charged by the government with reviewing the much-hated work capability assessment for ESA, told BBC Radio 4's You and Yours programme yesterday he would be visiting job centres to see how far his recommendations to date were being implemented.
    Part of this would involve assessing how far job centres were becoming "more human" in their treatment of claimants. Harrington is calling for evidence for his second annual review of the WCA until 16 September.

    tags: cosmos uk benefits

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Links of the day 09/01/2011

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.


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