Yesterday I went over to a dear mates house to help her celebrate her birthday. Her road was full of leaves ready for the kicking. 

Lovely birthday spread. Everyone there seemed to be mad watchers of the ‘Great British Bake Off’ that has just finished series 2 on BBC2 and my mate has just applied for the new series…she would be marvellous…and could sing a bit of hopera when it all got a bit boring. I have to say as a person who does not eat wheat flour there is little in the GBBO that rocks my boat, apart from Sue Perkins , who I think is very droll. The party was lovely, but as I did not make a gluten free contribution, I only have myself to blame for having to watch people getting orgasmic over divine bakerings.

SONG OF THE DAY – Erasure -Respect

It is the season of mellow fruitfulness and the  local farmer’s market is full of organic pumpkins and squash. After yesterday morning’s  rant, I seemed to spend the rest of the day eating and preparing food. I am not a big fan of gluten free bread, as I think it is like vegetarian meat substitute, the work of the devil! This is about the third time this year that I have indulged in a gluten free bacon sandwich! It was heavenly – that will do for another 4 months though…a bit too many ingredients in gluten free bread for me to trust it as a reliable food source. Then soon after the sandwich it was red cabbage, carrot and orange coleslaw with creme fraiche and mayonnaise and smoked mackerel, eaten in the garden, accompanied by some neighbour’s heavy drilling – way over the allotted construction hour around these parts. …Completely stuffed by 2 pm, what with the porridge, banana and maple syrup  in the morning  there would be no feeding necessary for the rest of the day, apart from a couple of carrot sticks and some hummous.

Back to Tom Waits. Mr P. is putting together his Christmas Cake today, second year in a row. He buys the Delia Christmas cake ingredients from Waitrose supermarket for a tenner. You get all the ingredients in little bags all measured out, and you then add citrus zest, eggs and butter to the packets from the fancy box. Mr P. has swapped the flour for gluten free, so I might have a piece this year. Outside of  the cake tin was wrapped some newspaper and there I spied in the oven Tom Waits hanging  – held there only by a piece of green string…. and there you were thinking if you were in the newspaper,

you were only tomorrow’s chip wrapper. Mr P. is in competition with his landscape gardener partner who makes an obscenely wicked piece of Christmas cake. A small  piece of  PK’s annual Christmas cake ( and that is all you get!) will have any upstanding teetotal tottering in the aisles for the rest of the  afternoon. He feeds his cake everyday with fine brandy for about 6 weeks. Mr P. is now in direct competition to try and make a fruit cake that is even moister and more alcoholic. Watch this space.

SONG OF THE DAY – Tom Waits -Waltzing Matilda

It seems bad form to not post Tom Waits today, especially as he has kept our Christmas Cake in one piece,  and got really hot and dry in our oven. I wonder if this is what happened to him to get such  a  gritty gravelly voice in one so young. You will either love  or hate his voice. Lovely song.

It’s one of those things about living in one of the most gorgeously wonderful metroplises in the world, that when friends and family  come to visit, it is quite hard to just stay in and watch movies  for four days. Yesterday we went down to the River Thames to see some wonderful London sights, the London Eye, the South Bank, the Tate Modern, the Globe, the Millenium Bridge, the amazing view from the river, and a ride on the top deck of a red London bus.

We made sandwiches, carrot sticks, took cheese and onion crisps and flasks of tea, coffee and tick tock tea. What a great idea! Inspired by family coming to visit us with small children, who take sandwiches with them where ever they go. It was so much better than hanging out with the cafe society and spending vast amounts of money. We all sat on a bench next to the river, out came one  of our paper cups on the ground. We ate sandwiches ( me without the bread)  crisps, drank hot drinks tainted with that funny metal flask flavour and sang badly and laughed a lot ( no…no-one put any money in our cup). Best fun bit of the day. Off to the museums today…not so bright at half-term as they will be mobbed….but will they listen? I am taking a brown paper bag to breathe into and a good book as once kids get into that interactive area of the Science Museum, time stands still. I feel my life slipping away from me….

SONG OF THE DAY– I Will Survive – Cake

I am posting this for VR and musician blogger frizz who is playing a particularly good rendition of this song on banjo here. I have done an arrangement where the men  sing the tune, reclaiming this song for the men!

Mum's 2nd Breakfast

And fat was not going to happen in France. So as I mentioned yesterday, I went on a coach trip to the Loire valley with Mr P. and my mum – a winning combination ( ha ha).  At the moment I am not eating anything with gluten, or sugar, or caffeine, or alcohol which makes the whole french experience a bit of a pig’s trotter really. I am a very difficult, but cheap date!

Mr P's Rhubarb Tart

Every time we got to lunchtime, the charming courier would announce  in his marvellous Lancastrian drawl, that there were lots of super take away options for lunch ‘ there’s a quaint little boulangerie round the corner where you can buy a delicious cheap baguette or a lovely piece of quiche’. Marvellous. So when all my fellow passengers were chomping through  brie and ham salad baguettes and pastries piled with raspberries and myrtles, with paper cups of steaming strong french coffee, I would be racing round town trying to find a place that sold; what seems to be the only take away food I can eat in France … the carotte rappe… the translation being …yup…you guessed it! grated carrots. Take away food in France revolves around wheat, wheat, and more wheat…all bread and pastry. In good old London Town there is a lot more choice for the gluten intolerant.

Thank Goodness I packed a bag of CarrotsIt was torture. While they chomped their way through all these  lunchtime goodies, mmming about how good it tasted I chomped my way through bits of old fruit and carrots that were lurking at the bottom of my rucksack, as the grated carrot shop always seemed to be closed at lunchtime. I ate a lot of cheese, ham and yoghurts for breakfast while others  bathed in carb heaven with pancakes and  maple syrup,  pastries and 17 sorts of bread.   I  started to dream about my porridge ( not completely gluten free but a lot of ‘intolerants’ can deal with a bit of oat) mashed potatoes, gravy, suchi, brown rice, quinoa, hummous….  Funny though, as I noticed that organic food has finally made it to French supermarkets. I saw in Monoprix ( the French equivalent of Woolworths  and a supermarket all rolled into one) that they had a ‘bio’ section. One of the hotel’s we stayed had an organic section at the breakfast table -mostly wheat products but hey ho you can’t have everything. Well there’s progress. Gluten free will come…it is just a matter of waiting it out. Until then I shall continue to pack carrots and a peeler, and hope they do not confiscate it at customs.

Strangely the only place I found take away gluten free food was  on the Eurostar buffet car on the way home . It served organic porridge, and  hot lentil stew with pork belly and sausage in a handy plastic pot….unbelievably yummy if you’re not a vegetarian.

SONG OF THE DAY – Prezel Logic -Steely Dan -Donald Fagen and Michael McDonald

a real gem of a live  video from around 1991…….shivery.