Ichabod is itchy

September 27, 2006

A letter from Budapest

Filed under: life — by ichabodisitchy @ 6:03 pm

Last week our old neighbour phoned us up to say that someone had tried to deliver something for Lewis, but that it required a signature. It having been his birthday last week, Lewis was quite excited at the prospect of a birthday parcel– albeit slightly annoyed at the Post Office, given that we’ve especially paid them to get post redirected to our new address.

So it was with some anticipation that we answered the doorbell on Saturday morning and signed for our delivery. Sadly for Lewis, it turned out not to be a birthday present but was, instead, a flat envelope stamp-marked Budapest.

Upon opening it, we discovered a four-page letter — in Hungarian — from Sigma Credit Management Company. Luckily a small excerpt of the letter was (badly) translated into English– it informed us that Lewis owed the Hungarian government £31 in unspecified ‘tax and duties’, and that it had to be payed within 30 days or we would be issued with a fine.

Somewhat perplexing– given that we know no-one in Hungary and Lewis has never even set foot in the country.

We checked out the company online and it’s all legit. So Lewis phoned them up yesterday. Turns out that ‘somebody’ with the name Philip Lewis, allegedly from the UK owes the Hungarian government £31. The company charged with collecting this money has no contact details for this person, so they ‘look up the name on the computer’ and then send off a letter to the first person whose details come up, cross their fingers that they’ve got the right one, and hope for the best! Is it just me, or does this seem a crazy way to collect taxes?

So when Lewis said ‘well, it’s not me’, they just shrugged their shoulders, said ‘sorry to have bothered you– we’ll try the next one down the list’.  Unbelievable.

September 19, 2006

Choco-licious

Filed under: food — by ichabodisitchy @ 5:49 pm

There’s a small cake shop in Soho, called Patisserie Valerie. No doubt there are other PVs, although the one in Soho is the only one I know. Every time I go in there I feel like a kid in the world’s best sweet shop. It has all sorts of deliciousness stacked on it’s shelves, and a warm, cosy feel to it. The cakes come in all shapes and sizes and all flavours– little fruit tarts, almond pastries, strawberry mousse and a whole selection of dainty little chocolate truffles. But it is the chocolate cakes that really make my head spin.

Yesterday was Lewis’ birthday and I went into Patisserie Valerie and bought a chocolate cake. Not just any cake– chocolate sponge, filled with two layers of chocolate filling and encased in a solid layer of semi-dark chocolate, topped off with a superbly decorative flower made of, yep you guessed it– chocolate.

Look at this cake and I think you’ll agree that not only is it a divinely choco-licious cake, but it is also a work of art.

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Needless to say, we all overindulged and spent all evening laying around the living room feeling totally chocolated-out! Mmmmmm– but so worth it!

September 17, 2006

Marmite spice jars

Filed under: art — by ichabodisitchy @ 5:56 pm

A tip for the marmite-fans amongst you…

We get through quite a bit of marmite– and for some time now have been converting empty marmite jars into colourfully painted spice jars. Not only are they perfect for storing spices (because they’re really dark so no light gets in), but you have all the fun of painting them too.

We had a couple of empties lying around, so spent the afternoon adding to our collection…

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September 14, 2006

Films for comfort

Filed under: film — by ichabodisitchy @ 7:18 pm

It’s been a bit of a strange week. I’m back at work and getting on with the normal routine, but it seems a little surreal, and everything seems just a little bit trivial…

I spent the first few days trying to keep my mind off things (I’m a real ostrich sometimes– just bury my head in the sand and hope that things will go away eventually…). Well, I couldn’t concentrate for long enough to read much, and didn’t have enough energy to do any gardening (which has become my latest hobby), so decided to watch a movie. And somewhat amazed myself when I stood in front of our (extensive) dvd collection by choosing Pride & Prejudice– the 5.5 hour BBC version that I’ve watched twice before. And I sat down and watched all five and half hours of it and enjoyed every minute of it as much as I had the first time. I don’t know why, but it is such a comforting film– the equivalent of banana custard comfort food. Every time I watch it, I get indignant at the snub Darcy gives Lizzie when they meet, cringe at Mrs Bennet’s social faux pas, laugh at the ridiculous Mr. Collins, feel sorry for poor Jane at being cut off from Mr. Bingley, pray that this time Lydia won’t be seduced by the wicked Wickham– and all the while fall slowly in love with Mr Darcy. I’m always left wuth a warm fuzzy feeling by the end.

If you haven’t watched it, I can assure you it’s worth every penny 🙂

September 8, 2006

Gone

Filed under: life — by ichabodisitchy @ 8:48 am

Yesterday I found out that an old friend of mine– with whom I had a brief love affair in my early 20s– had died. He was young (only 30), fit and healthy and he just collapsed of Sudden Adult Death Syndrome. He was running a half-marathon and he was here one minute and gone the next.

I cannot express the pain I’m in. I can think of nothing else and, from the moment I heard, have had constant flashbacks of his smile, his laughter, his voice and the time we spent together. And I can’t stop crying.

I haven’t seen him for a couple of years. And I suppose we were never the closest of friends. So how can it hurt so much? He was such a sweet and gentle creature– and a real entertainer. Always had a story to tell, always making people laugh, and I never heard him say a nasty thing about anyone.

The world will be a duller place without him.

September 5, 2006

Buy a friend a book…

Filed under: literature — by ichabodisitchy @ 9:34 pm

The Deblog has a competition running for the next Buy a Friend a Book week (starting October 1st), which involves filling out the following meme… so here goes:

1. What are you reading now?

Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell (slow burner but 2nd half is proving to more than make up for the first!)
2. What’s the best book you’ve read this year?

Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini

3. What’s your favorite work of historical fiction?

Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott. I simply adore all the gallantry and damsels in distress.

4. Pick a random book from your shelves and write down its first sentence. Does it make you want to read more?

It was seven o’clock of a very warm evening in the Seeonee hills when Father Wolf woke up from his day’s rest, scratched himself, yawned, and spread out his paws one after the other to get rid of the sleepy feeling in their tips.

Bit difficult to say whether it makes you want to read more because it comes from The Jungle Book, so you sort of know the story before you start. It’s a bit long, but different enough that you might read on…

5. Have you ever read a book and wished that you’d written it? What was it?

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. The characters, the plot, the language–incredible.

6. What book on your shelves do you wish you’d never bought?

Great Apes by Will Self. Appalling– completely unfunny and completely dreadful in my opinion. The funny thing is that we have 2 copies on our bookshelf because my husband independently bought the same book (we were both drawn by the cover pic  & blurb on the back). I don’t think he was impressed by it either!

7. Have you ever bought someone a book for BAFAB?

Yes – but does it count if it was my husband?

8. What book do you really wish someone would buy you for BAFAB?

Blue shoes and happiness by Alexander Macall Smith. I love his books, but somehow never get round to buying the new ones…

9. Go to book-blog.com and leave a comment mentioning your post. Remember to include your permalink in the comment.

OK – will do.

10. Tag three people.

hmmm, hope you don’t mind guys – James, Doug and Ian

September 4, 2006

Name that tree

Filed under: Uncategorized — by ichabodisitchy @ 6:58 pm

Part of the process of moving house, I’ve been told, is making your mark on the garden. So I dutifully spent all day yesterday pulling up weeds and preparing beds for planting of spring bulbs. Unfortunately I am no gardener and part of the problem is that I really have no idea what any plants are. I can identify one of the trees in our garden (a weeping willow– easy to spot). But we have another one– currently known as the yellow flower tree– which I am struggling to identify. Here are a couple of pics– any clues?

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September 2, 2006

I’m back!

Filed under: Uncategorized — by ichabodisitchy @ 5:48 pm

Well, I daresay you’ve all forgotten me by now, it’s been so long– but I haven’t forgotten you. Can you believe it has taken us 5 weeks to get broadband up and running? First we had to disconnect the old house– a few days. Then we had to get a BT landline– a week. Then we had to get BT to take the new house off their broadband database, because we needed to go with someone else. They said it would take a week. But in fact it took 4. Four weeks of us phoning up every day to say ‘is it done yet’? And them saying ‘no, not yet’. How difficult can it be to press the ‘off’ button? Finally, we had to get the new broadband box delivered and activated- 1 week. And the last day and a half poor Lewis has been setting up all the different computers and laptops round the house to work wirelessly. I am delighted to say that my little Mac was the only one that caused no problems. Gotta love Mac.

And finally, here we are! New house is fab. So much space, we’re simply rattling around. And it is such a joy to be able to be doing something in one room whilst the kids are doing something in another! No longer do we have to get stressed out by rainy days where, in our old flat, we would have been all on top of each other and crawling the walls by the end of the day– here, we can run up and down the stairs and wander around only occasionally bumping into each other. It’s a real novelty.

We’re still unpacking. Well, we’ve got the books out which is all that you really need to make a place look lived in (that was a whole day of my pedantically laying them all out in alphabetical piles and organising them on the shelves, then taking them down and re-organising them — call me sad, but arranging my books is one of my favourite pasttimes!)

And here are a couple of the little things that I never knew meant so much to me, but from which I derive real pleasure every time I use them:

1) a bin (a full size 50L standing bin– no more tiny bin under the sink which gets full within 5 mins)

2) a cutlery draw (hmmmm- cutlery can get put away!)

3) a loo roll holder attached to the wall

4) a dishwasher (even the kids don’t mind doing the washing up now!)

5) a loo seat that stays up without blue tac (for the boys of the house)

6) an airing cupboard to put towels & linen in

7) a recyling box

8) a full size freezer

9) sash windows that stay up without use of a wedged screwdriver

10) no elephants upstairs.

Am totally loving the new house.

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