autumn, the best season of them all

Another great thing about dog walking is getting out and about every single day, it's a real pleasure to see the season changing from summer (eh? what summer), to autumn.  It's my favourite time of the year and I love collecting things when I'm walking and taking pictures.

Tilly in particular likes the beech nut casings...we have a huge copper beech in our garden and there are hundreds of the things....she likes to eat them?? I'm sure they're not good for her!


is Jaws the best Steven Spielberg film ever made?

Jaws is an awesome film isn't it?  I mean, you get the whole man vs. monster thing but the monster is like an evil, deadly, well..fish!  What's not to love.

I've watched Jaws over and over again, it's definitely my most-watched movie EVER (the other contender for this title is Cliffhanger but that's a whole different story)!  Which is kind of odd considering it's a boy film about men trying to be manly via the medium of killing a big fish.  Also I'm a lady, my most-watched should be Titanic or something, shouldn't it?

The things I like about Jaws are:

The 1970s vibe, and clothing especially when all the holiday-makers descend on Amity from the ferry...what a crazy wardrobe...man!

The hot summer vibe with beaches and bikinis...this is maybe because we never have such a thing (a hot...what?) in Blighty.

The characterisation of masculinity; Roy Scheider as Brody is all middle-class and a handsome good boy, Richard Dreyfuss as Hooper is all geeky and obsessive and Robert Shaw as crazy Quint - all the scenes of them on the boat ("we're gonna need a bigger boat"), are brilliant, not least the drunken rendition of "Show me the way to go home".

The fact that Jaws is not revealed until quite late into the film - this suspension of the inevitable is brilliant, the suspense (even after watching it 100 times) is palpable (what a great word, must find ways to use it more).

That it crosses genres...is is a horror or a thriller, a monster or a disaster movie? It's catagorised as a Thriller on IMDB, but its genre-crossing must add to it's appeal.  Personally I think that it's filmed like a horror with all the suspense, blood, gore and of course the first victim...naked? female? instigating sexual relations? = female must be punished = horror movie.

Things I didn't know about the film:

That the 1974 book by Peter Benchley had sold 3.5 million copies before the film was released.

That Charlton Heston desperately wanted the role of Brody....oh I don't think I would have watched it even the once if he had got the part.

That a major storyline in the book; Brody's wife Ellen has an affair with Hooper, is removed from the film.....WOW, that's kind of a shocker, it makes me wonder if I would love the movie so much if I'd read the book first.

I will never know.  Must try and pick up a copy of the book, bet it's good.

PS. remember...don't go in the water, especially not naked and definitely not in the dark...c'mon!

walking Tilly, the highs and the lows

She likes a walk does our Tilly.  And as she gets older you can tell she needs more and more, she kind of gets a bit restless (annoying) and pulls all her blankets and toys out of her bed and brings them over to us as if to say "see what I've had to resort to because I'm so BORED"!!!  Yeah, she ain't subtle.

She was on two walks a day but now she's six months we decided to up it to three walks a day.  So she goes out first thing in the morning with her Dad (bless him for getting up at 6:30am every day), a lunchtime walk with her Mum and then a walk with both of us in the evening.  Phew....I'm tired even writing about it.

We think she's happier, she certainly seems it when we're out and about.  She has developed a stick 'thing' where she finds the biggest stick she can and they carries it around...hmmm.

However, there is a slight downside to all this dog walking, she likes to pull and not in the good way, and no matter what training we've done with her (and we've done a lot!), she still continues to pull.

Now she's getting bigger she is becoming a bit harder to control, I find that I was getting sort of dragged along the road and she's nearly had me over a couple of times when she's seen something interesting and tried to dart off!

So we spoke to a dog trainer at The Company of Animals), and he suggested trying the Halti. Oof we didn't really want it to come to that but they come with high praise as being the only solution to stop a pully dog.  So we got one.  Here is her face.

What do you think her face is saying.  NOT amused.  AT ALL.

Anyway, it really bloody works, she physically CAN'T pull because if she does the Halti tugs her face to the side, so walking has become altogether less about the pull, instead it has become all about the injustice of the Halti.  The injustice!!

How DARE we INSULT her by putting such a thing on her face...blah, blah, blah.  Now we walk down the road with her holding back, rubbing her face on our legs, rubbing her legs on her face....you can catch my drift huh.  So we are just unsure at the moment.  We are persevering with the Halti because at least she is getting out of the pulling habit but it has created a whole new set of problems.   MEH!!

ps. she rough-housed a little dog today on our walk.  Really, really embarrassing, I had to run over and get her (yeah, when she goes into the 'zone' her recall training goes out of the window), and she had pinned the poor thing on the ground and was growling like one of Higgins' dobermans on Magnum PI, the horror!  I had to shout her name really loud to get her head up so I could grab her collar and take her away from the situation, oh dear, I have the walking blues today.


westerns - is it a love or hate thing?

Now I love a Western, always have.  I think it's from being made to watch them with my Dad when I was young.  But I am aware that it's a bit of a love or hate thing.  I love all the moody iconography, outlaws, gunslingers, saloon girls, dusty high streets, twangy spaghetti western style music and of course tumbleweed, loving the tumbleweed.

But the film I'm going to witter on about today is Stagecoach, the 1939 classic, directed by John Ford and famous for being the film that launched John Wayne into super stardom and established him as a (or should I say THE) classic Western actor.

The reason I like Stagecoach so much is that it has all the classic iconography of the genre.  You have the distinctive landscape, the actual stagecoach, the outlaw, the marshall, the saloon girl, the Apaches on the rampage and of course the outfits.

I also like it (in fact this is what makes me love it), because it's definitely an anti-establishment film - yes I said ANTI-establishment.  In 1939!!!  Who would have thought it?

The film has a very simple premise; it follows the travellers on a packed stagecoach going between two (very different) frontier towns; Tonto (puritanical and conservative) and Lordsburg (violent and debauched), during a time when it is dangerous to travel because of Geronimo and the Apaches.

The stagecoach is filled with a mix of oppositional characters.  You have the 'eastern' characters such as Lucy Mallory, a snooty lady looking for her husband who is in the army and Hatfield who is a high-society gambler.  You also have a corrupt bank manager and a whiskey salesman.  Then you have the 'western' characters of Dallas, a saloon girl, Buck the coach driver, Curley the marshall, Doc the drunken doctor and of course Ringo, the outlaw.

None of the characters get along, the stagecoach bristles with tension and then they are attacked by the Apaches (of course), the result of which is the 'eastern' characters all proving to be cowardly and hypocritical whilst the 'western' characters are the heroes.

The two lead characters Ringo, played by Wayne, and Dallas, played by Claire Trevor are basically an outlaw and a prostitute (or saloon girl as they were more affectionately known), and they, rather amusingly (I think John Ford loved making this film), are the moral core of the film.   I mean REALLY.....quite a modern point of view for 1939 America.

And at the end of the film after Wayne has avenged his family's murder by killing the Plummer brothers and you'd expect that Curley, the marshall would handcuff him and take him away...well, NO.  Curley instead sends Ringo and Dallas off into the sunset telling them that they would be happier away from society...so off they ride to a happier life, probably in Mexico where one imagines there were no raging puritanicals.  And heck, who can blame them.

If you haven't seen Stagecoach it's well worth a watch.

PS. Claire Trevor is wonderful as Dallas in this film, was the biggest star at the time of making and the highest paid of all the actors in the film too....GO girlfriend!!


new window boxes for autumn

Window box and doorstep pots changeover day has been and gone, got me some winter pansies and violas in to brighten things up as we hurtle towards the colder weather.  Although have to say that today has been glorious, lovely and sunny but a bit windy and humid, you know, the usual stuff for September in Blighty.

Quite pretty, should get better and brighter as the days go by. Fingers crossed.

Have you done your window boxes yet?  What did you plant?

a book and a film - Eat, Pray, Love

Have you read this book/seen this film yet?

Now I thought the book was alright, I just about managed it (particularly difficult with much tutting from Mr P about it being trashy), and honestly I felt it was well-written and had a few funny, classic moments.  But as a whole, it's quite an annoying book because all she does it talk about herself!!  I mean this woman is OBSESSED with HERSELF (just a little, maybe?), and I felt that an altogether better title for the book would have been Eat, Pray, Moan.

What's funny is that my Mum said exactly the same thing, "it was alright but gosh can't she moan" ha ha....so I'm clearly not the only person to think this erm unless 'constructive' criticism runs in the family perhaps.

So it was with some trepidation that I pressed play on Anytime the other day but you know, it was raining, I needed something to watch whilst I ate lunch, something easy to digest.

Now here is the thing, the film stars Julia Roberts which is such a coincidence because practically the only person in the world who is obsessed with themselves more that Liz Gilbert is Julia Roberts and I am definitely not the only person in the world to think this...she is even immortalised in Family Guy talking about....well guess.

Ha haaaa funny, non?

Seriously though, the locations were beautiful, particularly when she is in Rome.  And her favourite word - Attraversiamo - is indeed quite exquisite on the tongue.

But in my opinion the film is mainly worth watching for the last half hour in which the wonderful Javier Bardem appears as her love interest.  Lets face it any film with Javier Bardem is worth watching, well, apart from Goya's Ghosts which is terrible.  And if you can finish off a year long quest with a man like Javier Bardem, well good for you.


Chanel Peridot

I got this today, which is a bit of a miracle because its sold out almost everywhere, it is the much lauded new Chanel colour for Autumn, Peridot.

I just had to put it on straight away because it is such a gorgeous colour, so I sat there painting my nails while Mr P cleaned the windows. 

It's an unusual colour, what is called duo-chrome, because its got a slight blue tint which I think is what makes it look a different colour in all different lights...only Chanel get this SO right.

In natural and bright daylight like above, its quite a pale green with a metallic sheen but get it in some bright light, with a flash as below, then it transforms into something sparkly and gold and 'oh lady bloomface, where did you get that nail varnish?'  Que pensez-vous? geddit? some schoolgirl French in honour of lady Coco, mais oui.

Well I love it, can't stop looking at my nails, which is making it slightly difficult to type so am off downstairs to make cheese and lentil loaf for dinner....yum! Hello, hello, yes I know you are thinking what's yum about that but it is quite nice, honest.


potential drugs dog maybe?

I don't know, Tilly's nose just keeps on getting her into trouble.

Yesterday it was this!

I had a job keeping the camera still, I was laughing so much. 

The park where we walk every day were painting the lines for the football pitches and she went running over to investigate.  I didn't think anything of it until she came running back to me.  I had to get her to sit down so I could capture her shame, and then I remembered that I was a responsible dog owner, got my tissues out and cleaned her up.

It didn't all come off, some was stuck round her nostrils (I'm still laughing now as I type), so I checked with the line men (not from Wichita sadly), that it wasn't toxic (see, am proper responsible dog owner) and off we went home.

She is a funny girl and sure makes me laugh, I expect other dog walkers think I'm a little odd, well what's the point of having a dog if you can't laugh at it.

She's just so leggy and long that when she runs she looks a bit like a bendy bus; her front goes one way and her back goes the other.  She also skids a lot, especially when running around corners.  She doesn't know her own speed and I think her long legs confuse her sometimes.

We love her, long legs and all.  She'll be six months tomorrow which means she goes from three to two meals a day, oh dear. I'm pretty certain she'll be a bit moody about that new development, she likes her food, does our Tilly.


Titanic (1997), cinematic art or a big, fat cash cow

I'm not going to start this post by asking if you've seen this film because lets face it, practically the WHOLE world has seen this film.

In fact one mother and daughter (who frankly should be ashamed) profess to having seen it an astonishing eighty four times.  Yes 84, I mean how.could.you?

I have always prided myself (and you know what pride comes before don't you?) on never seeing this film.  I just never got around to it, there was always something better to watch and having never been keen on blockbustery type Hollywood films anyway, I didn't really think I was missing much.

Well you can imagine my horror at being told I HAD to watch it in order to write an essay.  Initial stubborn refusal gave way to petulant reluctance to spend money on the damn DVD (it's still pricey you know), so I borrowed a copy from a friend and sat down alone (Mr P point blank refused, ha ha),  to watch it.

And you know what, for what it is, it's alright really.  Its got all the classic elements to suck the viewer in; romantic love story for the ladies and big, smashy, sinking ships for the gents.  Nothing terribly offensive except for Celine Dion singing and a slightly racist view of the British crew but hey, lets not quibble about minor details.

Yak, Yak, pass the sick bucket
The thing is, I still can't understand why it's been such a huge success, and I'm a woman and us women supposedly made up over 60 per cent of ticket sales for this film.  I mean, Leonardo DiCaprio is not THAT tasty.

Richard Maltby in his book Hollywood Cinema says its all about a little thing (that makes gazillions of dollars) called the commercial aesthetic.  Which is a direct contradiction really, how can art be art if it's made purely for commercial reasons?  But it's the stuff that keeps Hollywood in mansions and Marxists in tears.

The Marxist approach to film history states that films are just vehicles to support the values and ideals of the dominant classes.  What do we think about that?  The dominant class in the world of cinema is Hollywood, do we think Hollywood movies have a tendency towards this? Hey, I'm just asking the questions here.

Take the case of the depiction of the crew.  James Cameron has them, with a few notable exceptions, panicking, losing control, killing innocent people, under-filling the lifeboats, over-filling the lifeboat, you name it.  Do we believe this to be the case?  Or is it just a more appealing way to tell the story?

Compare Titanic with a British film from 1958 called A Night to Remember.  What a classic, and such a shame that it didn't do so well at the box office and that subsequently it's not better known. 

Now, I bet my life that James Cameron watched A Night to Remember before he started filming Titanic because its got so many copied similar scenes.  You have the same long shots of grand, stuffy dining rooms for the upper classes whilst below decks the third class passengers are having a jolly good time.  Surely this is a subjective opinion, how do we know that the third class passengers were having a great time?  And interesting that it appears in both films.

What A Night to Remember doesn't do is slander the crew.  It portrays them as heroic and brave and again you wonder if this is just because the director, Roy Ward Baker, was British or is it that in 1958 British films weren't made in order to fill huge buckets up with cash.  Or am I being too idealistic??  Probably.

Mr P  will call me a communist and tell me to pipe down.

Who knows.  Anyway these are another pair of films that would make a good film review night, watch them back-to-back, you'll find it interesting, I promise you.

Cape Fear 1962 or Cape Fear 1991

Have you seen these films?

They are both really good and creepy in their own way but what I find so fascinating about them is that they are brilliant examples of social film history.

Because essentially the story is the same; deranged ex-con Max Cady is hell bent on revenge so he stalks and terrorises the family of the lawyer who sent him to prison, Sam Bowden, particularly taking a fancy to Bowden's daughter.  What makes the difference is the 29 years of social change between them.

Robert Mitchum as Max Cady
The original Cape Fear features Gregory Peck (whose production company had bought the rights to the film), as Sam Bowden with Robert Mitchum playing the bad guy Cady.  I'd never thought of Robert Mitchum as creepy until I saw this film, he sets about destroying the Bowden's piece of mind with such calm and precision, it's quite subdued terror.  However, creepy Cady aside, upon its release in America it got poor reviews and audiences.  Nobody liked it much.

But it was when the movie tried to come to England that the controversy started.  The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) were horrified with the film and insisted on so many cuts and so much censorship that it drove (British) director J. Lee Thompson to the point where he could no longer deal with them.  Peck instead had to come to England and smooth things over with the board and he agree to over six minutes worth of cuts to make the film agreeable to film audiences.

Gregory Peck as Sam Bowden
Even so, with the 'agreeable' cuts, the film was also greeted in the UK with derision, audiences and critics alike just plain did not like it.

Was it the subject matter?  I think maybe the story was a little beyond what was acceptable in the early 1960s. This appears to be what bothered the BBFC, they were concerned that Cady's sexual designs were on Bowden's daughter, who was scripted as 12 years old in the 1962 version, and not his wife.  I wonder if it would have been more acceptable had he been sexually interested in Bowden's wife instead...probably.

Move forward 29 years and the 1991 version of Cape Fear has Robert de Niro as Max Cady and Martin Scorsese directing, and boy do they turn the film into quite something else.  All the dark malevolence that the 1960s audience had to be protected from is unleashed in this bad boy.  De Niro is absolutely terrifying, I remember going to watch this at the cinema way on back in 1991 and being so petrified I couldn't sleep!

Robert de Niro as Max Cady
Not only is the devil, in the form of Cady, unleashed but a myriad of social changes are evident in this version.  You go from having a tight knit and twee Bowden family in 1962 to a fractured and broken one in 1991.

Nick Nolte and Jessica Lange seethe at each other across the screen, he's shagging around and their daughter, who is now scripted as a precocious 14 year old is played by the amazing Juliette Lewis, who quite frankly steals the whole darn show.

She is brilliant as the disaffected daughter who is almost complicit in Cady's revenge.  She enjoys the attention she receives from Cady, probably because she get none at home, and nobody, just nobody could forget the sucking finger scene in the school theatre - CREEP-A-RAMA!

As to which film is the better, I could not say.  When the 1991 version was released, a special edition 1962 version was re-issued with all the cuts reinstated and this has since gone on to become a bit of a cult classic.

I like them both, they each have their merits and faults.  It makes for a good movie night though; get them both in, grab some popcorn and a pillow (for hiding behind you fools!!) and enjoy.


is Citizen Kane the best film ever made?

What do you think? Is it terrific, is it really? Well the poster certainly says so.

I've just been doing some studying on the film and how film historians that approach the subject from an aesthetic viewpoint do believe that it is terrific. But can film be considered art when it is first and foremost a commercial product?

Having watched the film fairly recently I would say that whilst it is most definitely NOT in my top ten all-time favourites (or top twenty for that matter), I can see why it has this almost universal appeal.

 I would also like to stake two guesses:

The first being that critics and film historians like it much more than your average person. And,

That men like it more than women....and hold your blooming horses, I'm not being sexist, it's just that it really is a patriarchal film...it's all about men, men, men and power, power, power with some money, money, money thrown in for good effect....yadda, yadda, yadda!

The only women that feature in Citizen Kane are his Mum (who gives him away! TO THE BANK!), his first wife Emily (a 1941 trophy wife who he cheats on) and Susan, his second wife who he treats like an idiot.  Charmed Mr Kane, I am not.

Maybe when you look a little deeper into the history behind this movie it becomes more apparent as to what a masterpiece it is.  Also you have to remember that this was 1941, this film is way ahead of its time for 1941 and also stands the test of time with its universal storyline of greed, consumption and the hollowness of capitalism.

There stands Kane in his Xanadu (can't write it without singing it Olivia NJ style!), filled with expensive objects of beauty (including poor old Susan), miserable as sin and yearning for his Rosebud which turns out (WARNING:::::::SPOILER ALERT) to be his flippin' childhood sleigh!!!!! I mean, really, what does that tell you about the over-consumed and over-consuming?

Orson Welles was given free reign by RKO to do as he liked on this film, which is astonishing when you consider this was the era of the Hollywood studio, and their usual tight controls.  Also it is hard to see Citizen Kane as a 'mainstream' Hollywood movie, it definitely fits more into the 'arthouse' movie camp and yet it WAS a Hollywood movie through and through, Welles was able to cross these boundaries only because, one presumes, he had the free reign to do so.

Interesting also to note that on its release in 1941 the film made a loss, it was nowhere near a commercial success.  Maybe the new-fangled filmic devices used by Welles such as newsreel montages, deep-focus cinematography and the cutting away of time was too much for the average 1940s cinema audience and yet it is these and other 'Wellesian' touches that impress upon the critics year after year.

I also find it fascinating that Welles just kind of slouched off into professional obscurity after Kane, he travelled around only making films when he had the money to do so and that wasn't often.  Again I think he was ahead of his time; he didn't want to be told what to do by some ill-informed studio head, he wanted artistic freedom and Hollywood certainly wasn't going to give it to him.

I do think it's a 'must watch' film, it's a bit shouty for my taste but if you can get past that and follow the story (without wincing at all the SHOUTING!) then you will find it to be quite a sad tale.  Not feeling to sorry for Mr Kane though, he was a bit of an idiot really, now wasn't he.


La Piel que Habito aka The Skin I Live In (2011)

It is a known fact that I like Pedro Almodóvar films.

I would go so far as to say I love them.  In particular, I love Volver, which is in my top ten films of all time.  It's not surprising that I like him so much given that he is quite good at promoting women and their issues in a positive light...ie. he writes kick-ass roles for us ladies!

It is true that he can be a bit hit and miss sometimes (Women On The Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988) is admittedly not a great film), and I imagine him to be a flamboyant perfectionist and difficult character to work with (HA!, imagine if he is completely the opposite, I would feel pretty stupid, right), but I think that adds to the glorious imagination of film-making that he is able to provide to the world.

He has an eye for imagery and he selects beautiful objects for us to view, not least Penelope Cruz, an Almodóvar stalwart who always looks beautiful, but even more so when shot by Almodóvar. In this, his new film he has beauty all sewn up (literally), with the actress Elena Anaya, who is astonishing to look at in every scene she steals, I mean every scene she is in. 

Anyway, Mr P and I went to see this at the weekend and both of us loved it.  Mainly because:

a. it is a visual feast
b. it's an original (if slightly crazy) story
c. Antonio Banderas is in it
d. we didn't get the twist
e. we DID NOT get the twist!!!

I mean we watch a lot of movies and like to think of ourselves as seasoned film buffs, who doesn't, right.  Usually one of us (normally BF) twigs on to what is going to happen pretty early on in a film (especially Hollywood films), and we didn't see it coming....but then, who would.  I'm not going to give it away here, but suffice to say I would be interested to know if anyone else got it.

Visually the film is Almodóvarian stunning.  

It is set in a house which is decorated in what I consider to be true Almodóvar style; bright colours, big artwork, modern decor.  It's interesting to see how his interiors have changed over time but also stayed pretty much the same.  I would love to see Almodóvar's own house.  This house has just the right amount of style to suit Antonio Banderas as the crazy plastic surgeon, Robert Ledgard; a character who Banderas called "a monster, a facist" in an interview with the Guardian at this year's Cannes Film Festival.  And he's not wrong about that you know.
For Banderas, The Skin I Live In (2011) is a return to Almodóvar after more than twenty years away from the man most often credited with his success and he couldn't have picked a better role.  He is one of those that looks good with an aura of deranged calmness; sleek, tanned and good-looking, definitely part of the reason you don't realise what monster lurks beneath until it's too late...eek look behind you!

In summary and apologies its taken me so long to get here, La Piel que Habito (2011) is a dark and menacing film which looks stunning, has an outstandingly original storyline, great actors, beautiful cinematography and a plot twist that you will never get.  I give it 8 out of 10, that's quite good huh?


three cakes!

Three cakes in one week, I mean that's got to be a record, right?

I can't believe I've made that many cakes....especially when I have a new appreciation of skinny jeans which definitely means cake has to be OFF the menu.  Instead last Saturday I made a beetroot and chocolate cake, vegetable flavoured cake oh yum.  Plus Audrey's All Bran cake, yes I know, bit weird but stick with me on this, it gets better.
And today I made Delia Smith's all-in-one sponge, the original and the best.

The beetroot and chocolate cake recipe was found on the BBC Good Food website which I went in search of because I had so many beetroots from my garden, and I had heard that you could make cake with them so I though, why not!

I made it!
Glad I did too because it was lovely, really moist and delicious and chocolatey.  Everyone who tried it did say they couldn't taste the beetroot which does kind of raise the question as to why bother but all in all a success.
The trouble with this cake is this it tastes too darn good and once it was in the house it proved difficult to resist.  Warmed in the microwave and served with a dollop of crème fraiche....oh my.  Won't be making it again just because I really don't want it winking at me from the Tupperware, whispering "eat me, go on, you know you want to" argh shut-up lovely cake!!

Moving on to Audrey's All Bran cake (other breakfast cereals are available, I'm just not sure if you can make cake with them), which sounds a trifle odd and to be honest we were dubious when she offered it up. Erm, it's a cake (yum) made with All Bran (yuk).

But it tastes surprisingly good, really dense and loafy, yes it's more of a loaf, and is a cinch to make, all you do is take:

1 cup of All Bran
1 cup of sultanas
1 cup of sugar

And soak them with 1 cup of milk in a bowl for about 45 minutes.

Then add 1 cup of self raising flour and a handful of chopped nuts (optional), give it a stir, bung it in a greased or lined loaf tin and cook for about an hour on gas mark 5 or 6.  You'll know its ready when a poked in skewer comes out clean.

Ta da.  Cake is done, really good stodge so great if you are going walking or hiking or stuck in the wilderness with your hand trapped behind a rock.  You would seriously last for MONTHS let alone 127 hours on this stuff.

And so we spent the week eating cake, I managed to give some of it away to unsuspecting visitors but on the whole, we ate it....yes we did.

So we get to the weekend and I think cake consumption is off the menu when Mr P returns from having a tooth pulled.  Poor love, he was feeling very sorry for himself (in fairness, it was a big tooth he had pulled and he was in quite bad pain, couldn't eat much and looked like a lopsided chipmunk), so I thought I'd make him Delia's good old all-in-one sponge.

I love this recipe and use it ALL the time, here's Delia herself in all her colour-blocking glory (so ahead of the times D) in this retro BBC Good Food clip.  Awesome huh, you don't get much better than Delia.

So there we have it, confessions of a cake addict part one.....I do hope that part two is a long way off, I feel a bit sick.


the dog with the swollen nose

So I was out walking Tilly the other day with my Dad and Tilly is galloping about being her usual self, racing around and snuffling out pine cones - which are her favourite thing especially if you kick them for her to chase.

No drama, get her back to the car and give her some water, still no drama.  Go to the garden centre to get some flowers for my window boxes.  Still no drama.  Return to the car with said flowers and Tilly has transformed into a dog I do not know.  Her nose has grown, swollen right up and is massive, she looks really odd.

the Gerard Depardieu of dogs
So feeling a bit panicked now, get back to Dad's and have a closer look.  She is acting fine, drinks some more water and eats her lunch with her usual gusto, which calms me down a bit.

I google 'why has my dog got a swollen nose' and most answers says either a bee or wasp sting or a spider's bite.  Bizarrely the solution most readily advised is to give the dog Benedryl, really?

I don't feel at all comfortable giving my pupski a human antihistamine but it appears to be commonly used and reduces the swelling of a histamine reaction in the same way for dogs as for humans.  I NEVER knew that, you really do learn a new thing every day!

Anyway, we didn't give her Benedryl, not least because we didn't have any.  Instead we bathed her nose, and her eye which was also swollen, with cold water and a few hours later she was much better....phew.  By the evening all the swelling was gone and she was back to being her usual Tilly self playing tuggy.

those eyes that just say 'play with me'
Well I have to say we are relieved because she is so darn cute, we couldn't bear anything happening to her, another lesson learned along the road of bringing up puppy.

Happy dog walking, watch out for them mean ass wasps.


the greatest skinny jeans of them all

Ah the quest for the ultimate skinny jean.

What woman has not been on this shopping mission only to return home empty handed, deflated and wanting to stuff custard creams down their throats and slurp hot Yorkshire tea whilst watching Ice Loves Coco, which, as you well know, ALWAYS makes you feel better!

Well I recently ventured out to inflict this pain on myself because I'd seen a pair of lovely maroon, skinny skin tight cords (CORDS!) in Gap - they were featured in lots of magazines and they looked lovely (on all the pin-thin models) so I was keen, quite keen, keen as mustard - what does that mean anyway?

Now, maroon cords remind me of being 12, I don't know why, I'm not even sure I had a pair of maroon cords when I was 12, or actually I think I did, but I digress.  These cords looked lovely in the press, looked lovely in the shop (where the colour is called wild raisin hmm) and then I put them on.

Now, they slipped on lovely, very soft and they did up fine so the sizing was good but they did something very odd to my legs.  You know those big purple pipes you see at the side of the motorway when they are doing road works? well my legs looked like that, big concertina pipes instead of legs....oh!

Well, I was quite miserable, Mr P didn't know where to look so I sent him out to get me the ordinary denim always skinnys instead - you know, just to make sure it wasn't my legs fault for concertina-ing up.

Well he arrives back with these little gems and I'm looking dubious at him because they look a funny shape and he's saying "try them on" and, well, I'm glad that I did....ooh I say, they fit a treat.

VERY tight - a bit like when you got your Mum to take your jeans in back in the 1980s because they just weren't tight enough already (what? you didn't do that?), and quite comfortable too....I'm saying quite comfortable instead of amazingly comfortable because when wearing them you are conscious that you won't be eating any pies anytime soon.

Then I went and didn't something slightly crazy lady-ish.  Well they did have a 25% off denim weekend and well I did think that a nice dark denim colour would look nice with boots for the autumn and then when I got there the light grey ones looked quite lovely too.  Oh dear, see where this is heading?

I am now the proud owner of three pairs of always skinny jeans from Gap.  The moral of this story is don't give up after your first try, avoid all pies for as long as possible and don't return to the store if they have a big discount weekend.....OKAY!

ps. the sun is shining, it is hot, it is September WTF!!!
pps. I've even got shorts on

Source for all pics.