My lens has steamed up. It’s not a special filter treatment. Every day’s a school day.



@Felix_keeps_on enthralled me with her recipe for Jugged Shin of Beef the other day so I hastened forth to Waitrose to buy the cheap(er), flavourful cut to make it.

You marinate the beef with some olive oil, a bayleaf, a sliced onion and wine. Mine was in the fridge overnight for 12 hours before I added a stockpot jelly; some redcurrant jelly, some fried bacon, some flour and the zest and juice of an orange and put it in the slow cooker this morning. I cooked it on Low in the slow cooker and ate it 11 hours after that.

Dawn originally warned me to make sure I had enough liquid so that the casserole she normally cooks in a very slow oven did not dry out, but the thing about using a slow cooker was that, even after 11 hours, the half bottle of wine and the orange generated rather too much juice, which wasn’t sufficiently absorbed by the flour I’d added.

Nevertheless, this cut of beef cooked up very well and you could, I guess, use the bones as napkins rings if you wanted to. Waste not want not. Having said that, I’ve always been rather suspicious of napkin rings. I never know why on earth anyone would want to use a napkin twice without washing it.

MsDD found the beef a little too sweet but we liked it and I’d definitely make it again. I served it with barlotto I threw together. Thanks for this, Dawn. Was fabulous.


My voice held up reasonably well in our rehearsal tonight, after me assiduously resting it this week. I’m feeling a lot better and I think Monday’s visit to the doctor was probably the sort that viral thing got, thank goodness. The other two choirs were there too. I know this is mean, but when you belong to such a tight outfit, it’s really disconcerting to hear people singing completely out of tune. I had to concentrate very hard to stay on pitch.

During the interval, a man I recognised from my previous choir came up and said:

“I recognise your face.”

“Yes. I sang in your choir for ten years.

This is one reason I left and joined my current choir: we’re a lot friendlier. And better.


We’ve had Raffles for 7 months now and he seems to have settled into our family well. He enjoys dog class and he and Oscar seem to rub along together. They even play with each other.

Even though he’s a beagle and so easily distracted, the thought of keeping him on a lead for the rest of his life saddens me immensely. We have started to let him off for a run from time to time, as long as it’s open ground and we can see him. He is easily distracted by other dogs and the man who feeds Schmackos to all the dogs in the park, but largely he comes back when called reasonably well. I’m even planning to do the Kennel Club Good Citizen Silver Test with him next month.

So today we went off to Farnborough Common and Raffles was off the lead and trotting along with Oscar and me quite happily until we reached the end of the last field. He disappeared into the little wood that borders the Common and, while I could see him at first, he soon disappeared, completely ignoring my calls and whistles.

Well, what do you do in that situation? You can stand there waiting and calling for hours in the hope that he’ll come back or you could head back to the car, hoping that he’ll somehow make his way back there and not get himself run over in the meantime.

There are all sorts of conflicting emotions running through my head when this happens: Will he be found alive? Will he be run over? Should I ever have let him off the lead at all? What if I’m heading in the opposite direction from him? What am I going to say to my cousin’s family if he’s dead? Why on earth did I feel obliged to take him on in the first place when I’m used to my lovely obedient gundog who’s even now trotting attentively by my side, showing me what a good boy he is?

Oscar and I waited there for a while but decided to head back: the Ocado man was coming with MsDD’s Duke of Edinburgh expedition food and I had to be at home for him. The first thing I did, however, was switch on the ringer of my phone, which is usually on silent. Just in case.

And sure enough within a couple of minutes a Polish lady called me. I knew at once that she’d come across Raffles, who was on his way back to the car. He’s run off like this a couple of times and been found running in the road. The last time he did this, the lady who came across him kept him with her in her car until I turned up. It’s so dangerous for them. He’s been lucky that he’s only met nice people but there are gangs who kidnap dogs for use as bait dogs in fighting tournaments. It’s horrific, barbaric, unconscionable.

So Oscar and I yomped back across the fields towards the car and found Raffles in the next field with the lady and her dog. Thank goodness! I’m left wondering, though, whether I’m ever going to be able to trust the wretched beagle, who’s more independent cat than faithful dog. This sort of behaviour doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, does it?