Is Raffles really a pusscat?

You must by now be familiar with the Cats vs Cucumbers and Scientists vs Cucumbers posts. And you must also know that we think our dear little Raffles is actually a pusscat in dog’s clothing. So the OH decided to test out this theory. If Raffles reacted like a cat to a cucumber then this would be conclusive proof that he is, in fact, a pusscat.

Here’s what happened:


Domestic Goddess politics

Much as I love my new slate kitchen floor, it took me well over an hour to vacuum and then steam mop it yesterday, and I had to admit that my new steam vacuum cleaner probably isn’t up to the task in its vastness. Best keep that for the bathroom floors then.

Long story short, I now find myself the proud owner of a George, the big brother of the famous Henry. Searching the Numatic website yesterday, I was somewhat dismayed to find a whole vacuum cleaner family: James, Charles, Henry, George and Hettie, who is, of course, pink. Here I shall pause for a massive eyeroll and link to the Pink Stinks website.

Here is George, a bells and whistles wet and dry machine.


One reviewer related how he just sloshed a bucket of water over his floor and mopped it all up with his George but I think we shall be more refined than that and actually use the brush/squeegee attachment. With any luck we’ll finally remove the lingering paint dust from our grout inside and outside.

I’m not really looking forward to explaining to my cleaning lady exactly how it all works: there are so many bits and pieces and it all looks very complicated. Luckily I found a very good video on You Tube although I do wonder about what motivates someone to spend the best part of an hour demonstrating a vacuum cleaner and filming it. I’m glad he did though: the Numatic instructions are rudimentary.

Now, I have always enjoyed spending Sunday afternoons baking. My post last week seems to have prompted an epidemic of cookie baking so these are for you @Annette1Hardy and @LesleyJ28.

The chocolate chip cookies follow the recipe I used before and I cooked them for 17 minutes but the puritanical, at times orthorexic OH is ostentatiously dismissive of anything as self-indulgent as chocolate, so I tried to make apple and ginger cookies for him.

Unfortunately the extra water in the apple made the cookie dough mixture a little too wet and loose so next time I’d probably add more flour and bake them for a couple of minutes longer. I used crystallised ginger, too, which seems to have stuck to the baking sheet a bit, so I’m glad that I used silicone Magic Liner on my baking sheets. Incidentally I’m finding my new double-handled baking sheets very much more user friendly than the ones that have handles on only on side.

I have never baked cookies before this week. Part of it is because I still have that quote from Hillary Clinton in the back of my mind, when she, rather dismissively, said that she was not the type of woman to stay at home and bake cookies. In my mind I’ve always been rather more Hillary than me, so not baking cookies was an outward expression of my thwarted ambition. Thank heavens, then, for Nigella and her ironically-titled Domestic Goddess book which still invites comment when I tell people how it is my favourite cookery book. Even having heard of it seems to be a cause for raised eyebrows from men who think they’re being funny.

The point of the title, of the book, is that no-one has to make a pudding, a cake, cookies but the sheer satisfaction of having produced something so luscious and homemade far outweighs the skill and effort required. Plus you have the whole warm, fragrant kitchen on a Sunday afternoon thing, which I love so much.

Another huge plus of baking one’s own cakes and biscuits, in my view, is that I know exactly what’s going into them. I have pursued my one-woman boycott of orang-utan-murdering, rainforest-destroying palm oil for years. It’s not easy to avoid because palm oil is an ingredient in so many things. It does seem to add taste and texture to biscuits and cakes, and it’s cheap, which is why it’s so widely used. But to establish palm oil plantations in South East Asia, they are cutting down huge areas of rainforest, the habitat for all sorts of endangered species.

I tried to explain my reasons to someone in a shop recently and she looked at me through dead eyes. It was much the same story as when I used to explain to greengrocers the reasons why I refused to buy South African fruit. First they laugh at you…  Let us, for the time being, draw a discreet veil over the provenance of industrially-produced butter and the dairy industry. I’ll no doubt get to that another day.

Remover of Obstacles


It’s been quite a mixed day. I managed to take my mum and a carer out for a drive around the locality today. I don’t think that she gets out much, although I think sometimes her carers take her for a little walk.

The festival of Ganesh, the God of Wisdom and Remover of all Obstacles begins tomorrow. It’s very big here in Maharashtra and people are busying themselves decorating a place in their homes on which they will place a brightly-painted clay effigy of Ganesh for the few days of a festival before processing through the streets to immerse him in the nearest river, or the sea.

I had hoped to bring you a picture of one of these Ganeshas but this hotel is a little too sophisticated for that malarky, so it would seem. Instead here’s a photo of the decorated stand at Dignity Resort and a photo taken of some flower garlands in the crowded market, THROUGH WHICH WE DROVE WITH MY MUM, this morning. You know those atmospheric shots in films about India of markets thronged with people oblivious to the traffic that wishes to pass but cannot bring itself to mow them down? That was us in Neral this morning.

I’ve noticed a little pond by the Dignity resort entrance that seems to be home to some beautiful white cranes. I ventured out to photograph them this morning but of course they weren’t there. I found these delightful creatures instead. (I did have my telephoto lens on me today.) I need to look them up to find out what they are.

So, back to Mumbai. And I finally managed to be ready to take a snap of a temple by the expressway with the largest Hanuman I’ve ever seen. India can be quirky like that:

It was raining quite heavily, hence the blurring.

It was raining quite heavily, hence the blurring.

So back then to Mumbai and a gym and a decent shower.

I tend to rate hotels on the quality of their shower experiences and the Leela Hotel where I’m staying now has possibly the most fantastic shower I’ve ever come across. It’s the double heads, you see. I’m not joking, after my workout I just stood there in utter bliss not wanting to leave. I half expected Daniel Craig to appear through the steam and, well you know.

The long journey home tomorrow. I wasn’t really looking forward to this trip – there’s so much to do at home and stuff I’ve let slip – but it’s been a good trip and I’ve been struck with how much the people at Dignity really seem to care for my mum.

See you on the other side. It is not lost on me that all I have to do is step on a plane. I don’t have to risk violence, starvation and painful death for weeks to get there. I’ll be thinking of those poor refugees over whom, perhaps, I’ll fly.

Neral flora and fauna

Written on Tuesday 15th September. Posted today:


My mum and Shain watching telly.

I saw my mum a few times today for half an hour or so each time, which as about as long as she can concentrate. It’s very apparent, though, that her powers of concentration fade as the day wears on. It was good just to “hang out” with her and watch TV for a while this afternoon, some Marathi film with a stupid plot and stereotypical characters, including absurdly beautiful main protagonists and a lot of not very realistic stage fighting.

It was clear that my mum has become quite close to her main carers, and they showed me photos of her on her birthday and clowning around. How gratifying it is to know that she is comfortable and relaxed here and that they obviously care for her. I’m wondering whether they’re on their best behaviour while I’m here and just waiting around for me to turn up. Perhaps I’m cramping their style.

The monsoon rains are fading now with intermittent thunderstorms and heavy showers replacing the continuous rain. Between the showers, the birds and butterflies come out to dance and it seems that the flowers bloom more strenuously. Walking to the dining hall this evening my olfactory system was mobbed by the scent of jasmine.

Here, then are a few photos of today:


And a little video. I think we can agree that Spielberg has nothing to fear from me:


Meet the latest addition to our family:






We’ll give her a week or so to find her feet, though I’m not sure she can under all those feathers, and then she can start work. But what is her job title? Suggestions please.

Also in today’s post bubblewrap that does not pop:


How disappointing! What sort of joysucker thought that up?


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