Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Winter is here

I haven't posted in a while as I've been busy feeling sorry for myself; let's just say I had some medical treatment for the BP which didn't go according to plan :-/ Anyway, feeling much better now and am digging myself out of the ditch :-) I know I'm feeling better because I'm cooking lots again (a sure indicator!) - new favourite recipe: Chicken and root vegetables with teriyaki sauce and honey. A simple as it sounds; for about 45 minutes roast free range chicken joints (unskinned), baby carrots (stalks on, peeled and cut in half lengthways) and chunks of sweet potato in a mixture of olive oil, thyme, teriyaki sauce and honey (according to taste). Again, no photo as I ate it too quickly. Nothing else to say today, just that it's been snowing in Madrid and that I'd like (love) to live in the house below ;-)

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Photos and things

I've finally worked out how to get my photos on here again, so here are some embroidery pics (with hindsight, cupcakes are better than Chinese fish), the cyclamen which I've miraculously managed not to kill, and the beautiful beautiful teapot that Catherine bought be for my birtday :-)

Monday, 6 October 2008

This weekend I had som of my Ex-OUP friends over for dinner. I did the usual psuedo-Arabic repertoire(Sp?) and everyone seemed to enjoy it. Was really nice to catch up with them and we ended up drinking mojitos (expertly made by Amaya) until about three in the morning... We must do it more often! I don't think I've mentioned - I've been embroidering - I would have been the perfect Victorian lady (apart from my Sudanese background :-)). I have taken to carefully stitching kitschly coloured cupcakes onto napkins, so relaxing, and they say embroidery is the new knitting - so I'm sure groups of cool people (not me) will be sitting round in cafes in Chueca eating brunch and dropping their applique into their eggs benedict (nooooo!). Will post a photo of said napkins (for whose benefit I don't know) as soon as I find my media card.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Better late than never

I haven't posted in a couple of weeks, mainly because I've been very busy. This is all going to sound a bit cryptic, but basically I met someone a short while ago (no, nothing romantic ;-)) who kind of inspired me to get on and do all the things I've been meaning to do for ages... join an art class, have friends round for dinner, get some exercise... So all these activities, in combination with life's everyday challenges and tasks have sort of taken away most of my free time. This increased activity in some areas of my life has been accompanied by a decrease of activity in others - i.e. cleaning the house. No, I'm not livivng in some dirty hovel now, but I've just come to accept the fact that I'm not the world's most tidy person, and I don't need to feel guilty about it, and not spending the whole weekend cleaning gives me more time for doing things I enjoy - haha! I'll be contracting a cleaner budget-permitting in October :-) What else....? Well last weekend was La noche en blanco (White Night) - a night when for once a year all of Madrid's museums and cultural centres are open and free of admission all night, there are also loads of open air shows, exhibits etc... It all sounds wonderful (And I'm sure it works well in Scandinavia - where it was invented I believe to provide some relief for insomnia when they have that 'it's light all day and night' thing going on) - but frankly I found it crowded and over-hyped (most of the decent exhibits had massive queues or were by invitation only). We started off at 9pm with a light show (I'm sorry, but light shows will never impress me, be they fireworks or lasers), then went to Templo de Dibod (Sp?) - an ancient Egyptian temple given to Madrid by Egypt, which had been lit up in blue and drowned in 'the sound of the sea' - which sounded like a dinosaur roaring - not relaxing and contemplative like the sea at all... At midnight we gave up and went to an Indian restaurant - Mughul in Plaza de España - very nice, I'll definitely be returning. This is my second White Night, and I won't be doing it again. In fact - next year I might just have a party at mine where everyone wears white.
Ok, on reflection, I admit that the light show was quite pretty (see palace in background on bottom photo) - there were just too many people.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Back to work

...and in some ways, what a relief: structure, order, routine... everything that this year has lacked!

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Back from Cairo

Hot, hot, hot, that's how I can describe Cairo in August... That said, I had a lovely time. Before I went my plan was basically to eat, sleep and relax, and amongst other things, that's basically what I did, and boy can you eat well in Cairo... I've put on at least 2 much-needed kilos (yeah, right, Nadya the fatty porker, I hear you mock!). Besides eating, I read loads, Cairo is fantastic for bookshop-cum-cafes and you get imported reads from all over, plus lots of fiction and non-fiction with a very local focus - great for reading up on the middle east which just gives you a whole other insight into that part of the world... I think I'd go as far as to say that without reading a bit about egypt (other than tourist guides) before you go or whilst you're there you really do miss out on experiencing the 'real country'. The other thing Cairo is great for is shopping, not just locally made 'ethnotat' (excuse the description, but rarely do you find well-made local handicrafts in Egypt) but international big-brand shopping... a rare luxury when you live in Madrid where 'local is best'. Cairo is also good for buying bling, and repairing your broken bling! And the best thing is that it's all 22k plus! OMG I'm turning into an Arab princess, must stop...

Apart from consuming everything in sight, we did make a few local trips, one to the lovely AlAzhar park - beautiful arabic gardens, in fact Cairo contains some of the greenest, lushest gardens I've ever seen - how do they do it in a country that NEVER rains?

I don't really have many touristy photos, because we're not really tourists when we're there, but here are a few snaps of some things we saw...

P.s. a couple of great reads are Nine Parts of Desire (The Hidden World of Islamic Women), Geraldine Brooks - a much more riveting read than it sounds and full of surprises, and In an Antique Land, Amitav Ghosh - shows there's so much more to Egypt than Pharoes and Islam...

AlAzhar Park

The Citadel in the background

Is this the view from our flat or from AlAzhar Park? I don't remember...

Chez Merghani, ha ha

Mum and Mimi in Crave, lovely restaurant, but obscene looking plants...

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Muji broom

For me, Muji has always been a slightly disappointing shop: full of promises of an organised and minimalistic zen-like life, but then on entering the shop I realise I don't need a perspex jewellery box or re-fillable toothpase tubes. Don't get me wrong, the concept is great, but I'm just too messy to be a minimalist and I worry about my home looking as sterile as a hospital (little chance of that). However; the other day I made an excellent purchase in Muji! Whilst perusing the usual array of plastic containers and shrink wrapped t-shirts I stumbled upon the never-seen-by-me-before cleaning section (is it new?) and I bought the greatest little broom. A mundane purchse I know, but when you live in 33m sq, everything is on show and you don't want to be looking at a garishly coloured mega-broom fit for a witch. My new bristled friend is telescopic (goes down to about 55cm long), with a tiny head and clip on dustpan, and will hopefully encourage me to sweep up between weekly vacuumings.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Port in Porto

Porto was lovely, we had to work plenty but were recompensed with good food and the spa. I've only uploaded one photo as the rest have random people in them or my new colleagues, and none are of moi(!) - still not feeling very photo-friendly. Anyway back to Porto... the hotel was lovely, we ate in some great restaurants (though I wasn't impressed by the famous bacalao or salt cod-in fact I've eaten better bacalao in Spain, buy hey, I can hardly judge from a 4-day stay in Porto. What did strike me was that the influence of other cultures was more evident in Portuguese food than in Spanish: samosas (Indian), Cooked carrot salad (North African as far as I know..?). The most delicious thing were these little custard tart things, made with puff pastry: I ate my own body weight in them every morning. The port was also delicious, didn't know you could get white port, but you can.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Lovely art

Here are a couple of pieces by my new favourite artists: Deborah Cushman from California (just look at those colours!!), and Christopher Stott (so serene, and I love pears):


It would seem I am getting better... really it's only my smile that's getting better, but that is one facial expression that counts for so much more than the various others that I still can't do (frown, pucker up, surprised, the list goes one..). I have to say being able to smile has made me look loads better, and I'm grateful but afraid to be happy - as they say that when recovery comes this late, it can 'regress'... so let's see what happens, I think I'll have a better idea of what the future holds in a couple of months. In the meantime I'm still toying with the idea of getting a toy (haha) dog and starting to enjoy the glory that is summer in Madrid: mojitos on terrazzas, gay pride, pretty dresses, sweating on the metro...

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Summer food

Being July it's hot in Madrid, and I've hit upon my yearly dilemma - what to eat when it's too hot to cook? Salads are the obvious answer but frankly they just don't fill me up enough, and whilst you can accompany them with bread, the bread in Madrid often just isn't that great. Today however I hit upon a rare moment of creative inspiration when faced with the contents of my fridge: I mixed a jar of cooked brown lentils, chopped spring onion, spinach, chopped mint a bit of runny greek yoghurt, plus lemon juice, olive oil and seasoning (salt, pepper and a touch of cumin) to make a refreshing and filling salad that didn't involve potatoes or pasta (eat your heart out Delia Smith - excuse the pun). What do you eat when it's too hot to cook? Share some of your inspiration please!! As for summer drinks, my favourites are spritzers or natural fruit juices mixed with sparkling water - great when it's so hot that juice is just too cloying. Do I think I'm Nigella or something?

Monday, 30 June 2008

Poo dogs

So, if (hypothetically, obviously) I were to get a dog, I might go for a poo variety. Pekapoo? Cockapoo? Maltepoo? Laugh not, these breeds really exist, and are crosses with poodles and other ankle-biting varieties like Pekingese or Maltese. I know these sound like horrible little lap-dogs, but just look how cute they are- the one in the photo is the unfortunately-named Cockapoo - aaawwwwww. One of these would fit so well in my flat (I know it's not a piece of furniture, but you know what I mean).

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Back to work

My smile is partially back and I've been given the OK by the doctor to go back to work. I've still got a long way to go with my recovery (I really hope there is more recovery!) - and the doctors really don't know how much improvement I can expect - especially my eye, which according to the nerve testing is 'an absolute mess'. I have mixed feelings about going back to work - I feel it's a good idea as I was starting to lose touch with my field, but afetr 3 months off it's kind of daunting - especially as it's a new job, new colleagues etc, all of which has to be faced with a wonky face :-/

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Look at the fan mum

Here's my new fan, especially posted for mum to see :-) I thought that in such a small flat where everything is on view even functional objects should be nice to look at.

Daddy cool

Having a lovely time with Dad in Madrid. He seems to have taken to it really well-which is something of a relief, and he's done so many things around the house,which I just couldn't have done myself without enlisting the help of an expensive and probably pervy builder. Here are the photos of the pot-lid rack, shelves and rail he put up in the kitchen- plus the bathroom cabinet (yay, a mirror in the bathroom at last!), and the hanging basket and hooks on the balcony. I'm particularly appreciative of what he's done as I know that DIY isn't something that comes naturally to him or that he finds immensly enjoyable- so well done Dad!

Monday, 9 June 2008

Swingin cats in the kitchen

This is soooo dull yet so exciting for me. Wall mounting the microwave is the best thing I've done this month-sad but true. All the space it's created to clutter with yet more junk. Honestly, when your kitchen is approximately 4x3 ft space is precious.
This is where it was.

This is where it is now.

The same but better

Over the past couple of days I can't really be sure I've had any improvement, but my little smile does somehow seem a bit better. Eyes are still one-massive-one tiny. It's hard to appreciate how good or bad things are via the photos- when I make no or little expressions I look almost fine, but when I'm laughing or speaking as one does for most of the day I still look pretty awful.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

A few bad days

Went back to the specialist yesterday, who (obviously) said I'm not making great progress. They're going to put a weight in my eyelid to help it close, and botox (in my good side) to even me out out a bit. Theyre also sending me for an electromyograph to see what sort of state the nerve is in. What was meant to be a temporary condition that everyone recovers from in a couple of weeks is turning into a nightmare.

My Sudanese grandma died a couple of days ago, it's very sad but not entirely unexpected. Going out there for the funeral wasn't an option, as they bury you within 24 hours of death.
On a brighter note, dad is coming from Egypt to stay on 10th June which will be really nice and will force me to get out of the house and show him the sites. And it might be nice for him to have some time out after his mother dying.

Saturday, 31 May 2008


Dinner worked out great yesterday, but I forgot to take photos :-( mainly because we ate it in about 2 minutes (always a good sign!). We had carrot and coriander salad, quail's eggs and dukkah (ground, cumin, coriander etc), courgette and feta fritters, roast baby potatoes with smoked tomato and garlic dip, and aubergine and yoghurt salad, then baklava and mint tea...yum. Even have some baklava leftover for tea today. The builders coming to wall-mount my microwave today, so that will free up more workspace in the kitchen to prepare yet more yummy food. It's amazing how much more inspired I am to cook nice things when people are coming round than I am for me alone..

Friday, 30 May 2008


I think I've been sleepwalking?? When I woke up this morning, it was weird as I felt I hadn't been sleeping in my bed all night, like I'd been 'somewhere' else (no, not anywhere otherworldly). Then I looked at the pillow next to me, and found the cushions from the living room there- which I swear hadn't been there the night before! (I never take cushions from the living room into the bedroom). Weird. I also have tendonitis, despite not being a footballer or a skier- perhaps in my case it's caused by lack of movement rather than vigourous activity. I'm having some friends round for food tonight, so I'll try and take some arty (non-kebab shop type) photos of whatever I make and post them here.

Friday, 23 May 2008


By the way, the beautiful flowers pictured a couple of posts down have died! I killed them somehow! Still, with my new fantabulous retro-style watering can and spray, I'm going to become a gardening goddess!

May drawing to a close...

...and the weather is miserable and rainy, so odd for May. Maybe it's because I said I didn't want sunshine until I was better??!! I haven't written in a while 'cause I'm ashamed to say I've been feeling a little sorry for myself. Yes, I know I haven't had a stroke, or anything life-threatening, but my facial immobility is kind of getting me down. I'm really grateful that I've been able to work from home, as it's provided some distraction from this nightmare. I promise to cheer up soon.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Another bank holiday

Today is 'San Isidro' so everything in Madrid is shut. Yesterday had an impromptu gathering at mine with Kate, Carlos, Sophie and Fabian.... Nice company. A certain builder also made an unannounced arrival, but thankfully didn't stay too long! Spent all of yesterday working, and might do a little more today... God this is boring! I want to be better and out and about.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

House proud

It's been a low-key weekend so far. Walks, cups of tea, 'pottering'... The weather is awful, which I'm secretly happy about- as I don't wan't to miss on the balmy summer evenings, and I feel that the BP does make me miss out somehow... I don't enjoy things quite as much. Carlos and Christina came round for tea and snacks last night, they bought a lovely plant (not sure what it is, some kind of Begonia? Really I'm useless with these things) here it is anyway...

When I woke up this morning and went out onto the balcony to see how many drunks there were left over passed out from the night's shennanigans (spelling?) I got a nice surprise. A group of people were setting up flower stalls and hanging bunting on my street. Perhaps it's something to do with the upcoming San Isidro festival on the 15th?

When people come round (like last night) it's a great excuse to tidy up and take some photos of the house- which is just what I did yesterday, so here they are...

I confess to not tidying the kitchen in case you're wondering why it's covered with junk.

I've included this next one because I'm disproportionatly proud of this gingham velro-on cover I made for the storage cubby. I'm easily pleased...

Thr only positive thing about being under the weather is that people buy you flowers :-) I bought these myself though!!

My flat, like most people is far more photogenic at twilight...
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