Three Obscure Memories, Memory 3. Nepal.

I had almost forgotten the third piece of music that I found on my iPhone a few days ago. So today we ultimately come to my third melodic, early family memory! A memory of Nepal, a place where I found things extremely difficult to be honest, but it was a place that was pivotal to our becoming a family. In my book, Eighteen Moons, I only devoted one chapter to the five months spent there! As a matter of fact, I could have written an entire memoir just on that span of time spent in Kathmandu. So here is that piece of music accompanied by some images of my time, post earthquake, in 2015.

A Trip to the Opticians

Guess who had a trip into one of the local towns for an eye test today? As you can see, Tara is now the proud owner of a pair of glasses! Seemingly she has a slight problem with her left eye!

Post dinnertime now for the not so famous five and things are slowing down. Aaliyah and Caleb have headed upstairs with Amritsar to tidy their room! My, wonders never cease and Tara and Thor are playing ‘Crossy Road’ very loudly beside me. Now they are arguing… oh dear! Now Thor has stormed out and wants to do ‘drawing’! Time to join he others upstairs I think!

Nite nite all.

Guest Post from Single Dad to 2 young Children ‘Daniel Sherwin’

Image courtesy of rawpixel

Affordable Tech Tools to Help Your Kids Prepare for School Reopenings

It’s no secret that the coronavirus pandemic has thrown a wrench into children’s education, disrupting the lives of students and parents across the country. As a result, back-to-school prep may look a little different this year. Your kids may be returning to school virtually, so make sure they’re prepared with the tools they need to succeed! And if the lockdown has kept your kids home from school for a while already, they may need some help getting back in gear. Here are some budget-friendly tech tools that can give your kids a head start as schools reopen!

Online Resources for At-Home Education

Encourage your kids to keep learning over the summer break by setting them up with some online educational resources.

 You can find free educational resources online for kids of all ages.
 Parents can make math interesting with hands-on learning and real-world applications.
 Take your kids on virtual field trips from the comfort of your couch.
 You can also find fun ideas for DIY home STEM activitiesand lab experiments online.

Educational Tech Gadgets

Tech gadgets can help make learning fun for your kids, whether in the classroom or at home!

 Get your kids a tablet with screen time limits and parental controls.
 Make sure your kids are equipped with a good laptop for researching class topics and completing homeworkefficiently.
 Smart notebooks are great for taking hand-written notesand then saving them digitally. 
 Help your kids concentrate on their studies with noise-canceling headphones.

Connecting with Your Kids’ Classroom

Tech tools make it easy for parents to stay connected to classroom life.

 Monitor the school website so you can stay up on the latest news and information.
 Take advantage of free apps designed to connect teachers and parents. 
 Google Classroom allows teachers to assign work and keep parents in the loop.

As many businesses start to open up again, schools are slowly following suit. Some states are reopening schools for summer programs while others are planning on cutting summer vacation short to make up for any missed class time during the lockdown. Regardless of when your kids return to school, you can help them adjust back to school life with the right supplies!

You can connect with Daniel directly through his website

(A great post Daniel, thank you so much for delivering such an interesting and informative read for us all today. You have my full respect!)

Daddy and Dadda’s Dinner

Moules Mariniere and frits

Roast Beef, garlic French beans and boiled potatoes

Salmon with clams and muscles with mash, sugarsnap peas and a white wine and cream reduction

Nutloaf with bubble and squeak and a tomato sauce

Roast Duck leg, potatoes and beans

Steak and onions, chips and Dijon mustard

Fish Pie with sautéed vegetables

Today’s Instagram Pictures

As today’s title would indicate, here is an assortment of images that I chose for Instagram. Please follow for a follow back!

Some toddler pictures of Tara and Amritsar today, plus some foodie related images! I want to hold onto them for a moment as I am sure that my diary is about due an update on Daddy and Dadda’s Dinner! Perhaps tonight!

Thank you for stopping by.

Three Obscure Memories, Memory number 2. Thailand.

After yesterday’s three melodies found on my voice recording app, this second piece of music from my time in Bangkok was recorded in a shopping centre on the Sukhumvit road. It was a big festival of all things Thai. Ameena who helped to nanny, her nephew, Thor and myself spent an evening enjoying the music, the dancing and the amazing food of Thailand. Yes, she is the Thai lady featured in this compilation of images. I do miss Ameena. She was very kind.

Sunday Morning

Lou Reid and the Velvet Underground, great track… though I’m sure that his Sunday mornings were never quite the same as mine tend to be!

At present Daddy and Amritsar are engaged in a game of chess on the living room coffee table. Aaliyah is trying to line up dominoes on the bellows for the fire, in an attempt to achieve what Tara has just done! Make them all topple in sequence. Remus is standing besides her, looking on in wonderment! She’s getting agitated now! I have just asked Thor for the tenth time to put a pair of underpants on! He is still refusing. Aaliyah has lost her temper, now screaming, she has flung every domino to the four winds.

Finally Thor is heading upstairs to find some underpants in the draw, Aaliyah now running up behind him screaming.

Gracie is snuggled beside me and Remus now stands at the bay window, eyes closed, pointing his nose into the warm sunlight that is beaming through.

Caleb gets up from the large cushion in front of the television. The one that used to be the dog bed. The dogs never used it however, favouring the comfort of the sofas! He heads upstairs also.

Aaliyah has returned with two of her toy dogs and has snuggled up with Gracie. Thor returns with his underpants and joins Tara, now sat at the television, watching Mr Bean.

The sound of a chainsaw outside! A neighbour is having their overgrown eucalyptus tree trimmed. The chess game over now! Amritsar has won. But did Daddy allow this to happen? She is good mind you, but she shouldn’t let it go to her head now, should she?

Three Obscure Memories, Memory 1. India.

Well, after my earlier vocal finds on the voice recorder on my phone, I decided that wasn’t really enough!

The chants and music was randomly recorded, so sadly I cannot credit the Vedic’s or the musicians by name. So instead, in honour to them and my contextualising of the melodic relevance of these three pieces, I have spliced together some images of my journey, in order to bring those times to life for you!

Memory number 1. India.

When Words and Pictures are Not Enough

A thought came to me this morning after yesterday’s blog, in which I remembered a moment in time. A moment that was part of the story of ‘Eighteen Moons’.

Like the smell and taste of food that transports you back to a place and a time, sound can fill you with a memory also.

Today’s blog is just about that! Sound in the guise of melody.

I had a voice recording app on my phone whilst living in Mumbai, Bangkok and Kathmandu. And these three recordings have this morning, transported me back to these three great city’s.

The first I believe were Hindi Vedic’s blessing the apartment next door to where I was living at that time.

The second melody was a Thai group of musicians with beautiful lady dancers.

And the final melody I recorded in a small restaurant / bar in the area Lazimpat where I lived in Nepal.

A Luncheon of Samosas

Well, I am back after my two day break from blogging. And rather than give you an update on what’s been going on, I have decided to take a trip down memory lane as I am frying samosas for lunch. Well drained of course and dried with plenty of kitchen paper!

I am reminded of a blog entry that I made a little over a year ago, all about my regular stops to eat samosas (and drink sweet tea), whilst living in Mumbai, India.

It’s funny how food transports us back to a moment or a place, isn’t it? Just by making the choice of samosas rather than the usual sandwich and crisps, I find myself back in the hustle and bustle, the thronging streets of Mumbai. Towards the end of my time on the Indian Sub Continent, I often shared my time with a taxi driver known as Ram. He was a ‘kind hearted’ fellow, something that was very sadly in short supply in those times. On our many trips to the ‘Foreigners Regional Registration Office (F.R.R.O), he would show me both sympathy and support. He would also sing ancient songs in Hindi that, with his whispering, reedy voice, had the effect of halting my tears and making me stop worrying of what was happening in the ‘NOW’ and transport me to a mindset of relative serenity. Maybe more about remembering the trips to the F.R.R.O on another occasion, but today it’s all about samosas. Ram and I would always stop at one or two street vendors and enjoy a lunch, or afternoon tiffin of samosas with a small cup of extremely sweet, milky tea. He had a very good heart. And I will never be able to eat a samosa ever again without him in my thoughts.

A Day or Two Off!

Just a pictorial blog tonight and again, very few words. No real ups and no real downs thus far this week! I did want to mention a few days off however from blogging, Tweeting and Instagram no doubt. I will certainly be back at the weekend with a fun family update. Wishing you all well and hoping happiness finds you in whatever guise that it takes! Be well my friends.

Some Pics of the children as toddlers. And yes, only Caleb is in colour!

Amritsar in the window

Aaliyah eating spaghetti

Tara eating her foot

Caleb sat next to Aaliyah eating spaghetti

Amritsar has such a happy smile

Finger in the mouth, oh Aaliyah

A very smiley Tara

And finally a boy on a mission in Wexford Ireland

Thank you so much for stopping by!

Nitty Nitty Nit Nits, Yep All Gone

Welcome back to the ups and downs of family life. The children back at school now for 2 weeks and guess what Aaliyah, with the longer hair brought back from school with her? You may have guessed what with tonight’s title!

It really upsets me that with our longer than 3 months indoors and other families from the children’s school, locked down nearly as long, how on earth do parents allow nits to linger, untreated for such an extremely long period of time! The offenders house must be completely infested after such a long time! And then to send their children back to infest the whole dratted school!!! It beggars belief really.

Well Aaliyah is now free of the unwanted visitors. I really hope the offending family at school get their act together! Or this will just drag on and on and on!

Anyhow, I did a small video around a year ago for Instagram before I deleted my account. I still have the video in my library however. Maybe I should reload it to my new Instagram account! Well, here it is. I will, like Caleb’s small video a few days ago, record the ‘moment’ 4 times, just for that Instagram effect! Lol

Happy Father’s Day to all You Dad’s Out There

Today I would like to wish all Dad’s a happy Father’s Day.

It is late in the day here in ‘The Shires’ and we are just about to sit down as a family and enjoy a roast leg of lamb in celebration. Accompanied of course by roast potatoes, glazed carrots and petit pois.

Bike riding on the driveway again and Aaliyah pipes up that she would like to start riding a bicycle without stabilisers! Good for her!

Another grey and cloudy day today, though we have had some sunny spells. I believe our 2 week spell of rain is at an end and we should be enjoying super sunny days again tomorrow onwards, with temperatures up to 30 degrees centigrade! Summer has arrived!

Aaliyah has just grabbed Amritsar’s old blue bike from the entrance hall and is wheeling it into the garden to try to cycle on the grass. I’m keeping my fingers crossed! No screaming as yet. Daddy is just making his way to the door as she is now arguing with Amritsar!

Better go wrestle our dinner to the plate!

Thor and Caleb running around with their arms in the air, screaming rather loudly.

Happy days hey, today, tomorrow and into the future. Fingers crossed!

I did get to thinking about when John and I became father’s, so here are a couple of images from that time in India. These are all from Goa except the one of me in a rickshaw. That was definitely Mumbai!

Am I All About Food or Family?

Just looking back the last week of my blog and it looks as if it is all about food, food, food! Okay, I am going to remedy this and put these Instagram pictures on my blog also! So here we go! No explanations, just raw, happy memories…

Oh do excuse the final 3 seconds of video, it kind of works on Instagram with the repetitive playing of a clip! I had to smile.

And because of that I just strung 4 of the video’s together, just to give you a flavour. However, I think you have to walk away from it after 4 plays!!! Haha…

Don’t judge me please! 😉

Happy Summer Solstice

Today, 20th June marks the first day of astronomical summer. Happy Summer Solstice everybody!

Mid to late afternoon here in ‘The Shires’ and thinking about dinner for the children. A home made fish pie for Daddy and Dadda’s dinner.

Remus is opposite me chilling. Gracie is lying with Aaliyah. Caleb looks on as Daddy and Amritsar play a game of chess. Tara and Thor are watching a cartoon on the television intently.

Amritsar is in jubilation as she has just taken daddy’s knight. She has both of them at this point. She’s getting quite good at chess!

I have been tinkering away on my phone for the last couple of hours with instagram. I’m really remembering why I stopped Instagram the last time, as it takes up so much of your time! I know that this is the years longest day and all, but where did the afternoon go?

Daddy has just conceded to Amritsar, his 7 year old daughter. She’s good!

Everyone milling about now as we’re about to go out front and ride our bikes! Maybe not Thor however as he is now running about in just his underwear! I guess I’ll have to sit in with him! Never mind.

Ready for the Weekend

But first a roundup of the week! All started well enough. Thor and Aaliyah are happy to be back at school, though Thor has taken a few steps backwards regarding his focus and general learning. Aaliyah seems to be flourishing. Caleb joined them on Wednesday as his plaster cast was finally removed on Tuesday. I am so very glad all is now well with him! Two broken arms in one year. Mind you his auntie reminded me that her son had a total of nine breaks throughout his childhood. He was certainly a little ballistic, just as Caleb is, so I’d better get into the mindset of dealing with life’s ups and downs as they happen!

Lots of cooking as ever, I’m sure you’ve seen my earlier blog. Favourite dish has to be the long denied ‘doner kebab’, recipe to follow. Lots of jam making too! Though the recipes for these I have earlier covered!

Tara and Amritsar’s home schooling is going just fine. We made a family tree today that went back from them, all the way back to my mother ‘Gramdma Jean’ and John’s mother ‘Granny Hazel’ (haha Mr Chiddicks). John just through the door with the three little ones, all full of smiles. It seems that Aaliyah and Caleb worked extremely hard today and received certificates. Thor in the other hand worked through one of his break times due to messing around and not applying himself. Naughty Thor. Aaliyah now playing with the dogs.

All the children excited now as my reply to ‘what are we having for dinner’ was ‘PIZZA’! It’s been quite a while. Mind you last time was homemade and today is shop brought!

Aaliyah is trying on a new tee shirt and yellow bloomers that arrived in the post today, she’s all smiles. I am reminded of my slightly ‘hippy look’ when I lived in Bangkok. I really must find out some of those photos and publish them for you to see! I have to smile.

Okay Wednesdays Donor Kebab recipe…

500g or 1lb minced lamb was placed in the food processor along with 2 x teaspoons crushed garlic, 2 x teaspoons cumin, 2 x teaspoons coriander, 2 x teaspoons paprika, salt and pepper.

Blitz in the food processor and place in a small to medium loaf tin. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes on around 160 centigrade. A moderate oven.

Meanwhile slice a 1/4 white cabbage as thinly as humanly possible. Set to one side. Slice some cucumber and tomato. Also finely slice half an onion. Big chunks don’t really work, slice very thinly!!!

Now, you will need a couple of condiments, a jar of pickled green chillis, a squeezy bottle of Hellmann’s mayonnaise and a chilly sauce of choice! We love the Thai Sriracha in this house.

As for pitta breads, purchase the super large ones or as I did, 2 regular smallish ones each. Now, toast on a skillet / frying pan lightly and slice alone one of the long ends. Or microwave for 40 seconds turning half way.

Your neat should be drained and left to sit for a few minutes. That fragrant aroma will immediately take you back to your last doner kebab infidelity! Slice your meat and fill your kebab with all the listed ingredients. Enjoy, but you’re gonna get dirty so don’t forget plenty of kitchen roll.

The Doner Kebab

It’s that shameful acknowledgement of ‘A good night out with your mates’, isn’t it? Mostly consumed by the 20 somethings that revel in the entertainments of indulgence!

Now, mostly I’m a stay at home dad. But I do remember this food in my youth and also my later, crazy meet-ups with old friends from childhood!

Turkish kebab shops seem to have always been there for the late night revellers, always a little bit tipsy and also the ones who have completely forgotten their indulgence (the next day) of that very naughty / dirty food that they consumed on their way home from their good night out.

The Donor Kebab has a very bad name. It is almost infamous within its relevance of that ‘good night out’.

What with fast food takeaways being closed these last 3 months! I could not bare it any more.

I was in fact planning on not blogging today. But my absolute and complete enjoyment of tonight’s homemade ‘ Doner Kebab’ insisted that I make this diary entry in complete homage!

Should I give you the recipe? Are you missing this ‘wonder food’ of the ‘good night out’? If so, more than three requests in comments and I will share my recipe with you tomorrow!

Bon appetite or just get home safely if in a parallel universe, you are wandering the streets looking for a doner kebab.

What’s better than a Doner Kebab you might ask? My answer is, two Doner kebabs! Hahahahaha.

A Meal Fit for a Maharajah

Tonight’s blog is a re-blog from last year. You see, we’re doing a curry night tonight and I wanted to tell you how I make my ‘one sauce, several curries’ gravy!

So, what’s in store for us tonight then? Remember, I’ll make my basic sauce and from that make a chicken, lamb or fish curry. Plus a couple of veg curries. I may add extra garlic, ginger, chilli, turmeric, tinned tomatoes or purée and extra garam masala or cumin, changing the intensity and the look of the different dishes.

Do not make the mistake of mixing your veg into one curry! Be focussed! Let’s up the game shall we? I’m planning on making a mutter (pea) curry, dahl (lentil) and a Bombay aloo to accompany a salmon curry with basmati rice today. Now starts my re-blog on how I make my basic sauce.

Okay, I love my hob. That was all I had to work with from my time spent in Mumbai, India. And that is where I perfected my ability to cook a damn good curry. I have spoken about cooking various curries throughout my writing of this diary and today I am just going to reiterate on making my gravy.

As ever you need to start with a good, tasty gravy (curry sauce). Blitz onions until pulp and fry in a little oil. Add your spices and cook out. My favourite combo is garlic, ginger, chilli, cumin, coriander leaf, garam masala or Madras mix, turmeric and salt. Add tomato purée, cook out further, then add water or a little stock (Knorr cubes are fine). You want a slightly thickened consistency and this I regulate purely with the volume of onion and tomato purée to the water or stock! Cook for 30 – 40 minutes on a low heat or until the rawness of the spices have morphed into that sweetness and harmony of fragrant spice that is all a good curry should be!

Now come your options! I usually cook at least a litre of sauce and freeze some but yesterday I used the whole lot and made a feast. Pre-soaked yellow lentils were simmered with some of the sauce plus the addition of extra turmeric, chilli and garlic, cooked on the hob for maybe 2 hours. The longer you cook, the more sumptuous the lentils become. I always use a potato masher towards the end of cooking!

Bombay potatoes are just way too simple! I tried a few recipes from the internet way back but settled on just steaming cubes of potatoes, cooling and placing in a freezer bag and covering with some of my curry sauce. Tie the bag, give it a squish and put it in the fridge.

I actually put all of my curries in a freezer bag once cooled and lay them alongside each other in the fridge until service. It makes cooking multiple curries a real doddle to serve up. Just heat one after the other in a microwave before serving up! There’s usually a bit of squishing of the bags to regulate heat and some re-microwaving to get everything to the same temperature – but that’s half the fun of ‘curry night’.

I also microwave the dry poppadoms for 20 seconds, turn, then a further 20 seconds. Perfection and so much healthier than shallow frying. But if you much prefer the taste of the fried, just use a pastry brush and lightly brush the dry poppadom with cooking oil on either side before microwaving.

Britain’s favourite dish ‘Tikka Masala’ simple! Just add ground almonds and a little double cream to the basic sauce! Bliss. My favourite ever would be ‘King Prawn Tikka Masala’. The bigger, the better. Just marinade the prawns for an hour with the basic combination of lemon juice, garlic, ginger, chilli, tandoori spice mix, salt and pepper! I use a freezer bag for my marinade.

Okay, the other dish’s were tandoori boned and skinned chicken thighs and mutter (pea curry). The thighs were 3 hours marinated in the same marinade just mentioned. No red food colouring like your local Indian takeaway might use! The chicken was cooked in an oven dish covered in foil for 20 minutes, then dry heat for a further 15. Moist and tender was the result. The last main dish of mutter had a variation to it last night as I added green beans to the peas – cooked with some of Dadda’s curry sauce, a tin of tomatoes and a little extra salt – divine ‘Amrit’ (manna) indeed.

My rice was of course cooked in the microwave – see earlier entry for 100% perfect basmati rice and our nibbles on the side were homemade onion bhaji’s and pakoras. I’m pretty sure I have covered those in an earlier diary entry, but if not, do let me know – they’re so simple to make and so tasty. The children love them!

A meal fit for a Maharajah!