Strange things I have eaten

When I cast my mind back I can remember eating a few strange things.

A whole large bottle of Virol, eaten furtively in the cloakroom at boarding school was divine at the time, but put me off Virol for the rest of my life.

How the cook at boarding school managed to get that pimply, gritty skin on the jelly, and make the banana custard so watery, so lumpy, so brown and full of stringy things and so utterly gag-worthy is a tribute to their culinary ingenuity, and remembering them still makes my stomach heave.

Once I ate a raw flying ant. But only once.

As the guest of honour at a family feast in rural Italy, I was offered the choice part of the chicken. No, it was not the Parson’s nose. It was the entire head, comb, eyes, beak and tongue. An honour which I declined and was then offered the feet to suck, which I also declined, and thus forever labelled myself as a “fussy foreigner”.

Eating an exquisite cold coffee mousse at an upmarket Malindi restaurant, I found a sugar-lump sized cube of something chewy and rubbery in it. When I asked the chef what it was, he replied that it was a piece of pork fat. I asked why he had put a piece of pork fat in a sweet coffee dessert, and he replied that that was what the recipe said. I can’t help feeling something must have been lost in translation.

But for sheer weirdness, I very much doubt that I will ever eat anything quite so peculiar as an unripe persimmon.

Dog fixes Internet!

Strange but true (I think).  We are back on t’Internet again; for how long, who knows? But we are grateful for any crumbs from that may fall our way.

So an engineer arrived bright and early on Monday morning. Tall and handsome with big brown eyes and a red woolly hat. We have locked the dogs away because the very last thing we want to do is frighten away an Orange engineer.

“What dogs do you have?” he asks, over the howling and yelping.

“A very big black one, and a Braque Hongrois (Hungarian Vizsla). But don’t worry, they are locked in.”

Oh, j’adore les chiens! Please let them out,” he says. And so we do, and the big black one leaps all over him, and the Braque Hongrois leans on his legs and rolls its eyes.

Superbe!” says the engineer, showing us a photo of his English setter that he uses for hunting snipe. We could stand a talk at length about gun dogs.

“Listen,” says our man, “they have sent me a very long way today, and given me a huge workload, but believe me, I am going to take my time until I find the fault for you even if it takes many hours.”

And he is as good as his word, and it does take several hours, until he diagnoses a faulty cable (not the modem, not our wiring, not our filter as we have been told for several months by Orange, but their cable). But there is a major problem: the cable is inaccessible, even with a cherry picker, because one of our neighbours has covered a passageway between our properties with a tin roof to make himself a tool shed, and nobody can climb onto the tin roof to change the cable.

“It’s a big job,” he says over coffee. “They have to run a new cable from the post to another post, and then back over your outbuildings to your house. It’s a lot of work, and everybody is very busy after the recent storm. There are lines down everywhere.” Both dogs are sitting with their heads in his lap, looking at him adoringly.

“But I am going to get it fixed quickly for you. I’ll send a cherry picker tomorrow.” He also gives us some very useful advice which will save us several hundred euros, but I can’t tell you what it is otherwise I’d have to kill you.

Later he phones to say that the cherry picker can’t get here until Thursday, and our expectations wither.

But lo! At mid-day today it does indeed arrive with two young men who string up the new cables, connect the wires and switch on the modem. Nothing happens. After much twiddling and plugging in of various machines and going to do something at the exchange, finally the magic light blinks and once more we can connect with the outside world without having to drive several kilometers to do so.

I put it down to the charm of our dogs. 😉


The saga continues. Another week without an Internet connection.

Another engineer comes to call this morning.

Unlike the previous four engineers, he really does want to find out what is wrong, and put it right.

He spends a long time testing everything and actually climbs up the post balanced on a wonky ladder until he eventually discovers where the fault lies, and that is with the line from the post to our house, which he pronounces to be (a) ancient, (b) damaged beyond repair and (c) impossible to access because since it was first installed at the time of Noah, a new building has been put up which makes it impossible to reach the wire with a cherry-picker.

So he is arranging for somebody else to come tomorrow (apparently) and re-route a new cable from the post to another post and from there to our house.

It is what we have always said, that the problem is not, as insist, our equipment that is at fault, but theirs.

So we hope that tomorrow they will connect us, but we are doubtful.

In the meantime we await the WiMax company’s visit to see whether we are able to receive a signal; if not, we qualify for free installation of a satellite system. But how long it will take is anybody’s guess.



The great giveaway!

Do you know that there are hundreds of FREE ebooks on and  Click on the links and see the top 100, and wonderful diversity of titles, from Homer to Self-help, romances to mysteries, biographies and humour.

I’ve already downloaded six, including the No. 1: Broadmoor Revealed, and Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, as well as a number of other non-fiction titles.

One of the bonuses of having a Kindle, or just the Kindle app, is the availability of some really excellent reads absolutely free.

Two important tips!

Popping out of hibernation to mention two things that might be of interest.

Thing No. 1   When shopping, always check out the lower shelves. In SuperU last week I wanted to buy a couple of packets of grated Parmesan. I daren’t buy it whole because then I eat it before it even gets home. And as long as you ensure it is Grana Padano and not some kind of saw-dusty “grated Italian cheese”, it’s pretty good stuff. There was a packet on the top shelf, and another packet on the shelf below which was a little cheaper and which I took. However, being a fumble-witted creature, I dropped the packet and it fell to the shelf below where there was yet another brand which was two-thirds the price of the packet from the cheaper second shelf. Sort of tucked away where you wouldn’t notice it unless you dropped something. 🙂

Thing No. 2 – for the next 24 hours only, the Kindle version of Best Foot Forward is FREE to download from and Totally, absolutely, utterly, no-strings free. You don’t need a Kindle to read it. You can download the Kindle app and install it on any Smartphone, tablet, laptop or PC. Tell your friends, family, the milkman, the neighbours, people in queues, people on buses and trains to help themselves and enjoy a jolly good read.

If you enjoy travel, France, antics and reading about two women who embarked on slightly insane adventures, you’ll like this one. 😉

Happy Christmas, everybody. 🙂