Read all Agatha Christie Novels – Challenge No 4

Agatha Christie, surrounded by some of her 80-plus crime novels.

I believe that doing this blog requires frankness, so here is a tawdry, little known, secret about myself….I used to have a rather unhealthy obsession with John Thaw’s character Inspector Morse!! However, now I am older and wiser, I have ditched that and my new guilty pleasure is Agatha Christie, in particular Joan Hickson’s Miss Marple.  It seemed then so sensible as part of my 50@50 to challenge myself to read all of Agatha Christie’s novels.

I knew ‘The Queen of Crime’ had written a fair bit, but please….who knew it was this much !!!!! (according to an internet source)

  •  78 crime novels
  •   6 other novels
  • 150 short stories
  • 4 non fiction books
  • 19 plays

Well I am now wondering if I have bitten off more than I can chew in one year but I am giving it a damned good go.  So far I have read 16 of her novels (Marple and Poirot) and how superior they are to the tv adaptations.  Whilst I was originally drawn by the pure escapism, I am captivated by her turn of phrase, the quality of her writing, character detail and development, sharp wit and of course…thrilling dénouements.  I don’t try to guess who did it, I just enjoy the undulating ride.  

On a more serious note I am also enjoying the physicality of these books as a connection to my late father-in-law, Colin, who had painstakingly collected these old copies and which I was fortunate enough to inherit.  Whilst reading and handling the books he too handled and read I think fond thoughts of him and regret a missed opportunity of discussing our favourites.  

So as usual I will sign off with…these challenges are a great idea and I am having an emotional ball doing them ( so far)…keep dropping in to see what’s next!!!

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The Italian Job – Challenge No 37

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Charlie Croker: You’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!

Chris and I have been going out for over 31 years and we love films but some how I have evaded/avoided watching one of his favourite movies…The Italian Job…so as his challenge to me for my 50@50 I have just sat down to enjoy this amazing film.  

He decorated the TV room with posters ( Michael Caine looking rather cute can stay on my walls for quite some time), served up Italian delicacies and set the mood by providing prosecco cocktails…what more could a girl ask for…..well a good film too hopefully.

And I loved, loved, loved it….made me realise the culture text surrounding it, truly iconic with so many films, TV series and advertising etc paying homage to this film….most notably Porridge!!! I reveled in the humour (Benny Hill and Irenie Handl at their modest best), the cinematography, the cars, the tailoring and even the stereotyping; but, for me, the star of the show was Noel Coward; how I laughed at his scenes, my sides truly hurt from it.  All the acting was superb.

**SPOILER ALERT ** – But the ending…….really…….the hugest play on ‘cliffhanger’ ever….I am still not over it!!!  But it was a very clever ( if also a cheats way out) of finishing it.

So thanks Chris, you were right all along ( choke, choke), this is a great British movie, well worth watching; I certainly will be watching it again as I feel I missed a lot of great lines and I will even consider watching other films you recommend and ‘lads’ films like The Great Escape 🏎🏍🚎

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Weekly recipe swap – Challenge No 43

imageWhenever my lovely friend Frankie and I get together it never seems to take long before the topic of conversation turns around to our favourite…FOOD…be it cake, bread, curry, chocolate, pickles….we really don’t mind what sort of food….and it happily seems to be an inexhaustable subject. So as my 50@50 challenge it seemed only natural that she should choose a weekly emailed recipe swap and catch up; especially important now that she is moving away and our chances to chat 1:1 will become fewer.  

A great idea that is until I started receiving emails from some random person called Carol  (most confusingly its Frankie’s real name).  Once I got over that and opened them we have now been swapping our recipes, which can be

  1. any dish such as starter, main, side or cakes
  2. new to the person cooking it
  3. accompanied by a photo
  4. scored out of 10 (by the cook and spouse)
  5. changes made noted or suggested
  6. followed by a tit bit or two of catch up news.

This has been taking place for the last 13 weeks.  Frankie is a lot more reliable than me, so no surprise that whilst I have been typing this her recipe email has pinged into my inbox…whereas I, already feeling guilty about the lovely three course meal I just savoured at Chapel Down restaurant in Tenterden, am now struggling to think about what I can submit this week with only two days remaining…but a challenge is a challenge and I will rise to the occasion (although I find the eating and the gossiping my more natural forte😉) 

So far the best recipes we have swapped are the following.  I found a great Sri Lankan chutney, hot and spicy which uses aubergine ( however I did cheat and enlist the aid of my chief chutney maker Chris to make it) So tasty, good texture and it seems to go well with curry, cheese and biscuits, celery…basically anything you might want a chutney for:

http://www.sainsburysmagazine.co.uk/recipes/sides/sauces/item/sri-lankan-aubergine-chutney

Frankie however submitted probably the best dessert on the planet for chocolate lovers, sticky chocolate toffee pudding; positively to die for:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/sticky_chocolate_toffee_03263

I am sure we will manage the year, and it is a great way of encouraging us to keep in touch, plus making me a bit more adventurous in the kitchen, so thanks Frankie and may we still be discussing food for many years to come, whether it’s online, in person, at the pub, on holiday or even….tucked up in an alcohol friendly, good food providing nursing home!!!!

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