Sunday 31 January 2016

Spaghetti Bolognese

Friday night is Spag Bol night in our house. I like cooking with mince it is quick and easy - and most recipes only require what you already have in your kitchen.

Spaghetti Bolognese (Serves 2)
250g mince
1 small onion 
1 pepper (1 prefer green)
1 clove of garlic
1 beef stock cube to make 250ml of stock
1 small can of chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp oil

Before you start place a large pan of water on the hob and heat it to boil the water for the spaghetti.

First chop up the pepper and the onion. You can use any colour pepper, but I prefer green; an onion (white), tomatoes (red), and a pepper (green) make the Italian flag.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan (or wok). Add the mince and cook gently to brown (do not let the mince burn). Next add the chopped onions, cook them gently to soften (the onions should become translucent); again, do not let the onions burn.

Add the pepper and cook for a couple of minutes to soften.

 Add the garlic; if you are using a clove of garlic it will need to be peeled and chopped, I like to use garlic puree instead.

Do not overcook, the garlic will become bitter.

Add the tinned tomatoes and stir well. Finally add the beef stock. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

You will need to time the bolognese in order to leave time to cook the spaghetti; I use quick cook spaghetti which takes five minutes; for other types you will need to adjust your cooking times accordingly. Add the spaghetti to boiling water and cook.

 When the spaghetti is cooked, drain the spaghetti and serve.

Bon appetit!

Saturday 30 January 2016

Big Garden Birdwatch

It's that time of year again; the last weekend in January is time for the annual bird census conducted by the RSPB, the Big Garden Birdwatch.

My birds (of which there are generally a lot) always take against being counted and are reluctant participants in the event.

As usual the pigeons hijacked the event. The wood pigeon stomped around waiting for the rock and feral pigeons to drop food for collection; they have quite a good system going in which one pigeon sits and pecks the feeder or the tray and the rest congregate on the ground and pick up the bits. The pair of collared doves who often frequent the garden declined to make an appearance.

The small birds darted about; a dunnock, Mrs Chaffinch, blue tits and great tits and of course the robin. 

The parakeet family didn't visit en-masse but a couple of the members dropped by to sit in a tree and observe the proceedings. The magpies similarly observed from the distance, in the case a precarious perch on top of one of the evergreens at the bottom of the garden.

It's still quite windy out, although not raining (yet) so it is probably as good as it is going to get this weekend.

The pigeon crew, first a scout appeared to check out the food on offer - then the full scale invasion (!)



One of the parakeet family; arrived with the usual amount of squawking


I managed to catch one of the great tits flitting between feeders - the small birds don't stop long


I enjoyed watching the birds today - I'm sure they'll be around until all the food is eaten!

Birdwatch 16

You can see all about some previous Birdwatches...


Thursday 14 January 2016

London Traffic

Do not enter unless your exit is clear

You have the count of ten to finish crossing - 2... 1...!

You can't navigate Central London without reference to traffic - whether you are on foot, two wheels or four wheels.

Central London has its own unique breed of traffic; there is an uneasy symbiosis between the different 'breeds' of traffic, with each individual sub-set convinced that their needs and priorities are the most important. 

The pecking order is determined by size (the bigger you are the more people will give way), officialdom (TfL vehicles certainly think they have the right of way over others) and chutzpah (he who dares wins, manners are rather rare). 

Wednesday 13 January 2016

Southbank Lion

The Southbank Lion sits at South-East corner of Westminster Bridge, next to the building formerly known as County Hall. Urban legends would have you believe that nobody knows the material out of which the lion is fashioned, remarkably untouched by pollution and time.

This isn't true. The lion is cast in Coade stone; this recipe for artificial stone dating back to the 18th Century when it was perfected by Mrs Eleanor Coade; the material is based on ceramics (rather than cement).

The lion was originally located on a brewery (since demolished to make way for the Royal Festival Hall); it then had a stint outside Waterloo Station before being moved again to allow for the extension of the station.


Tuesday 12 January 2016

Piccadilly Circus

The small winged angel in Piccadilly Circus is a famous London landmark, tourists will often be found resting on the steps at his base and his central location makes him an ideal meeting point.

He is often referred to as "Eros" but this is a mistake. He is actually a completely different god Anteros,

Anteros is the god of requited love and his place on the Shaftesbury Memorial is to represent the love of the philanthropic Earl of Shaftesbury for the the poor.

It is a popular urban myth that since its erection the statue, when taken down for maintenance or similar, was replaced facing the wrong way and should be pointing his bow up Shaftesbury Avenue. Photographs from a few years after the statue was erected show the bow pointing in the direction of Lower Regent Street (as it does today).

The famous illuminated advertising hoardings at Piccadilly Circus have been part of the landscape since 1908. They are lit up almost constantly, only being turned off rarely (deaths of Winston Churchill and Princess Diana and the lights-out campaigns held annually).

Monday 11 January 2016

Iconic London

There are those shots that you look for that are unique, that capture a moment, that are quirky and so on.

Then there are those shots that you just have to get because they are iconic, because you can't live and work in London and not take 'that' shot.

This is standing outside the underground station at Westminster - you have to get just the right angle to capture the roundel and the tower (including the clock face). Bonus points for getting the shot in different types of weather and at different times of day... (!)
A photo posted by Nat (@themrsnatg) on

Friday 8 January 2016

Cat in a Box

If there is one thing that cats love above all others it is a box. The propensity of Amazon (and other online retailers) for sending things in boxes rather larger than required annoys everybody except cats - Casper loves an Amazon delivery and a new box.

The box might be too small, it's a good place to count your bottle tops even so.

Handle with care was prophetic, when the box fell off the footstool he refused to sit in it ever again.

Another box too small, even with the packing paper ejected.

Yes, a box can be too large...!

This is the box on the landing for hiding in and sulking

One of the best boxes ever is the dining room box, you can sit there and watch the TV

2015-12-12 16.03.59
Eventually the dining room box fell to pieces

2015-12-12 16.03.59
Just in time a new box arrived to replace it though!

Thursday 7 January 2016

Instagram Moments

I joined Instagram way back in 2012 - and I've never looked back. Photos of Casper, around and about in London, out with friends, and even (sometimes) the ubiquitous post of my dinner.

This is a selection of some posts from the last four years - do drop by and see me on Instagram @TheMrsNatG

This is my first ever Instagram post, Casper who will be a regular model over the following years.
A photo posted by Nat (@themrsnatg) on

St Paul's Cathedral; a London icon.
A photo posted by Nat (@themrsnatg) on

Routemaster; red London buses, another icon - also a common site during my daily commute through London.
A photo posted by Nat (@themrsnatg) on

A regular site, Big Ben, "Good morning London"
A photo posted by Nat (@themrsnatg) on

Sometimes it is just about catching those little London moments.
A photo posted by Nat (@themrsnatg) on

Moments that make you look twice...
A photo posted by Nat (@themrsnatg) on

Wednesday 6 January 2016

Sign of the times

Walking around London, or looking out of the window in the car, I sometimes spot some street signs that have been 'decorated' by guerilla graffiti artists.

Mostly it is the no-entry signs, but there are a few others besides. It is difficult to get photos on the move; and the decorations frequently get moved on.

A photo posted by Nat (@themrsnatg) on

A photo posted by Nat (@themrsnatg) on

A photo posted by Nat (@themrsnatg) on

A photo posted by Nat (@themrsnatg) on

A photo posted by Nat (@themrsnatg) on

Tuesday 5 January 2016

Horses of Piccadilly Circus

The Horses of Helios is a bronze sculpture by Rudy Weller. The statue is located on the corner of Piccadilly Circus and Haymarket.

Helios, the Greek God of the Sun, rides a chariot drawn by his four horses, Pyrois, Eos, Aethon and Phlegon, from East to West every day.

The statue was unveiled by HRH Princess Michael of Kent in January 1992 and dedicated a 'charity fountain' for the Disabled Living Foundation in 1994, again by Princess Michael.

Monday 4 January 2016

Time to read

Regular visitors will know that one thing I really like to do in my leisure time is read. Ever since I can remember I've been a book-worm. From my own book collection to reading for school classes to borrowing from libraries.

Belonging to a library was always one of the first things that I did when I moved house (which I did a lot in my student days) and I even belonged to the library in Portsmouth so that I could borrow books when I stayed with my grand-parents on holiday!

At school we were required to keep lists of the books we had read for English Literature class (in an A5 loose leafed file, with reviews and details). Now, in a similar manner, I use Goodreads. Since the acquisition by Amazon the site has integrated seamlessly with the Kindle and when you rate a book after finishing it automatically posts to Goodreads (providing you have linked the accounts); there is even a Goodreads button in the Kindle architecture now.

My books in 2015 included a lot of 'repeat business' where I found a series that I enjoyed and read as much as I could find. The Prime lending library (one book a month) helped in the early part of the year, and I decided to upgrade to the Kindle Prime subscription which lets you borrow up to ten books at a time - I've got my money's worth so far!

My year of books 2015 included some excellent reads (and quite a lot of average ones) - I'm looking forward to what 2016 has in store!

You can see my reading challenge progress over on the sidebar of the blog, or come and join me on Goodreads!

2016 Reading Challenge

2016 Reading Challenge
Nat has read 1 book toward her goal of 100 books.