Sunday 27th February 2011

You know how I’m always hoping to be able to give you some good news regarding my book?  I’ve had my fingers crossed about something for a while, but found out this week that – alas – it wasn’t to be.  An Agent has had my book since October (and had seemed rather keen), but I got the dreaded ‘No thank you’ email on Monday morning.

It was – naturally – disappointing, but it was a lovely email, and you’ll be pleased to hear that after a couple of weeks of having felt really demoralised, I’ve got a renewed vigour and am working even harder (if that could be possible!) to make it all happen.  I haven’t come all this way (and spent thousands of hours chained to this desk), just to give up now, and would just like to take a moment to say a big THANK YOU to all the people whose little bits of help/advice/support over the last couple of weeks have been instrumental in my new ‘positive’ outlook; especially all my lovely Twitter followers, whose tweets are playing a big part in it all (even though you might not realise it, everyone).

I’m taking some big steps in trying to move things forward, so – as ever – as soon as I have any news, you’ll all be the first to hear it.  In the meantime, if you’ve read my book and enjoyed it, please spread the word, and if you’ve been thinking of getting it, why not just go mad and make today the day you do?  It’s a right good romp; perfect for curling up with on a rainy Sunday afternoon in England or on a sunny Sunday in the US of A!

TV Times

What’s happening in my TV world this week, I wonder?  A glitch in my recordable DVD hard drive resulted in an hour and a half spent trying to decipher the 4000+ page ‘easy’ instruction manual, before failure to find a solution culminated in my having to literally take it back to ‘factory settings’, resulting in a loss of everything I’d had recorded.

It worked, and – in a way – turned out to be a bit of a relief, as there were things on there I’d been meaning to get round to but hadn’t, and all the things I DID want to see I was able to ‘catch up’ on via the Internet. How amazing is that? Never again will a chewed-up video tape or an incorrect setting (resulting in recording the wrong channel etc), end up with us missing a show.  I say again: how lucky are we?

Donald Trump’s Apprentice USA this week found one of the candidates – Derek – suddenly fired for jokingly referring to himself as ‘White Trash’.  He was there … he was gone.  I was glad.  He was a bit of a ‘stirrer’, and DT (as usual), was swift in despatching someone he felt to be unsuited to his organisation.  He then did it again, and another two were gone.

There’s still a couple of them left who are trying to fly under the radar or blame others for some of the things that have gone wrong, but I predict that their time will be up very soon. Compulsive as ever; each week, DT fires exactly the right person (based on that week’s events), and has – in every case – been the exact same person I’d have fired too!  “Good game, good game.”  If you’re not watching it, then give it a go this week (BBC1 Tuesday 12.35 am), or catch up last week’s Eps

(Btw: All the lovely links I add to BBC programmes are meant to be picked up automatically by its Buzz tool and added to the relevant website, but – yet again – WordPress has proved how useless it is, as it’s apparently unable to link to my site!)

Listening doesn’t get tougher than this.”  MasterChef enters its second week. After being almost bearable last week, I thought it would be too much for her to manage to do it again and – as I feared – this week’s episodes had me instantly grabbing for the remote control as India Fisher began her usual robotic narration; dropping EVERY sentence down at the end.  Why not just use an actual robot?  It would certainly be cheaper, and would probably sound better!  No offence, but does she ever LISTEN to herself?  Surely even SHE must realise how awful it sounds?  Ooh, don’t get me started …

As for the new format: it’s just not working for me, I’m afraid.  Too many tears, and seeing John Torode put a stoic, manly hand on Greg Wallace’s shoulder after the first eliminations this week was just plain daft.  Come on guys, get a grip.  And as for the ‘Walk of shame’ (where the candidates now have to hoof it in turn up a runway to place their offerings in front of  J & G), was like something out of Oliver Twist.

Having said all that, I’ll keep on watching, as I love to see some of the food, but this current trend for putting a dollop of pureed something-or-other onto the plate and then smearing it with a spoon in the manner of a two-year-old child is way beyond me.  Just looks a bloody mess in my opinion (other opinions are available).

Ending on a positive though: what I DO like, is how they now flash up a brief photo of each candidate’s dish as they’re waiting to be fired; that’s really helpful.  It’s also heart-rending to hear some of the candidates talk so passionately about wanting to live their dream/change their lives etc (the ones without the accompanying X Factor-style weeping).  Reminds me of someone I know …

Radio Times

How many of you listen to The Archers, I wonder? That simple tale of Country Folk is currently nowhere near so idyllic these days, as you can’t have failed to hear poor Nigel’s scream as he fell off the roof to meet an untimely end a few weeks ago (even if you didn’t have the radio on!).

The shock waves are still reverberating around Ambridge, and there’s much polite ‘tutting’ going on amongst us listeners regarding the current state of the show too.  We were ‘treated’ to a guest performance by HRH the Duchess of Cornwall, whose acting ‘skills’ were only surpassed by the usual ridiculous performances of most of the children, who (in true drama-school style), read their lines in totally unbelievable ‘Secret Seven’ voices and emphasise all the wrong words.  It’s truly excruciating to have to listen to.

We’re all hoping that Kenton and Jolene will get together, as – to be frank – there’s not much else worth hanging around for at the moment, just Lizzie’s stiff upper lip and the whole village fawning over baby Henry Archer (yawn).  Wake me up when something good happens, and pass me some of that shortbread while I’m waiting please …

Quote of the Week

Is from last week’s Episode of Brothers and Sisters.  (I LOVE this show; hmm … think I might have mentioned that!)  Wise Mom Norah Walker gets a chance right out the blue to try out (along with a professional Counseller), to become the ‘Agony Aunt’ on a Radio Phone-in show.  Ooh, she’s doing badly against her rival, but when her daugher Kitty phones in to explain how scared she is to move on (after her husband died in a car crash), Norah comes up with this killer line:

“Sometimes you have to give up the life you planned to find the life that’s waiting for you.” There’s a lot of truth in that …

Let’s get back to ranting.  Vanessa Feltz sat in for Jeremy Vine this week.  “Hello, it’s me, Vanessa,” (gush, fawn). ‘Er, Vanessa who?” some might have asked, but – like Elvis, Oprah and Kylie, Vanessa clearly felt she needed no further introduction!  No offence, but she really wasn’t the right person for the job.  I just had this vision of her sat there in a silk dressing-gown and fluffy slippers; having her nails done as she talked. The show was reduced to feeling like the worst kind of daytime TV (as opposed to a relatively-serious current affairs show), and I sincerely hope she isn’t asked back …

Ooh, aren’t I being mean?  No: just offering my opinion.  #”It’s my blo-og, and I’ll rant if I want to!”#

I went to see the Comedian Andrew Lawrence on Wednesday night.  He pretty-much ranted and complained non-stop for an hour and a half about everything that got on his nerves.  I could do that.  It would be a lot quicker than sitting here writing it all down! Only one problem though: there’s not a lot of clubs/pubs etc open at 6.00 in the morning which – as an ‘early bird’ – would be the sort of time I’d obviously prefer to perform.

There’s no way I could traipse up and down the Country night after night just to do a five minute gig somewhere, yet this is what’s required if you want to get yourself ‘known’, and I have nothing but admiration for those that do it (including my friend Sarah Archer, who spends more time on the road than Eddie Stobart).  The petrol costs alone these days would be enough to put most people off.  Every day I drive past my local Shell Petrol Station, and almost every day it’s gone up again.  It went up 3p overnight this week.  It’s just getting silly now – except that it’s not funny …

Talking of jokes: I saw this on Twitter today.  Q. How can you make your girlfriend scream while you’re having sex? A.  Phone her up and tell her.

Handy Hints

Now then: after Jamie Oliver popped by to give us a few pizza tips (6th Feb), I’ve been hoping to bring in another Celebrity contributor to the Handy Hints spot, and this week I’m thrilled to have secured none other than Mr Michael Winner, who’s agreed to share some Winner’s Words of Wisdom with us.  Take it away Michael …

“Thank you my darling. Now then, calm down dears, it’s only me – Michael Winner.  Right; now listen carefully.  There’s poor old Jane here, trying so hard to make a name for herself, whereas I – of course – am terribly famous, and I thought it only fair to give the old girl a bit of a helping hand this week by giving you a couple of my own handy hints in the hope that it might help her to get a little bit of attention.  After all; you can’t all be lucky enough to be as rich and famous as me, can you dears?

My first hint is – of course – never, and I repeat, NEVER, touch the oysters when you’re on holiday at Sandy Lane this year my darlings.  Anybody who eats raw fish is asking for trouble – oysters, sushi, anywhere. It is highly dangerous. The seas have become so contaminated, and you can quote me on that, as I’ve said it before: in 2007 in fact.  Did you read that article?  No?  Why not?  Don’t you keep abreast of the things I’ve been saying?  I really recommend that you do, as almost everything I say is extremely useful and intensly interesting to everyone; so-much-so that I’ll give you another tip as well. And make sure that you write it down, as it’s very important.

Ok: when you’re out to dinner as often as I am, but can’t be bothered to nip over to Paris for the evening in your private jet, an evening at River Cafe never disappoints.  Why, I was there only last night with my dear friends Michael and Shakira and Elton and David; lovely chums, all of them, and we had a most marvellous evening, but I ate little more than a piece of lightly-steamed halibut and some spinach, as I like to keep a keen eye on my weight these days you know?  Now where was I?  Oh yes; Handy Hints. Never drink that filthy orange juice out of cartons.  Get your fiance or your Housekeeper to squeeze it for you every morning, and if you’re in a Hotel make them turn the music off – as you simply won’t be able to hear yourself think.

Right then dears, I’m off now.  Lunch at The Wolseley.  I’m millions in debt, but what does it matter when you’re as rich as me?  Just laugh and it’ll all be fine.  Well, cheerio then: always glad to offer a few Winner’s Words to those less fortunate than myself.”

Thank you Michael for those really useful hints.  I’m very grateful to you for giving up your time to contribute to my blog, and I’m sure my readers will find it equally helpful and will pass your valuable advice on to everyone they know.

My own top tip of the week is … make sure that when you sign up for a Building Society Account you get the person who talks you into it to sign a form confirming that when they SAY it’s Instant Access, that it’s not – in fact – a 90-day notice Account …

Foodie’s Corner

I’ve got so many foodie hints and tips I could share with you that I’m seriously starting to think that I should write them all down in a little cookery book.  Trouble is, I haven’t got time!  It’s already got a great title (which I can’t share here or someone else will nick it!), and will give you ideas on how to make great low fat/calorie meals in minutes using a minimal amount of good ‘foodie’ ingredients, but which will look/taste as if you’ve spent hours in the kitchen.  Watch this space … actually, no, don’t.  You’ll have to wait too long (as I need to make some money first), but let’s just say you “Read it here first”, as it’s going to happen at some point.

Ok; foodie tip of the week.  I went back to Tesco’s twice this week to try to get that product for you, but I reckon they’ve discontinued it.  That usually happens when I find something I like.  Those organic wraps did, and that lentil dip thing from Sainsbury’s I told you about a couple of weeks ago is bound to go the same way!

One thing that IS becoming more popular and widely available is my favourite salad green: lamb’s lettuce. I used to only be able to get it in Waitrose, but it’s now available in Tesco, and at only 8Op a box too!

Here’s a really quick, cheap, low fat/calorie lunch that can be on your plate in less time than it takes me to type this paragraph!  You don’t even have to write it down. All you need for one person is some fresh stir-fry veg/beansprout mix and a tin of mackerel fillets in water.  (Eagle-eyed readers might spot that the can in the photo is of mackerel in tomato sauce, but that was all I had in the cupboard at 6.00 this morning when I took this photo, and Tesco doesn’t open until 10.oo as it’s now Sunday as I’m finishing off this blog!)

Ok. Get a pan with a lid.  Tip the veg and mackerel into it, break the fish up a bit then put the lid on.  Cook it for a couple of minutes (or a bit longer if you want it less crunchy), then tip it out onto a plate/bowl.  Done!  Add a splash of soy sauce or sweet chilli sauce if you really want to push the boat out.  (You can even do it in a microwave if you want.)  Very nutritious and delicious – honestly!

I’ve been tweeting about Ryvitas.  These dry, rectangular pieces of stable sweepings (cursed by dieters everywhere), have improved no end in recent times.  I’m currently totally hooked on fruity Ryvita, spread thinly with good quality (!), sharp lemon curd.

Any Other Business

Still paying 79p a track to download stuff off iTunes?  I know I keep banging on about it, but go and sign up to GoMusic It’s free, is SO easy to use, and you’ll only pay 9 US cents per track.  Who wouldn’t want to save that sort of money? The money you save you can use to buy petrol!

I’ve been 23 nights without wine/pasta as I write this.  Lost 8lbs so far, and want to lose another 7.  Sticking at it’s the key, isn’t it?  (Yawn.)

The video of duck and chook I’ve wanted to upload for several weeks now … won’t, but here’s a little clip from this week if you fancy it.  I nearly got a gorgeous one of duck drinking out of a muddy puddle, but couldn’t get the phone out of my pocket in time! IMG_0463

Lastly: as I’ve mentioned before; if you like this blog, PLEASE tell all your friends, and you can also follow me on Twitter “janereynolds8” (link at top of page), if you can’t wait a whole week for more!

Please add comments too, as it all goes to raising my/the blog’s profile out there – which is the aim of it all (and to sell enough books to enable me to carry on writing and give up the cleaning for good!)

‘Every little helps’, and every new person who reads the blog, buys the book or follows me on Twitter, takes me a tiny step nearer to my dream …

(“Goodness me, what a blatant plug.  What’s happening to this woman?  Oh yes; she said she was becoming more pro-active.  Well, she certainly seems to be doing exactly that, doesn’t she?”)  Hee hee! See you all next week.  Have a good one.

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