Sunday 6th March 2011

It’s Friday afternoon as I begin this week’s blog.  The sun came out today.  Bloody nuisance.  Makes it so bright in my office that I have to squint.  Give me dull and overcast any day of the week … unlesss it’s 25 degrees+ and then it can be as sunny as it likes.

When I was a little girl, I vividly remember sitting in the porch with my soft pale-blue woolly blanket and my teddy one day, just looking out, watching and listening to the heavy rain that was falling. (This isn’t my teddy – he’s in storage – but it’s a pretty cute photo, isn’t it?)  Rain has inspired me ever since.  I never feel more creative than when it’s black as night, pouring with rain and – even better – blowing a gale.  I have to be indoors though; wouldn’t want to be out in it. The outdoor life’s never suited me.  I can get sunburned in the dark and – believe me – it’s not a good look.  I was forced to cover myself from head to toe in newspaper on a nudist beach once (after having reached my 15 minute maximum exposure time).  I probably looked like a giant portion of fish and chips from a distance!

The one time I wasn’t careful though (on a dull, cloudy day on Brighton beach in my 20s), I’d left the bottoms of my legs showing, and by the evening they’d swelled up to double their size.  Soaking-wet towels placed over them literally dried-out instantly.  I could barely walk for weeks, and now still wear my factor 50 even to go to Tesco … just in case!

“How’s the writing been going this week then, Jane?”  I’m glad you asked me that.  No news … still.  It’s either no news or bad news, but – as I keep on saying – ONE day, one day there’ll be something exciting to tell you.  Having said that, someone tweeted me to say they’d seen my book on Amazon and wondered if they could buy it in France?  Seeing as I hadn’t put it on Amazon I was a bit confused, but it seems it that HAD somehow found its way onto there (albeit showing as unavailable!), so I got straight on to it and am hoping to have it sorted out by next week, and with a Kindle version too.

There’s a new excerpt from the book for you to have a look at too.  Just click on ‘Read an Excerpt’ above, but be warned: it’s got kissing in!  Right: down to business.

TV Times

MasterChef continues on BBC1 Only one Episode this week.  Just as well.  I don’t think I could have coped with two.  This programme is getting sillier and sillier.  The LOUD and ridiculously over-dramatic music is just completely unnecessary, and as for the shot of 100 Scotsmen in kilts all lined up and heading en-masse towards the contestants tents … well; it was like something out of a Saturday night ITV game show.  This is really NOT what we want from this programme, surely?

And as for India Fisher … someone please strap her to a chair and make her listen to hours of her voiceovers (on this, and her Radio 2/local Radio trails), until she finally twigs that THEY ALL SOUND THE BLOODY SAME!  What is it going to take to get her to – just once – speak a sentence like a ‘normal’ person?  Ooh, don’t get me started …

It’s not ALL bad though.  Some of that food looked delicious, and I would have LOVED to have been one of those guests for that dinner at Skibo Castle.  Was it really necessary for Greg to gasp “She gave me chips of bone and cartilage!” when wolfing down one of the contestant’s dishes though? Hardly.  No, she didn’t, Greg – not on purpose.  It was GAME, and when you eat game, there’s a chance that it might contain shot, and  if it’s been shot, it might conceivably have a bit of splintered bone in it. Get over yourself Greg, and stop being so over-dramatic.  You’ve eaten game before, haven’t you?  If she’d spiked the dish with bits of broken glass I could understand it, but – CLUE – it was a game bird.  It happens …

As I watched the winners all clinging onto each other like they were at a Roman orgy, it suddenly struck me what MasterChef has done: turned into The Apprentice.  Two teams; one wins and gets a super treat, and in the other team someone gets fired … yeah?

And speaking of The Apprentice … it’s Donald Trump’s Apprentice! Wow, it’s getting really tense now. “Ivanka is coming in from New York,” DT announced to the eager candidates.  “Hurrah!” I cried.  I’ve missed her over the last couple of weeks.

The winning team got to meet up with Arnold Schwarzenegger (I had to double-check that spelling!).  It was quite inspiring to watch, and his little speech to the team is this week’s Quote of the Week. It’s a long one, and I paraphrase a little:

“It can’t be done, it can’t be done.  They told me I’d never become a movie star, but in the end I did, and it’s all because I’ve never listened to “It can’t be done.” There was a scene in Conan The Barbarian where I had to climb over rocks, and I was bleeding from my elbows and my knees in the dirt and they said “I’m sorry, we have to do one more take, do you mind, and I said “No, I don’t care,” because pain is only temporary, but what is on that film is permanent.” If you want something enough, you’ll find a way to make it happen. It’s SO inspiring to look at others who’ve done it, isn’t it?

I now know for sure who I DON’T want to win too.   I’ve thought it all the way along, but this week, his smug creeping and crawling just finished me off.  If I was DT, I’d have just two words to say to him … and I’d say those same two words to India Fisher too. (No offence India; I just can’t bear to have to listen to you.)


Well, what a week – yawn.  Just to remind you; I’m always polishing my blog at 10.00 on a Sunday, so download the Omnibus onto my iPod (see Any Other Business), and save it until Wednesday at around 3.00 when I finally get to eat some lunch and pop it on as my ‘treat’ when I start on the ironing which forms the last part of my Wednesday cleaning job.  (Just imagine a few steam-iron sound effects and the faint quacking and clucking of duck & chook bustling round the garden in the background as you visualise the scene.)  Ooh, it’s just like having an extra little Episode right here, right now, isn’t it?  At least there’s no sound effects of baby Henry crying either!

Not much of a week down Borchester way though, was it?  Poor old Debbie never got a speaking part in Paris, and it was more of the same from the ‘Helen and Henry’ show. The highlight was Puss giving her wicked Tiger a mauling after she found out he’d been stalking his prey at the waterhole; the poor, bambi-like Jolene.  Lilian certainly showed her claws this week, and reminded us that she’s more than a match for that naughty Matt. (If you’re in the US and wondering what the hell we’re on about, why not go to the BBC iPlayer and download this week’s Omnibus and join the Archers ‘family’ of devotees?)


Like TV Weathermen, I’m only able to accurately predict what’s ALREADY happened, as (unlike my favourite Soapsters Sharon Marshall and Jaci Stephen), I don’t get preview tapes – so can only comment on last week’s shows – but that won’t stop me from telling you what I think though, will it!

This feature will start properly next week as (instead of watching the weekend Omnibus), I’ll watch every Episode through the week so will be all up to date when I write my blog on a Saturday. I’m always praising Coronation Street’s wonderful Rosie Webster (my YouTube still isn’t working, but will be fixed by next week as my brother’s back from the US and he’ll know how to sort it!), but I have to say what a fantastic week it’s been all round for Corrie this week. Laugh? The one-liners came thick and fast and were just hilarious.  Such brilliant acting!

A big wow to Jane Cox for her moving and completely enthralling performance as Lisa Dingle in Emmerdale last week too. Her character finally admitted that she’d been raped by a male work colleague, and I’ve included this link to an interview she’s given about the ordeal.

Foodie Corner

Ok, let’s talk food now.  Still no joy with that product from Tesco. I reckon it’s been discontinued. Never mind; lots of other stuff for you.  There’s a Chinese Take-Away my family generally goes to, and when we have Char-Sui satay there’s always some pale green square bits in it.  On closer inspection on one of them a while back, I figured out what they were: the middle of a cucumber.

Logical really.  They use the skin for duck and pancakes, so end up with the whole of the middle bit left over!  I immediately started doing the same thing when I cook anything Chinese-y.  I took some photos last Sunday night for you.

(As I can’t get WordPress to put things where I want them, I’ll have to work with what I’ve got.) 1. Cut some cucumber into about 5 cm pieces.  Here’s one I prepared earlier! (left)

2. Thinly slice the skin off and you’ll have this. (right)

3. Thinly slice the skin into sticks, and chop the inside into small cubes. (left) Sling the cubes into whatever it is you’re cooking (cooks quickly), then once you serve the dish up, sprinkle the cucumber sticks all over the top.  Looks great, and gives a pleasing extra ‘bite’.

To cut down the cost of a Chinese takeaway in these frugal times, don’t bother with ‘Special’ fried rice etc (as you only put all the other stuff on top of it).  It’s much cheaper to either cook your own rice* or use pre-cooked frozen/Uncle Ben’s microwave packets (other varieties are available)!  (*Just cook up a batch of rice when you’re pottering around the kitchen, freeze it, then you can simply grab a bit out when you need it.)

Also: empty a packet of Supermarket basic veg/beansprout stir-fry mix into a bowl (or pan), cover, heat through (adding a bit of sweet & sour /chilli sauce etc if you want), and serve-up to bulk the meal out – and help save on the cost of main dishes.  It literally only takes a moment to open the bag and is a cheap and healthy addition to the meal!

This is my current favourite coffee.  Such a light, fruity and soft flavour: delicious!  I’m going to make a pot within two minutes of adding this photo!

Celebrity Handy Hints

After the runaway success of my first Celebrity Guest Michael Winner last week, I had a phone call from a Mr Simon Cowell who claims to be a friend of his.  Simon seemed quite upset that I hadn’t contacted him before Michael and was very keen to talk to me, so I couldn’t really say no, could I?  I’m surprised he had the time – to be honest – but he was very insistent, and as he talked, I managed to scribble it all down as he went along, so here it is: Simon Cowell, direct from a Private jet, high-up over an Ocean somewhere.

“Hello?  Is that Jane Reynolds?  Well, it’s me – Simon Cowell here, yes, yes, it really IS me, before you ask.  Look: I’m a busy man, but my people saw your Handy Hints with my good friend Michael Winner – I’m hoping to catch up with him while he’s in LA this week and I’m filming American Idol, by the way.  Do you watch it?  Ha, stupid question; everyone watches my shows.”

(Breaks off to talk to his PA or someone) “No, tell them I’m far too busy to appear on anything other than my own shows, and you already know that I’m off on holiday on Friday, so it’s completely out of the question.  Why do you even have to ask me?”

(Returns to me.) “Right: where was I?  Oh yes.  Look: I’ll be honest with you, I haven’t got a lot of time for Handy Hints because – frankly – why would I need to bother saving money?  I’ve got more money than I’ll ever need, so don’t really understand why you’ve even rung me … (Pauses as his PA says something in his ear.) Oh.  I rang YOU?  … Oh, well in that case … let me give you a really useful piece of advice for your column.  I’ve got my people to have a good look at your site and I see that we’re the same age, and that you’ve had a bit of trouble with your teeth recently?  Well, there’s one piece of advice I can give you and your readers, and that’s to always look after your teeth.  Look how lovely and white mine are.  Aim for that, and one day you might even get to audition for X Factor.  That’s one of my shows you know?  Makes millions, but you’ll already know that, won’t you?

(Without stoppping for breath or letting me say a word.) Look: if you just stop interrupting and give me a chance to speak, I’ll give you my hints.  Right: here’s the first one.  Get an Agent.  Second, always wear cashmere – unless you’re on a beach.  How’s that?  Look; I won’t charge you for this; just make sure you call me first next time, ok? And if you ever want to get to be as rich as me, you’ve got to get to know the right people but – and I quote from the ‘Simon Cowell Little Book of Profund Quotes’ here: “If you’ve got a big mouth and you’re controversial, you’re going to get attention.” That’s what I’ve always said, and look at me now.  Look: I’m a busy man and I’ve got another five calls on hold, so you’ll have to run with that sweetheart.  How did you get my number anyway?  … I rang YOU?  Surely not?  Piers, is that you holding on two?” (Line goes dead.)

It was hard to scribble it all down, but I think I got the gist of it.  Thanks Simon.  I’m sure we’ll all find that useful.  I’m really pleased with how it’s going though – and having two such illustrious contributors to start me off.  Goodness knows who we’ll get next week …

Handy Hints

Something far more down to earth – literally – now.  If you’ve changed as many Super-King/King/Double beds as I have in my previous life as a Housekeeper and in my current 2-day a week cleaning jobs, you’ll know how frustrating it can be trying to work out a) whether you’ve got the right sized sheet for the bed, and b) which way to put it on.

End that problem by marking the bottom left/right corners of the sheet at the seam (on the underside!) with a big dot made with a BIRO, then next time you’re changing the sheets, simply look for the two dots and you’ll know straight away which way round the sheet goes!

And as for duvet covers: the BEST piece of advice I can recommend is to – at the very least – always get someone else to simply hold the top corner for a moment while you wrestle the rest of the cover over the quilt (small children are very good for this!), or if – like me – you’re usually on your own, then get one side in place then stick a peg on it so that your hands are then free to walk round the bed to do the other side.  Some people swear by having the cover inside out – and even getting inside it – but I’ve never found that’s worked for me somehow.


I was thinking in bed last night (in the few seconds before I fell asleep), about how my site is mostly UK-themed. I look at US sites and find the same thing in reverse; not knowing half the people they talk about (who’s Justin Beiber?), so want to redress the balance with a special bit just for you each week. It’s too late to find something for today’s blog, so I just thought I’d tell you some of the wonderful US TV shows I’ve enjoyed over the years:

Arrested Development, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Office, Brothers & Sisters, Sopranos, Mad Men (only seen 1st Season), Desperate Housewives, Nurse Jackie, The Apprentice (of course!), Roseanne, Ellen (94-98 Comedy Show), Thirty-something, Hung, Californication, 30 Rock, Married with Children, The Nanny (better not go back any further – ages me too much!)

Joke of the Week

Q. Where would you find a dog with no legs?   A. Wherever you left it.

Courtesy of Twitter:  I just got my personality test results back … they were negative.

Any Other Business

Saw this on Twitter too, and though you might like it.  It’s a list of rather amusing comments people have made about Restaurants! Thanks to @dansumption

Don’t just listen to programmes on iPlayer.  Download them onto iTunes and listen to them on the go with this free and simple to install app.

Still paying 79p a track to download music from iTunes?  I’m still plugging this one as it’s so good.  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 pay for your prescriptions (if you’re unlucky enough to be English, have a job, and get sick).

Here’s a very short motivational Video I saw on Twitter.  Thanks to @mom2apreemie

And now we’re all feeling inspired from that, here’s a lovely picture to make us all smile and remind us that spring’s probably on its way.

Thanks for reading today.  I could write loads more – and have already got a list on the go for next week! As per: if you’ve enjoyed it, PLEASE tell everyone you know, and DO please add a quick comment if you’ve got a moment.  I’m Twittering all week as usual too (janereynolds8), and don’t forget to have a read of that new excerpt from “Just Good Friends?” by clicking on the link up at the top of the page.

Who will be the next ‘Celebrity’ guest?  Tune in next time to find out …


3 Responses to Sunday 6th March 2011

  1. Zia March 6, 2011 at 7:31 pm #

    Hi nice post, I found Schwarzenegger’s speech on The Apprentice inspiring as well :) Just wondering who it was you don’t want to win the show? Maybe I’m blind but I didn’t see a name and I was curious.

    • Jane March 6, 2011 at 7:37 pm #

      Hi Zia, and thanks for the message. We’re way behind here in the UK. I didn’t want to say who I wanted out of The Apprentice, as he’ll probably end up being the winner and I’ll feel silly, but I’ll tell you what – I promise I’ll name him next week, whether he’s out or in still, so tune in next week to find out!

  2. Jane April 22, 2011 at 11:57 am #

    Did you mean ‘gist’? Thanks for your comment Trollol man. All comments to this site are appreciated. I’m not trying to stop that happening: never would. If you put stuff onto the Internet then you have to accept it. :)

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