Friday, 29 May 2009

Tax doesn't have to be taxing..

.. uh huh.

Moving swiftly on from the awful gag therein (guessing someone at HMRC was in stitches for days over that? They certainly should have their mouth stitched up, anyway)..!

I thought the original idea behind the "Tax doesn't have to be taxing.." campaign was to promote and raise awareness of the fact that the UK Tax system isn't the hideously complex mess we think it is.

Of course, it IS, but thats another matter.

Phoned local tax office, re: a letter they had sent (corporation tax, not personal) - on the number they gave. Just to ask a really simple question. Was told that I had phoned the wrong office - Ah yes. Silly me. I only phoned the one who wrote to me - not the one who would answer questions on a letter they hadn't sent?

I was given another number to phone. I phoned it. I was told I had been given the wrong number, and was given another one, because (I think - it was for some strange reason, quite hard to understand the 2nd call centre operative..) - although I had been given _A_ number for "The London Office", it was the wrong part of the building. Or something.

Having now been refered from 0208 to 0207 (and slightly baffled as to how that can be the same building), I finally got through to the right person. Surely.

Well. No.

"Ah. Yes. Well. I can see why you've been redirected here, but really, you should call your local office on 023..".



Thats where I started!

I kept my cool, and explained. This time, the lady was helpful.

"Right. OK. Well I can see the file here, so maybe I can answer your question?"

She could, and did. Very good, thank you.

Now if only person #1 had been able to do it - which I suspect, they could, because it was a general query - not even related to our file in particular!

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Smoked Haddock and Prawn Fishcakes - Recipe

Another recipe - this time, one of my own concoction. I made some fishcakes (mainly on a whim), the other night, and they turned out great - so I'll share what I did!

Ingredients (makes about 3-4 cakes, each suitable for an adult portion):

1x fillet of smoked haddock
A handful or two of prawns
2 medium sized potatoes
1 small or 1/2 of 1 large sweet potato
Half a red onion, very finely chopped
2 cloves garlic
Some cheap white wine

Skin, bone (with tweezers if necessary) and cube the haddock. Chuck it into a warm pan (with a bit of olive oil) and turn up the heat a bit - you want it to break up as it cooks, not to fry immediately. Add the prawns and the onion.

Allow to cook for a few seconds, then move around the pan and squash - repeat until the haddock has flaked and broken up nicely. Add the wine and simmer until most of the juices is gone - don't allow to dry out completely. Take off the heat.

At the same time, peel, chop and boil the potato and sweet potato - together with the garlic. When soft, mash and allow to cool.

Mix both together, and press into cake shapes - I use a burger press with waxed discs (hurrah for Lakeland) to achieve this. Flour lightly and fry. Serve with vegetables (we did carrots, asparagus and broccoli - lovely).

Moneybookers scam - Western Union

If you are asked to engage in a transaction via Moneybookers ( - don't panic immediately - they seem to be legitimate, although I have never used them personally.

However, a friend of mine in Spain was asked to perform an escrow transaction through them, and to transfer money via Western Union.

This rang a couple of alarm bells, so I gave them a ring for him (my english is better, and the only phone number available was a UK line).

They confirmed that they do not work with Western Union in any capacity. I wouldn't normally pass on scam warnings, etc, however, this one was very credible and almost fooled us both - so beware!

If you do encounter anything like this, please forward related correspondence to

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Lentejas (Lentils) - Andalucian Recipe

Recording here for posterity. We have lost this one once already, and as I continually fail to buy a notebook for the kitchen, I shall blog it so at least I can print it next time..!

This makes 'Spanish style' lentils - and is my OH's mum's recipe. Very good and well worth a go!

Add the following to a largeish saucepan on a low heat. Feeds 2-3 people (fed both of us, once, plus I had the left-overs for lunch the next day).

3 (large) handfuls of lentils (e.g puy, but will work with any), washed
1 tomato, roughly chopped (quarters)
1 pepper (ideally green/mediterranean style), in big slices
1 onion, quartered (in such a way that it hangs together)
3-4 cloves of garlic, whole or halved
A couple of bay leaves (whole)
A generous splash of olive oil - if you're not good at "splashes", approx 1 tbsp per person
Ground pepper or Pimenton Dulce (Sweet Paprika - if available) - approx 1 tsp
Cumin - a pinch
1x Chorizo (small, cooking variety - approx 100 gms) - skinned and sliced thickly

Add water to cover. Bring almost to the boil and then simmer gently until cooked. Remove the bay leaves and any large pieces of vegetable which are left.

Serve with white wine vinegar (as a condiment - splash on and mix in before eating), and lots of bread..!

Friday, 22 May 2009

Blogtastic, but for how long?

You may have noticed, that I'm trying really hard to be active on my blog again - my aim is to blog at least once a day, when I am at the PC (so that mostly excludes weekends, bank holidays, etc).

I'm also hoping that this will lend a bit of balance to my blog - as I won't ONLY be writing when something winds me up!

Of course, the risk of it turning into a spool of inane drivel (if it hasn't already), is also increased.

How long do you think I'll keep it up for??

Gorey Fete de la Mer - 27th June 2009?

Following it's last minute cancellation (owing to a forecast of high winds), I am reliably informed via @JerseyTourism that the Gorey Fete de la Mer has been rescheduled for 27th June 2009.

Looking forward to not missing it this year..!

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Answer the phone, curse you!


You have a restaurant.

It has been recommended to me by someone whose opinion I trust (he's a good chef himself, plus is one of the party I'm booking for).

So I'm calling the number on your website (comments reserved!) to book and make a reservation for tomorrow.

You haven't answered the phone on any of the first four attempts. It's not engaged, so I know that either the number is wrong (I shall consult the phone book shortly), or you are not there - or worse, you are there, but not answering.

Luckily I'm probably going to persist until I get hold of you. I wouldn't normally - nor will a lot of customers. Tip - buy an answering machine. Heck, Amazon have one for £3.95 on special offer - here.

There is no excuse.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Diet Water. What next?

On the subject of the country going mad, I have to thank @lazygiraffe for pointing out this superb example of how utterly ridiculous our society is.

Holland and Barrat are now selling what, essentially, appears to be - diet water.

My thoughts and feelings can only be expressed thusly: ?????!!!!!

Nickelback - Silly Censorship

Most of you probably know (or suspect) that I think a lot of censorship is silly, anyway, but this morning I realised, while listening to the 'air play edit' of "Rockstar" by Nickelback (on the radio)..

The song has been somewhat detox-ed, but the manner in which this has been done reflects poorly on the moral values of our society.

I'm not referring to the lyrics themselves - they're fine. They're not offensive at all, and I think it's a pretty well written song, which makes a reasonably clever point. Ironically it has been censored in such a a way as to reinforce part of that point.

What I mean is - the word "drugs" has been blanked out (leaving us with such classic phrases as "everybody has a *hmmp*dealer on speed-dial"), however the phrase "We'll all stay skinny 'cos we just won't eat" has been left in.

How long until the censors decide that juvenile anorexia is such an issue that this must be edited, too?

I agree that we shouldn't broadcast expletives pre-watershed, however, I don't see how blanking out "drugs" in a song, when a reference is made to the illegal variety, protects youngsters?

Or am I just unduly grumpy today?

Marks and Spencer Jersey - Birthday Failure!

Yup. M&S here have irritated me again. Not that I shop there anyway, but still.

Despite the widely publicised 125th birthday 'penny bazaar' promotion, they won't be doing in here in Jersey. As with all the Marks + Sparks special offers (well almost all), we get to miss out again.


According to Channel 103, bosses say it's because they've only been here for 42 years. I think it's because they're a bunch of tight fisted b______s.

But I might be extra grumpy, because I haven't had enough coffee yet.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Remoska: Brilliant. But lets hope it doesn't blow up..

Indeed. Our oven blew up the other night. Well. It didn't actually "blow up", but it did go "Whoomf!!" and cause one of the trip switches to pop.

Upon further inspection, it is now more of a fan than a fan oven - suspect the heating element has given up the ghost. We will learn more when I lever it out of its mountings and dismantle it later on.

Anyway. We had a roast dinner yesterday - this is quite a feat without a working oven - or would be - if we didn't have a Remoska! You can buy these from Lakeland, here - and they are really amazing.

They actually cook roast meat better than ovens - because they are a sort of combination oven and casserole dish (not a slow cooker at all - quite rapid infact). Well worth a go!

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Monday, 11 May 2009

..and we're back!

For some reason, getting home from holiday is really, really nice.

Although I wonder if thats 'cos we were staying with the "inlaws"?

Oh well. Back. Buried in email and paperwork! Will blog soon..