Have you heard of a “duck”?

Has anyone out there heard of a duck? This is a bready (brioche-y?) finger or rectangle, with a creamy lemony filling or glaze. I only remember it vaguely from a single tasting in my youth. It was a favourite of my dad’s, however, and I’d love to find one for him.


ceci n'est pas un canard
ceci n’est pas un canard

One slight problem, “duck” might be a family name for this confection, and not the official one at all!!! Please help if you can!

Proofreading and Copy-editing

Today, I have been learning many things about publishing and marketing, and editing in particular.

What’s brought all this on? Well, a very patient friend of mine, Oliver Rhodes, founded online publishing house Bookouture six months ago. He’s already signed some great authors and the marketing work he did on Blood Shadows by Lyndsay J. Pryor was comprehensive and penetrating. I happened to unleash the inner-demon grammar-pedant in Olly’s hearing once and he offered to show me a little bit of behind-the-scenes editing work – I couldn’t refuse such an interesting exercise.

Wicked Marketing: Bookouture’s Trailer for Blood Shadows by Lindsay J. Pryor

I tried my hand at it – editing’s tougher than it looks – it’s not like maths, where the answer is either right or it’s not, and there are checks you can make. Editing is as much about style as about correct grammar. You look for continuity errors, disambiguate and tweak awkward sentences, However, you also have to rein in the desire to make so many changes you lose the author’s voice – leave good enough alone.

I’ve learned about dangling participlesmisplaced modifiers, and other grammatical errors. I think I’ve got a handle on the difference between structural editing (pulling the story into the best possible shape) and line editing (“a careful reader points out inconsistencies and annoying stylistic tics”). I now know the difference between a proofreader and a copy-editor: the former checks for errors in  the typeset version of a text including errors the copy-editor may have missed; the latter checks for grammatical errors, syntax, meaning, spelling, awkwardness etc. in the text. I think I would make quite a good copy-editor. By Murphy’s Law, there’ll be a whole lotta errors in this blog that prove otherwise, of course.

The professional body of editors and proofreaders in the UK have their website at http://www.sfep.org.uk/. This crew runs courses and provides accreditation in editing. I am quite interested in taking some of the courses. I might start out by getting a copy of Butcher’s Copy-editing, however, before I go haring off after another new career that doesn’t pay much. You don’t happen to have a copy of it lying around, do you? I could pay you in yarn!!?

Bookouture’s next release is “Blood Roses” by Lyndsay J. Pryor – Due out April 26th.

Blood Roses by Lindsay J. Pryor

Shower me the Money

My hubby was in the shower last Tuesday morning as I was preparing breakfast, and suddenly, I found myself sharing the shower with him. Not in the same room, mind. The plumber came round and £250 pounds later, we have a spanking new shower and a fistful of dire warnings about the state of our bath. Apparently it is disintegrating. As in, the fibreglass is shredded and who knows when I might be taking more showers with my man. So my gauge was a little tight last week, shall we say!

We’re saving for a new bathroom – hopefully it’ll get done within the next year – I want the blandest, cleanest looking bathroom available with a shiny white suite. Currently, it’s a sickly yellow-pink. Ugh. And we’re pretty sure it was put together on a DIY basis by the last guy who lived here – we have had so many problems with it. Complete bodge job. Nothing seems to have been put in right. The pipes on the loo have had to be changed, the overflow doesn’t work, the sink has a w bend instead of an s-bend, none of the tiles are parallel and the grouting is mostly on top instead of between. <Rant over> (sorry).

I dunno what you’re looking down here for, I am not posting pics of my bathroom.

May your week be leak-free, and may nothing but blessings rain down upon you!

Mushroom Foray on Hampstead Heath

On Sunday, in the pouring, and I mean lashing, rain, I went on a mushroom foray with Andy Overall, “A fungi to be with”. From his website and e-mails, Andy seems to have a wicked sense of humour, but even that was dampened by the weather.


This wasn’t just a foray though, it was followed by a gastronomic breakfast – a feast of mushrooms as picked over the course of the year by Andy and cooked by the chefs in the Magdala pub (famous for being the location where Ruth Ellis shot her lover).

Magdala Pub Google Maps Image

There was supposed to be about 26 of us, but about half that actually made it onto Hampstead Heath. A whole bunch decided to just stay in a cafe till the breakfast part. And another quarter or so just didn’t show – took one look out the window, I’d say, and rolled back over.

The foray itself was fascinating – Andy could spot fungi from miles off, and showed us grey funnel-caps (edible-ish – may give you a sick tummy), charcoal burners (very brittle),

Charcoal Burner from mushroomtable.com
Charcoal Burner from mushroomtable.com

wood blewits (VERY hard to spot in the undergrowth cos they’re a bluey- grey colour on top like rotting leaves),

Wood Blewit from mushroomtable.com
Wood Blewit from mushroomtable.com

deceivers (teensy),

Amethyst Deceiver From mushroomtable.com
Amethyst Deceiver From mushroomtable.com

fly agaric (actually, I spotted that one. I seemed to only spot poisonous ones),

Fly Agaric from mushroomtable.com
Fly Agaric from mushroomtable.com

and many more that I’ve forgotten. Memory like a sieve, me.

(Images from mushroomtable.com)

Andy’s lady love, Heather, was co-hosting and she was really charming, going round the group, putting people at their ease. She was also very knowledgeable about mushrooms, though she says she really only knows the edible ones. They had apparently had a very successful mushroom feast themselves the previous day.

I got properly soaked. My jeans were wringing wet , as were each of the 3 woolen jumpers I had on – because I found out my waterproof wasn’t. Huge luck and circumstance meant there was a change of clothes in the car waiting for me when I got back to the pub, for which I am eternally grateful. Here I am, very wet, with cheesy grin and a butter tub of nommies.

Me, with my enormous haul of shrooms
Me, with my enormous haul of shrooms

Then the feasting began!

Mushroom feast (mostly all gone)
Mushroom feast (mostly all gone)

OMG Chicken of the woods.

Chicken of the Woods from mushroomtable.com
Chicken of the Woods from mushroomtable.com

Just like chicken, only a mushroom. Crazy. With a hint of a lemony tang on the edge. Yuuuuuuum. There was a whole array of mushrooms to taste – and they were done in lots of different ways – thai green curry, risotto, in a pastry tart with gruyere, and of course, since this was breakfast, in scrambled eggs & lightly sautéed on their own. There were saussies and rashers too, so the carnivores didn’t feel left out. I have to admit to being so hungry by that stage that I just about ate my head off. I didn’t really savour it the way I should have – at least, not till I went back for seconds :) !

So, definitely recommend it as a morning out – I just hope you get better weather than I did!

My sad-looking collection of mushrooms from the foray: Clockwise from top, unremembered edible, Tawny Funnel-Cap, Amethyst Deceivers, Wood Blewit
My sad-looking collection of mushrooms from the foray: Clockwise from top, unremembered edible, Tawny Funnel-Cap, Amethyst Deceivers, Wood Blewit

How to Blog

Just went to a hugely interesting talk at the local WI. I _did_ tell you I was in the WI? No? Well, that’s, like,SO old news. Last month yadda yadda. @wi_ha5


Anyway, We heard from Chrissie, aka @mediocre_mum of http://mediocremum.com/.


Chrissie told us lots of stuff about blogging that I really should have known but had been afraid to google. Stuff like: (and this is me wildly paraphrasing after a whole glass of wine!)

  •   Use tweetdeck to manage twitter (thank god there’s something out there cos I can’t keep up with all that blurgh)
  •  It’s not a bodily function, tell people when you’ve just blogged. Syndicate.
  • Blog 2-3 times a week at least (oopsie)
  •  Use images
  •  Use more images
  • Keep things short and to the point
  •  Use titles that google will like, not cleverdick  phrases and puns (oopsie again)
  • Do how-tos
  •  Do recipes
  • Do bullet points (see!)
  • Get other people to write your blogs for you! Or at least, post stuff up for you
  • Review stuff
  • Say something about yourself to round out your online persona
  • And I’ve forgotten lots, but hey ho, this is enough to be going on with.

And so to bed. X luv ya! (Jeez, I’m really letting the family name down now. My tolerance has gone through the floor.)


Got a letter from the revenue commissioners this morning – nothing bad, but anything from them throws me for a loop. I’m now wandering around the internet instead of working.

Agh, income tax!!!

A bit later

Do you get a rush from sorting out a problem, or finding out that something that you thought would be a problem, isn’t, really? Anyway, phew, all sorted with thing from revenue. I couldn’t DO anything except fret till I got on to one of them and found out what I needed to do to make it all go away.

Now to sort out car insurance, roof tiles and some ACTUAL knitting work: proposals I’m supposed to be writing.

Agh, drilling!!

Ooh, and I drilled holes for a curtain rail this morning – I’m rockin’ the superwoman world today! I HATE drilling holes. Puts my heart in my mouth every time. And when I got to the post office to pick up the package that I was convinced was going to be the new curtain, turned out to be the kids’ blasted tip’n’sip coco pops bowl. Grrrr. More trash to fill up the house. And the kitchen back door’s still sucking all the warmth from the entire northern hemisphere, as far as I can tell.

Agh, clutter!

Science Experiments For Kids

This is completely off-topic. No knitting here.

My four-year old is one of those inquisitive types. She likes to cross-examine me about any topic that springs to mind. The other night she decided it was “the olden times” so I had to turn out the lights and we got ready for bed by candlelight. And then she asked me “what did people do for cars?”, “what about television?”, clothes, toys, heat, cooking… the works. May the history Gods forgive me, my answers were a jumbled mess of Prehistoric to Regency to WW2. All while sitting in the dark looking at a single candle flame (the wax was apple scented, in case you needed to know).

Another thing she loves to do is “science experiments”. I occasionally have a brain wave for a new one to try, but I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel. Please, if you have good ones, let me know!

Measuring Liquids

You need a measuring jug, glasses of different widths and heights and food dye (cos everyone loves food dye. Have fun getting it off their tiny little fingers!)

Measure the exact same amount of liquid into two different glasses – a fat one and a skinny one. While measuring, get the kid to shout out if you have too little or too much water for a certain measurement.  Don’t forget the food dye. Then ooh and ah over the different heights of the liquid in the fat and skinny glasses.

Pour into different glasses and see what happens.

Then try to make the glasses “sing” by rubbing the rims.

Then clean up the mess.

Safety yadda yadda, glass, young kids, supervision required.

Miscible Liquids

You need oil, water, squash or coke or another liquid that mixes with water and is preferably coloured, a fat straw (or funnel, pipette etc), 2 food dyes and washing-up liquid.

Mix the water and the squash: what happens?

Mix the water and the oil

Try 2 drops food dye in water/oil once it’s settled again (This one’s quite cool, I didn’t realise it would go that way).

Now insert a straw through the oil layer and drop the other food dye directly into the water.

Now ruin it all by adding the washing-up liquid.

:) Minutes of fun, simply minutes!

States of Matter

This is more of a lecture, cos they can’t go around messing with steam.

Get some ice, some water and a kettle.

Let them play with the ice, dunk it into water, see what happens.

Boil some water and show them (from a distance) the steam.

Solid, Liquid, Gas. Voila!

Mystery Ingredients

Take 4 kitchen ingredients that look the same and get the kids to try to identify what they are. We just happen to have coloured ramekins that are perfect for this. Get them to shut their eyes and count. In the red bowl went a teaspoon of flour, pink: teaspoon of table salt, green: icing sugar, yellow: bicarbonate of soda. So you have 4 white powders. Try to identify them by looking closely, mixing in water, mixing in vinegar (this will show up the bicarb), smelling, tasting (this will get the salt and sugar) and then do whatever you have to do to get them to guess flour. Safety note: stress the importance of (especially) not tasting anything mysterious without adult supervision. Also, don’t taste the bicarb. It’s disgusting.