Thursday, 25 March 2021

Which do I prefer?

The latest Tegen hairband has arrived. I now have two hand-finished French-made bands from this Brighton-based company. This is what the new one looks like. It's a light tortoiseshell design, which Tegen call 'White Tokio'. The more traditional band I bought a few days before was called 'Dark Tokio'. (I rather like these names)

As with the other Tegen band, this White Tokio band comes with its own yellow brushed cotton storage bag. In my jewellery drawer, I rest both new bands on their bags, rather than keep putting them inside, which will keep the bags pristine that much longer. But when on holiday, I will use these bags to protect my latest posh acquisitions from scratches, bumps and other mishaps. 

The feel and weight is the same as the Dark Tokio band, and the speckling is broadly the same, but instead of brown and tawny we have black and cream, with (to my eyes) a hint of blue. Let's compare the bands, side by side.

For some reason, the words crème caramel and white Belgian chocolate spring to mind! These tortoiseshell hairbands are definitely attractive things, and I would assert that they are beautiful. In any event, I need something like this to complement my hair, and make it look more interesting.  Next, some shots of myself, wearing the new White Tokio band.  

Which of the two new bands do I prefer? Oh dear, that's not easy to answer. They are both posh and superior as hairbands go, equally pleasing to the eye, equally flattering to one's bonce. 

I haven't yet had time to develop an unswerving loyalty to the Dark Tokio band, which is still less than a week old. So the slightly newer White Tokio band has the same chance to become my favourite friend. In fact, a very good chance indeed, as it's the more unusual, the less conventional. Where personal accessories are concerned, I do normally incline more to white things, or indeed black things, than to brown things, Thus with these two bands. It's the choice (in a very rare moment of weakness, naturally) between a few succulent pieces of white Belgian chocolate and a few yummy bites of crème caramel. I'd consider each of them delicious. The obvious solution is to enjoy them both! 

Initially I intend to wear them alternately. So today, when out somewhere in the sunshine, getting my 10,000 steps in, I will favour the world with the White Tokio band. But tomorrow it will be the Dark Tokio band. And so on. But you can't have an ironclad regime. The choice of band on the day will depend primarily on my clothes, the occasion, and of course my mood. At this point it's impossible to say which of the two will ultimately prove to be my Number One Band.  

It's nice to think that so much pleasure can be had from two simple objects that didn't cost the earth. On occasion I do spend much more - for instance, in the end £999 on my latest smartphone, Prudence, back in January. That was such a good purchase. But you can't wear a phone, and although it is a highly customised personal possession, to the extent that someone else can't just pick it up and use it - at least not without first understanding the operating tweaks I've made - it will become obsolete and need replacement. But jewellery can last decades. And these new bands, if not quite on par with my silverware, can still be regarded as durable high-status accessories. 

Next: do I buy more stuff from Tegen? Or turn my attention to other gaps in my garb?

Sunday, 21 March 2021

Tokio Heaven

Not a miss-spelling of Tokyo, as you will see.

Here's a question: what are the key accessories that give me my typical 'look'? 

Obviously my glasses, for one thing. I've settled on oval metal lenses, the colour variable (formerly gold, but currently a raspberry-silver), and devoid of fancy decoration. 

Rings? One small silver ring on each hand

Necklaces? Most usually that flexible silver rope that looks like a slow-worm

And on my head, a hairband. Since other people tend to look at our faces and hair most of all, a hairband will get noticed - as much as glasses do, I'd say.

So there you have the key elements in my 'look'. And it's been this way for a long time. How long? I've worn glasses since the mid-1980s. The little ring on my left hand dates from 1994. The slow-worm necklace from 2008. The other ring from 2009. 

When did I start wearing a hairband? It seems forever. But no. I have ample photographic evidence to draw upon, and purchasing records, and these show that I began to wear a hairband in the middle of April 2011. That's very nearly ten years ago, of course, and ten years is a long time. My Money Diary spreadsheet for 2011 tells me that I bought a series of very inexpensive hairbands from Superdrug, Accessorize and Boots on and after 16th April 2011. 

I wonder what made me try hairbands out? I was fifty-nine then. I looked quite a bit younger than I do now, but still no spring chicken, and I must have been aware of the standard advice to avoid hairbands because they can look little-girlish, and embarrassingly inappropriate on an older woman. Well, I did exercise restraint! I wanted to make a safely adult choice. I bought bands coloured black and brown, rather than pink or yellow or lime green, and they were plain plastic bands, not ones embellished with bows, glitter, or iridescent butterflies and ponies. Nor did I buy thick bands covered in brightly-coloured fabric, which I could have considered, if I'd had the right complexion or ethnicity. But I judged that an unflamboyant paleface pushing fifty from Northern Europe had best go for something muted. Here's a picture of myself taken at home on 17th April 2011, the earliest picture I can find of myself with a hairband. 

Sigh. I've aged sadly in the last ten years! 

Here's a shot taken next day, on 18th April 2011, in Petworth Park. 

In both pictures I was wearing a black plastic hairband, and this became my standard hair accessory for many years thereafter.

Not all my friends liked me in a hairband, even a sober black one, and by August 2017 I'd let myself be persuaded that it was time to do without. It was a sacrifice that I was in all honesty not keen to make, because not only did I think hairbands suited me, I liked the feel of them on my head. It was rather comforting. (I know, like a kid's comfort blanket) And although I went bandless inside my own home, it seemed improper not to wear one on social occasions. But I was told that I'd look better, and more adult, without a hairband - although by then I was in my mid-sixties, and I couldn't believe anyone would be fooled into thinking me young, if I were sporting a hairband. And no, it didn't matter if my hair was now completely at the mercy of the wind: I was told that a wind-blown look could be sophisticated, even sexy (even though I didn't give a monkey's about looking sexy). 

No ultimatum was ever presented to me, but a convenient moment did come to Renounce The Hairband. I handed it over. And binned the rest. My friends were pleased, congratulated me on the decision, and thought me mature. I wouldn't regret it. Summer was coming. I could enjoy a whole new look. (And I'd no longer need to hide the fact that I was wearing a hairband from my hair stylist, who disapproved of them)  

Well, I tried to live without my hairband. But after a few months, I gave up. After all, all around me women of all ages were propping sunglasses up on their heads, using them just like hairbands. Hah! And women were using scrunchies and hairclips and various other hair accessories. Hah! So why did I have to do without? I began to feel just a little controlled. Anyway, I missed my old look, which I saw every time I examined my photo collection - something I did, for one reason or another, on a daily basis. 

The outcome was inevitable. It's always best to be honest, and do what your heart tells you to do. I went ahead, bought a new band, and put it on. My friends noticed straight away. Yes, I said, making no attempt to justify or explain the repurchase of the bands thrown away. Why should I? It was my look, after all. The truly adult thing was to assert my own personal style without apology. But I made one concession. I now wore a brown plastic band that you might vaguely call 'tortoiseshell'. It was agreed that this was better than black. The subject was dropped. Both sides had won!

I did make one or two attempts, unprompted, to discard wearing a hairband thereafter. And I couldn't wear one for a while after gashing my scalp in November 2019. But I returned to them. I would usually wear that fake-tortoiseshell brown plastic hairband that satisfied my friends, mainly because it didn't seem so plain and uninteresting as a black band. I wanted a change from black. I was starting to move beyond mere function. I wanted beauty too.

Then in August 2020, I had a sudden hankering for the genuine article, meaning a hand-finished tortoiseshell hairband in a better material, with a superior appearance. You may remember that I published a post on a hairband that I bought online from Crisco. This is what their medium-width (15mm) tortoiseshell hairband looked like. I was very pleased with it. 

You can see how much better the Crisco band looked, when viewed alongside the el cheapo plastic hairbands I'd been wearing hitherto. 

However, as it was a little more substantial than my older bands, and as I don't have the thick hair of a younger head, it tended to shift out of position quite easily. After a while, I went back an old drab plastic band simply because it stayed put - not without a pang, because the Crisco band was definitely a most attractive thing to wear.

But having experienced a luxury hairband, it was unsatisfying to be without one. In the months that followed I looked on Etsy and in other online places, to see what I could buy. But at first I didn't see anything to compare with the Crisco band. 

Incidentally, I wasn't trying to buy a duplicate. I wanted a wider band, which would have more surface area, and (I reckoned) would be more secure on my head, and yet without exerting unwanted pressure. Finally, I found what I wanted three days ago. The chosen online retailer was Tegen Accessories, who just happened to trade from Brighton, not a million miles away from me. They had a whole collection of bands that caught my attention. But my first purchase would have to be another tortoiseshell band, like the Crisco one. Tegen called their version 'Dark Tokio'. It was a full 20mm wide. Too wide? I didn't want it to be over-prominent. Well, I decided to be daring, order one, and take a chance. 

It arrived next day. It was most prettily packaged. Inside the delivery box was green tissue paper, and inside that was a yellow cotton bag with pink drawstrings. Inside that was a truly beautiful object, according to Tegen handmade in France. 

Made out of cellulose acetate, it was extremely well-finished, and completely smooth to the touch. Definitely a luxury item. It begged to be worn at once, so I obliged, not even waiting to put some lipstick on.

Now with lips done...

It was a perfect fit for my head (and I'm no pinhead), very comfortable, and although of course wider than all my previous bands, it didn't seem especially prominent from the front. So it didn't look as if I were wearing some kind of regal tiara. 

The nature of the material meant that as I wore it, the heat from my head (presumably from a powerful throbbing brain) made it soften a little, aiding comfort, but this didn't go so far as to make it feel loose. Afterwards, when home again, and removed from the Melford tête, the band cooled back into something closer to its original shape and springiness.  

And guess what? Within a day I'd ordered another hairband from Tegen, this time in 'White Tokio', which will be a lighter-coloured band for bright sunny days in the summer ahead. So I'll have a choice between two beautiful hairbands - depending on the occasion, my clothes, and my whim of the moment. 

These two bands weren't cheap to buy. I've spent £55-odd on them. But then this is my first expenditure for 2021 on 'clothes, shoes and accessories'. With nearly a quarter of the year already gone! In that light, it doesn't seem so much. And it's so nice to buy something new. 

So roll on the first social occasion, now that the Lockdown is gradually lifting! 

Sunday, 14 March 2021

Every woman's business

Do you sense a pivotal moment in the treatment of women by men? I do. I think that something has started. The death of Sarah Everard might have been only the newest of a very long line of violent female deaths at the hands of men. The different thing, this time, is that the accused person is not only a man, but a serving policeman. One who should have been a guardian. His guilt isn't yet established by due process. But meanwhile, all women feel massively let down. Indeed, who is left to absolutely rely on, where safety in public is concerned? Who can now be unquestionably trusted?

It used to be that the police never took seriously the daily annoyances, threats and dangers that oppressed women. Things men didn't encounter. Then it seemed that police attitudes were changing a little, that old-school notions - for instance, that the things a husband might do in the home were his right, and that his wife had to comply without complaint - were on their way out, as senior officers retired or died, and younger people with newer ideas took their place. Special police teams were formed in all forces to deal sympathetically and non-judgementally with female victims of attack. That, and several other initiatives, seemed to be a reassurance to women that if the worst happened, and they were still alive, then the police would comfort them, and bring the perpetrator to justice. But now?

The thing that women want is not so much effective retribution after a serious crime has been committed. It's simple freedom from feeling threatened by men. 

No woman wants to feel tense when men are around. 

No woman wants to deal with a man on an unequal basis. 

All women want to take it for granted that there will be politeness and honesty in their contacts with men, and no physical pressure whatsoever. 

It's all about behaviour. The physical disparities between male and female bodies will never go away. It will always be the case that most men will be able to force their will on women, because most women aren't strong enough to fight them off. As a rule, any man so minded can terrorise a woman into submission. Millennia of male dominance are on his side: and for a very, very, very long time women have been conditioned to give in. This puts many women at a serious psychological disadvantage, so that a persistent man - especially a powerful man - will usually get his way. And this applies to trivial domestic matters as much as to rape. 

It's time for change. 

Is this truly my business? Speaking as an unattractive sixty-eight year old biddy whom no man is likely to notice? Surely it's primarily the concern of pretty young women? 

Well, I'd say it's the business of all women, young or old. 

There are plenty of middle-aged women, trapped in marriages they can't get out of, and having to put up with the casual cruelties of bored husbands or partners. There are plenty of elderly women stuck indoors with tyrannical, demanding retired husbands who refuse to let them leave the house, and although physical violence may not be in the mix of daily oppressions, meanness and spite and hectoring can inflict harm just the same. (This is one reason why I would never risk a relationship now: at best, I'd end up being an unpaid nurse; but just as likely I'd fall victim to a kind of emotional blackmail that would enslave me. I want to remain a free spirit, and not become a captive bird) 

As for the unwelcome attentions of strangers, I admit that women like me are much more likely to be attacked for the presumed contents of their bags, than because they stimulated uncontrolled animal desire in some psychopath. But you can't wholly discount the possibility of a Yorkshire Ripper-style mauling, someone coming up behind with a claw hammer in his hand. 

It's unlikely; and even after the latest outrage now in the news, I still feel it's unlikely. 

But even so, I am unwilling to walk the streets after dark, not without a good reason. Not in any of the quiet Sussex towns nearby, such as Lewes or Burgess Hill. Most certainly not in Brighton. I used to socialise quite a lot in Brighton, some years ago. I well remember the worry I always endured between saying goodbye to friends and reaching the sanctuary of my car. There were a lot of creepy characters about in Brighton after sunset. And at nights all cats are grey. The daytime signs of unappealing old age wouldn't save me. I'd be just another woman walking home, to a man who had been drinking and fancied some sex. Or worse, wanting to be brutal with somebody frightened to death by them, and unable to run away. 

I'd be an easy victim. I'm sure I'd freeze if attacked. I really don't think I'd fight back, as much as I'd like to kid myself that, although old, I still had the height and the heft - and the determination - to hurt my attacker, survive, and give a lucid account to the police. It wouldn't happen. And the last part - taking my account to the police - might be a bit less likely now. 

And yet it's vital that women do speak up about all crimes against them. Otherwise the old excuse - that not many violent attacks are reported, so the problem is small - will persist and prevent progress. So, yes, I would go to the police and tell them what had just happened, but without feeling it would get me anywhere. 

But it's the small things that chiefly need addressing, not only the crimes. At some point young boys realise that a girl is physically weaker and can be pushed about. That has to be pounced on and corrected before the boy gets used to his power and can justify his subsequent bad behaviour on such grounds as 'it's obviously the natural order of things' or 'it's traditional in our society' or 'my friends think it's cool to be in total control'. No wonder a woman with children, dependent on a man with attitude, finds herself particularly vulnerable. How can she run away? 

I don't hate men. I have known some gentle, caring men, my father included, who would be revolted at seeing another man abuse a woman. But then, a lot of the abuse is hidden from public view and they'd never be embarrassed by witnessing it. 

And it does seem to me that men are reluctant to intervene unless absolutely forced to. Not so much from cowardice as from psychological conditioning. The wolf pack needs to hunt together, and it's forbidden to challenge the head wolf. Hence the misbehaving boss who always gets away with it. Because none of the other men will call him out, even if they are deeply troubled. 

It takes a brave woman to do that instead. 

Tuesday, 9 March 2021

The 2021 Census

The Census takes a snapshot of the nation on Census Day, 21st March 2021, and its questions have to be answered as a matter of law - there's no choice about complying. But since the information gathered will be used to plan the future need for all kinds of public services in all parts of the country, it's difficult to see why any reasonable person wouldn't want to give the ONS (Office for National Statistics) the information it requests. I suppose there will be the usual cranks who suspect a dark motive behind the Census. I'm not one of them. 

Households will already have been sent a flyer warning them about the Census - I got one the other day. And today I got the follow-up letter that contains the access code that passports me into the online question-and-answer procedure. For it's geared up to be an online affair. You can request a paper Census form if you like, but the ONS envisage that most people will complete the Census for their household via the Internet, using a desktop computer, a laptop, a tablet, or a smartphone.

This is a first-time for doing it online. There's another innovation: you can submit answers before the 21st March if you think you can, amending them if necessary if anything changes. 

I have accordingly completed the Census for my address - and I did it today, the 9th March, on my phone. If I want to change anything between today and the 21st, I simply revisit the Census pages at, feed in my access code, and make the alteration. But I don't think there is any likelihood of that.  

This post is about my experience, including what the Census covered. 

So, phone in hand, and the letter with my access code close by, I set to. The ONS said it 'should take around 10 minutes per person to fill in', but some of the questions needed a little thought. There were expandable help boxes, though, and I didn't have any real problem. 

These were the opening screen views.

I won't show any further screenshots. The Census is of course official, and meant to be confidential. 

Having entered the access code, we were off. A long series of screens followed, usually asking a different question on each screen.

The first question quoted my address, and then asked me if it was correct. 

Then there was a warning to report how things were now, after all the effects and consequences of Covid-19, and not what they would have been if there had been no pandemic. 

Next, a request to think about who will be living at my address on Census Day, including visitors. I was asked if I usually lived at my address. Then my full name: first, middle and surname. Since I had no middle name, I wondered whether this would stop the procedure in its tracks, but all was well. Then I was asked to think about specific categories of people who might be present on Census Day, or else confirm that only myself would be at my address. The ONS rather laboured this point. The next two questions asked me to confirm, again and again, putting it in two different ways, that only myself needed to be included in the Census. Then I had to confirm a third time. Or was is the fourth? Dear me.

This finally done, we moved onto what accommodation I had at my address. What type of property, whether detached or not, whether any part was communal and shared, and how many bedrooms. Not how many in theory, but how many bedrooms were used as such. So I have two bedrooms, but one has become my study, chock-a-block with bookshelves and so forth, and unusable as a bedroom at present. So my answer on the number of bedrooms was therefore one. Next, what type of central heating, and whether I owned my home outright, only partially, or not at all. Finally, how many cars I owned.

Next, questions about me personally. Another reminder that if Covid-19 had changed my life, then my answers must reflect my situation now. Then I had to confirm my name, state my date of birth, and confirm that I was now sixty-eight. Next: was I male or female? (There was a note that 'gender identity' would be dealt with further on) What was my legal marital or civil partnership status? Had I married someone of the same or opposite sex? Changing tack, did I stay at another address for more than 30 days in the year? Was I a student in full-time education? What was my country of birth? What was my usual address one year ago? How would I describe my 'national identity'? What was my ethnic group in general, and in particular? My religion, if any? My main language? What passports did I have? How would I describe my general health? Did I have any physical or mental illnesses expected to last more then twelve months? Was I a carer of someone with a physical or mental issue, or who was elderly? How would I best describe my sexual orientation? Was the gender I identified with the same as the sex registered at birth? What qualifications did I have? Specifically, a completed apprenticeship? A degree or better? An NVQ or equivalent? An A Level or equivalent? My lower-level qualifications? Did I use to serve in the armed forces? My employment status in the last seven days, or if not employed, what was I doing? Had I been looking for paid work during the last four weeks? During the last seven days, was I waiting to start a job already accepted? Had I ever done any paid work? What the employment status in my last main job, who was I working for, what was my job title, what did I do, and what was the nature of my employer's business activity? Did I supervise other workers? 

The questions on religion, sexual orientation and gender identity were voluntary, and not compulsory. I still answered them. Why ever not?

That was the end of it. I submitted the form. I'd (voluntarily) given the ONS my email address, and got an instant email acknowledgement. And I think that will be the end of the story, unless they want to query any of my answers.

Verdict: I think the online method is much superior to the paper form method. Certainly less daunting. The questions were clearly phrased, and difficult to misinterpret. None of them appeared to be 'trick' questions. One or two questions had to be carefully considered, but I was not stuck at any point. I didn't need to break off and hunt for old papers, for instance. The repeated questions at the start about who might be living or visiting my home address on Census Day were a trifle aggravating, but I do see that the ONS had to have watertight assurance on this, so that nobody slipped through the net. 

I didn't feel there was anything terribly controversial in this Census. It's obvious that nationality, ethnicity, sex, gender and education need to be covered. I was a little surprised that so little was asked about health. Nothing about diet, weight, fitness, drinking, smoking and drugs, for example.  Perhaps reliable figures were available by other means, from other sources. Similarly, money issues: and again, perhaps accurate statistics were available elsewhere.

Still, what about questions on personal happiness, sources of worry, reasons to be cheerful, and degree of optimism for the future?  

There's a suggestion in some quarters that this could be the last national, ten-year Census, and that in future the ONS will gather in the data it needs from a wide variety of alternative online sources. Well, maybe. In ten year's time, almost all the population will have a long-established online footprint, and it shouldn't difficult to gain insights into the various groups requiring this or that service or facility by simply trawling the Internet. 

I wonder what statistical box they will consign me to?

Reading the online help notes again, I think I was mistaken not to count my study as a second bedroom. Oh well. It seems that once submitted, the Census information can't be changed by simply going back online and re-using the access code for an edit. It's a one-time code. 

If the ONS get in touch over anything, I'll mention that I have 'two bedrooms', but otherwise I'll let this be. It's not a seriously misleading error in the grand scheme of things. 

Adventurous cooking on a cold night

'Adventurous' only in the sense that I wasn't indoors! 

I had a nice steak to cook, and, in the month or so since the electric grill on my kitchen cooker had failed, various experiments had convinced me that this steak deserved to be scorched rapidly in a proper grill, and not cooked by other means. 

I'd tried frying steaks, but although the pinkness within was preserved, the appearance wasn't the same as properly-grilled meat. I knew it wouldn't work, but I tried roasting a steak in the oven. But it merely produced roast beef, as the meat was evenly well-cooked throughout. Perfectly fine if you liked a unexciting well-done steak. But otherwise a travesty. I wanted my steak to be juicy, and both look and taste as if intense, nearby, searing heat had been directed onto it.

So it would have to be the gas grill out in the caravan. And that meant setting the caravan up beforehand. It would have to come out of its winter break six weeks early!

So I plugged it into the household mains - as it was going to be a chilly evening, I wanted warmth from the electric heater - and turned the tap on the propane gas cylinder so that I could use the cooker. It was nice to see the interior lit up with the lamps I use:

Believe me, when away on holiday, with all the stuff I take, the interior is a lot more cluttered! In particular the worktop over the fridge (bottom left of the picture above) isn't available, or only a very little of it. But I'd be able to use it all for my semi-outdoor cookery. As you can also see, my neighbours would be able to see me doing my stuff, and eating the result. I could pull down some blinds, but, just as is the case when pitched on a Club site, I like to give passers-by something to gawp at.

'Oooh look, that lady's eating her evening meal right in the front window! With all her lighting on! Nobody else does that. We certainly don't.'

And they don't. Most other caravanners seem to watch TV - and eat - in darkness or in very subdued lighting, and very few put themselves on display at night. But I do, until it gets very dark. And now, at home, I'd do the same, and if any neighbour wanted to chortle at the sight, I'd be happy to let them. As it happened, it soon got too dark for me to see whether my neighbours were staggering about, convulsed with mirth. As I saw it, I could be a welcome diversion, a lockdown attraction, doing my bit to break the endless monotony of Lockdown Life. A one-woman show. For one night only. A Caravan Covid Cookfest.

I tested that the gas was flowing well to the hob and grill. 

Yup. All systems were AOK. Thunderbirds were GO. 

Well, leaving my caravan to warm up, I got my cooking paraphernalia together in the kitchen. The caravan has its own set of pots and pans, but I wanted to use my regular kitchen equipment on this occasion. This was the steak, by the way:

As you can see, a Hereford beef steak from Waitrose, aged for 30 days. I do like this particular kind of Waitrose steak. 

Back at the caravan, things were getting cosy. I thought the lit-up interior looked distinctly warm and inviting from outside. 

Inside all was ready for cooking to commence! So I got things started. I was keeping it straightforward, nothing fancy. On the main course menu was the steak, with new potatoes, mushrooms, tomatoes, broccoli, soy sauce and English mustard. For dessert, three mandarin oranges.

I never have such space when on holiday! I was going to devour my meal in the front of the caravan, at the little pull-out table:

As an experiment, I got out my Samsung Galaxy S20+ phone Prudence, and took a couple of shots of the caravan interior with the ultra-wide lens (about 13mm in full-frame terms):

Gosh, what a lot can be shown in a really wide-angle shot! These shots have come out well, but they give a totally misleading impression of spaciousness. No wonder estate agents used to overwork a wide-angle lens on properties they were trying to sell. Believe me, in real life you can't swing a cat in my little holiday home. When I did caravanning with M--- we were constantly dancing around each other, and squeezing by at awkward moments. Intimacy was unavoidable, and apart from the tiny bathroom there was no privacy for dressing, or very personal washing, unless you rigged up a curtain across the middle of the caravan. I definitely wouldn't want to share such a small space again with anyone. Not ever. The caravan is just too small. The wardrobe for clothes certainly is! 

One thing the pictures are truthful about, though, is the very reasonable state of the caravan after so many years of touring. It's now in its fifteenth year, and it still doesn't look shabby or tatty, even if the general decor and styling belong to a past generation. I look after it, and keep it clean and well-serviced. 

The meal was coming along nicely.

It was fun cooking in the caravan! And of course, it amounted to a foretaste or prelude to my first holiday of the year, still more than a month away. In any case, I'd maintain that any cooking away from the kitchen at home is an exciting change. That's why setting up a little stove high up on the South Downs on a frosty morning, to sizzle sausages with, has such appeal, no matter how cold it might be! 

It didn't take long to finish cooking and arrange the food on my plate. I remembered to set the little Leica up, and take a selfie with the self-timer. As you can see, I hadn't dressed for dinner!

The meal was delicious. Mind you, there was all this to wash up afterwards...

Hey ho. The steak had been very good. And after all, cooking it to perfection was the entire point of being outside in the caravan on a cold night in early March!