Random Londoness

I’m sitting the Life in the UK test next week, so I can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (basically, permanent residency). I have to renew my Australian passport before applying for the new stamp because I’ve run out of pages, so I went to the Post Office this morning. I was served by an amusingly grumpy woman who spent most of her time grumbling about previous customers to her colleagues or trying to sell customers a Post Office visa card (“it’ll only take three minutes” – what a sound approach to financial planning). The fingernail of her little finger on her left hand was painted a deep blood red, and was a good ten centimetres long, a half-circle’s worth curving over her keyboard. Squick.
Today I saw a man in purple leggings and a pink elf/fairy dress waiting in the ATM queue. No-one gave him a second glance, except to check out the fake hooked hand he was holding. Yay for big cities.
I’m going to an event at Lord’s Cricket Ground soon, and I went to the journeyplanner to look for directions. For some reason all the journey times were coming out as two hours or so, which didn’t make sense – until I checked the details and saw it was sending me to ‘Harlington Tandoori’. I have no idea what computer weirdness linked the two.

The top 100 travel sites?

From the Times Travel site, 100 best travel websites including Best for holiday bargains (cheap flights, insurance, etc) or Top-value rooms; Road, rail, ferry, cruise (including the fabulous www.transportdirect.info, seat61 (how to get anywhere by rail), deutsche bahn (train timetables across Europe)); Specialist travel (“Cook, dance, trek, surf, paint, go single or go green – these sites will guide and inspire, plus there’s some great tips for travellers embarking on a gap year adventure”) and Travel 2.0 (news and tips from other travellers, but see also Inside info).

Letter to the Editor of the decade

In The Age, The bigotry and cynicism that has diminished us all:

When governments use racism and bigotry as cynical tools to get elected, it rubs off on the community and diminishes us all. For all their faults, Paul Keating and Malcolm Fraser never resorted to racist epithets to get elected. John Howard’s win-at-all-costs mentality has unleashed xenophobia and racism in the electorate. The targeting of a religious minority has obviously given him power and it is smart politics, historically used so well by the Nazis.
I always thought our politicians were meant to be enlightened and compassionate. Howard and the current Federal Government have, alas, shown us the opposite is true.

Beetroot sorbet

I’m posting this recipe so I can find it again.

I know, I know, this sounds disgusting. Mrs Perfect Housewife’s mother brought me back the recipe from South Africa, so I felt duty-bound to go through the motions. I quite expected it to end up in the bin, but it is a delight – not only is the colour sensational, but it tastes brilliant and is easy as can be to make, even without an ice-cream machine. It’s good with strawberries (although the colours clash dreadfully), but it is better with stewed blackcurrants.
1kg beetroot
400ml apple juice (cloudy and dry, if possible)
200g caster sugar
1 lemon, juiced
100ml double cream
Salt and pepper
Give the beetroot a cursory wash, then put them, whole and unpeeled, in a pan of water. Set the pan on a high heat, bring up to a boil and cook until tender – this could take anything from 30 minutes to an hour-plus, depending on the size of the beetroot. When they are cooked, drain off the water and leave them to cool. Once cool, peel and cut into rough chunks.
Put the apple juice, sugar and lemon juice into a small pan, heat gently until the sugar dissolves, then set aside to cool.
When the beetroot and syrup are cold, tip both into a blender along with the cream, then season Рbe bold with the pepper, because its heat will balance the overall sweetness. Whizz to a pur̩e, then pass through a fine sieve and pour into a flattish container.
Cover and place in the freezer for six or so hours, taking it out three or four times to whisk, either with a fork or an electric beater. Alternatively, just follow the instructions on your ice-cream machine. Remove from the freezer half an hour or so before serving