Day in the life of…

So, while flipping back through my facebook posts searching for something unrelated, I thought I would put together a little montage of snippets from the last 6 months of my life for all my readers out there.

I realise most of my blog followers are also friends of mine on facebook, so this will be boring and meaningless for them (they get to enjoy my awesomeness on a regular basis via my facebook posts, and often also in person), but for those of you out there who follow my blog and don’t know me in person, or are not friends with me on facebook, (and assuming you are interested), here’s a little bit more of what it’s like in my head, and in my life, in short, bitesized chunks…

2nd June 2015

A day in the life of Maya (abridged version):

1) Woke up, went to work, decided it was far too early to read any stories about mass graves, and selectively deleted those emails, thus maintaining my cheery disposition a bit longer (ignorance is a beautiful thing sometimes).
2) Went to a cash for work payout and met not one, but two beneficiaries called Saddam Hussein.
3) Reflected that names such as Saddam Hussein will no doubt be significantly less popular these days, and will probably soon be extinct, along with names such as Barry and Clive….
4) Started what will no doubt be an endless cycle of edits to a document I am co-writing with an American, in which we both continue to change the spelling of “labourer/laborer”.
5) Felt guilty that I failed to do my daily 7-minute workout, managed to counter-balance it by actively not having a cornetto after dinner. Felt so proud of my self-control I rewarded myself with a gin and tonic. Dieting in Maya’s world is an extremely complex process…

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Taking food from the homeless

So a few days ago, I took 2 sandwiches from a homeless guy.
Here’s why.

I was walking to Sainsbury’s and this guy was sat outside. It was only 7pm and already only 2 degrees (it got down to -5 overnight). While I was fiddling about getting some change out of my bag, I got chatting to him, and asked if he was able to get to a shelter for the night, as it was so cold.
He told me he didn’t go to the shelter anymore, as there are a lot of bullies there who pick on him, and he showed me the gap where his front tooth used to be, which got knocked out last time he stayed at the shelter. He also informed me glumly that with the new government cutbacks it didn’t look like the shelter would be around for much longer.

As I was headed into the supermarket anyway, I asked him if, in addition to the spare change I had given him, I could also buy him a sandwich or something to eat?
He laughed and with an extremely wry smile pointed to a Sainsbury’s bag next to him, which was full of sandwiches. Apparently loads of people had given him sandwiches, all of which were reduced and would go off tomorrow, and he didn’t think he could face eating another sandwich.
I asked him if there was something else he’d rather have instead, and he said what he’d really love was a sausage roll or a steak slice.

So I bought him one of each, (although was gutted I couldn’t heat them up for him!) and as I gave them to him, he insisted I take some of his sandwiches, as they’d only go in the bin, cos he couldn’t eat them all before they went off, and anyway he didn’t like half of the ones he was given.
Naturally I said I couldn’t possibly take his food, and he looked really sad, and said no-one would take them, he’d been offering them to people all day, and then he said “I swear they’re perfectly all right. I know I’m homeless, but I’m not contagious or anything, and still no-one’ll touch em. They’re all still in their packets and everything.”

Poor man looked so sad that no-one would touch anything from him, so of course I took the sandwiches!
My flatmate and I got a free lunch, and I was once again reminded of why it’s so much better to always give people in need cash rather than in-kind goods – whether overseas or here at home. So much better if he could have chosen for himself what he’d like to eat, instead of being constantly given reduced, about-to-go-off, tuna sandwiches, day in, day out.
It was a perfect example of what I do most of the time in my current job – working on convincing people that it’s better to give cash rather than food!

Next time I’ll just give him the money and offer to watch his stuff while he goes and shops for himself.


Smoked Mackerel Pate

On a recent weekend to visit my mum, I was able to steal her amazing recipe for Smoked Mackerel Pate. Honestly it’s so delicious, and so stupidly easy to make, it’s ri-donk-culous.

Here it is, about to make it to the big time!

You’ll need:

  • 1 packet of smoked mackerel (we like the type with peppercorns, but it doesn’t matter much). Make sure you remove the skin from the fillets!
  • 1 regular tub of Philadelphia cream cheese (or equivalent) – you can also use the light version if you want it to be lower fat.
  • 1-2 fresh lemons
  • 2 teaspoons of creamy horseradish
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • A food processor

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Death vs Taxes

I have been grappling with my tax situation for months, and occasionally sharing my pain and frustration via facebook, so I thought I would chart the horrific atrocities of both HMRC and my irritating employer in full here so that you can all feel my pain and share the burden of horror from the beginning.

I’ll be having tax-related nightmares for weeks, and may also require therapy at some point. And if it’s a choice between death or taxes right now, then point me to the nearest cliff…

It all started in the middle of last year….

2nd September 2015

You know that thing where you work overseas for almost 2 years, and a month before you come home your employer realises you should have been registered as non-tax resident in order to reclaim all your tax? So you fill in all the forms, discover you have to also do a tax return and start the excruciating process of registering online for a self-assessment form.

Then you get stuck, cos you need a special number to register online, but you can’t get one, as it has to be posted to you, and they think you still live overseas and so they keep posting things to Iraq and the Philippines.

You keep calling them to tell them you’ve moved back home, and they tell you that you’ll need to do a tax return, but they can’t seem to fix your address glitch on their system and of course they can’t possibly just give you the damn reference number over the phone …. And after spending more than an hour on hold on three separate numbers before they refer you back to the first number you called, you just start to weep while bashing your head repeatedly against the desk.
Yeah, that.

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Thai Red Lentil Soup

This is one of my all-time favourite soups – it’s easy to make, hearty and delicious.

The recipe belongs to Ottolenghi, and was one of his recipes featured in the New Vegetarian range – which I tore out of the magazine and have kept lovingly in a binder where it gets a little more creased and stained every time I make this! I’ve pretty much copied out his recipe here word for word, so credit where credit is due, but I’ve added a few of my own notes here or there.


(yes, I stole this picture from the Ottolenghi article, no, my bowls are not this fancy).

You’ll need:

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