I am a Graze-er

Something rather wonderful happened this morning: a box of nuts dropped through my letterbox. I know! Every squirrel’s fantasy, right? (Well, one of them anyway…)

Thanks to my very lovely friend Katie Chappelle, who gave me a discount code, I had my wench Kaff order me a selection nibblebox from the lovely people at Graze and it arrived today. There was a bit of a hairy moment when Kaff came downstairs to make a drink and I thought she might find me and the post, as I was sorting out hers from mine. Happily, she didn’t seem to notice the box which I cleverly hid just in time. (Can you see it in the pic? I thought not. Clever use of table and my top for camouflage, no?)

I patiently twiddled my paws until she’d made a drink and fed Tux (The evil Cat I live with) and eventually she went back to her office to tippity-tap the day away. Leaving me free to open up my box and have a look at what I’d been sent… Early disappointment when I spied the words ‘Bear Necessities’. Surely the good people at Graze would have known that a package going to The Nut Press was squirrel-bound and squirrels and bears are mortal enemies? S’okay though because I gave that tray to Kaff and told her it was to show her how much I loved her that I was sharing. Tee hee! I think she bought it.

I started off with Sticky Choccy Pudding, as I always believe in eating dessert first, just in case my mealtime gets interrupted. No nuts in it but the chocolate buttons and raisins were yum. Much less keen on Bento Mix, they were super hot and spicy and a little too much for this little chap. And then, last but by no means least, I nibbled on some Golden Honey Nut Hazels. They were super scrummy – I could happily have munched on those all day long and hope to get those again. I’m very happy with my first Graze box and am looking forward to next week’s already. I wonder what’ll be in it…

Graze posts personalised boxes of healthy snacks to your home or desk on a weekly basis. To find out more, visit Graze.com.

Let me eat cake!

Kaff’s been promising me some cake and ice cream for the past week, so I was overjoyed when she finally delivered and brought this little beauty home.

Coffee and Walnut cake.

Yum!

Now it might surprise you to know this (me being a squirrel and all) but I’m not a huge fan of walnuts. They’re a bit meh on the grand scale of nuts. I just don’t rate them on their own merit. However, when they’re paired with some grapes (preferably not red ones) they make a lovely afternoon snackette. But oh! when they’re sprinkled heavily on a cake with buttercream icing or on this splendid coffee concoction, those woeful walnuts come into their own and send my tastebuds soaring to the treetops – and it’s been a long time since any part of me last saw the top of a tree.

Now if you’ll excuse me, this cake needs my undivided attention… It’d go lovely with some ice cream, don’t you think? Wench, we-ennnnch.

Like Squirrels to Nuts

Apart from my brief sojourn to the Scottish Highlands, I am mostly staycationing this year, so another beautiful Sunday afternoon found me out on the patio with a picnic and a terrific book, Like Bees to Honey by Caroline Smailes. (Lovely lady, if you’re reading this, any chance of a sequel, Like Squirrels to Nuts?)

Of course, just because I am only out on the patio, it doesn’t mean to say that standards need to drop. I hauled out my indoor hammock (no, Kaff still hasn’t got me a groovy outside one), picnic blanket, a hamper of nuts which was very heavy but happily, quite a bit lighter when I brought it back inside, and a lovely bottle of something cool and pale. I wish I could say it was the Cisk beer featured in Caroline’s book but it wasn’t. I had to settle for a bottle of Dalwhinnie instead.

My shades and sun hat are very important – I don’t want to end up a red squirrel, after all – so I made sure to take those with me on the first trip out to the patio. (I am only a little squirrel and had no help shifting everything, so it took a couple of trips.) However, when I finally had everything around me, I kicked off my sandals, and read for a while.

Caroline Smailes is a lovely, very clever lady and a top writer. I’ve been to a lot of islands but haven’t been to Malta, yet she described it so well that I feel as if I’ve been there this afternoon. I had taken my iPOD outside with me as well, but I didn’t need it, I was so engrossed in her book. If you want to find out more about it, Kaff did a review on her blog The Nut Press. (She should have been writing my book, The Adventures of Squizzey, but instead read Caroline’s and then wrote about it. I think that’s a little naughty but Caroline’s so lovely, I don’t mind too much, I suppose.)

All in all, it was one of those lovely, restful paws-up afternoons that a busy International celebrity squirrel like me doesn’t get very often. I enjoyed it immensely. How did you spend your weekend?

Happy Easter!

I am so incredibly happy and beside myself with good thoughts aimed in the direction of my bestest mate in all the world. Yes, Kaff, I mean YOU! I actually do mean it this time as well and I said that with a straight face. (Okay, slight manic grin but I am sooooooooo happy.) Just look what a stupendously nutty Easter Egg the lovely Kaff found for me and my crew this year. (Between you and me, I ain’t sharing it with them!) While it is from every little helps Tesco, they do seem to know what makes their squirrel customers tick so I’ll let them off just this once, given it’s a holiday weekend and all. Those are whole nuts – almonds, brazil nuts and hazelnuts – actually melted into the dark chocolate shell. And it gets better, because not only is it a chocolate shell, but that chocolate is Belgian Milk Chocolate. I am in squirrel heaven. I have seriously never had such a brilliant Easter Egg before and I am going to now go and attack this with the gusto it truly deserves.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday weekend, however you celebrate it.

Luv ‘n’ nuts,

Squizz x

South Chocolate Bank

When my mate Kaff got me up at stupid o’clock yesterday morning, I did wonder if the time had perhaps come to end our albeit immensely rewarding relationship. Not only did she get me up very, very early in the morning when most self-respecting squirrels – and even some of us reprobates – are heading to our hammocks, but she also told me we were going to London for the day. Yes, yes, I know. Wildly exciting and the place-to-be and all that congestion-charging traffic to dodge but really folks… I’ve lived there, I’ve done London like an American tourist could only dream of doing it, I’m an old squirrel and, quite frankly, not only do I have the t-shirt but I have the jumper as well (see picture if you don’t believe me).

Still, days out with Kaff are almost always fun and they usually involve road snacks, which are not the same as road kill, in case that’s what you were thinking. One of Kaff’s better (only?) qualities is that she is happily very squirrel-friendly. No, road snacks means chocolate or nuts, and sometimes both combined in a deliciously-wrapped but easy to open package.

The beginning of the trip started off at Victoria train station. I know what you’re thinking, less than auspicious. My thoughts, too, until we bumped into Kaff’s very lovely Swedish friend, Catti and her colleague. Apparently, that’s why we were there. Kaff and Catti (which is Swedish for Kaff – I don’t know why she picks friends with the same name as herself but she will insist on doing so and it is confusing, trust me) hadn’t seen each other for 7 years. Can’t really be that great friends then, if you ask me, but Kaff insists it might have something to do with the fact that they live in different countries and she isn’t a fabulously successful writer who can afford to jet around seeing her bessie mates yet. I told her, she shouldn’t be gallivanting about in London but perhaps ought to stay home and finish my decalogy of books. That’s when she zipped up the bag I was traveling in and wouldn’t talk to me for a while. Some people just don’t like hearing the truth.

So, she did let me out at lunchtime and we had a very pleasant, enjoyable time with Catti and colleague in benugo at the BFI on the South Bank but it was sadly over all too soon and we saw them off into a taxi so they could catch their flight home. But, en route to finding a taxi, Kaff and I stumbled across something rather wonderful – a Chocolate Festival! Yes, stall after stall of chocolate (and a goodly proportion of nutty) goodies. It was just the thing to wander around until it was time for us to wend our way homeward. We met up with a Twitter friend, the lovely @marmadale from Rococo Chocolates. This was brilliant because we’d only recently been unable to make it down to London for a chocolate tasting at Rococo when it fell on a school night. We made up for this by stocking up on some goodies and both Kaff and I love their Scorched Almonds and Scorched Hazelnuts – absolutely delish. (I have to say that neither of us were that sold on the Earl Grey chocolate though. Kaff drinks EG tea but doesn’t think the mix with chocolate was great.) We also made new friends and discovered some amaretto chocolates, which were sadly a bit bleh due to the low cocoa content choc used. I was so disappointed with those – amaretto is, after all, my favourite tipple. However, we also found some lovely nutty chocolate from the fine folks at Artisan du Chocolat – they gave us a selection which were super-yummy.

As you can see from the picture, Kaff made sure that I brought home a fair stash of goodies for me and the crew and they all went down very well, and very quickly. I wonder where my next nuts are coming from…

Sid’s birthday blueberries

This is Sid, our local squirrel from the woods out back. It’s not really his birthday today, at least, I don’t think it is. He’s a bit of a strong, silent type is Sid, so I’m not sure he’d tell me if it were his birthday, to be honest. However, seeing how excited he got about the little feast I laid out on the patio for him today anyone would think that it was. He practically swung his way through the trees and couldn’t get here fast enough for not only were there the usual peanuts and seed mix that we’ve been putting out for most of the winter for him – see? NO, birdies, it actually wasn’t for you, but luckily, Sid is a caring, sharing type and didn’t mind too much that you saw fit to swoop in and half-inch quite a lot of his winter feed – but there were also some blueberries that Kaff had bought and promptly forgotten about when they were pushed to the back of the fridge never to be seen again until they were all wrinkly and inedible.

Sid’s birthday, like I said. He loved them. All I hope for our shopping budget is that he sees it as a one-off treat and doesn’t come tapping on the window expecting them again. Just saying.

All roads lead to Chocolate

Today has got to have been one of my favourite days of the year because I spent it with some of my all-time favourite people in the totally chocolate-covered land that is Cadbury World. Yum diddley scrumptiousness all day long!

The day started early which is not how I like them to go but Kaff let me sleep in the car because she had her paws full looking after her youngest niece, Tegan, who was coming with us. Tegan is fab – a lot of fun and very smart and super-friendly and she loves me so hey, what’s not to like about the kid? It was a very long car journey or so it seemed to both me and Tegan. We did stop on the way for a comfort break and to stretch our paws but eventually we pulled up outside the purple paradise that is Cadbury World in Bournville, just outside Birmingham. There we met up with Joyce from the Lake District and some of her friends and went on the Cadbury tour. It was absolutely brilliant and being so near to Christmas there were lots of fun extra things to see and do as well. My highlights include: getting my piccie taken with Santa (nice sleigh and reindeer, mate!), going for a ride on the Bean Car through Beanland and getting my pic taken again (I am very photogenic), having some elves play Christmas carols on handbells to us, and sampling some of Cadbury’s product range. Yes, you go on the tour and they give you FREE chocolate. We stocked up in the shop before coming home so I have a replenished nut stash which is always good. What a fun day out and it’s put me right in the Christmas spirit. Perfect timing!

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween Everyone!

Given that I love Autumn as a season, it’s probably no great surprise that Halloween would be a favourite event in the calendar.  Another excuse, as if any self-respecting squirrel needs one, to roast some chestnuts and curl up in front of the glow of a pumpkin lantern and happily chomp away.

I’m planning on dressing up as a vampire squirrel this year and I’m hoping to get my fangs into the sweet white flesh of some virgin… coconut.  Mwuhahah!

This pic of me is an old one, but a goodie nonetheless.  It was taken in 2002 when I was on my American tour – hence the stars-and-stripes jumper I’m wearing.

I wish you all a Happy Halloween and more treats than tricks this year!

“Chestnuts roasting in a fan oven…”

Clutching his chestnuts

…doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, does it? But sadly, we don’t have an open fire, and the wench told me she didn’t think roasting chestnuts over candles would really (a) work or (b) be that safe or sensible. She’s such a spoilsport. Ho hum.

Keep the chestnut fires burning

Anyway, despite the fact that they weren’t roasted over a fire like the one in Umbria (see fire piccie), they tasted pretty good for the first chestnuts of the year and at least I didn’t singe my nose foraging. That Umbrian fire was pretty fiercely hot even towards the end of the evening. Ouch! Still, it is our scars and imperfections that make us interesting and memorable to other people.

I love Autumn. Plenty of crispy funky-coloured leaves to scamper through that make a cool rustling sound, an abundance of nuts in the shops (saves precious foraging time and frees me up to do other more important things), lots of (squirrel) grey skies and a slight nip in the air, putting some colour in my cute little cheeks and a sparkle in my devilishly handsome eyes.

Flakes of almond

You know there was a time when I thought that peanuts were my favourite nut of all time but now I have to admit to no longer being sure that this is the case. Of course, there will always be room in my nut dispenser and a special place in my tummy for M&S Belgian Chocolate Coated peanuts but recently a different nut has been climbing the chart of Squizzey’s all-time faves.  My wench, Kaff, recently embarked on a health kick and this seems to involve consuming an inordinate number of nuts. Oh, I’m not complaining. Not much anyway. After all, for once, the cupboards are stocked with nuts, so when I scamper into the kitchen, I can always find something to snack on. This is fab. It would be better if she didn’t eat any and left them all for me  but then I don’t suppose that’s a realistic expectation and I will have to – what do humans call it? Oh yeah – ‘share’ my nuts with her. There are plenty to choose from – walnuts, pine nuts, pecans and almonds. I know! Four different nut varieties. I feel truly blessed at the moment. And my fave? Well, I hate walnuts, so the wench can happily have those all to herself. But I do love me some almonds, especially almond slivers roasted in the oven. They are my absolute fave. Wafer-thin, lightly toasted, hot out of the oven. Mmm. Squirrel ecstasy. And they’re such versatile nuts – super-tasty on wholemeal waffles along with a dollop of natural yoghurt and some blueberries or sprinkled over an asian chicken salad with plum sauce dressing. Oooh! I am salivating just thinking about that and I only just had it at lunchtime. Let’s hear it for the humble almond, people.