Lentil, Carrot & Onion Soup

lentil soup

This is another of my favourite soup recipes, very warming, very filling, and very moorish.  Best served with some good hunks of fresh wholemeal bread.

Serves 2-3


  • 1 onion (corsely chopped)
  • 1 carrot (corsely grated)
  • a small sprinkling of chilli flakes
  • 250 grams (1 cup) split red lentils
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 750ml (3 cups) vegetable stock


  • Fry the chopped onion in a little oil/butter to soften until just turning golden.
  • Add the spices, the carrot, hot stock, and lentils, and stir well.
  • Put the lid on, and keep it on (otherwise you’ll need to add up to a litre more of water)
  • Bring to the boil, and then reduce to a simmer for around 10-15 minutes
  • Enjoy!

Other variations:

For a creamier soup (now my preferred taste), after cooking, put about half the hot soup in a blender (or a large bowl for one of those hand blender things), and process to a smooth liquid.  Then put this back in with the chunkier soup mix, and enjoy 🙂

The tipping point, how a £2.59 gift can lead to £3,520.00 of new business

One of the businesses I’m involved with is Hotel de Vie: a small boutique style hotel, of just 8 en-suite rooms.

Obviously I’ve taken countless steps to try and ensure we provide the best accommodation we can provide (and just last week, it finally took it’s rightful place as the number 1 guest accommodation in the Farnham area, according to the independent review website TripAdvisor.)

The hotel already provides various things for free, that many other hotels charge a premium for, ie a range of snacks, chocolates, fruits, fruit juices, yogurts, cheeses, biscuits, mineral waters, broadband WiFi, toiletries, freshly cooked breakfasts, etc.

I’m also very fortunate (after much selection and training) to have some really great staff who treat each guest as an individual (ie not just another room booking), they’re also always professional, and friendly at the same time, and of course great at their job.

We already have a good working relationship with a local taxi firm (they are our default choice of recommendations for all our guests).

We also have one of our regular guests (who’d stayed at virtually every other hotel in the area, before finding us, and now stays with us whenever she’s in the area), who also had a good relationship with this taxi firm prior to staying with us too.

This particular guest made a mention to me, during her last stay some months earlier, how she particularly enjoyed one of our organic teas.  So when re-ordering, I added an extra box of tea for her (costing me £2.59).

She came and stayed with us again in early September for a couple of days, and I’m sure that the ‘thoughtful gesture of her favourite tea’ (that she’s also not been able to find herself) encouraged her to share her happiness about the hotel, with the taxi driver again.

This same day, the same driver was picking up one of his other longer term international clients (who’s been visiting the area on and off for years).  That particular guest was complaining that morning about his current accommodation to the taxi firm, who I’m sure prompted by this conversation with our other regular guest, recommended my hotel…

A couple of phone calls later, and that guest was booked in to stay for nearly one and a half months, for over £3,500 of new business to the hotel!

There are countless fables and stories about ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’,  ‘the mouse and the giant turnip’, etc.  In the hotel’s case.. it was a box of tea!

The hotel has also just experienced it’s busiest month since taking over 13 months ago, and it’s busiest week yet (and there’s not even a major event going on in the area!)

The Kama Sutra Hindu 64 Arts – Modern Day UK equivalents?

I was fortunate to find a book that was pretty life changing for me many years ago. This is not the picture book version, but the ‘Penguin Popular Classic’ which is entirely a text based version!

I didn’t get all that far through the book the first time around, as I was distracted by the pages referring to a the ’64 Arts’ which apparently should be studied in conjunction with the rest of the book (the traditional Hindu Arts).

Although these original arts are a bit different to the culture I was growing up in, I figured that the an equivalent I could work out, would probably be good to try and develop for myself over the subsequent years.

So the original arts (with what I see as many of their modern equivalents where appropriate) are as follows (I can’t do all of these yet, but they were a base for me to look out from and head towards):

  1. Singing
  2. Playing musical instruments
  3. Dancing – Salsa, ballroom, pole
  4. Performance combining the above
  5. Writing and drawing
  6. Tattooing
  7. Adorning an idol with rice and flowers – Floristry and flower arranging ?
  8. Spreading and arranging of bed of flowers, or flowers upon the ground
  9. Colouring the teeth, clothing, hair, nails and bodies – body painting and hair styling
  10. Fixed stained glass into the floor – mosaics
  11. The art of making beds – hotel housekeeping
  12. Playing musical glasses partially filled with water
  13. Storing and accumulating water, aqueducts, etc. – household plumbing
  14. Picture making – modern day photography
  15. Stringing of necklaces and garlands –
  16. Binding of turbans and chaplets –
  17. Scenic representation /stage play – Amateur Dramatics?
  18. Art of making ear ornaments –
  19. Preparing perfumes –
  20. Proper disposition of jewels and decorations in dress – fashion accessories
  21. Magic or sorcery – stage magic and slight of hand
  22. Quickness and dexterity in manual skill – computer typing speed.
  23. Culinary art – cooking and baking
  24. Making lemonades, acidulated drinks – smoothies, cocktails and fruit drinks
  25. Tailors work and sewing – same today (including curtain making)
  26. Making parrots and other decorative items out of yarn or thread – cross stitching
  27. Solutions of riddles and verbal puzzles – same today (+ debating contests)
  28. Connected stories game – Modern day politics or sales
  29. Mimicry or imitation – acting and imitation
  30. Reading, including chanting and intoning – public speaking / corporate training
  31. Tongue twisters
  32. Sword, quarterstaff, bow and arrow – martial arts
  33. Drawing inferences, reasoning and inferring – psychotherapy and counselling
  34. Carpentry – carpentry and furniture building (both flat pack and from scratch)
  35. Architecture or the art of building – build your own home and/or house extension
  36. Knowledge about gold silver and gems – same
  37. Chemistry and mineralogy – same
  38. Colouring jewels, gems and beads
  39. Knowledge of mines and quarries
  40. Gardening – gardening and tree surgery
  41. Cockfighting, quail fighting and ram fighting – boxing or martial art tournaments
  42. Teaching parrots or starlings to speak – dog and horse whispering
  43. Applying perfumes to the body
  44. Writing of cipher – code writing and code breaking / computer programming
  45. Modifying speech in abstract ways
  46. Knowledge of languages – speaking foreign languages
  47. Making flower carriages
  48. Spells and charms – Spells and witchcraft
  49. Memory and mental exercises – brain challenges and IQ tests
  50. Composing poems
  51. Knowledge of dictionaries and vocabularies – well read and well spoken
  52. Knowledge of disguising people
  53. The ability to change cheaper items to appear as of a higher value (ie cotton to silk, etc.)
  54. Gambling – gambling and stock market share dealing
  55. Art of mantras or incarnations to gaining possession of others’ property – positive thinking and witchcraft
  56. Skill in youthful sports – sports and athletics
  57. Knowledge of the rules of society, and paying respects and compliments to others – well mannered, respectful to all, and ability to give genuine compliments
  58. Knowledge of the art of war, armies, etc – military service (paid, part time, or voluntary)
  59. Knowledge of gymnastics – modern day gymnastics
  60. Knowing someone’s character by their features – personology, face reading and body language
  61. Knowledge of scanning and constructing verses – speed reading and writing
  62. Arithmetical recreations – maths challenges / chess
  63. Making artificial flowers
  64. Making figures and images in clay – pottery and sculpture

Particularly where I couldn’t work out a modern UK equivalent, I also felt there was a few modern day skills not included in the above list, but useful in the UK Society I lived and grew up:

  1. Sailing and navigating on water
  2. Ship building
  3. Plastering a wall
  4. Painting and Decorating
  5. Household rewiring
  6. Massage therapies
  7. Hypnotherapy & Hypnosis
  8. Meditation
  9. Anatomy and physiology
  10. Website design and development
  11. IT software skills (ie Windows, Linux, Mac)
  12. IT hardware skills (repairing / rebuilding your computer hardware)
  13. Sales skills
  14. Presentation skills / after dinner speeches
  15. Voluntary work with children
  16. Movie making / directing
  17. Advanced driver training
  18. Skills in piloting a plane  (ie private pilots licence, or gliding certificate)
  19. Sustainable living / renewable energies
  20. Growing your own fruit and veg
  21. Survival skills (remote living)
  22. Surfing
  23. Rock Climbing / Urban Free Running
  24. Car mechanics and repair
  25. Swimming
  26. Scuba diving
  27. High Board Diving

Your thoughts?

Students must be getting more stupid!

I was surprised to see two bags of rubbish, by our locked commercial bins, outside the hotel this morning.  This area is monitored by security cameras anyway, but I thought it’d be good to investigate and see who the owner of the rubbish is.

It didn’t take long.. within a minute I’d found a car recovery report (with their basic vehicle and contact details), a few other interesting things about their purchase history, interests, etc (ie what size clothes, where they shop, how much they spend).  They hadn’t gone to any trouble separating anything (ie paper, mixed with plastic, etc.)

And then most usefully of all, I discovered a completed application form for a local job! (which must have been a practise completion).. this contained not only their full name and address, but their NI number, telephone numbers, their work history, references, etc..

I walked the few minutes up the road, to returned the two plastic sacks to their address.  Unfortunately they weren’t in, so I’ve needed to just leave them out outside their front door with a page of their application form fixed on top!

I’ve also reported the incident to the local council, so they should get a nice letter in the post soon too, and potentially an £80 fine for fly tipping!

This person is a Uni graduate, they have free doorstep collection of their general waste, so why dump it outside our hotel, on private land, especially with so much personal information so clearly contained!