Pebby, the giver of hamster kisses

Category: , By panda_eyed

This is Pebby, a Campbell's Russian dwarf hamster. Pebby kept me entertained and gave me lots of tiny furry cuddles from November 2004-Christmas 2005, before I took little Boris and 'Tache from Sez. I know a lot of people have hamsters, and I've had quite a few in my time, but I can honestly say that Pebby (originally named Pebble, naturally progressing to Pebby) was different. I realised that I'd never blogged about him, and that's a shame, because he was such a special, loving little thing.

I know you'll probably be thinking, "What the hell has Pandy been smoking? It's a hamster for crying out loud, how special could it be?!" Give me a moment and I'll tell you why.

Most hamsters are shy by nature and can't really be called tame. But Pebby was different. He was so tame that he was almost a puppy. In fact, I'm sure he thought he was! In the pet shop choosing which hamster to take home, I couldn't possibly pick one out. Which of these was going to be Pandy's new baby? So I put my hand in the box and whilst all the other hammies shied away, a certain Pebby climbed halfway up my arm, sniffing and looking at me with curiosity. So it was decided, he was the one!

Everyone knows someone whose hamster has escaped and has spent hours looking for it. I had the same problem with my mice. I once spent 5 whole hours in the same room as one of them, trying to coax it out from under the bed. Pebby never gave me that trouble - we had an agreement. He could roam wherever he liked, for as long as he liked, as long as he came back afterwards. And you know what? He always did. Apart from one time when he fell fast asleep in the folds of a scarf in my bedroom, the silly fluffball. I remember when I first realised that he had boomerang qualities. It was in the first few weeks of our friendship and I was sitting on the floor in my bedroom reading whilst he had a little run. I had put books and boxes in front of the bed and other crevices so that he couldn't get anywhere that I wouldn't be able to scoop him out from. I was soon absorbed in the book and forgot all about him. And then I felt two little paws on my leg - Pebby standing on his hindlegs looking up at me, almost as if to say "What are you doing?". I gave him a squashed pea - one of his favourite foods (he liked to peel it and then nibble away at it) and went back to reading. The next time I looked up, he was sitting on my knee, bold as brass. From then on, there was no need to cordon off the area and he wandered about pretty much anywhere he liked because as soon as he got tired of it, he would climb up my knee or come and sit on my hand.

I think one of the reasons that Pebby became so tame was Hamster Hoops - a treat that he would do anything, and I mean ANYTHING, for. Why he loved these things so much I have no idea, but he would start going stir-crazy the minute he smelt one. This is how I trained him to give me kisses. I'd put it between my lips and he'd come and take it out. After a few times, he'd come and kiss my lips if my face was anywhere near his - just in case, in suppose! Hehe..

Hamsters usually don't like excessive human contact, but Pebby just didn't mind! He'd be sitting quietly on the table and I'd stroke him, and he'd sit as contently as anything. I'd nudge and nuzzle him with my nose, and he wouldn't even flinch. He was a tiny thing, but he gave the best cuddles.. They were furry and so so soft against my cheek :)

One of the hazards of a roaming hamster is the danger of flattening it by accident as they run about so fast. This almost happened with Pebby, I'm ashamed to say! Pebby was having a run - by now, there wasn't anywhere he couldn't go - I was talking to my sister and looked behind me for him as I sat down on my floor. He must have quickly flashed past in the very second I sat down, because my sister said "I think you've sat on Pebble". I thought she was joking and waved it off. But she insisted, and I got up to look, and there was poor Pebby, pushing himself as flat as he could against the carpet, hair ruffled and with a look of extreme surprise on my little face! Lol, I was scared because I didn't know if I'd hurt him, but I did have to laugh at that expression afterwards! The poor bun must have been as squashed as a sardine!

So are you getting a picture of why Pebby was so dear to me? Here was a hamster that didn't just eat out of my hand, but also gave me kisses and allowed me to give him cuddles. He wasn't the slightest bit afraid of me, the opposite in fact, and he would do a little 'Hello! Come and play!' dance against the plastic of his cage when I walked into the room. I've never had a rodent so comfortable with me that it would even fall asleep curled up in the folds of blanket that I was wrapped in to watch TV. It became my wind-down routine last thing in the evening to spend an hour or so with him before I went to bed. He would always be waiting for me.

He died on New Year's eve 2005, and I was devastated. I had left him with a friend whilst I went to Hong Kong, and that was the longest time we'd ever spent apart (He had even gone on holiday with me to the Lake District and gotten travel-sick in the car!), and I couldn't help but think that he had died of heart break thinking that I had abandoned him. It sounds silly that I got so upset, but it really was like losing a dear friend. The house felt empty without him, and in the evenings, I would walk into his room before realising that he wasn't there anymore. I even thought I could hear him running round in his wheel at times.

So that was the story of the best hamster that ever lived. And I leave you with a couple more pictures of him doing what he did best - giving furry kisses.


Urban girl in the kitchen: Profiteroles - sort of...

Category: , , By panda_eyed
Hello! Has everyone been enjoying the weekend sunshine? It's like summer finally showed its face, if only for a day or two - wasn't it glorious? I've been making the most of it and spending as much time outdoors as possible, just sitting and reading all weekend. Not very exciting stuff, but very relaxing!

Anyway, last time I blogged, I mentioned that I'd bought a copy of James Martin's Desserts. I've spent hours drooling flicking through the glossy pictures since then. Anyhoo, I said I was going to make profiteroles. I've seen plenty of chefs do it on TV and it didn't look too hard in the book either, so I thought it'd be really straightforward if I followed the recipe correctly. How hard can it be to make choux pastry..?

It turns out, it's quite hard..!

Mr Martin, confusingly, has 2 different recipes for making choux pastry in his book. I followed one of them to the tee, picturing nice, fluffy, hollow little balls that I could then fill with delicious vanilla cream and then drizzle my glossy perfect sauce over - yum! However, what I ended up with can only be described as ... biscuits. Quite tasty biscuits, mind, but biscuits all the same.

I think my dough was waay too wet (even though I only put a third of the egg in) because the pastry collapsed onto the tray, just like cookies are supposed to. Oh dear. You can see the results below. I baked 2 batches, and although the second batch was significantly more choux-like than the first, they were still too flat and didn't rise enough.

So, my first baking-'disaster'! I've always been quite lucky with my baking thus far, but I guess that had to end sometime! :) Next time, I'm following Gordon Ramsay's recipe (video)!

In the end, I whipped up some cream, made the chocolate sauce (which was yum!) and suck the whole lot on top - profiteroles, but not in the traditional sense. It was still delicious, and come on, who needs tradition anyway..? ;)

Pandy's profiterole-surprise.. :)

I might try the chocolate and macadamia nut cake next. Fingers crossed that it's not as flat as my chouxs!

Hope you're all enjoying the sunshine! xxx