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Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Uninhibited with the mustard .

Written Tuesday 13/2

There are seagulls in the white sky . In pairs and singly , their movement is what you see , stark against an opaque background. They look like  olympic ice dancers gliding , soaring , lost in the momentum and their own beauty .
Perhaps they are celebrating the year opening up a bit . I know how they feel .

Sunday found us walking on the beach . Down near the shore line , delighting in the light and the relative warmth .

Yesterday far out along the hythe . Hibernation halted , the estuary mud had the dull gleam of old pitted metal .

Today , the seagulls arrogance - they need no judge  , they already know they all have the perfect ten . And us ?
Heading to the harbour as I write this . Smug in the knowledge that there is a big fat pork pie in the boot to eat in greedy gulps when we get there . Pass the mustard .

Wednesday 14th 

Today I did it again . We did it again .
Its like being sated and rolling away from a much loved lover and rolling straight back and doing it again . 
The seductive landscape is indeed seductive . It's only February and , already , we are entranced .

That's not pretentious or precious .
 There are other people , all ages , both sexes . Away from the shops , away from  the crowds . 
A solitary individual will spot you and grin like a long lost friend .

 It's like we are all in the nightclub , a track comes on and we all get up with no thought , only compulsion , and dance . Uninhibited .

Friday, 9 February 2018

Lay the table .

A lot of stuff happened . Two deaths in the family and three  betrayals  plus the fallout which showed clear daylight on a lot of other people .

So we walked away . A lot of walking got done on solitary beaches . Sometimes together and sometimes alone .
Eventually, though you look up and realise you can now take your umberella down .

So it comes time to savour again the things that ,necessarily , got pushed to the margins .

So what of the kitchen ?  Well , gradually chutney bubbled again and marmalade perfumed the house but what else ?

I grew up on farm house and country house food . Then by observation , osmosis , and intuition cooked it . Not the painting by numbers that the sainted Delia prescribed (and thus knocked any confidence and creativity out of a potential cook ). No , this was more commonsense , resourcefulness ,a bit of skill and a lot of greed .

Now it's different .The postman's bored with hearing me belt down the back stairs to get the latest second hand cookery book . Mind you he often suppresses a grin as I emerge hair half up , half down looking like Bella from the bordello in the saxophonist's dressing gown .
The book's are various and so this week I'm making :

a stir fry
deep fried squid
and a pineapple crumble with clotted cream custard
and then having a sit down - obviously .

So what I want to know is what are  you cooking and if some of the inspiration comes from a couple of books , what are they ?
I'll show you mine if you show me yours .

Note to self : put less red meat in next week's menu .

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Smug and sticky .

Today is the coldest day of the year so far . ( Around here at least .)

Last weekend I finally came upon a stall piled high with blood oranges and fat lemons too .
What better to do then than stay in the warm and make marmalade . I switched on the radio , put an apron on and set too . I'd forgotten how labour intensive it is .Especially paring off the peel and leaving the pith , them slicing the peel into thin , thin , tiny batons .

The whole house is now scented with oranges and my hands sting from the citrusy juices . I am sitting , in solitary splendour , at the table with hot coffee and a cigarette writing this as the marmalade boils .

Cooking is continuity isn't it . Good ingredients , enough skill and there you have it . Simple but perfect in a homemade sort of way . A form of alchemy .

Two people can walk into a kitchen .
 One can have bread and water . The other a pot of tea and some hot buttered toast .
We can always choose which person we want to be .

I'm glad I made marmalade today .

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Dormouse is as dormouse does .

Humankind is divided into larks and owls .

The lark is perceived , in many quarters , to be the better/more worthy person . Some of this comes from the Victorian " early to bed early to rise makes a man healthy ,  wealthy and wise ". Coupled with the Victorian factory owner who wants his factory on full production at maximum profit and minimal cost .
 Some of it also comes from people who make a virtue of what they want to do anyway or as a way of feeling superior/more disciplined than their neighbour (having , I'm guessing , little else to distinguish themselves) .

This winter I have heard so many people saying they are struggling much more than usual with the cold and dark for some reason .

I , myself , am an owl .

 This winter  it has been so convivial to sit by the fire , late at night ,drinking tea or wine deep in frivolous conversation or watching something cheerful on the television . So convivial . Equally how pleasant to go to the bathroom and then snuggle back in the soft warmth again .

The saxophonist used to sometimes play with a very good key board player . Daytime he was a teacher before he retired . Finding he needed more money ( chiefly for sheet music and gin I believe ) he took extra work at home marking exam papers in the evening . Gradually , on retirement , what with gigs and gin generating exam marking his hours slipped round . Eventually his regular time to get up each day was four in the afternoon . I don't think it bothered him in the least .

Whilst my time has been productive and as the blog shows we have been out and about , keeping regular hour has been harder this winter . A morning gone sometimes , a bed time that would have the Victorian factory owner reaching for the smelling salts .

So what I want to know is this . Am I the only one ? Does it matter ? Have you erred so to speak ? Is it as the saxophonist says "no big deal " ?

So doctor is this normal and if it is what hours do you keep ? I  refer to those of us who have unencumbered free time, be that in the week , at weekends or a mixture of both .
I'm curious .......

Sunday, 28 January 2018

It's rough at the coast today .

We have just got back from the coast . It was rough and it was dark . The sea was liquid jet as it rushed up the harbour walls .

It winked it's inky eye at me as it played hand ball with a small fishing boat in the harbour . Slapping it this way, slapping it that way.

The wind flew round and through the metal struts of the old pier .

Slowly , then , a very small container ship came along . It sat low in the water with a single line of lights along its side and a bundle of them at the back .
In the dark it looked like a viking long boat being rowed in and the mournful sound from the pier sounded like the men singing to keep the rhythm of the rowing .

Saturday, 27 January 2018

A fair swap ?

I have snowdrops coming out in my garden , crocuses too . A treat to see . Apart from anything else it sets off the urge to get out the biscuit tin .
 The one with all the little jars and envelopes in . They all have seeds I collected from the garden last autumn. They can be anything from hollyhocks to coriander and laying them all out on the table is always fun . It makes you want to buy gardening oddments too .
Today we sprinted into the discount supermarket for more milk . There was a display of plants . Amongst them was Aloe Vera . I used to have just such a plant on the kitchen window sill . Pull off a leaf , break it and rub it on an oven burn .

The saxophonist has a younger brother . They are as different as can be . Narrowness of a life lived , snobbery , prejudice . The saxophonist's brother has all these aplenty . Over the years people have melted away from his life . We were about the last to go . 

He told us that the entire female staff where he worked had gone to personnel about him .

He told us that his former best friend had hidden his invitation so that he did not know there was a party on .

 He told us that he did what he felt to be necessary to secure a seat on the underground . A young lady was also trying to secure it and she called him "lard arse ". ( I must admit I did enjoy that one ) .

 He treats shop assistants , waiters and bar staff as if they were stupid , criminal or common . Heaven help them if they are female ,  black or gay .
 He makes the atmosphere bad and people either hurt or angry time after time .

So I sit the little pot of Aloe Vera on the window sill . Of course I hope I never have to use it . But if I do the attractive little succulent will sooth , repair and comfort all at once .

In India at one time I'm told women got married to a tree .
Do you think if I ask nicely they would let me swap my brother in law for another Aloe Vera plant ? 

Friday, 26 January 2018

The thrill of femininity .

I am an unapologetic feminist . I believe in fairness , justice and freedom . It doesn't have to be more complicated than that . If in doubt turn the lens round the other way : would it be appropriate to do that to a  man , say that to a man ? If the answer is no then don't do it to a woman .

That said , I like being a woman and all the things that brings . Some historical , some necessitated by gender and a few freedoms - some hard won .
 No , this is not having your cake and eating it . It's celebrating your intellect and the fact that you happen to be a woman .
 It's saying I can discuss politics , philosophy and literature with you and I can do it with high heels on . Choice and ability . Both my choice and my ability.

So, the thrills of femininity . What are they ? Well some of them are the snap of a handbag clasp , the rasp of silk stockings when you cross your legs , The way putting your hair up and long earrings in makes you pull back your shoulders and arch your neck , the way a new lipstick puts a spring in your step and of course pulling on a new dress and high heels and strutting into a room .
What do you think girls ?